Several species are flowering now. From the tiny Caterpillar Orchid (Plexaure crassiuscula) with flowers about 1.5mm small
to the large Oak Orchids (Dendrobium jonesii.
Other epiphytes are the Buttercup Orchid (Dendrobium agrostophyllum)
this Northern Thumbnail Orchid (Dendrobium nugentii)
and this small Common Snake Orchid (Bulbophyllum johnsonii syn. Serpenticaulis johnsonii)
Pink Lady Fingers ( Caladenia carnea) are ground orchids, which grow along the drier road verges here
and so is this Northern Sun Orchid (Thelmytra queenslandica).
Someone has already nibbled on this flower! Orchids are tasty, and not just insects, pademelons and possums eat them: yesterday I watched a cassowary pecking at the flowerbuds of a Giant Boatlip Orchid, which was just within reach.
So far, I could identify 19 species of orchids on our property, hopefully more to come!
If you think that the adult male Victoria’s Riflebird is just a black bird with a few blue bits, you haven’t seen one in the right light, yet.
With the sun shining on him from the right angle, he is very colourful indeed:
Combined with his shape-shifting display he truly is one of our most magnificent birds.
Our adult males haven’t been performing their display dances for several weeks now, and we haven’t seen much of our females, which could mean that they have mated already and the females are busy with their nests. The adult males know not to waste their energy on futile displays, but of course the young, brown males are still practising .
Several other species of birds are breeding early this year. We’ve observed Mountain Thornbills, White-throated Treecreepers and Yellow-throated Scrubwrens putting the finishing touches on their nests a couple of weeks ago.
Our male cassowary is running a bit late (he lost his first clutch and is still leading the sole survivor of his second one) and the female is patiently following him around. She invites him to mate with her by sitting down near him, but he is still reluctant and usually walks quietly away from her.
It has been a very mild winter so far. Only once did the temperature drop below 10 degrees in the morning. After many drizzly days, we now have stable, sunny conditions. Perfect for our python, which has moved from King Parrots to larger prey. It had a more bandicoot-sized bulge recently and it spent a few days in a sunny spot digesting it.
A pencil-thin juvenile Northern Dwarf Crown Snake was seen near the house,
and this good-sized huntsman was out and about, too.
Some Creek Satinash (Syzygium smithii) and Scented Satinash (Syzygium oleosum) are fruiting, attracting Satin Bowerbirds, the odd Spotted Catbird
and one immature Golden Bowerbird.
The Crimson Rosellas are feeding on the small nuts of Dodder Laurel (Cassytha filiformis), and you can hear their tinkling contact calls through the forest.
A small flock of Silvereyes is tucking into the fruits of the Red Cluster Heath (Acrotriche aggregata).
Dad’s youngster, now about 6-7 months old, is losing its stripes and is venturing a bit further away from dad when they are feeding.
Apart from mistletoes, there is not much flowering in the canopy now, and the Yellow-bellied Gliders have returned to their feeding trees. Fresh cuts in the bark, running with sap, are attracting regular visitors: birds and insects during the day, moths and other gliders at night. Sugar Gliders (now Krefft’s Glider), Broad-toed Feathertail Gliders and Striped Possums have all returned to the Red Mahogany restaurants. Spotlighting guests even found two Greater Gliders high up in a Rose Gum a few days ago. Greater Gliders are strict leaf-eaters, specializing in just a few species of eucalypts.
It appears that we have a new male tree-kangaroo, who often hangs out in the same part of forest
The riflebirds are busy displaying near the cabin. There were even 2 mature males displaying to each other on the same stump.
It seems the mild conditions are tempting some birds into an early breeding season: A Mountain Thornbill has built a nest nearby and a pair of Spotted Pardalotes is looking for a suitable site.
Autumn in Wondecla means cassowary season: fruit in the rainforest is getting sparser, whereas there is plenty of tucker in the wet sclerophyll forest.
One month ago Dad re-appeared with one small stripey chick in tow. This confirmed our suspicion, that he lost his first clutch of eggs (or newly hatched chicks) after mating late July. He had a second attempt at breeding in November, but only one chick survived.
For the last few weeks our forest has been producing a lot of berries: some Lilly-pillies, some Cissus “grapes” , lots of native ginger berries, a good number of Red Cluster Heath berries (as small as hundreds and thousands, but not too small for cassowaries!) and huge amounts of Mackinlaya macrosciadea fruits. This year, the cassowaries really love them, whereas in previous years they were not very popular. Maybe they are tastier (more nutritious) this autumn.
It is always interesting to check cassowary droppings in order to see on what they are feeding.
Wattle, the dominant female, has her eye on Dad already, following him around occasionally. We hope his fathering instinct is still stronger than his desire to mate, as his chick is only about 4 months old and much too young to be left alone.
Goldfinger’s chicks, 7-8 months old, are almost ready to venture into the big world by themselves now.
Miss March also comes through every now and then. She has grown into an impressive young lady, about as tall as Wattle, however not quite as bulky, yet.
Cassowaries are keen on protein, too, so when Dad came across a dead honeyeater, he tried to show his youngster how to deal with it, but try as it might, the chick couldn’t swallow the bird and in the end Dad gobbled it up himself.
This wet season left us about 500mm short of our average rainfall, but a low near the coast right now might be just making up for it.
Many birds have been molting, like this Satin Bowerbird, wondering what happened to his tail:
Some Victoria’s Riflebirds started displaying again a few weeks ago, but it should only be a short practice period before the proper season begins in winter.
We’ve had another pademelon baby
just out of the pouch:
In summer, the Grey-headed Robins stray further from the creek and are often seen and heard in and around our small clearing between house and cabin.
Many other smaller birds are also easier to see:
This season’s immature Grey Goshawk is on the lookout for King Parrots and even had a go at the cassowary chicks (Dad was not amused and hissed at the swooping raptor).
Whereas the leeches are on the lookout for our blood!
One of the King Parrot males seems to be a teenage dad, he still hasn’t acquired his full adult plumage:
Late summer is also a good time for insects:
Black Jezebel, and its chrysalis:
“Goldfinger”s chicks have grown well and lost their stripes:
The Rose Gums have begun to flower, attracting many honeyeaters and lorikeets. One tree next to the cabin had about 20 Little Lorikeets feeding in it for days.
Some of the vines and shrubs are getting ripe berries now and the fruit-eaters should be arriving soon from the nearby rainforest (we’ve seen the first Spotted Catbird last week and the cassowaries are coming by more often).