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|
Another difference between a Brisbane winter and the harsh kind experienced in the Northern Hemisphere is that our insects don't completely disappear. This Purple-winged Mantis (Tenodera australasiae) is obviously finding enough prey to remain a watchful guardian of the screen door at a Coleyville homestead.
|Purple-winged Mantis, Coleyville|
In this warm subtropical climate, strays from colder latitudes are out of place and easily noticed. The most exciting wildlife report this month involves a pod of Killer Whales (Orcinus orca) that came into difficulty when they tried to pass through the Great Sandy Strait. Situated between the World Heritage-listed Fraser Island and the mainland, the shallow waters of the Strait have never played host to these majestic marine mammals before, and news cameras and curious onlookers flocked to the scene to capture the event.
|Killer Whales, Great Sandy Strait; Picture by Megan Slade|
Consisting of eight animals, the pod was initially noticed when they beached themselves on one of the many sandbanks in the area, where two of the animals unfortunately died. Scientists are puzzled by this behaviour, as Killer Whales are thought to have excellent shallow-water navigational skills and beachings are extremely rare. It is likely that the pod had previously been following the migration of Humpback Whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) along the east coast before entering the Strait by accident. In any case, they have since found their way back to ocean waters and are presumably feasting on newborn Humpbacks somewhere in the Coral Sea.
Another southern visitor reported from Fraser Island this month was an exhausted and lost Little Penguin (Eudyptula minor). This is the world's smallest penguin species and it is usually found about 1000km further south than our shores. Cold-loving animals tolerating our northern waters may indicate a return to a dry El Nino weather pattern this summer, though the mild and wet winter suggests otherwise.
This blog itself had an exciting development this month, with The Bayside Bulletin and Redland Times featuring a collection of my Hilliards Creek photographs in an online gallery. I started 'Wild BNE' as a Facebook page in March, without any idea of how much joy and passion I would soon feel for it. Every little success along the way - 100 fans on Facebook, people reading and taking the time to comment on the blog, and now a newspaper feature - has encouraged me further each time. Feeling such love and inspiration has me wondering about careers I might have been too timid to consider in the past, such as being a Tour Guide or freelance Photographer. Regardless of what happens in the future though, I am enjoying my present daily 'Wild BNE' goals, especially this blog. Thank you for reading and being a part of it - here's a bird photo from Hilliards Creek that is a 'blog only' special, just for you!
|Australian Wood Duck (Chenonetta jubata), Ormiston|