Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Year in Review: The Best Wildlife Encounters of 2017

A peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus) flies over the rooftops on the Sunshine Coast.

2017 was a great year for adventures in the bush and encounters with incredible wildlife! Here’s some of the creatures, places and events that made an impact on me, and in some cases, the entire region:

A red-eyed tree frog searches for a mate on the Springbrook Plateau.

In January, I joined Adam Maund and the Springbrook Wildlife Appreciation Group for a night of frog-spotting, and this wonderful experience heralded 2017 as ‘Year of the Frog’ for me. Standing in a rocky cascade and being surrounded by dozens of gorgeous red-eyed tree frogs (Litoria chloris) uttering their powerful calls is an experience I won’t soon forget. I had so much fun that when a similar opportunity arose with Logan City Council later in the year (thanks Judith Vink!), I couldn’t help but attend!

Regenerating riparian rainforest shades Norman Creek in Annerley.

Inner suburb beauty: Exciting and unusual wildlife experiences can be had here among our suburbs, not just in the remote wilderness. A walk around Bulimba in November offered a good example of that, with beautiful skinks and nesting birds found alongside busy pedestrian pathways. Even better was a visit to a bushcare site tended to by N4C in Annerley earlier in the year, where I found an urban oasis filled with turtles, possums, birds and fish.

A ghost fungi clump fruiting on fallen timber in Scribbly Gums Conservation Area.

2017 saw me purchase a field guide on subtropical fungi from the Queensland Museum, and my life changed forever with a newfound curiosity and appreciation for mycology. A wet autumn and spring allowed for some interesting finds on the Sunshine Coast, but my favourite discovery was an impressive stack of bioluminescent ghost fungi (Omphalotus nidiformis) on a log in the Redlands. 

In June, I made my first video blog, featuring the wildlife and plants of the Maroochy River’s middle reaches.

A golden penda brightens up a park in Chapel Hill.

Brisbane turned bright gold in May, thanks to a great flowering season had by a common street tree, the golden penda (Xanthostemon chrysanthus). Though it is native to North Queensland rather than our immediate local area, it doesn’t appear to invade remnant bushland the way that the umbrella trees (Schefflera actinophylla) do. Best of all, they offer a great nectar source for lorikeets, honeyeaters and insects at a time when not much else is in flower.

Early morning in Boondall Wetlands Reserve.

One of the year’s first adventures involved a pre-dawn start in Boondall. A brush cuckoo (Cacomantis variolosus) singing at sunrise in the Boondall Entertainment Centre grounds made the early start worth it, as did a collared sparrowhawk (Accipiter cirrocephalus) seen in the famous wetlands nearby.

An orange-fingered yabby (Cherax depressus) takes advantage of floodwaters in Mooloolah River National Park.

Cyclone Debbie—the deadliest cyclone to hit Australia since Cyclone Tracy—wreaked havoc in Queensland during March and April, and the south-east corner of the state was not spared, with floods and road washouts causing major problems.

Rare plants and lichens thriving in the mist on Mount Cordeaux.

A rainy, cool, spring day up on Mount Cordeaux offered encounters with the rare Albert’s lyrebird (Menura alberti), a friendly rufous fantail (Rhipidura rufifrons) and a menagerie of mountaintop plants. The moody weather conditions allowed for dramatic vistas and complete solitude on the tracks.

A yellow-billed spoonbill (Platalea flavipes) bathed in the light of a golden sunset at Cooby Dam.

On 13th May this year, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology hosted the Global Big Day, an event where birdwatchers from all around the world try to see as many birds as they can in one day, compiling a list of species as they do so. I chose to participate by travelling out to Toowoomba and surrounds, where I hoped to record at least 100 different species. By tackling different habitats in places like Redwood Park and Cooby Dam, I was able to find birds as varied as regent bowerbirds (Sericulus chrysocephalus) and zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata), locating a grand total of 101 species by the day’s end. Best of all were some encounters with species I’d never seen before, like the red wattlebird (Anthochaera carunculata) and hoary-headed grebe (Poliocephalus poliocephalus).

Early morning light filters through the palms on Tamborine Mountain.

A lovely winter’s morning in Areca Gully’s piccabeen palm (Archontopheonix cunninghamiana) grove opened my eyes to the wonderful work being done in that area by the Tamborine Mountain Landcare group. 

And lastly, thanks to a joint archiving initiative by both the Queensland State Library and the National Library of Australia, this Wild BNE blog will, as of this year, be saved for posterity on the Pandora database

Thank you for your support and interest in my blog this year, and I look forward to seeing you in wild Brisbane during 2018!


  1. Great work as always, Christian! Brisbanites have enjoyed more nature this year, thanks to you.

    1. Thank you, and they've also enjoyed more nature thanks to the wonderful efforts of you and yiur organisation! ☺