Mound-building birds on Magnetic Island

Walking up the hill behind Nelly Bay a few weeks ago, following the pipeline to Horseshoe Bay, I was surprised by an enormous mound beside the vehicle track.

megapode mound of leaf litter and earth
Megapode mound, with my hat for scale

My surprise wasn’t at the existence of the mound, but at its size. Continue reading “Mound-building birds on Magnetic Island”

Who knew that Bazas shelled their grasshoppers?

Pacific Bazas, also known as Crested Hawks, are beautiful birds of prey which are uncommon enough to call for a photo at every opportunity. We saw one in the Quarantine Station picnic grounds at Pallarenda on Friday as it flew up to perch in a tree.

From behind, we could see its head jerking up and down as it tore at prey which it was holding against its perch; from in front, I was able to get photos showing us what it was doing. It was carefully shelling a Giant Grasshopper in exactly the way we would shell a prawn, and for the same reason: to avoid the crunchy bits.

Pacific Baza with prey
Baza with lunch

Continue reading “Who knew that Bazas shelled their grasshoppers?”

Birds at Torrens Creek

Torrens Creek is a tiny town just to the west of White Mountains National Park and it’s a natural stopping point on a trip to Porcupine Gorge or White Mountains (or Rainsby, for that matter, although I haven’t been that way for a few years).

A pre-dinner ramble from the pub to the bore and beyond coincided with the birds’ sunset activity: a Crested Pigeon (Oxyphaps lophotes) on a power line was extremely dubious about something on the ground; a Magpie reckoned that the top of the bore was a great vantage point; and a Blue-faced Honeyeater in a bottlebrush tree was touched by golden evening light.

Crested Pigeon
Crested Pigeon

Continue reading “Birds at Torrens Creek”

A stroll up Mount Marlow

Perfect winter weather enticed fifteen walkers to join the Wildlife Queensland monthly excursion on the Sunday just past. The group met at the Freshwater bird hide (see Town Common map (pdf) if you’re not familiar with the park) at 9.00 and ambled along the causeway (someone called it a “dam wall”) to the foot of Many Peaks range near Bald Rock, then up to the top of Mount Marlow, the highest point of the range. I walked down it a year ago and commented that “I would rather go down it than up” but really, going up wasn’t too demanding. Continue reading “A stroll up Mount Marlow”

Freshwater Crocodiles in Ross River

We know they are there, but we don’t often see them – freshwater crocodiles in Ross River, that is.

Freshies, as many locals call them, are smaller than salties. They are generally shy, attacking only when startled into defending themselves; and when they do, their narrow jaws and relatively small teeth can’t do as much damage as a saltie’s heavy head, although the Australian Museum warns us that they can still cause serious injuries.

They can also be hard to spot, even in plain view.

crocodile on log
Catching some sunshine

Continue reading “Freshwater Crocodiles in Ross River”