Sunday, 29 December 2013

Top Ten Wildlife Locations of 2013.

I'll let you in on a secret - up until October of this year, I couldn't actually drive a car. As a result, most of the locations featured in this blog and on the Facebook page are public-transport accessible, though next year will see more out-of-the-way places making an appearance! This blog has given my outdoor jaunts such a welcome sense of purpose this year - thank you so much to anyone who has read and enjoyed my writings.

1. Lake Samsonvale, Joyner.
Outstanding for its natural beauty alone, Lake Samsonvale is a great place to visit at any time of the year. Bullocky's Rest is a popular location for family picnics and

Saturday, 28 December 2013

Top Ten Wildlife Encounters of 2013

I enjoyed many outdoor adventures this year, and for the first time, I paid attention to a whole variety of animals rather than just birds. Though I had amazing wildlife experiences in North Queensland and the NSW Central Coast, the following animals were all seen around South-East Queensland. Keep an eye out for these wonders when you're out and about!

1. Eastern Brown Snake, Mooloolaba.
This was such a shock! Me and a friend were strolling along Mooloolaba Spit Beach on a busy Sunday morning, when this beauty washed in from the surf! I was so

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

The Trouble With 'Squirrel Gliding'

I invented a new hobby this month. Basically, you eat some dinner once the sun has gone down, then jump in the car and drive to a small suburban reserve of your choice. Then you walk around in the dark with a spotlight and camera, shining it up into the trees while trying to glimpse white furry bellies flying through the treetops. I call it 'Squirrel Gliding!'

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

White Rhinoceros

Animal of the Month


What's so special about it?

White Rhinoceros; Photo by Leah Mahoney
The White Rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simatum) is the largest and most numerous of the world's Rhinoceros species, though that's not to say it is common. Its most distinguishing feature - a large keratin horn, unique in lacking any bone material  - is highly sought-after as a traditional medicine item on illegal South-east Asian markets. Recently however, conservationists have come up with a clever way to decrease the worth of Rhino horn, by injecting it with an anti-theft dye. This doesn't harm the living Rhino, but it does make the trafficking of the horn very difficult if the animal is poached, and also makes the horn poisonous if consumed,

Friday, 29 November 2013

November Wildlife Report

Storms Appear in BNE


Dramatic skies have been a defining feature of Brisbane this November, with the storm season commencing in a major way.

Severe thunderstorm, Fortitude Valley; Photo by Meaghan Cook

Saturday, 16 November 2013

A Hidden Gem on the Gold Coast

Reedy Creek Lagoon, Varsity Lakes

I like my coastlines wild and rugged, so the Gold Coast isn't always my first choice for a day at the beach. The stretch of shore between Surfers Paradise and Coolangatta has been extensively urbanised, with high-rise holiday units established right up to the frontal dunes. It is a fast-growing area with many new suburbs popping up each year, the most recent example being Varsity Lakes. Originally, my intention was to survey this location as a brief stop-off on the way to the beach, but I was so impressed at the quality of natural habitat that had been retained in the area that I ended up foregoing the swim.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Eastern Yellowjacket

Animal of the Month


What's so special about it?

Eastern Yellowjacket; Image belongs to Duke University
The Eastern Yellowjacket (Vespula maculifrons) is a common North American wasp known for its large subterranean nests. These colonies often consist of up to 5000 wasps, but amazingly, they all start with just a single Queen. Only she has the fortitude and strength to survive the harsh Northern Hemisphere winters, and when spring begins to warm things up, she gets to work on creating her empire. Starting with just a few nesting cells in an underground cavity somewhere, she gives birth to a legion of sterile worker females who take over building and baby-raising duties. Once she has this thriving army and a vast home at her command, she produces the eggs that will hatch into future Queens and short-lived reproductive males. Rome wasn't built in a day, but these wasps can manage the equivalent of it in just a few months.

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

October Wildlife Report

Julian Rocks

Wary in the Water, Surprised in the Rainforest!


