Wildlife and Waterspouts!
|Buckley's Hole Conservation Park, Bribie Island.|
But these sunny days and clear skies of late almost seem like an apology from 'Mother Nature', after she unleashed a Sunday-afternoon thunderstorm upon us earlier this month that was breath-taking in its ferocity. Born in the hinterlands to the south-west of Brisbane, the storm cut power to some suburbs and then gained strength as it moved out over Deception Bay, forming waterspouts just off the southern coastline of Bribie Island.
Signs of storm damage were evident when I visited Buckley's Hole Conservation Park a few days later, on the south-western tip of the island. A large Pink Bloodwood (Corymbia intermedia) had been brought down by the wind, and the beach was a scoured out depression carved into the dunes. Wildlife can be pretty resilient however, and there was lots to see.
|Large Purple Line-Blue (Nacaduba berenice), Bribie Island|
|Female Hibiscus Harlequin Bug (Tectocoris diophthalmus)|
guarding her brood, Bribie Island.
This Conservation Park is of great value because it features both a freshwater and a saltwater wetland that are adjacent to one another (in fact, you can see both in the very first picture above), and the area is a wildlife haven. On my visit, I was fortunate enough to experience several special 'wild moments' in both wetland types. The first occurred when I saw a Collared Sparrowhawk (Accipter cirrocephalus) swoop in around the edges of the freshwater lagoon, scaring a flock of Nankeen Night-Herons (Nycticorax caledonicus) into flight as it did so. Navigating my way through thousands of sky-blue Soldier Crabs (Myctiris longicarpus) on the tidal flats was another lovely wildlife encounter for me, as I had similar experiences as a very young boy growing up in Sandgate.
|Comb-crested Jacanas, Bribie Island|
I followed the coastline around to Red Beach, spotting three different Tern species (Sternidae family), Red-capped Plovers (Charadrius ruficapillus) and a Mangrove Gerygone (Gerygone levigaster) on the way. In the dune woodland behind the beach, I had good views of Scarlet Honeyeaters (Myzomela sanguinolenta), Golden Whistlers (Pachycephala pectoralis) and White-throated Treecreepers (Cormobates leucophaea). I have sighted this latter species in different locations a few times this month, perhaps because I now recognise the piping call it makes and know to scan the tree-trunks when I hear it.
|Red-capped Plover, Bribie Island|
|Ruff on left, Sharp-tailed Sandpiper (Calidris acuminata) on right,|
Hemmant; Photo by Robert Bush
At this time of year, migratory waders that have spent the summer in Australia make the journey back to their Northern Hemisphere breeding grounds. Moreton Bay is a particularly important part of the 'flyway' these birds use, and many pass through here in September and April. One individual wader flying through - a Ruff (Philomachus pugnax) - has been the cause for much excitement among wildlife enthusiasts, as it is quite a rare migrant in Australia. The female bird (known as a 'Reeve') turned up in the eastern suburb of Hemmant, at a locality called 'Lindum Wetlands'. The bird has lingered on for a surprisingly lengthy time, and may be choosing to overwinter. One of the first observers of this rarity was Robert Bush, whose picture of it I have shown above and whose lovely blog you can check out here.
|A Scarlet Percher (Diplacodes haematodes) resting beside Kedron Brook, Gordon Park;|
Photo by Leah Mahoney
I went back to a section of Kedron Brook that I explored last year to see what had changed, and found the waterway to be teeming with life. Unfortunately, that mostly involved thousands of Cane Toad (Rhinella marina) tadpoles blotting the shallows with their dark little bodies, but schools of Spangled Perch (Leiopotherapon unicolor) and several Long-finned Eels (Anguilla reinhardtii) were also thriving. My friend Leah, always up for a wildlife adventure, was particularly excited to see a Short-necked Turtle (Emydura macquarii) surface midstream.
|Striated Pardalote, Keperra.|
|Wedge-tailed Eagle, Riverhills|
Throughout the month, I have made sure to fit bird-watching into my schedule by checking out nearby suburban reserves when I can. At Keperra Bushland, I spent a hot afternoon hiking up into some wooded hills filled with Striated Pardalotes (Pardalotus striatus) and Rainbow Bee-eaters (Merops ornatus). A lack of ground-cover and forest under-story allows for plenty of bare earth patches in the reserve; this undoubtedly creates a perfect habitat for two tunnel-nesting birds like the Pardalote and Bee-eater. A thicker shrub layer at a site called Wolston Creek Bushland Reserve, in the south-western suburb of Riverhills, means that a greater variety of birds can flourish in smaller numbers. I was pleased to see a Black-faced Monarch (Monarcha melanopsis), Varied Trillers (Lalage leucomela) and my first White-bellied Cuckoo-Shrike (Coracina papuensis) here. Even more thrilling was when all these birds suddenly became silent and still as a huge Wedge-tailed Eagle (Aquila audax) soared over the tree canopy.
|Swamp Rat, Mango Hill; Photo by John Jeffery|
See you next month, and enjoy Wild Brisbane!
|'Blood Moon' eclipse, East Brisbane|