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.