Wildlife spotting turned a little extreme for me this month! I spent the past weekend in Byron Bay, two hours south of Brisbane in the neighbouring state of New South Wales. The plan was to take my 16-year old niece on her very first snorkelling trip there, with a professional dive company that runs trips out to Julian Rocks. The plan unravelled fairly quickly, with a faulty outboard motor on our boat delaying our group by an hour or so. By the time we had crossed the two-and-a-half kilometre stretch of sea to the island, the previously calm conditions had deteriorated into big swells and a strong current. I was reluctant to get into the dark, swirling depths below, and was equally wary of the waves breaking on the rocky island edge. Amazingly, the tour guide instructed my two teenage companions to get in first, and they were caught in the current almost instantly. My sister and I dismissed all prospects of snorkelling and quickly swam to the girls once we entered

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Night Shift in the Forest

I have taken quite fondly to 'spot-lighting' recently. Whether it's in a local park or even just down the back of my garden, I have made time over the past few weeks to flick the torch on and see what nocturnal animals I am sharing my neighbourhood with. The opportunity to make a star-lit visit somewhere less suburban has appealed to me however, so last night I headed to Samford Conservation Park with my adventurous friend Leah. After a hearty and nourishing meal at the Samford Valley Hotel, we braved the darkness and headed into the forest, starting with a deserted picnic area named 'Lomandra'.

Friday, 4 October 2013

Wildcat

Animal of the Month


What's so special about it?

Wildcat (Kalahari race); Photo by Maddie Lausted
When you look at your familiar Housecat, you are actually looking at a selectively-bred version of the majestic Wildcat (Felis silvestris). Genetic testing and archaeological evidence indicates that twelve thousand years ago, the world's first farmers in the Middle East began encouraging Wildcats to remain in their company so that they could control surging mice populations. Over thousands of years, these cats became domesticated

Sunday, 29 September 2013

September Wildlife Report

Strong Sunshine and Warmer Nights


Though I spent the early part of this month in the Tropics, coming back home to beautiful Brisbane hasn't required too much adjustment weather-wise. September has seen us experience a string of days where the thermometer has reached 32C with ease - well above the 25C long-term average.

Such strong sunshine is good weather for butterflies. I saw my first Fiery Copper

Saturday, 21 September 2013

An Interest in Insects

Observing wildlife can be an inconvenient hobby, schedule-wise. If you've somehow managed to retain healthy human relationships throughout years of an obsessive wildlife interest, there will be nights where you must mingle with that most horrid of species - your fellow Homo sapiens. Plans to go spotlighting for possums or frogs may need to be postponed, and you certainly won't be getting up before dawn to see the birds in the National Park.

This is where an interest in insects comes in handy. Insects are 'ectotherms', meaning that their energy must partially come from an external heat source, usually in the form of light. Mid-morning as the sun climbs higher is a great time to go

Thursday, 12 September 2013

North Queensland Trip, Part 3

The Whitsunday Islands

Whitsunday Islands, courtesy of Google Maps

The seventy-four islands off the coast of Airlie Beach comprise the 'Whitsunday' group, named after the day that Captain Cook first sighted them. Prior to this, they had been the home of the Ngaro Aboriginal people for at least 9,000 years, and the descendants of these people maintain important connections to the islands in the present day.

My main intention of visiting these islands was to scuba dive for the first time. The weather decided to present a bit of a challenge however, as the 'trade winds' kicked in immediately upon our arrival at Airlie Beach. This tropical phenomenon is often welcomed by the locals as it brings a cool sea-breeze and some refreshing rain showers to an otherwise muggy climate, but to me and my travelling companions, it meant that our tours kept getting cancelled and rescheduled. It did lend itself to some dramatic scenery though!

Rain shower, Border Island horizon

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

North Queensland Trip, Part 2

Airlie Beach


Airlie Beach; courtesy of Google Maps
Bidding farewell to the beautiful Eungella National Park (see 'Part One' of this trip report), me and my travelling companions packed our tents up and drove two hours through the canefields to our next destination: Airlie Beach. Being close to the Great Barrier Reef, the name of this town conjures up images of pristine white sands and clear waters, but the reality is quite different. It is actually more of a harbour town, with the nearby Whitsunday Islands absorbing the worst of the ocean swells so that Airlie's waters are calm and its shores muddy.

To make swimming matters worse, the entire coastline is subject to swarms of Box Jellyfish (Chironex fleckeri) from October to April. This almost-invisible menace is arguably the world's most venomous animal,

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

North Queensland Trip, Part 1.

Eungella National Park


Eungella National Park location;
Image courtesy of Google Maps.
My home state of Queensland is a huge place. Bigger than any of the United States, it is considered the sixth largest sub-national entity in the world, behind such remote provinces as Nunavut in Canada, and the Danish territory of Greenland. Though I've lived in and travelled through Europe and Canada, much of my birthplace remains a mystery to me. To rectify this situation, I planned a road-tripping holiday this year with my sister and her partner, in the Northern section of the state. My first visit to anywhere in the Tropics, I have since returned home with some of the most amazing wildlife experiences possible!

