Welcome to 2016 and finally we have some rain to refresh the city and surrounding hills, let’s hope we get more before summer is over and have some exciting wildlife experiences ahead.
WHAT’S COMING UP?
The World Science Festival comes to Townsville for a day on Saturday 20th February. This is a regional offshoot of the week-long event in Brisbane and will feature a range of talks, demonstrations, creative activities and much else at the Museum of Tropical Queensland.
Get ready for our first field trip of the year on Sunday 21st February. Weather permitting we will have a cool walk on the wide, easy-walking track that circles Paluma dam. We will not attempt the whole walk, but can explore as far as we like. Please see our separate post [Link expired] for full details, including how to arrange a lift or check for possible cancellation, and details of alternative trip, in the event of heavy rain.
The proposed dates for this year’s walks are listed on the home page, with the upcoming trip in bold. Our AGM will be held on Sunday 3rd April – more details to follow.
Benthos Illumination – Umbrella Studio, 4 March-10 April. A Main Space exhibition of works by Graeme Buckley and Lynn Scott-Cumming utilising painting, print-making and sculpture to depict an aspect of the North Queensland environment. Graeme and Lynn are both members of Wildlife Queensland so mark this one on your calendars. The opening is at 6pm on 4th March and at other times Umbrella Studio (482 Flinders St) is open weekdays 9am-5pm and Sunday mornings.
Mundy Creek working bee on Saturday March 5th and Clean-Up Australia Day Sunday March 6th. Late last year, we reported on the battle to save an area of natural bush at the site of a new housing development, ironically called “Haven”, in Gulliver. That effort failed when the developers moved quickly to clear the trees, apart from a few pandanus. But the Mundy Creek Catchment Care group are still keeping a very watchful eye on how the development may impact on the creek and creek-bank vegetation and, despite the heat, are still busily working on their natureway regeneration project. You can see from their Facebook page that they are a lively, multicultural and multi-aged group who are loving what they do. Next month you have TWO opportunities to go along, have a look, have a chat and lend a hand. Our branch hopes to have a small display at the Clean-up Australia event on Sunday 6th. Meeting time 4.00pm at the footbridge just beyond Castle Hill PCYC. Take water and wear protective footwear, hat and clothing.
WHAT’S BEEN HAPPENING?
Welcome to new members – in response to an invitation sent to all those on our “friends” mailing list, we are delighted to welcome the following new members to the Branch and the Society: Dominique and Jon (joint members), Simon (also joint), Cassie, Helen, and Peter. If you have joined up since the start of the year but don’t see your name above, please let us know. We still have copies of the latest issue of Wildlife Australia to send to members joining us this year and of course welcome new members at any time.
In our backyards: Sometimes the most interesting wildlife events occur right under our noses! Do check out our two recent posts of backyard observation: click here to read about the rearing of young koels in Garbutt and a water python to die for (literally) at Balgal. For the latest on curlews at Mundingburra and Mount Low, please read more here.
In the meantime a surprising cricket-like call alerted me to a family of 3 boobook owls hunting in my Cranbrook yard, and up and down the street. We watched them making these calls to each other on several nights, on one occasion one bird was perched right outside the kitchen window (confirming identification beyond doubt) calling to another near the front of the house. I have been unable to find any recordings of this call.
And one day in January a striking orange and dark-chocolate butterfly caught my attention while I was filling the birdbaths – it was an Australian Lurcher (Yoma sabina) whose usual habitat is lowland rainforest and vine scrub close to creeks. According to Peter Valentine’s database of Townsville butterflies, it is “rarely seen south of Cooktown” though a few were recorded along the upper Bohle in 2004. Click here for a photo of this handsome butterfly.
Flying-foxes. We hope to have another meeting with Council staff in early March to progress the design of interpretive signage for location at places, like the Palmetum, where the bats are highly visible. Meanwhile, an “opinion piece” in the Townsville Bulletin on 6/2, which urged humane treatment of other wildlife and domestic animals, contained a vitriolic tirade against flying-foxes! Please see more about this and read our reply here.
According to one report, a NSW council is being proactive in helping to reduce problems experienced by residents living near a colony in a local park. Increasingly councils, whether or not they ‘like’ flying-foxes, are realising the futility of the crude, expensive and often cruel eviction methods of the past. Let’s hope our post-election Council will continue to take a sensible approach to this issue. And if you have time to spare why not watch this beautiful film Flying-Foxes: wings of the night, [Link expired] available from this site for the next 3 weeks – just be aware that it was made over 10 years ago so some information or situations have changed.
More protection for 2 wildlife icons. Cassowaries and Mahogany Gliders are among 16 new species identified for priority action and funding to safeguard their future under the Australian Government’s Threatened Species Strategy. You can read more about the 20 mammals identified for this action here and the same number of birds here.
Pigeons keep on coming back: When the mass shooting of Torres Strait pigeons at the Brook Islands was halted in the late 1960s, it took twenty years for their numbers, once estimated as in hundreds of thousands, to climb back from under 2000 to 20,000. And they didn’t stop there. By 1993 they had reached over 30,000 and stabilised at around 30-35,000 birds until Yasi smashed their nesting habitat and stripped or felled thousands of their food trees on the mainland. Remarkably, such appears to be their fidelity to their traditional breeding sites, that it took only two years for numbers to climb back to 20,000 from the post-Yasi low of ~5,000 and this season the December count reached 25, 523.
Proceeds from the sale of The Coming of the White Birds DVDs have been donated to The Thorsborne Trust to help fund the continuation of the North Brook surveys. A few copies remain available for $15 each plus $3 postage (if required). Email us if you would like one. If you are a member, you may borrow our branch copy.