|Green catbird; Photo by Aaron Wiggan.|
Last Saturday, seven intrepid explorers joined me for a walk around the rainforest circuit at the MacDonald section of Tamborine National Park.
Though the walk is only 1.4 kilometres long, there was plenty to see, so it took us an hour-and-a-half to complete.
The birdlife was quick to greet us as we began our stroll through the dimly-lit rainforest, with brown thornbills (Acanthiza pusilla), white-browed scrubwrens (Sericornis frontalis) and an Australian brush-turkey (Alectura lathami) all being seen in various levels of the undergrowth.
|Pale yellow robin; Photo by Aaron Wiggan|
Another great bird sighting was of an uncharacteristically quiet green catbird (Ailuroedus crassirostris).
It was feeding on piccabeen palm (Archontophoenix cunninghamiana) fruit, and kept making a short, high-pitched squeak instead of its famous loud wailing call.
When our attention wasn’t drawn up into the trees, we noticed amazing sights on the forest floor, such as a beautiful, placid land mullet (Bellatorias major).
|Land mullet; Photo by Aaron Wiggan.|
One of the largest skinks in the world, this jet-black stunner grows up to 70cm long and feeds mostly on plant matter as an adult.
|Leafless nodding orchid; Photo by Ute Harder de Sohnrey|
It was only when the exact species was confirmed later by a Facebook plant study group as a leafless nodding orchid (Epipogium roseum), that I learned what a fascinating plant it is; lacking chlorophyll, leaves and a traditional root system, it survives essentially as a parasite of fungi.
To be fair, the reason we didn’t linger on this fascinating organism was because we were enthralled by the equally fascinating sight of a spider burrow near a log.
At the time, the consensus was that it belonged to a funnel-web (Hadronyche species), but some further reading on rainforest spiders leads me to believe it may actually be the burrow of a wishbone spider (Namea species) instead.
As guest Emily suggested, I could have found out what it was by poking my finger down there… but I thought better of it! 😄
The greatest danger on the day came not from spiders but from the plants, as alongside the walking tracks in this National Park grows both the giant (Dendrocnide excelsa) and shiny-leaved stinging tree (D.photinophylla).
|Giant stinging trees; Photo by Aaron Wiggan.|
Both of these species are covered in fragile, venom-loaded silica hairs that act like tiny fire-tipped needles if brushed against, with the pain and discomfort from the encounter lasting weeks.
Luckily, we all exercised caution and were spared any agony!
|Orange-tailed shadeskink (Saproscincus challengeri).|
Finishing the morning with some refreshments at Sugar & Spice, the wildlife sightings continued, with a beautiful bladder cicada (Cystosoma saundersii) seen on the outdoor furniture, and a black-faced cuckoo-shrike (Coracina novaehollandiae) nesting in the tree above us.
Thank you Aaron, Emily, Judy, Chad, Beth, Ute and Jens for your excellent company and perceptive wildlife spotting—I hope to see you all again on a future Wild BNE excursion!
|Explorers in the jungle!|