Skip to main content


Wild Queensland: Photos and stories from my roadtrip north

Earlier this month, I drove up to Airlie Beach in the Whitsunday Region to celebrate the 40th birthday of my close friend, Kat. Photo by Luke Martin. Our time there overlapped for one weekend, in which we enjoyed swims, drinks, hearty dinners and a sailing adventure around the islands. The celebrations and wonderful catch-ups flew by quickly, but when Kat and her husband Luke flew back down south on Sunday, I still had a week's worth of time at my disposal to explore the nature of Queensland's coast. I started with a journey into the forests of Conway National Park, just a ten minute drive east of Airlie Beach. I spent a sunny, humid morning walking up to the peak of Mount Rooper, through vine scrub and eucalypt forest. It was exhilarating!  I immediately saw a new species of bird for me in the carpark there, a female olive-backed sunbird (Cinnyris jugularis). After so much rain earlier in the week, the forest floor was also teeming with amazing fungi! After lunch back in town,
Recent posts

When family fights: a drama on the mudflats

At Victoria Point on Sunday, the tide was out and I watched an interesting interaction between two bird species. One of them was a white-faced heron (Egretta novaehollandiae) that had been foraging on the mudflats for quite some time already. It was eventually joined by a little egret (Egretta garzetta). As you can tell from the genus of both species, they are closely related - essentially, you could call the heron a grey egret, and the egret a white heron if you wanted to. The egret began to forage by trailing the heron quite closely. Graham Pizzey in his excellent field guide notes that this behaviour by the egret allows it to capture prey items escaping unnoticed by the other bird. There was a certain invisible ring of comfort/discomfort around the heron, however, and whenever the egret crossed that barrier, the heron would become visibly bothered and rebuke the space invader (see the photo at the top of this page also). Af

Meet 'Blepharotes', the giant Aussie fly with a killer lifestyle

Last week, while exploring a patch of forest near Caboolture Airport, I disturbed an enormous flying insect that whirred past my head and landed a short distance away in the undergrowth. My first impression was that of a large, dark metallic blue wasp which was carrying something. Raising my binoculars to my eyes, however, revealed that I was looking at a huge, predatory fly—the giant blue robber fly (Blepharotes splendidissimus). What it was carrying was a poor, unfortunate scarab beetle, the spotted flower chafer (Neorrhina punctatum). It had been stabbed between its hardened wing cases by the fly’s mouthparts, receiving a dose of toxic, protein-destroying saliva in the process. With the beetle’s insides liquidized, the fly was slurping up the contents like some kind of entomological milkshake. The beetle is no shrinking violet itself and is only a little smaller than your average Christmas beetle in the same family. Hopefully that puts the size of the fly into perspective! Robber fl

The night I saw a zombie in South Brisbane Cemetery

I visited South Brisbane Cemetery recently, hoping to photograph nocturnal creepy-crawlies for a Halloween-themed blog post. And boy, did I find something creepy. I found a zombie!  Now I know what you might be thinking: “That man has watched too much Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and on that point, you are actually correct, but I swear that I did find a zombie, only I didn’t know it at the time. To me, it was just a spider. A spider with a small, white grub on its back. The spider belongs to the cobweb spider family Theridiidae, whose best known member in Australia is the red-back spider. This particular spider was pea-sized and had a messy web in the foliage of a weeping fig. I never figured out which species it is because learning about the grub became my focus, but if anyone reading this can enlighten me, please let me know. As for the grub, it’s the larval form of a wasp in the Ichneumonidae family, which are perhaps nature’s most famous parasitoids. * Within this family are a small g

Some stories and pictures from Hervey Bay

I recently spent five nights at the delightful Shelly Beach Motel in Urangan, Hervey Bay. A large portion of each day was spent photographing insects and spiders, some of which I’ve shared on the Wild BNE Facebook page. It wasn’t all invertebrate study though, and I thought I’d share some of my other experiences here.  On my first day, I headed into Vernon Conservation Park, halfway between Hervey Bay and Maryborough. When I arrived, I saw that the tracks were heavily degraded by dirt bikes and illegal 4WD use, and being the school holidays, I knew it wouldn’t be long before such vehicles arrived that day too. I decided to follow some very faint wallaby trails deeper into the park, and I did so just in time, as the roaring dirt bikes showed up just ten minutes later. I appreciated the stringybark woodland that the trails led through, weaving my way through a shrub layer composed of hakeas, she-oaks and grevilleas. The bike noise became distant enough to no longer intrude on my senses,

Reflections on the Cooloola BioBlitz

In May earlier this year, I had the honour of being invited to participate in the Cooloola BioBlitz as a Team Leader. Over the course of a weekend, I led two groups of lovely people around various sites near Rainbow Beach, searching for and identifying as many life forms as we could find. These sightings were then uploaded to iNaturalist in order to paint a full picture of the biodiversity occurring on the Cooloola Coast. Here I will share some of the highlights from the weekend! MISTLETOES Both groups I took out into the bush found amazing mistletoes! The most stunning of them all was a long-flowered mistletoe (Dendrophthoe vitellina) parasitising a paperbark, which then had two other species of mistletoe on it—a layer cake of parasitism! With the help of LaTrobe Natural History lecturer Gregg Müller, those two species were identified as the leafless jointed mistletoe (Viscum articulatum) and the golden mistletoe (Notothixos subaureus). It was such a fascinating find that I returned

Stunning fungi and other delightful sights seen on Redlands forest walk

Having spent the three days prior in pandemic lockdown, I was keen to kick off my Easter weekend with a few hours spent in a forest. I also wanted to be able to sleep in a little on Good Friday, so I picked a place less than half an hour’s drive away to visit: Redlands Track Park in Alexandra Hills. Also known by the much better name of Scribbly Gums Conservation Area, this place is large and its trails are many! Though there were also many mountain-bikers, dog-walkers and other users of the park there during my visit, there were hour-long stretches where I didn’t see another soul, which is just how I like my forest time! It was that kind of day where the forest washes over me, lulling me into a mood so tranquil that I don’t so much as walk among the trees, but rather glide through them. I see so much when I feel this way. There is treasure everywhere. On this walk, it came in the form of a gorgeous pair of shaggy caps (Boletellus emodensis), emerging from the base of a dead goliath ne