Rainbow Lorikeet (Trichoglossus haematodus) on Flickr.
Up close, these are probably the most beautiful bird I’ve ever seen
Tawny Frogmouths (Podargus strigoides) are often mis-identified as Australian owls. Frogmouths are actually more closely related to Nightjars although share the nocturnal predatory behaviour of owls. Frogmouths however do not have the same powerful talons that owls have, choosing to take smaller prey with their beak. During the day, they rely heavily on their camouflage, finding a suitable paper bark melaleuca, tilting their heads upwards, shutting their eyes and blending in.
An Australian Darter (Anhinga novaehollandiae) drying its wings in the sun after a fishing session. The Darter is in the same order as cormorants and looks very similar (if not a bit more snakey - hence their nick name “snakebirds”). Very well adapted to an amphibious lifestyle, the bird inhabits and hunts for fish in both freshwater and brackish water environments, very rarely in salty or estuarine habitats
Introduced in 1935, the Cane toad (Bufo marinus) is one of the most prominent and successful invasive species in Australia. It was originally introduced from specimens in Hawaii - although the species is native to Central and South America. Without showing any noticeable interest in the cane beetle it was introduced to control (as the cane beetle was eating sugar cane crops in northern Queensland), the Cane Toad spread unimpeded throught QLD to New South Wales and reached Northern Territory by the 1980s. It has a voracious appetite eating anything from insects, frogs and small possums. And basically no predators touch it due to its parotid glands that secrete a milky toxin often deadly to all those that try to consume it! Biological control people………..needs to be researched before you devastate a continents wildlife.
On their migration between their feeding grounds in the Antarctic and their breeding grounds in the tropics, male Southern Humpback Whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) compete in colossal battles, vying for the females attentions in epic mating runs. The males continually slam into each others’ sides, often leaping clear of the water to achieve the hardest blow.
Orb Web spiders all around the world, including the families that live here in Australia combine a variety of factors in the behaviour and physiology to prevent themselves sticking to their own webs (1) Hairs on the spider reduce the surface area of contact of the leg to the web (2) A chemical resin that is secreted by the spider also seems to reduce adhesion to the web (3) they move delicately, sometimes moving on to tip toes when the web shakes (pictured).
Northern Koala - close up. Southern koalas are larger and much darker than their northern Australian counterparts like this one here.
Australian Freshwater Crocodile (Crocodylus johnsoni) is one of the smaller crocodilians in Aus. Growing to a maximum of 3m, they prey on medium sized prey from birds and bats to wallabies and reptiles.
The Australian Water Dragon (Physignathus leseuerii), is a cheeky and feisty lizard that is common around public parks and waterways on the eastern Australian coast.
Common Name: Common Ringtail Possum Latin Name: Pseudocheirus peregrinus Distribution: Eastern Australia, Tasmania and limited areas of WA IUCN Status: Least Concern Habitat and Ecology: Survives in areas of high Eucalypt density on which it feeds. Its a nocturnal marsupial that forages in the trees in forested areas and suburbia, using its prehensile tail to move along branches and over powerlines. It holds food in its caecum where micro organisms break down their nutrients for up to 70 hours. This possum lives in small family groups (often one male and 2 females) that share a nest that they roost in during the day Threats: As an arboreal species, significantly affected by deforestation in suburban areas. Deaths from cars, cats and dogs are also common but despite these threats the possum is relatively abundant throughout its range.
Common Name: Eastern Blue-tongued Lizard/ Skink Latin Name: Tiliqua scincoides scincoides Distribution: Eastern Australia IUCN Status: Not assessed (although Adelaide Pygmy Blue Tongued Skink listed as Endangered) Size: 30-60cm in length Habitat and Ecology: Large skink with bright blue tongue. Found in dry bush and suburbia they hiss loudly when disturbed or threatened. They give birth to a live litter of between 6-20 individuals. Diet: Omnivorous - feeding on (slow) inverts such as slugs, beetles and possess strong jaws for crushing snails and fruits like guava.
Common Name: Green Tree Frog Latin Name: Litoria caerulia Distribution: Southern New Guinea, northern and eastern Australia. Introduced into USA and local populations found in Florida. IUCN Status: Least Concern Habitat and Ecology: Dry wooded forests, near streams, rock crevices and hollow trees - and patio door windows! Breeding occurs between November to February and the broods are surface-laid in numbers of 200-2000 eggs. Threats: Pollution, Predation from cats and dogs, Cane Toads. Local populations may also be affected harvesting for pet trade. Chytrid fungus has also been witnessed in some populations. Conservation status: Numerous in the many protected areas in Australia. Breeding in some zoos has already taken place. Rules on collection and prohibition of keeping frogs already in place in Australia but tighter restrictions on the harvest and use of animals in the pet trade needed globally.
Sunset on a trip into Brisbane’s incredible Mt Nebo and surrounding national park.
So here I find myself in 2012, living in the sunshine state - south-east Queensland, in central Brisbane. This is my third trip to Australia and ever since I first came here, the wild heritage of this vast continent completely fascinates me. Everything here mystifies me, all the wildlife is so colourful and delightfully strange compared with everywhere on earth.
The marine biodiversity is breathtaking even at these sub-tropical lattitudes. In an incredibly insignificant 8 dives in this country I have come across Reef Manta Rays, Grey Nurse Sharks, Leopard Sharks, Eagle rays, Devil rays, schooling Cownose rays, Bull rays, Cowtail Stingrays, Giant Groupers, Green, Hawksbill and Loggerhead Turtles and singing Humpback Whales!!
Then comes the terrestrial fauna, from the huge array of marsupials, the incredible and bizarre monotremes, large and weird lizards and the birds. Australia’s bird life is SENSATIONAL. In the coming few months I hope I can portray just a notion of this massive island’s beauty. And that my friends is what the posts following this will be all about.