Northern Koala - close up. Southern koalas are larger and much darker than their northern Australian counterparts like this one here.
The Wedge-tail Eagles (Aquila audax) are Australia’s largest raptor, with a 2.5m wingspan and a diamond shaped tail they are unmistakable in flight and with talons bigger than my hands they can take prey up to the size of lambs or foxes…..seriously impressive bird!
Laughing Kookaburra’s are one of my favourite birds ever. Despte being just a large and cheeky form of kingfisher, they are formidable predators. Catching prey as large as small birds with their powerful beak and beating them violently to death against the nearest tree!
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.
Common Name: Koala (not a bear). Latin Name: Phascolarctos cinereus. Distribution: Australian Continent, east and south coasts. Absent from WA and Tasmania. IUCN Status: Least Concern. Habitat and Ecology: Feed and occur almost exclusively on Eucalyptus spp. and are able to persist in sparsely populated forest sometimes even single trees for long periods. They exhibit regional preference for food trees and may live up to 18 years (normal range 10-14years). Threats: Habitat fragmentation since European settlement has led to a diminished original range. This fragmentation leaves Koalas travelling on the ground between forest patches open to danger from traffic strikes and dog predation. This is particularly relevant in the Redlands near Brisbane where numbers have plummeted on the Koala coast. Conservation efforts: Still numerous in protected areas such as hinterlands on the east coast where a high density of Eucalyptus spp. still remain. As yet the National Strategy for Conservation of the Koala is still in draft form. (IUCN Redlist http://www.iucnredlist.org/apps/redlist/details/16892/0).
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.
Eurasian Tree Sparrows (Passer montanus) although rare in Europe are remarkably common throughout Asia. I lost many a hawker lunch to these little cheeky birds. Photo taken in Singapore.
The North-eastern Bornean Orangutan found in Sabah, Malaysia is an endangered member of the great apes. Oil palm plantations that create the vast monotonous landscapes of modern day Malaysia are particularly poor for holding biodiversity that can support the large mammals that need this space since their displacement from their native tropical rainforest. One of many human-wildlife space conflicts that could be lessened by careful planning. Alas there is no such thing as ‘careful planning’ in an industry that is driven by those that care only for their own financial welfare.
Water Monitor (Varanus salvator) swims casually through the murky mangrove of Singapore.