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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Geographicreckons 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 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.
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:
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.