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Tawny Cockroach

Tawny Cockroach; Photo by Jeff DeLonge

Animal of the Month


What's so special about it?

When people think of Cockroaches, they usually think of the garbage-eating, wall-scurrying types that are likely to ruin a holiday somewhere warm and humid. The Tawny Cockroach(Ectobius pallidus), however, is a native of the UK and continental Europe. It has also been unintentionally introduced into the USA, where it survives the freezing winters of Michigan and Massachusetts.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

August Wildlife Report

Welcome to the Dry Season


Once you are far enough north in Australia, the climate shifts from operating around the familiar four seasons to a Wet/Dry dichotomy instead. While August has always been a fairly dry time of year for Brisbane, August 2012 was the driest on record, with only 0.2mm of rainfall received. August 2013 is currently on track to match that record, with no further rain forecast for the rest of the month.

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Lake Samsonvale Birding

I was only fourteen when I was introduced to the birding lifestyle. My Mum had seen a notice in the community section of the local newspaper and encouraged me to put the Sega down for a few hours so I could reconnect with the outdoors. My Dad came along to help introduce me, and minutes later I was staring down the lens of a telescope and having strange things like 'Whiskered Terns' pointed out to me. As it turned out, I loved my new hobby, and afterwards I attended every Bird Club meet-up that I could. Though I was about fifty years younger than the average member of the group, it felt like hanging out with a team of awesome grandparents who could teach me fascinating things, like the difference between a Godwit and a Whimbrel.

Monday, 5 August 2013

Wattled Jacana

Animal of the Month


What's so special about it?

In a power flip that would make Gloria Steinem proud, it is the female Wattled Jacana (Jacana jacana) that rules the roost - literally! Mrs Jacana holds the biggest territory in her wetland home, sharing the lilypads with a harem of up to four males that form an uneasy alliance with each other. By mating with them all and laying eggs randomly in each of their nests, she ensures that her offspring are brought up in a predator-filled environment with five dedicated adults protecting them as best they can. As the saying goes, it's wise not to put all your eggs in the one basket!

Friday, 26 July 2013

July Wildlife Report

Greetings from a not-so-chilly Winter!


When us Brisbane residents are asked about the benefits of living in our city, we are almost certain to mention the pleasant winters. This month has seemed even milder than usual however, with persistent cloud cover keeping minimum night-time temperatures around 10C. On a weekend trip to the Scenic Rim region for example, I was surprisingly comfortable wearing a short-sleeved t-shirt outside at 6am, where I photographed this flock of Straw-necked Ibis (Threskiornis spinicollis) waiting out the fog in their roosting tree.

Straw-necked Ibis, Coleyville

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Creek Fishing in the Redlands


Hilliards Creek
Situated to the south-east of Brisbane, the Redlands shire encompasses many areas of natural beauty, including the Cleveland foreshore and North Stradbroke Island. It is also one of the fastest growing suburban areas in Australia, and would be unrecognisable to those who knew it as a rural outpost just 25 years ago. Despite this surge in development, even the busy suburbs of Wellington Point, Ormiston and Cleveland retain areas of natural bushland set aside to preserve populations of Koalas (Phascolarctos cinereus) and Squirrel Gliders (Petaurus norfolcensis), from which other forms of wildlife benefit also. On my visit there today, I was interested in looking at how these other creatures are faring, particularly the fish living in Hilliards Creek.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Bristlyskin

Bristlyskin

Animal of the Month


What's so special about it?

There are only five Bristlyskin (Hispidoberyx ambagiosus) specimens in existence. Everything we know about this species comes from examining these individuals. Scientists have been able to determine which category of fish it belongs to (the Stephanoberyciformes), its diet (shrimp) and its preferred depth (about a kilometre below the surface of the ocean).

Sunday, 30 June 2013

June Wildlife Report

Echidnas, "Super Moons" and the World's Most Colourful Bug


The weather has been hit-and-miss this month, and the winter chill has certainly set in. I managed to make my maiden voyage to Oxley Creek Common on a nice sunny day however, and was impressed with its well-maintained tracks and revegetation areas.

