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)
, Cheese Trees (Glochidion ferdinandi) and Brown Bloodwoods (Corymbia trachyphloia), as well as my new favourite climbing plant, the lovely Native Sarsaparilla (Hardenbergia violacea). August is also a prime flowering month for plants so iconically Australian that they even inspire our national colours of green and gold - the wattles. 

Brisbane Golden Wattle (Acacia fimbriata) and Black Wattle (A. concurrens), Ormiston

Unfortunately it wasn't all sunshine and pretty flowers in the Redlands this month. On a wet weekend with reduced visibility out on the coastal waters, a Stradbroke Island ferry hit a pair of Southern Right Whales (Eubalaena australis) that had been temporarily calling Moreton Bay home for the winter. Right Whales suffered terrible losses during the reign of the whaling industry last century (their common name refers to their being viewed as the 'right' whales to hunt), and some authorities list the Southern species as endangered even today. With these marine mammals being rare migrants to Moreton Bay from southern waters, it is very upsetting that one of the individuals hit by the ferry died from the severe injuries it received, and the fate of its companion is unknown. If a sophisticated, professional watercraft can't avoid such large and seemingly obvious creatures as these whales, it does make you wonder how many smaller Dugongs (Dugong dugon) and turtles are struck by boats in the bay on a regular basis.

Southern Right Whale, Moreton Bay; Photo by Darren Burns

Fan-tailed Cuckoo, Bilambil Heights;
Photo by Adrian Perrin

Now on to happier things! This month I celebrated my 31st birthday by going on a birdwalk with my Dad around the Terranora Broadwater, near Bilambil Heights. Growing up in Kenya and South Africa instilled a strong appreciation for nature into my Dad at a young age, and he made sure to pass it on to me too when I was a boy. Now it is nice to be able to teach him some things for a change; after giving him a few tips on how to use my camera, he took a great shot of a Fan-tailed Cuckoo (Cacomantis flabelliformis) that had posed perfectly for him. I drove back to Brisbane afterwards to have dinner with my Mum on the Sandgate seafront, as we watched the 'supermoon' rise up above the water. It was one of my best birthdays yet!


Golden Whistler (Pachycephala pectoralis),
Lota
Elsewhere, there have been consistent reports of Swift Parrots (Lathamus discolor) in the Logan area this month, particularly Gould Adams Park in Kingston. This is an endangered species that breeds in Tasmania over the summer, then migrates to the eastern mainland states during winter. Next time you hear of plans to resume logging in Tasmania's old-growth forests, remember that it affects the wildlife around us here in Queensland too. Other interesting birds sighted recently include a pair of White-headed Pigeons (Columba leucomela) on powerlines in suburban Albany Creek, and Speckled Warblers (Chthonicola sagittatus) in the acacia woodlands beside Lake Samsonvale.


Brisbane Two-tailed Spider (Tamopsis brisbanensis),
Joyner
One of my best friends is set to travel from London to Australia for the first time next month, and will spend a decent amount of time here in Brisbane. I have been scouting locations where I might be able to show her some iconic Aussie animals in their natural environment. My favourite Koala (Phascolarctos cinereus) spot so far is along the Forgan Cove trail by Lake Samsonvale, where I have been able to find an individual or two on each trip. I often see them sitting on the lower tree branches in this location, which is unusual in my experience. Though they are usually in the Spotted Gums (Corymbia citriodora), I also observed one female sleeping in a Brush Box (Lophostemon confertus), reminding me that Koalas don't just eat eucalypt leaves! The Koalas share their home around the lake with many other interesting animals, all of which I hope to point out to my friend. She has timed her visit well, as the coming months are some of the best to go wildlife-watching in my opinion. Maybe we'll see you out there on the trails!

Short-necked Turtle (Emydura macquarii), Joyner

14 comments:

  1. Thanks for the info about Koalas and the Forgan Cove Trail. Love the Two-tailed Spider.

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    1. No worries! I'm sure you'll put the info to good use with your great photos and blog! :)

      I was quite taken with the spider myself. It blends in perfectly with the eucalyptus trunk and I only noticed it by its shadow!

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  2. The whale shot is a bit shocking - I read about this incident. Great other pictures.

    I don't think my Friday Mammals thing is a goer - and don't forget that my Wild BIrd Wednesday stays open until Saturday!

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

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    1. Lots of negative comments about that whale photo when it was shown in the newspapers. It seems people don't like to come face to face with the cost of their lifestyle!

      Thanks for the reminder with WBW - I didn't realise it went on for a few days! :)

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  3. sorry about the whale. poor thing. happy 31st to you! sounds like a great way to spend it. do enjoy your time with your friend!

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    1. Thanks for the birthday wishes, it was a great day! I agree about the whale, such a waste of life for no reason.

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  4. Christian, What a mangled mess that poor whale is in. A terrible tragedy, all the more so if it is endangered. And I had never thought why it was named “right” but your explanation is unfortunately all too believable.

    Good to hear of your returning favours to Dad. They do come in useful sometimes.

    I’m sure that your friend will have a great time with your expert guidance together with your knowledge of so much Australian wildlife. Do you have room for one more student? I’m just longing to see the Cheese Tree.

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    1. Haha! Well funny you should mention the Cheese Tree as I showed it to Mum the other day and she was very impressed! It bears fruit that look like fancy little wrapped cheeses, but it is a standard tree by any other measure.

      That whale incident is just terrible, that photo strikes a nerve with everyone who sees it!

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  5. So sad about the whale. Love your other photos.

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    1. Thanks Linda, glad you enjoyed the non-gross photos! :)

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  6. So sorry about the whale. they are such noble beasts. A very happy birthday to you!!! x

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  7. Wow! That whale shot is quite disturbing!
    I photographed my first Fan-tailed Cuckoo at Gold Creek Dam a couple of weeks ago.

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    1. Nice! I will rummage through your blog posts and see if I can find it! :)

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