RAINBIRD: The call of the koel is a familiar sound when rain is on the way. Yvonne Cunningham photographed this juvenile koel in her nursery garden at Coquette Point just before the recent heavy rains.
WILDWATCH by LAWRIE MARTIN
Despite many people dismissing the concept of some animals being able to predict – with some accuracy – future weather events, conversation has revealed a growing band of district residents who are starting to accept animals have an in-built barometer which rings alarm bells when dramatic meteorological changes are afoot.
Members of this expanding band claim resident insects, such as ants for example, were busily gathering and storing food with far more intensity than usual several days before Tropical Cyclone Yasi struck with all its fury on that eventful day in February last year.
_by ANNE WILKINSON.
_This is an amazing, and for the natural world if not for we humans, an energy-rich time of year.
Hot and uncomfortably humid it may be, but the plants just love it. Trees are bursting into life, almost as if the bits remaining to them have been pushed into action by the cyclone.
Insects, many large and quite beautiful, like the varied butterflies and dragonflies so prevalent at this time, bumble around, sometimes colliding with one as one walks. What a privilege it is to have a Ulysses butterfly land on one’s shoulder, or a large green dragonfly perch on one’s hand. And in many places it is worth taking a second look, because all is often not what it seems.
On a young currajong tree in the garden, for example, what I thought was new growth was not one, but two, giant stick insects. They merged so well with the colour of the real twigs that to look away was to lose them. By next morning they were gone.
_by ANNE WILKINSON
Welcome to a new year which we hope will be kinder to everyone – humankind and wildlife – than 2011.
And, of course, nothing has stopped in the wild world over the holiday. In fact, it has been quite a busy time.
The big female cassowary, not seen for some weeks, has once again taken to wandering in the wildwatch garden. She examines everything so carefully, walking deliberately as if she is considering every step. It is good to see she is in wonderful condition, her black feathers shiny and her red and blue neck and wattles bright. Her eyes are bright too. If ever a creature had “presence” it is this cassowary.
Each week The Tully Times features an article by Anne Wilkinson for the Wildlife Preservation Society (Tully Branch) called WILDWATCH
A wonderfully informative view of the Cassowary Coast Region from Mahogany Glider country.
by ANNE WILKINSON.
Turtles are having a hard time with so much of the seagrass lost.
At this time of the year along the Cassowary Coast, turtles are breeding.
Females are coming to the beaches to make the arduous trek into the dunes to lay their eggs which, in due time, will hatch and a new generation will take to the seas.
It is an awe-inspiring thought to understand this has been happening for much longer than mankind has been on the earth. It is a barely changed pattern which, literally, seems as old as time.
by ANNE WILKINSON
The arrival of spring is greeted with mixed feelings by many people. Hot,blustery and short on useful rain, this can be a harsh season, so there is all the more reason to care for the creatures that can help humans get through it, then cope with the following rainy season in comfort. One pest that is beginning to make its presence felt is the mosquito. No one welcomes mosquitoes, so attracting those insects that can help control them seems like a good idea. Planting for insect eating birds and attracting lizards and frogs will go a long way to reduce the numbers of these pests that breed so rapidly and are so unwelcome.
by ANNE WILKINSON.
A little survivor of Cyclone Yasi was the welcome star of the latest well attended meeting of the Mahogany Glider Yasi Recovery group.
He was called Anniken, named by one of the international students who had paid their own way to Australia to help DERM monitor these highly endangered gliders in the wake of the giant cyclone.
As Annikin looked with what appeared to be real interest from the top of the bag held by QPWS Senior Conservation Officer Mark Parsons who is in charge of the on-the-ground work being carried out, it was impossible not to be moved.
Tiny and beautiful with clean, soft fur and huge eyes, the little glider – a wild animal – trustingly accepted the smiles and touches of those surrounding him.
by ANNE WILKINSON.
This has been a week of questions and, hopefully, an averted tragedy.
First, a truly resounding crash on the kitchen window revealed a young yellow-spotted honeyeater lying on the lawn outside.
At first we thought it was dead, but it moved its head and, just like a person recovering from a collision, while it was obviously dazed and very shaken, it gradually regained consciousness.
by ANNE WILKINSON
photo courtesy Wet Tropics Management Authority.
A recent edition of The Weekend Australian Magazine featured, at first glance, a most amazing picture.
It was of a child lying smiling on the back of a large saltwater crocodile. The scene was the Daly River and the crocodile looked as if it was also smiling and peaceful. It was not. It was dead.
The crocodile had apparently scared the children, which were swimming, when it hauled itself out of the water on to the bank.
That was when it suddenly died.
The local policeman collected it up, intending to present its skeleton to a school for study purposes. When he opened it he found the cause of its death. There was a fresh cane toad in its stomach.
We are generally seeing fewer cane toads than we used to here in our region, but they are still a menace and have been responsible for the loss of much of our valuable wildlife. Following Cyclone Yasi a fresh influx of immature cane toads was noticeable, especially in gardens and other places where there were nooks and crannies in which they could shelter, so despite the apparent drop in population the war against these introduced and highly toxic pests is still important.
Having in the last couple of weeks found a number of large cane toads in the garden I decided to consult the experts. All the cane toad statistics are huge and give much food for thought.
by ANNE WILKINSON.
While all birds are welcomed in the Wildwatch patch of forest, it was particularly exciting the other day to hear the calls of black-faced cuckoo shrikes. That they were a pair was soon evident as both flew to the same branch where they sat side by side. These were the first black-faced cuckoo shrikes we had seen since the cyclone.
Often called shufflewings, from their habit of flipping their wings into place, as if seeking the most comfortable position, on landing, the black-faced cuckoo shrike was one of the first bird species our family nursed to adulthood.
Eagle, as we called him, from his habit when he was learning to fly of soaring to the top of the tallest piece of furniture in the room and gazing down upon us, confirmed for us the valuable lesson all animal lovers know – that every wild creature, like each human, has its own character, and contact with humans brings this out.