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!