Why don’t people like us?

Sometimes life doesn’t seem fair. Here we are, performing a really important, useful service, day after day, year after year, uncomplainingly, and getting no recognition for it at all. Okay, I admit that being on the clean-up crew is rarely regarded as being a glamour job, but where would you be without us? Under a big pile of very smelly decaying organic matter, that’s where. (I’m not going to say ‘shit’, because most of it isn’t. Oops! I said it anyway. Tough.)

But it’s worse than that. Continue reading “Why don’t people like us?”

Magnetic Island profile

This blog is usually updated about twice per week so the gap since my last post is longer than I would have liked. I can’t even excuse myself by saying I have been away from home, but I do apologise.

We have been to Magnetic Island twice in the last fortnight and passed it on the way to Cape Cleveland two days ago. There should be at least one more post arising from these trips but meanwhile, here’s a photo from the last of them: the island as seen from the South-east, an unusual vantage point which puts Picnic Bay at the far left and Radical and Balding Bays at the right.

magnetic island
Magnetic Island from the South-east

The photo was taken from the ferry on the way to Cape Cleveland – another Wildlife Queensland excursion – on a blustery day of low cloud and occasional drizzle; the tops of Mount Cook (497m) which dominates the centre of the island, Mount Stuart (584m) and the spine of Cape Cleveland were all lost in cloud at various times. The overcast skies were such a contrast to our usual winter sunshine that the monochrome treatment seemed appropriate.

P.S. The organisers’ report on the trip is now on here on the WQ branch blog, with photos.

Magnetic Island walks: Nelly Bay to Arcadia and the Forts junction

The walking tracks

Magnetic Island walking track
Easy walking through the wattles

The walking track through the hills between Nelly Bay and Arcadia, with its extensions to the Sphinx Lookout and the Forts walk carpark, is longer than most and I hadn’t found an opportunity to explore it until last weekend. The weather was gorgeous and the landscape was at its best.

It isn’t possible to see all of these tracks without repeating at least one section (see map) and I walked from Arcadia to Nelly Bay, with the side trip to the Sphinx, Continue reading “Magnetic Island walks: Nelly Bay to Arcadia and the Forts junction”

A visit to Magnetic Island

Magnetic Island is very beautiful and is only twenty minutes by ferry from Townsville but we only get over there a couple of times per year. Here are some souvenirs, with minimal commentary, from our visit last weekend.

Landscapes

magnetic island walks
The beginning of the walking track up to Hawkings Point

Two walking tracks lead up from the Eastern end of Picnic St, Picnic Bay – one towards the Recreation Camp and the other, new us, to a lookout on top of Hawkings Point.

That’s the one we took, early on Saturday morning. It’s a short walk – less than an hour going up, even with stops for photography – and is rewarded by expansive views Continue reading “A visit to Magnetic Island”

Forts Walk, Magnetic Island

koala
Koala in a gumtree beside the Forts walking track

We visit Magnetic Island several times per year, often to share its pleasures with visitors from other parts of the country or overseas. Two of each were in town this week and we walked up to the Forts with them yesterday morning before spending the early afternoon around Alma Bay and Geoffrey Bay; I came home with enough wildlife photos to be worth sharing with a wider audience, so here they are.

half a dozen brown bats
Microbats clinging to the ceiling of a WW2 building

Five different species of microbats (i.e. not flying foxes) are listed for the Island. These may be Little Bentwing Bats but I’m not at all sure because I see bats so rarely. The whole cluster is only about 100 mm across.

lizard with orange head
A small skink beside the Forts track

Skinks are more familiar to most of us than bats but present a greater identification challenge: twenty species have been recorded on the Island, Steve Wilson devotes one third of his excellent  Field Guide to Reptiles of Queensland to “this large family” without saying how large it is, and Australian Geographic reckons there are nearly 400 species in Australia.

So far everything has been perfectly harmless, even the enormous Golden Orb-weaver whose net spanned our path (I wrote about them here and won’t repeat myself) and our English visitors were beginning to think that our gleeful stories of dangerous tropical wildlife were entirely fanciful. They weren’t, of course – we do have crocodiles, sharks and box jellyfish, even if we don’t really have drop-bears – but the most dangerous animals we saw on our walk were insects:

paper wasp nests
Paper wasp nests dangling from twigs just off the track

Paper wasps may be small but they defend their nests vigorously. Each wasp can sting many times (unlike a bee) and anyone disturbing a nest is likely to be attacked by all of its inhabitants. I wrote about them here (mostly about a different species but the life cycle is the same) and a close-up of these wasps (Ropalidia) is here.

black and gold beetle
Tortoise beetle – about ladybird size

This pretty little beetle is not dangerous at all unless you happen to be a plant. It is a Leaf Beetle (Chrysomelidae), a member of a large and varied family of mostly-colourful small beetles, and this kind is known as a Tortoise Beetle because of its shape. If we call it a Leaf Tortoise Beetle, as some people do, we know what it eats as well as what it looks like.

After the walk we took the bus back to Arcadia and spent most of the afternoon nearby. Our visitors enjoyed a low-tide stroll on Geoffrey Bay beach and loved the curlews around (and in!) the hotel, and the rock wallabies near the old car-ferry jetty. Rock Wallabies (Petrogale assimilis) are quite numerous on the island according to the Magnetic Island Wildlife site (“island-wide on rocky slopes, will use lowlands also when food or water are scarce”) but I have only ever seen them in this one location, where they are regularly fed:

Rock wallaby at feeding station
Rock wallaby at feeding station
two wallabies on rock
A smaller friend arrives
smaller rock wallaby with food
In sole possession

More information:

  • National Parks people have put together a good overview of Magnetic Island habitats and their non-human inhabitants.
  • Koalas are not native to the island but have been introduced. For general information about them, visit the Australian Koala Foundation or (especially for their evolutionary history) Wikipedia.
  • Curlews and a reef walk on Geoffrey Bay have already featured on Green Path.
  • There is more about curlews (my photos but not my text) here, on the Wildlife Qld branch blog.
  • More about the Rock Wallabies: Rootourism