Willie Wagtail (Rhipidura leucophrys), Rocklea

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Tales of a Frog Pond

In some ways, I must have been a dream kid for my parents to raise. I brought home report cards filled with glowing praise and recommendations from teachers. I had an inbuilt respect for authority that more or less guided me to make the right decisions at any given time. I was good-natured with enough friends to easily fill out a birthday party, and I had a lot of interests. In fact, it wouldn't surprise me if my parents wished I had just a few less interests, or at least more "normal" ones. While other kids dragged their parents to Saturday morning sports games, I would make mine rise at 4:30am so that we could all get to the Mount Glorious rainforest in time for the sunrise. Sometimes we'd arrive so early that it would still actually be night time, and we'd have to wait in the car until the darkness turned to early morning grey. Then we'd begin to carefully navigate the forest trail - which we always had to ourselves. You might think this sounds like a wonderful family bonding experience, and it probably would have been if it weren't for the fact that I always insisted we walk in total silence so as not to spoil the chance of a wildlife sighting. Looking back on these trips as an adult makes me wonder if perhaps my parents didn't have things so easy after all.


Mt Glorious trip, circa 1994

The worst trips for Dad must have been the frog ones. On summer nights, just when he would have been wanting to kick back with a beer after a long day of truck-driving, I would appear with a torch and a pleading look on my face. If I was quick enough to beat the bottle-top snapping off that first beverage, there was a chance that twenty minutes later, we'd be wading around knee-deep in a dark swamp. I can't remember if building a frog pond in the garden was my idea or his, but either way, I think he must have relished the idea of my frog trips requiring no more than an un-supervised stroll down to the back fence for a change.

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Northern Corroboree Frog

Northern Corroboree Frog

Animal of the Month


What's so special about it?

Well, take a look! The Northern Corroboree Frog (Pseudophryne pengilleyi) has markings that resemble the paint worn by Aboriginal people during traditional Corroborees. This bold pattern serves as a warning to predators that it is toxic and best left alone.

Monday, 27 May 2013

Brisbane's Babbling Brook

Meandering through some of Brisbane's biggest suburbs, the banks of Kedron Brook must almost be as busy as the Brisbane River as far as recreational use is concerned. If you have lived in or near the suburbs of Ferny Grove, Everton Park, Stafford, Lutwyche or Toombul, chances are that Kedron Brook has been a place for you to meet up with friends, walk your dog beside or base your exercise routine along. When I visited it today - a gloriously sunny autumn Sunday - there were crowds of people using it for all these purposes. I can now confirm that it is a great location for another activity - dip-netting for water bugs! Jogging is just so passé!

Saturday, 20 April 2013

A Walk Along Queen's Beach

Brisbane residents have a strange relationship with Moreton Bay. We look at its calm blue waters and long for the surging surf of the Gold Coast instead. We feel intimidated by the wilderness of its untamed spaces and try to control what we can - a cycleway here, a canal estate there. Then we fly to far flung corners of the world to have experiences we might have found in our own watery backyards after all.

I've been guilty of this too, I must admit. It wasn't until I strolled along the coast of Cornwall and sunbathed on the shores of the Great Lakes that I realised I had never appreciated the beauty of the environment I was born into. Now, when I see a film or television show where some neurotic New Yorkers head off to the Hamptons for the weekend, I feel privileged to have a beach of comparable quality close at hand. And so it is today that I found myself wandering along the creamy sands of Redcliffe's Queens Beach.

Queen's Beach

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Snorkeling Sydney and Surrounds

OK, I know it seems odd that I should start my blog about the wildlife of Brisbane and surrounds by writing about the wildlife of Sydney instead, but I have a good reason which I will explain shortly. First, let me introduce myself!

My name is Christian and I am a soon-to-be-thirty-year-old man who has returned to Brisbane after living everywhere else between the ages of twenty-two and twenty-nine. Much of this time was spent in Sydney and London, where I increasingly left behind my passion for nature as a "kid thing" and replaced it with a zest for nightlife, partying and travel. It wasn't until a disastrous move to and from Toronto that this began to change. In 2011, after a brief holiday and a fling-turned-relationship there, I moved to that friendly city with the hopes of making it my permanent base. What I hadn't counted on, however, was that Canada hadn't been as fortunate as Australia had been during the Global Financial Crisis, and full-time work was nigh on impossible for me to find in Toronto. After four and a half months of fruitless searching and attachment-building, I had to make one of the hardest decisions I have ever made: I gave up on a blossoming romance and my Canadian dream to return to my hometown of Brisbane.

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Events

In 2016, Wild BNE fans will have the opportunity to come along to meet-ups in some of South-east Queensland's most beautiful locations. Numbers will be limited, so express your interest early by emailing wildbne@gmail.com and watch this space!

King Island Conservation Park, Wellington Point.

Suburb Guides & Regional News TBA

Suburb Guides are still in the works for Ipswich, Scenic Rim, Somerset & Esk, Lockyer Valley and Noosa regions.