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
impressed by the onlookers, all of whom allowed the snake a safe passage as it travelled into the dunes. There was an implicit understanding in this moment that our wildlife (even the dangerous types) have the right to share the land with us in peace.

2. Squirrel Glider, Cannon Hill.
I bought a high-powered torch in August and added 'spot-lighting' to my wildlife-watching habits. Though I went searching through remote North Queensland rainforests and hinterland Conservation areas, a tiny patch of bush next to Cannon Hill Shopping Centre provided me with the best animal sighting. If you think suburban Possums and Koalas are cute animals, you haven't seen anything until you witness this beautiful creature sailing through the night air!

3. Pink-eared Duck, Sandgate.
There were rarer birds than this at Sandgate Lagoon this year, but this was my favourite. The zebra-stripes, the pink ear and the filtering flaps on the beak all add up to a very unusual duck! Their feeding behaviour is another highlight - pairs will face each other, put the beaks in the water and spin around in fast circles, creating an underwater vortex. 

4. Feral Pig, Mount Glorious.
In a year where I had up-close encounters with deadly snakes, jellyfish and spiders, the fact that this was my scariest wildlife encounter says something. Nothing gets your heart racing like a huge and angry animal in the middle of nowhere, that you've accidentally managed to surprise.

5. Reef Manta Ray, Point Lookout.
Right at the very beginning of 2013, I saw my first ever Manta Ray (several in fact!) off North Stradbroke Island. They are truly gigantic fish, dwarfing the marine turtles they share the coastal waters with.

6. Brush Cuckoo, Lota.
I laid my eyes on this species for the first time this year, in Melaleuca Environmental Park. It turns out that I have been in their presence often, as once I recognised this bird's call, it became as common and familiar as the sound of the cicadas. Have you heard this before?

7. Tandan, Gordon Park.
Also known as the Freshwater or Eel-tailed Catfish, I saw one of these in Kedron Brook earlier this year. I had been looking mostly for water-bugs in rock pools, but decided at the very end of my outing to just splash my dip-net down into the flowing water and see what came up. I instantly caught this juvenile Tandan, a native fish that I had never seen in the wild before. I was impressed that it should still occur in an inner-city waterway like Kedron Brook. This moment of fishy success led me to purchase a fish-trap later on that I have used several times since, though the results have never been quite as interesting as this original fish encounter. The adults of this species grow to almost one-metre in length - I am happy to catch only the juveniles for the time being!

8. Red-browed Finch, Joyner.
This is a common bird that I've seen numerous times before, but a large flock of them made a peaceful woodland track come alive on a lovely day of birding in August.

9. Green Tree Frog, My Garden Pond.
Though it is the Striped Marsh Frog (Limnodynastes peronii) that has actually bred in there this summer, I was pleased that this beautiful creature would take up residence within sight of my garden pond.

10. Lively Rainbow-Skink, Purga.
I saw this beautiful little lizard out past Ipswich and have yet to see it anywhere closer to the coast. That's a shame, as the reddish-orange wash along the flanks of this creature is certainly worthy of its 'rainbow' moniker.

Tomorrow: My favourite Wildlife Locations of 2013!

15 comments:

  1. the pink-eared duck is awesome! but i love those red-browed finches! so cute.

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    1. Yes the Pink-ear is an Aussie one of a kind!

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  2. I remember your brown snake post and it was indeed a surprise that it should swim on in from the surf. That's VERY interesting on the Pink-eared duck! How unusual; would love to see one up close like this. Ooops, on the feral pig encounter Christian; phew. Not sure I've seen the Brush Cuckoo, though have seen the Fan-Tailed Cuckoo near here. The Red-brows are one of my favourites; how nice to see so many in one flock like you did Christian. Beaut snap of the Green Tree Frog! My encounter recently with the Yellow faced Whip Snake is bought to the fore with your #10 and the skink ---- these snakes seek the skinks in my garden. There are many skinks, there are lots of hiding places in cement-stone retainer walls; I saw one of the snakes go down into one when I was gardening a month back. It chose to double-back when it saw me obviously - it'd seen me before I saw it! That would've been my close-encounter for 2013 :). Yours beat mine!

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    1. Wow, I wish I had Yellow-faced Whip Snakes in my garden (though I'd have to keep it a secret from my housemates)! I guess it would be a little nerve-wracking to stumble upon one while gardening though. The Brush Cuckoo is like a plainer Fan-tail, but honestly, once you know the call, you'll realise this bird is everywhere (or maybe that's just Brisbane?). Thanks for all the support this year, Carole! :)

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  3. Nice set of encounters - I got some great views of Pink Eared Duck in Perth.

    Its going to a hot one here today - so it may be yo next!

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

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    1. Thanks Stewart, yes I am bracing for a 37C day tomorrow and planning on cooling off in the water somewhere! The Pink-ears are more common in the west but inland drought has seen them turn up all over Brisbane this year - very special!

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  4. An excellent year for wildlife encounters! - and blogging! Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment, Kat! :)

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  5. Hi Christian. Wonderful post of your 2013 sighting. Loved the pink eared duck. Never seen one that close.

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    1. Thanks Margaret, yes it's a beautiful little bird, that one!

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  6. The tree frog is my favourite. When I saw the red browed finch picture, I completely mis-read it and was trying to work out what the little red insects were. It's been a LONG Christmas.

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    1. Haha! Hopefully you can ease into 2014 gently! I think the Tree Frog photo is my favourite too. I like the colours, the pose of the animal and the fact that the night flash didn't give too much red-eye.

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  8. Great sightings, especially the Tandanus catfish. That Green Tree Frog is a beauty, a real treasure.
    Got to love our native wildlife!!

    Ben

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    1. Thanks Ben, glad there's someone else out there who appreciates the aquatic beauties!

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