Cassowaries and Tree-kangaroos

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.

5 year old cassowary and 2 month old chick

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.

 

Tree-kangaroo mum and big daughter

 

 

Victoria’s Riflebirds

immature Victoria's Riflebird

 

The riflebirds’ main breeding season is nearing its end, but it is peak time for the immature males to hone their dancing skills.

They display not only from the main perch near the cabin,

immature Victoria's Riflebird

but on just about any suitable branch or post. This one is on a stump less than 2 metres from our computer, just outside the window:

that one on the other side of the house:

immature Victoria's Riflebird

immature Victoria's Riflebird

They are quite enthusiastic and energetic:

Sometimes more than 2 males display to each other:

The young males are quite impressive, but nothing beats the elegance of a mature male:

adult & immature male riflebirds
adult & immature male riflebirds

adult male Victoria's Riflebird

adult male Victoria's Riflebird

adult male Victoria's Riflebird

Spring is here

Tree-roo baby close-up

The Turpentine trees have begun to flower, attracting honeyeaters and lorikeets during the day and Little Red Flying Foxes at night. The smaller Symplocos trees are in full bloom and some of our large Rainforest Rock Orchids have just finished flowering.

Symplocos flowers

 

Rainforest Rock Orchid

Several small flocks of Scaly-breasted Lorikeets are coming down from the canopy for a drink at the bird baths and pond.

Scaly-breasted Lorikeet

 

Many Scarlet Honeyeaters are setting up territories and building nests.

Scarlet Honeyeater, female gathering nesting material

White-throated Treecreepers, Rainbow Lorikeets , Macleay’s Honeyeaters, Golden and Rufous Whistlers are among the many other species also breeding now. Spangled Drongos arrived yesterday. Sacred Kingfishers are calling often.

Sacred Kingfisher, fluffed up

Everyone is very busy and it is difficult to decide where to sit and watch all that activity. Well, I happened to pick a good spot: while others are working hard,

David Parer filming riflebirds
David Parer filming riflebirds at the cabin

I am sitting on our veranda to write this. A female Lumholtz’s Tree-kangaroo is sitting about 5 metres away from me in a small Acacia, resting and feeding occasionally.

Tree-roo female

When she eventually turns around, I can see the joey, too .

Tree-roo mum with baby in pouch

Tree-roo baby in pouch

Tree-roo baby close-up

 

It is still very small and I am looking forward to see it leave the pouch!

For Love of Trees and Nature: Dendrophilia Nature Refuge

nature refuge

We are proud to announce that our property is now a Nature Refuge, the highest conservation status for private land in Queensland (comparable to National Parks).

Future owners (hopefully in the far distant future!) will be bound by this conservation agreement.between the QLD government and ourselves.

With increasing average and extreme temperatures, the Herberton Range is, together with the tops of Mt Bellenden Ker and Mt Bartle Frere, a most important refugium for many heat-sensitive species in the Wet Tropics (e.g. Lemuroid and Green Ringtail Possums, Golden Bowerbirds).

Professor Steve Williams of James Cook University has undertaken intensive studies over many years in that regard. You can listen to his talk on “Climate Change and Biodiversity of the Wet Tropics” by visiting the “Tree-kangaroo and Mammals Group” website:  https://www.tree-kangaroo.net/documents   or  youtube:

We harbour a faint hope that local councils will eventually awake to the fact that efforts like ours should be encouraged.

 

Moths

Queensland Day Moth, Alcides metaurus

Australia has 20-30000 species in the order Lepidoptera, of which about 450 are butterflies. There isn’t a big difference between butterflies and moths. Both usually have a coiled proboscis and four scaly wings. Some butterflies are active at night, and numerous moths  fly during the day,  many of those have clubbed antennae. One of our  more conspicuous species is the large Queensland Day Moth, Alcides metaurus (family Uraniidae):

Classifying moths is often not easy: one might have to look at their genitals, which are usually withdrawn into the abdomen! Therefore, some of the moths featured in our blog posts do not have a name to them (feel free to let us know, if you can identify them!), sometimes we cannot even  determine the family (there are about 80 families in Australia). Birds are so much easier!

A few nights ago, our mothlight attracted, amongst many Christmas and Rhinoceros beetles and other moths:

Aglasoma variegata (family Lasiocampidae):

viewed from another angle:

and a portrait, showing off the ‘woolly legs’:

Another species, holding the abdomen in an upright position, maybe for better camouflage:

Praesusica placerodes (family Limacodidae):

A front view reveals the striped legs:

and some more moths:

Hawk Moths (family Sphinghidae) are plentiful at the moment:

and so are the often very large Wood Moths (family Cossidae). The famous ‘witchetty grubs’ belong here.

The variety of patterns and shapes seems endless. These moths are well-adapted to life in eucalypt forests. You wouldn’t be able to spot them  amongst dried gum leaves:

or this moth on the bark of a Red Mahogany:

There surely will be more posts to come about moths, featuring our more unusual and/or colourful species!

A most beautifully presented, and very useful guide for identifying our local moths, is Buck Richardson’s book

Tropical Queensland Wildlife from dawn to dusk, Science and Art”.

Contact details for Buck are:

buckrichardson@leapfrogoz.com.au

www.leapfrogoz.com.au