At this time of year it is hard to find enough quiet time to sit down and
write this newsletter. I am keeping well and busy. The birding and
spotlighting has been fantastic of late.
It is great to get so may wonderful complements. One South American
mammalogist with field experience of similar species in New Guinea said, "I
have never seen so many mammals in such a short time in such a small piece
of forest anywhere in the world."
Seasonal Report, May/June '04
Alan's Wildlife Tours
Rain fell, but not much, on about half the days in May so the forest
remained wet and the track for the nocturnal tours was still muddy until mid
June. The creeks and rivers are running at levels that were only seen during
rain events in the previous two years. Last weekend we had winter with three
or four ground frosts in a row. I did not get out of bed early enough on the
first morning to be sure. Cool weather has caused a severe drop in sightings
of geckos since the second of June. Accommodation houses with open fire
places have been very popular with visitors from the coast. The village is
preparing for 'Yuletide in July' when the restaurants will have European
Christmas menus running.
Perhaps because of the good wet in their breeding grounds the cranes were
rather late returning this year but are now back in good numbers and more
are returning each week. Both Brolgas and Sarus Cranes are best found in
paddocks with stubble and light grass cover within a few kilometres of the
Also along the river, a very light Little Eagle has been seen on a number of
occasions between the Jim Chapman Bridge and Lavender Hill B&B, where the
river runs into Lake Tinaroo which is still full. This Little Eagle is
perhaps the bird which had a red body last year and gave me quite a fright
when it flew across the windscreen of the car. My first impression was of a
Red Goshawk. Brown Falcons are around in reasonable numbers and most are
dark birds. Last year we had all the colour morphs present. There has been a
possible sighting of a Black Falcon which would be a little early. A lone
Square-tailed Kite has been seen in the village on a number of occasions.
One lucky guest saw eleven raptors in a morning but missed out on the two he
wanted most. That is how it goes sometimes!
As there is not much mud around the edges of Lake Tinaroo or Hasties Swamp,
few waders are evident just yet. A dozen Australian Pratincoles were flying
over our heads as we watched the Sarus Cranes dancing. Half a kilometre
behind us were nine Australian Bustards. An odd Pink-eared Duck has been
seen at Hasties Swamp where there are more than a thousand Plumed Whistling
Ducks, a few Wandering Whistling Ducks, a dozen or so each of Hardheads and
Grey Teal along with fifty or so Black Duck. Most of the adult Jacanas seem
to have left but there are numerous young ones. Buff-banded Land Rails are
the only rails which are being regularly seem. Black Bitterns have been more
obvious at Hasties Swamp and around the edge of Tinaroo than I can ever
remember. White-breasted Sea-Eagles and Wedge-tail Eagles are around in
A pair of Wompoo Fruit-doves visited a nest which was built last December
but never used. Both birds were calling but one stayed on for some time not
making its full call. The bird was standing in the nest reaching up and
forward making strangled, 'Wock, ock, ock,' calls. The whole impression was
that the bird was in danger of choking and trying to vomit as it bent its
head down to the edge of the nest.
On the inner Tablelands around Atherton, Yungaburra, Malanda, Scared
Kingfishers are usually autumn and spring visitors but this year a few birds
are still being seen in mid June. There is one which has taken up residence
in our garden. Talking of our garden, we had our first record of a Pallid
Cuckoo early in June. A pair of Oriental Cuckoos flew over the Curtain
Figtree forest in June which is very late in the season for them.
Azure and Little Kingfishers have been seen in Yungaburra along Petersen
Creek. The former commonly but the latter infrequently. Up to six Forest
Kingfishers have been roosting together over the track we use at night.
Another change of season migrant in this area is the Cicadabird but a
beautiful male is hanging around in the eucalypt forest above Williams Weir.
The southern birds have come north with the tourists. A flock of at least 60
Silver-eyes came through my yard yesterday and the winter visiting pale Grey
Fantail is back. As predicted, the flowering of the blue gums is bringing an
influx of honeyeaters to the village. Yellow, White-cheeked, White-throated
and Yellow-faced Honeyeaters are not common in Yungaburra for most of the
year but along Petersen Creek are now being seen often.
The number of large spectacular butterflies is diminishing with the colder
weather but there has been a return of yellow, white and small blue
butterflies. Skippers are fairly common but not like in the spring when they
are everywhere. We saw a very large, dark and velvety Miskin's Swift today.
Steady on you birders it is a butterfly! It is the first I have recorded in
the garden. Also a first for the garden was a Black and White Tiger, another
butterfly! It is common enough on the coast anywhere there is salt marsh but
up here at 750metres is a strange sight.
Following on from my spider rave last newsletter I must admit that I have
seen a few gravid Golden Orb Spiders with males still in the web. Recently
at a friend's house we saw about 800 square metres of lawn covered in spider
web. The spiders were very small and varied in density from 50 to 1 000 per
square metre. The web was very fine and formed a mat except were the breeze
had lifted it off the grass and rolled thicker threads. In the evening light
it was amazing to watch the diaphanous material rippling waves of light
across the lawn.
Many of the Golden Pendas which flowered in the early part of the year did
so again in May. White and Red Cedars are shedding their leaves. Last year
those from my Tree-roo site were months behind other places but seem to be
back in step this year. The orange-gold flowers of the Pink Myrtle are only
a week or two from opening. Roly-Poly Satinash and many others in the family
Myrtaceae put on a great show of their new leaves a few times a year. Some
of these tress have small white flowers but great flushes of new growth.
Pink, red and gold are common in the rainforest right now and at higher
elevations maroon, purple and bronze splashes catch one's eye as you drive
or view the forest from a lookout. Scrub Daphne smells a little like some of
the coconut oil cosmetics and suntan lotions. Soon the four centimetre long
tubular white flowers will be followed by the brilliant red and highly
poisonous fruit. New growth on this rainforest shrub is purple, black.
Lumholtz's Tree-kangaroo sightings have continued at a record level. Dorothy
's young has not been seen for some time and nor has old Bear. Grandma's
young has been named Chris. It was seen regularly for a while, not far from
home in Bear's territory but not for a few weeks now. Amanda is a newly
named female with a large joey. She has taken up residence near the turn to
the house and dairy. Amanda had been moving about a bit, turning up in the
territories of other females. Perhaps this is why we saw Jill south of her
home country it the big Milkwoods commonly used by Rex. He has been doing
his duty, visiting all his ladies and even continues to be seen with Jack
which is now almost mature. This is a strange relationship as Jack is not
his offspring and could be a threat were it not for their difference in
size. These animals are not as stroppy as zoo-keepers would have us believe.
The Coppery Brushtail Possums have been feeding heavily on Turbina vine.
Green Ringtail Possums have been seen feeding very low in a couple of fig
species. On one occasion a male and female were on nearby branches feeding
quietly within a metre of each other.
Good wildlife spotting to you all.
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