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|
|Tornadic waterspout, Wynnum; Photo by Josh Keen|
|Hail, Maroochydore; Photo by Hannah McEwan|
|Koala, Noosa National Park|
Sunnier days have sent me to such magnificent locations as Noosa National Park, where I saw a beautiful female Koala (Phascolarctos cinereus). This forested headland is one of the only places on the South-East Queensland mainland where you can still see a Koala near the beach, as the rest of the coastline has been extensively developed. Maybe I'm the only one who thinks a Koala by the beach is more iconic than high-rises and highways, but it's a real shame this is such a rare sight these days. This lovely lady was a huge tourist-draw while I was there, with an average of around ten people watching her at any given time. As you can tell from the photo, she wasn't bothered by this in the slightest! Though the National Park is used by day-trippers, joggers, swimmers, surfers and locals throughout the daylight hours, the wildlife seems to be well-adjusted to pedestrian traffic. Things come to a complete halt when a Lace Monitor (Varanus varius) uses the path however, as this two-metre lizard has 'right of way' and definitely knows it!
|Lace Monitor, Noosa National Park|
|Smooth-handed Ghost Crab, Noosa National Park|
On the beaches of the National Park, Short-tailed Shearwater (Puffinus tenuirostris) carcasses are still strewn across the sands, creating a foul stench as they decay. Instrumental in this breaking-down process are Smooth-handed Ghost Crabs (Ocypode cordimanus), usually seen racing into their burrows on approach. As mentioned in last month's report, the Shearwater population is undergoing a 'wreck' this year, where higher-than-usual numbers of the population are dying on migration. I also recently saw live birds in southern Moreton Bay, gliding through mangrove-lined channels on a breezy day; this is not their usual open water habitat, perhaps signalling their desperation.
Another bird seen in an unusual habitat was this Emu (Dromaius novaehollandiae), spotted by a four-wheel driver along Bribie Island's Woorim Beach. This island is the only place in the Greater Brisbane region where these gigantic birds survive.
|Emu, Bribie Island National Park; Photo by Paul Smith|
|Eastern Grey Kangaroo, Point Lookout|
|Common Brushtail Possum,|
Seeing native mammals in the daytime is not a common experience in Australia, as the majority of species have nocturnal habits that allow them to avoid the heat of the day. I saw this Common Brushtail Possum (Trichosurus vulpecula) on a night-time walk through a small reserve in Coorparoo, in the company of several Common Ringtail Possums (Pseudocheirus peregrinus). It was interesting to observe the different 'personalities' of these species as they lived side-by-side, with the Brushtail being much more trusting than the nervous Ringtails.
|Full Moon, East Brisbane|
|Striped Marsh Frog; INSET: Frog spawn|
Arriving back home that night, I checked on my garden pond to see the Striped Marsh Frogs (Limnodynastes peronii) residing there. The recent thunderstorms have half-filled the previously dry pond and it is now teeming with aquatic life, all of which have found it through natural means. The frogs have laid eggs in there for the first time, and a male Fiery Skimmer Dragonfly (Orthetrum villosovittatum) has adopted the pond as part of its breeding territory also. This is all very validating for me and my little pond project, the beginnings of which you can read more about in this post.
|Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo,|
Marcoola; Photo by Peta Neill
Lucky Sunshine Coast residents have had some exciting visitors to their garden this month, in the form of Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos (Calyptorhynchus funereus). Flocks of these huge birds have been seen wheeling through the skies and landing in garden shrubbery to feed on Banksia seed cones. They have a strange wailing call that they often give in flight, where they appear Pterodactyl-like thanks to the slow motion of their large wings. These birds have declined across their range in recent years, because while they have plenty of food available in gardens and State Forest plantations, they only nest in large Eucalypt hollows found in old-growth forest. It's a shame these areas are so often logged, as the Cockatoos are quite useful in forest management, supplementing their seed diet by eating the larvae of wood-boring insects.
One of my more well-received Wild BNE Facebook posts this month was a photograph of a Bearded Dragon (Pogona barbata) on the scree slope of Cabbage Tree Head, at Shorncliffe. For all of you reptile fans out there, he's a short video of the same Dragon.
Next month I will be trying to track down one of Australia's cutest marsupials, so I will hopefully have some great photos to share, or at least a story or two! In the meantime, happy wildlife-spotting!
|Sacred Kingfisher, Tingalpa|