|Teneriffe to West End bus, outside Treasury Casino|
|Cannon Hill Bushland Reserve|
|Cannon Hill Bushland Reserve (entrance between the two 'Wynnum Rd' labels)|
A local community group has put some hard work into revegetating the entrance to the site, and the walk through this section along Bulimba Creek is very pleasant. I had thought that some of the old Forest Red Gums (Eucalyptus tereticornis) here might provide shelter for Gliders in their hollowed out boughs, but the spotlight only revealed a Common Brushtail Possum (Trichosurus vulpecula) and a hand-sized Grey Huntsman Spider (Holconia immanis).
|Forest Red Gum by day; Grey Huntsman on trunk by night|
Further along, the track turns away from the creek and into a monsoonal-type woodland, featuring Paperbarks (Melaleuca species) and associated vines. This area is a good spot for birds during the day, with Olive-backed Orioles (Oriolus sagitattus) and Brush Turkeys (Alectura lathami) being two common species. The short track culminates at the top of a stony hill, where the woodland changes to a thin spread of Eucalyptus and Corymbia trees. It was here that I saw my first ever Squirrel Glider!
I had originally intended to go 'Squirrel Gliding' the week before, but heavy showers had upset those plans. The night I did make it out to Cannon Hill ended up being a full moon, which is less than ideal for spotting skittish, shadow-loving mammals, but beautiful none-the-less.
|Moon-rise through a cloud bank|
There were most likely more of these beautiful little marsupials in the treetops, as they live and shelter in small groups. I thought I saw a few dark little shapes zipping between the tree crowns, but I couldn't locate them in my spotlight beam. After two hours of careful searching in the dark, navigating around at least fifteen Garden Orb-Weaver (Eriophora species) webs, I began to feel weary of my new hobby and called it a night. A light rain shower began as I headed back, but I paused briefly to watch a Common Ringtail Possum (Pseudocheirus peregrinus) illustrate where it got its name from.
|Ringtail Possum, showing prehensile tail|
Despite only getting fleeting views of the Squirrel Gliders, they made a great impression on me, and I will go back sometime to try for better photography results. I think what I like best about them is that they seem emblematic of a 'wilder' Australia. It's thrilling and strange to consider such a mysterious tree-top creature living next door to a shopping centre where most people are completely unaware of its existence. I found the Gliders on a stretch of track that was less than one hundred metres away from the shopping centre fence, the night air illuminated partly by the full moon and partly by the building lights. This to me sums up the fragile balance of 'Wild Brisbane', a place perched on the knife edge between ecological value and disaster. The fate of our city's wildlife is - like a Glider coasting through the trees - up in the air.
|Squirrel Glider; Illustration by Marjorie Crosby-Fairall|