Little Red Flying-foxes and Spectacled Flying-foxes

Little Red Flying-foxes

The Red Mahogany trees (Eucalyptus resinifera) in our area finally began to flower a couple of weeks ago, and, as expected, are attracting large numbers of Little Red Flying Foxes (Pteropus scapulatus).

They are easily distinguished from other large fruit bats: their wing-membranes are translucent in flight and they are considerably smaller than the other large flying- foxes. Brush-like tongues (like lorikeets) make collecting nectar and pollen very efficient.

They feed at night, although at the moment they are arriving in our forest as early as 3pm. We very much enjoy listening to them: they constantly call to each other with soft, fluting whistles, and, of course, also squabble noisily. In this video, the calls in the background are being made by Scaly-breasted and Rainbow Lorikeets.

During the day, Little Reds gather in campsites, which they occupy for as long as there are flowering trees nearby.

The summer months are mating season, so you can watch them courting, play-fighting, mating

and cuddling up:

Males are well-endowed, and, like other flying-foxes, anoint their neck ruffs with a smelly liquid from their penis, which they rub onto branches for scent-marking.

There was a severe heatwave in North Queensland in late November, which caused the death of thousands of the much rarer Spectacled Flying-foxes (Pteropus conspicillatus) along the coast (Little Reds are more heat-tolerant). It is  birthing season for the Spectacleds, and many babies were orphaned.

The Bat Hospital near Atherton has currently more than 500 bats in care, with volunteers working around the clock to look after them.

For more information, booking a guided tour, or donations:  www.tolgabathospital.org

Ex-tropical cyclone Owen just passed over our area, bringing wind and lots of rain. Interestingly, the Little Red Flying-foxes came in to feed very early (at 3pm) the day before yesterday, and not at all yesterday/last night. They may have known something…

New Tree-kangaroo Baby

King Parrot in Lilly-pilly

Winter in Wondecla: reptiles and insects are making themselves scarce. Leaf-tailed Geckos are hiding in hollows,Gecko April2018

this Carpet Python is seeking out warm rocks.Python April2018

There are still a few stick-insects around, like this Maclaey’s Sceptre.Mackleay's Spectre April2018

Crested Shrike-tits are calling often, and are checking lose strips of bark for spiders and ants (as do  Victoria’s Riflebirds). Several smaller species of birds are also patrolling the tree trunks, not just the White-throated Tree-creepers, but Pied Monarch Flycatchers and even  Mountain Thornbills.

crested shrike-titApril2018

The platypus in our creek is active even in the middle of the day, sometimes travelling surprisingly nimbly and fast overland to avoid obstacles in the water.PlatypusApril2018

One of our Northern Brown Bandicoots, a nocturnal species, is often out and about in the afternoons.bandicootApril2018

The Rose Gums are still flowering, so there is a cacophony of Scaly-breasted and Rainbow Lorikeets in the canopy, especially in the mornings.

Creek Satinash (Syzygium smithii) are fruiting heavily, attracting flocks of Satin Bowerbirds and King Parrots,King Parrot in Lilly-pillyApril2018

which are being often scattered by a juvenile Collared Sparrowhawk, honing its hunting skills (still a lot of honing to do!)

Amongst the Sparrowhawk’s distinguishing features is the elongated middle toe (longer than in the similar Brown Goshawk).

Sparrowhawk juv April2018

A big surprise was this female Tree-kangaroo, who was spotted a few days ago by our guests near the cabin. What looked like a black foot was, on closer inspection, the head of a very small joey sticking out of the pouch!new tree-roo joey June2018(photo taken by Stacey Rod)

It looks like this might be a different female than the one we saw a couple of months ago with a large daughter by her side (see our March blog).

Another proud mum is this Red-legged Pademelon:pademelon April2018

Possum On A Hot Tin Roof

Brushtail Possum slleping on hot roof

When we opened the garage door the other day, this young Brushtail Possum almost tumbled from the roof. It managed to hold onto the gutter and pull itself up again. It had chosen the narrow space between the corrugated steel roof and the solar panels before dawn as a sleeping place for the day, but there was more to the bargain ( how could it know,  that it  would be so hot at midday!).

possum on hot tin roof

He licked his arms, paws and the bare underside of his tail to keep cooler, at times he dozed off, but he kept tossing and turning until later in the afternoon. The piece of juicy apple we offered was eagerly taken!hot possum

Having recently separated from his mother, he is still learning what’s smart for a possum.
Other young animals are also on the move: we spotted a small platypus in the shallow section of our creek near the cabin. What a surprise!  Our creek is not a  permanent habitat for a platypus, as sections of it often dry up after dry winter months.

The Lumholtz’s Tree-kangaroo baby is still keeping close to its mother (I spotted them near the creek last week). It has grown considerably since this photo was taken by one of our guests (Geoff Collins) in November:

Geoff's Tree-roo_1

 

Green Ringtail Possum and Baby

 

Spring is here:

Symplocos trees are in full flower:

so are Hovea shrubs:

Many birds are starting their breeding business:
Eastern Spinebills are courting and one of the females is picking up tiny bits of eggshell and fluffy nesting material, Bridled Honey-eaters are mating, Mrs Riflebird appears to be feeding a nestling (instead of eating banana on the spot, she is flying away with big chunks in her beak), there is already an immature White-naped Honey-eater coming to the bird bath every day, Eastern Whipbirds are travelling through the undergrowth with 3 offspring in tow, the list goes on.
Marsupials also are showing up with either extended pouches (Pademelons, Swamp Wallabies and Brush-tailed Possums) or babies on foot, like our Lumholtz’s Tree-kangaroo (see the previous blog).
On Sunday we saw a patch of olive-green on top of a Cissus vine along our creek. That wasn’t a bit of flora, but a Green Ringtail Possum with a very small baby!


They were out rather early, while it was still light (they are normally nocturnal animals), but mum was probably very  hungry, having to produce milk for her offspring.
Green Ringtail Possums don’t sleep in tree hollows, like a lot of other possum species, but spend the day curled up in a tree, relying on their excellent camouflage, like this one:

The pink nose gave it away, though!

Ringtail Possums have a very prehensile tail, which they use like an extra hand.

They were both feeding on the Cissus leaves, which is a favourite with many possums and tree-kangaroos.

Every now and then the little one briefly made its way into the pouch for a drink:

Baby Tree-kangaroo

A week ago we saw a tree-kangaroo in a small tree close to our cabin. It looked like the one which has been in the area for the last couple of months.

To our delight, she had a baby with her! It must have left the pouch only recently, and was eagerly climbing around in mum’s vicinity.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nDGb1daXEjw?rel=0&w=560&h=315]

They were in a Red Mahogany sapling, a very suitable tree for practising: easy to grip due to the small circumference and the rough bark. Mum was feeding on Smilax leaves, one of her favourite foods.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hd1oG42-J88&w=560&h=315]

Hopefully, they’ll hang around for a while!