Sunday, 31 August 2014

August Wildlife Report

Rains bring mercy for some, but not others.

Warning: Graphic image may cause distress

Native Sarsaparilla, Ormiston
August is often a fairly dry month for Brisbane, but the clouds have paid no attention to the calendar in recent weeks. Heavy, soaking rains have settled in over successive weekends, reviving lowland catchment areas and showing mercy upon previously parched plant life. 

Before the rains hit, I undertook a plant survey along Hilliards Creek, in the Redlands. Longtime 'Wild BNE' fans may remember a post I made last year about the fish of this waterway, and once again, it was a beautiful place to spend time in. On this occasion, I was pleased to become acquainted with Weeping Figs (Ficus benjamina)

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Paradise Lost

Brisbane is changing. 

When people say this, they usually refer to the cosmopolitan aspirations of a city no longer content to be regarded as an overgrown country town. It is now a city that caters to an affluent, expansive and modern middle class, offering fine-dining, bars, shopping precincts and lifestyle options that rival those found in Sydney and Melbourne, perhaps for the first time in its history. But I have lived here long enough to notice other ways in which Brisbane is changing.

Rainbow Lorikeet, Bracken Ridge
When I was a young boy with a bird interest, I could study the feathered visitors to my garden and neighbourhood for hours. I especially loved the evenly-mixed flocks of Rainbow (Trichoglossus haematodus) and Scaly-breasted Lorikeets (T. chlorolepidotus) that would visit the grevilleas Mum had planted around our housing commission yard in Bracken Ridge. Today, the Rainbow Lorikeets are as numerous as ever around Brisbane's suburbs, but the Scaly-breasted 'Greenies' have disappeared for some reason, and the Pale-headed Rosellas (Platycercus adscitus) have gone with them. They are both still common birds in bushland reserves, but no longer in our gardens.

I point out subtle shifts like these because they pose the threat of becoming declines that are drastic and irreversible later on. We can't afford to be complacent or unobservant about these changes to wild Brisbane, because history tells us we should be concerned. If there's time for new restaurants, sports and party haunts, perhaps there's also time for a history lesson?

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Himalayan Quail

Animal of the Month

Himalayan Quail; Illustration by Tomasz Cofta

What's so special about it?

If you see this bird, you will possibly make news headlines around the world. The last verified sighting of the Himalayan Quail (Ophrysia superciliosa) was in 1876, and some authorities consequently list it as an extinct species. If the bird still exists, it doesn't assist in its own rediscovery; it has always been considered a difficult species to observe, only flying up out of dense grassland when it is in danger of being stood on.

Where can I see one?

As its name suggests, the Himalayan Quail is only known from the Himalayan Ranges, specifically the western section of