Cassowary chicks often hatch in September (rainforest fruits usually are most bountiful in spring and summer). As there is not much food for them in the wet sclerophyll forest at that time, we normally get to see the family in June/July, when the chicks are much bigger, have lost their stripes and are almost ready for life on their own.
Yesterday, though, 5 year old “Goldfinger” came by very late in the day with two small striped chicks. They are probably about 2 months old and his first offspring. He mated with “Wattle”, the alpha female in the area, in June 2019 (once even just outside our kitchen window!), but didn’t have any chicks that year.
Notice his wet feet: they had a drink from the creek not far down the track.
Tree-kangaroo joeys normally leave the pouch around September, and this season our female Lumholtz’s tree-kangaroo has 2 joeys on foot: last year’s daughter and the new baby.
The Red Mahogany trees (Eucalyptus resinifera) in our area finally began to flower a couple of weeks ago, and, as expected, are attracting large numbers of Little Red Flying Foxes (Pteropus scapulatus).
They are easily distinguished from other large fruit bats: their wing-membranes are translucent in flight and they are considerably smaller than the other large flying- foxes. Brush-like tongues (like lorikeets) make collecting nectar and pollen very efficient.
They feed at night, although at the moment they are arriving in our forest as early as 3pm. We very much enjoy listening to them: they constantly call to each other with soft, fluting whistles, and, of course, also squabble noisily. In this video, the calls in the background are being made by Scaly-breasted and Rainbow Lorikeets.
During the day, Little Reds gather in campsites, which they occupy for as long as there are flowering trees nearby.
The summer months are mating season, so you can watch them courting, play-fighting, mating
and cuddling up:
Males are well-endowed, and, like other flying-foxes, anoint their neck ruffs with a smelly liquid from their penis, which they rub onto branches for scent-marking.
There was a severe heatwave in North Queensland in late November, which caused the death of thousands of the much rarer Spectacled Flying-foxes (Pteropus conspicillatus) along the coast (Little Reds are more heat-tolerant). It is birthing season for the Spectacleds, and many babies were orphaned.
The Bat Hospital near Atherton has currently more than 500 bats in care, with volunteers working around the clock to look after them.
For more information, booking a guided tour, or donations: www.tolgabathospital.org
Ex-tropical cyclone Owen just passed over our area, bringing wind and lots of rain. Interestingly, the Little Red Flying-foxes came in to feed very early (at 3pm) the day before yesterday, and not at all yesterday/last night. They may have known something…
Winter in Wondecla: reptiles and insects are making themselves scarce. Leaf-tailed Geckos are hiding in hollows,
this Carpet Python is seeking out warm rocks.
There are still a few stick-insects around, like this Maclaey’s Sceptre.
Crested Shrike-tits are calling often, and are checking lose strips of bark for spiders and ants (as do Victoria’s Riflebirds). Several smaller species of birds are also patrolling the tree trunks, not just the White-throated Tree-creepers, but Pied Monarch Flycatchers and even Mountain Thornbills.
The platypus in our creek is active even in the middle of the day, sometimes travelling surprisingly nimbly and fast overland to avoid obstacles in the water.
One of our Northern Brown Bandicoots, a nocturnal species, is often out and about in the afternoons.
The Rose Gums are still flowering, so there is a cacophony of Scaly-breasted and Rainbow Lorikeets in the canopy, especially in the mornings.
Creek Satinash (Syzygium smithii) are fruiting heavily, attracting flocks of Satin Bowerbirds and King Parrots,
which are being often scattered by a juvenile Collared Sparrowhawk, honing its hunting skills (still a lot of honing to do!)
Amongst the Sparrowhawk’s distinguishing features is the elongated middle toe (longer than in the similar Brown Goshawk).
A big surprise was this female Tree-kangaroo, who was spotted a few days ago by our guests near the cabin. What looked like a black foot was, on closer inspection, the head of a very small joey sticking out of the pouch!(photo taken by Stacey Rod)
It looks like this might be a different female than the one we saw a couple of months ago with a large daughter by her side (see our March blog).
When we opened the garage door the other day, this young Brushtail Possum almost tumbled from the roof. It managed to hold onto the gutter and pull itself up again. It had chosen the narrow space between the corrugated steel roof and the solar panels before dawn as a sleeping place for the day, but there was more to the bargain ( how could it know, that it would be so hot at midday!).
He licked his arms, paws and the bare underside of his tail to keep cooler, at times he dozed off, but he kept tossing and turning until later in the afternoon. The piece of juicy apple we offered was eagerly taken!
Having recently separated from his mother, he is still learning what’s smart for a possum.
Other young animals are also on the move: we spotted a small platypus in the shallow section of our creek near the cabin. What a surprise! Our creek is not a permanent habitat for a platypus, as sections of it often dry up after dry winter months.
The Lumholtz’s Tree-kangaroo baby is still keeping close to its mother (I spotted them near the creek last week). It has grown considerably since this photo was taken by one of our guests (Geoff Collins) in November:
Many birds are starting their breeding business:
Eastern Spinebills are courting and one of the females is picking up tiny bits of eggshell and fluffy nesting material, Bridled Honey-eaters are mating, Mrs Riflebird appears to be feeding a nestling (instead of eating banana on the spot, she is flying away with big chunks in her beak), there is already an immature White-naped Honey-eater coming to the bird bath every day, Eastern Whipbirds are travelling through the undergrowth with 3 offspring in tow, the list goes on.
Marsupials also are showing up with either extended pouches (Pademelons, Swamp Wallabies and Brush-tailed Possums) or babies on foot, like our Lumholtz’s Tree-kangaroo (see the previous blog).
On Sunday we saw a patch of olive-green on top of a Cissus vine along our creek. That wasn’t a bit of flora, but a Green Ringtail Possum with a very small baby!
They were out rather early, while it was still light (they are normally nocturnal animals), but mum was probably very hungry, having to produce milk for her offspring.
Green Ringtail Possums don’t sleep in tree hollows, like a lot of other possum species, but spend the day curled up in a tree, relying on their excellent camouflage, like this one:
The pink nose gave it away, though!
Ringtail Possums have a very prehensile tail, which they use like an extra hand.
They were both feeding on the Cissus leaves, which is a favourite with many possums and tree-kangaroos.
Every now and then the little one briefly made its way into the pouch for a drink: