Tasty Afternoon Treat

What could be more Aussie than feasting on prawns on the Australia Day long weekend? 😀 But then afterwards there’s the rearranging of the freezer to fit a bag of prawn heads and shells until it’s bin collection day. Well, over this long weekend, I got rid of some prawn leftovers in a most interesting way!

As you may know, there is a family of kookaburras that hang out around my place a lot. Since they were hanging around the veranda, we put a few prawn heads on the railing to see if they would like to eat them. One of the adults investigated them, picked one up, and after a bit of juggling in its beak, downed it in one go. It then got another prawn head, flew over to the juvenile, proceeded to eat it in front of him, then flew off into the gum tree. I threw a couple of prawn bits and pieces over to the young kookaburra and here’s what happened –

Yum! It went down so fast I didn’t get a photo! Not too surprising really, since kookaburras are part of the kingfisher family who eat fish.

Although I was surprised to find that the kookas weren’t the only ones interested in the prawns. I could not believe it when the big eastern water dragon scurried out from its hiding place towards a piece that had fallen on the ground and started getting in on the action.

Mmmm tasty! 🙂

 

 

To Feed Or Not To Feed Backyard Wildlife

Feeding backyard wildlife is a worldwide phenomenon – people feed squirrels in backyards in Canada, hedgehogs in England, raccoons in the USA, and possums in Australia.

Whether or not people should feed wildlife in their backyards is a controversial topic and a very complex one.

Here are my thoughts on both the for and against sides of the argument for feeding backyard wildlife visitors. I have based this on my own opinions, experiences, and from reading about the subject on the internet.

So why do people feed wild animals in their backyard?

A common reason is that feeding wild animals makes a person feel good. People feel they are helping the animals survive by providing extra food. People also feel guilty for the urbanisation of the natural habitat and feel they are giving something back to the animals by feeding them.

Feeding wild animals in the backyard can also break down barriers of isolation for those people who may be housebound and lacking social contact. It makes these people feel needed and useful and they can form bonds with the animals.

Feeding wildlife in your backyard is an enjoyable experience as it makes a person feel more connected to nature and can also provide the opportunity for close interaction with wildlife.

Other reasons for feeding wildlife in backyards include for entertainment purposes, filming and photography opportunities, and education as it allows the observation of the behaviour of wild animals up close and people can learn to identify the different birds and animals.

So why are some people so against feeding wildlife in backyards?

It seems that the main points of contention that cause passionate debate are –

  1. feeding wildlife causes them to lose their fear of people; and
  2. feeding wildlife causes them to become dependent on humans

It is also thought that feeding backyard wildlife could bring about changes in the eco system because the dominant species would restrict the feeding and territory of wildlife that are timid.

And it is also reasoned that visiting wildlife leave behind a mess that could bring vermin or spread disease if leftover feed isn’t disposed of and if the feeding stations are not properly cleaned.

People are also concerned about birds and animals becoming aggressive towards humans over food. (Remember those annoying seagulls at the beach demanding your hot chips?)

 

Common sense approach

As far as I am aware, Australia has no laws regulating the feeding of backyard wildlife (feeding wild animals in national parks, forests, parklands, and public spaces or for tourism purposes may be a different story). I don’t know if it’s the same across other countries.

If you want to feed visiting wildlife in your backyard, use your common sense and consider the cases for and against it. Be responsible in your actions and be aware of any consequences of what you do.

If you love animals and want to have them visit you and maybe even befriend them and hand feed them, the last thing you would want to do is something that would be detrimental to them or put them in any danger.

The most important thing to remember is that the well being of the animal is paramount.

Here are my Dos and Don’ts of feeding backyard wildlife

DON’TS
• DO NOT overfeed
• DO NOT feed wildlife junk food or processed food that is for human consumption (this includes BREAD!)
• DO NOT put food, water or shelter for wildlife near pet areas or close to neighbours
• DO NOT feed wildlife if you are not prepared to clean up after them
• DO NOT feed wildlife if you do not want your garden or yard scratched and dug up; or to be woken at the crack of dawn by hungry mouths; or woken during the night by rampaging possums on your roof

DOS
• DO check your local council and state government for any restrictions or laws regulating the feeding of wildlife in backyards
• DO research your wildlife visitors so you know who you are dealing with (do a Google search or refer to your local wildlife care groups)
• DO plant native shrubs and trees for natural sources of food and shelter that will attract local wildlife (your local garden nursery will be happy to help you with this)
• DO leave out a fresh water source (bird bath, pond, water dish)
• DO consider your neighbours
• DO clean feeders and water dishes thoroughly and regularly to help avoid any bacterial contamination and possible spread of disease
• DO feed wildlife proper supplemental food eg Womberoo brand (enquire with your local wildlife care group or vet)
• DO feed wildlife intermittently

Conclusion

Perhaps in the future there should be definitive research into this common pastime that nearly half the country’s (and maybe the world’s) population participates in to some extent. Maybe then we will have clear answers and guidelines to follow or even laws to be enforced which will benefit not just the wildlife but the people as well.

As for me, well, yes, I do feed my backyard wildlife visitors, as you can see by my videos and photos included in this post, but I do not feed all of them and not all the time. I have found that the possums I feed can still be seen eating the native flowers and leaves in the trees at night, and the birds I feed can still be seen foraging for food and even with their caught prey (in the case of the meat eaters).  I’m sure the birds and animals will survive fine without me feeding them, but I do it anyway. Why? Because it feels good and I like to make that connection with nature.

If you decide to feed your backyard wildlife visitors, I hope this post has given you some food for thought and some tips on how to feed wild animals in your backyard safely and responsibly.

 

 

Winter In My Backyard

Here are some of my favourite photos that I took in my backyard over our rather unseasonably warm and dry winter here in Queensland.

A thistle flower
Flowers of a blue billygoat weed
Daisies
Orange fungi
Not sure what this is, perhaps moss, but it was growing in the lawn.
The shimmering and backlit sweet pea flowers with a little visitor.
A dandelion
A water jewelled web of a wolf spider
Berries on the Murraya
Early morning fog drifting in over the Gold Coast Hinterland (taken using zoom) on 1st August 2017
The threatening promise of rain on 15th July 2017
A winter sunset in soft pink on 6th August 2017
A more dramatic sunset of pink and orange on 24th June 2017
The moon still up high at 6.13am on 9th August 2017
A brilliant golden orb of a moon setting at 6.11am on 8th August 2017. Those white marks in the trees are sulphur crested cockatoos.
A yellow tinge to the full moon taken at 6.14am 9th August 2017. Yes, that was taken in the morning!
A night shot of a full moon on 10th June 2017.
Haven’t seen one of these go by for a long time. Seen at 6.25am on 28 July 2017. Did you see me wave from my veranda? 🙂

Thanks for looking! 🙂

 

BBC Earth and the Real Happiness Project

 

We all know in our hearts that animals and nature make us genuinely happy, so BBC Earth is running the Real Happiness Project where their mission is to bring real happiness to people everywhere to improve their connection with the natural world.

Simply search for bbcearth on Facebook Messenger and interact with the Happybot to create your very own personalised Real Happiness Moment.

The Happybot will ask you a few simple questions with multiple choice answers which differ each time. You could be asked what mood you’re in, do you like feathers or fur, two legs or four legs, do you prefer cute or strange, etc. Once you’ve done that, the Happybot will only take mere moments to build your very own special Real Happiness Moment video that you can watch, save and share. The Real Happiness Moment created for you is a compilation of animal and nature scenes from the BBC accompanied to music, and clips seem to range between 10 and 60 seconds, I guess it depends on your answers to the questions.

It’s fast and easy to do and you can opt in for regular check ins and do multiple ones on the same day. It’s all up to you. And because you’re dealing with BBC Earth, you know it’s good quality that you’re getting, and they don’t spam you or contact you other than for your scheduled check in if you’ve requested it.

I’ve chosen to do a weekly check in, and each time, my mood and thoughts have been different, so each Real Happiness Moment created for me is completely unique. I have enjoyed every Real Happiness Moment I’ve received so far. The beautiful scenes of wildlife and nature really do lift your spirits, especially if you’re having a bad day. It’s like having your own custom made micro documentary delivered to you.

Here are a few of my Real Happiness Moments I’d like to share with you.

Check out the bird with the red berries in this one –

Nice images in this one and a tiny surprise near the end –

Life underwater –

Little things in this one –

Birds in slow motion –

And just because it’s cute –

Watch the official BBC trailer for the project below.

I know you’re smiling now and feeling all warm and good inside after watching the above trailer, so why not give the Real Happiness Project a try? 🙂

Happiness through Nature, what could be better than that!

Occasional Backyard Wildlife Visitors

I’ve lived on the Gold Coast for 20 years now and I thought I would share with you photos that I’ve taken of backyard wildlife which I have only seen as a once off or maybe just a few times over the years and haven’t been the subject of any of my blog posts before.

Except for a few, all of these photos have been scanned to my computer from developed film, so the images may not be perfectly clear.

As you will see, most of these photos were taken in a suburban backyard (before I moved to my current house on acreage).

Wildlife is everywhere, you just have to look! 🙂

WHITE FACED HERON
PHEASANT COUCAL
EUROPEAN HARE
BABY DRAGONS (UNSURE IF THEY ARE EASTERN WATER DRAGONS OR EASTERN BEARDED DRAGONS)
A WELL CAMOUFLAGED ECHIDNA
COMMON KOEL
EASTERN ROSELLA
BRUSH TURKEY
SACRED KINGFISHER
EASTERN BEARDED DRAGON
GREEN TREE FROG
SWAMP WALLABY
ALPACA

Yep, that’s an alpaca. And your guess is as good as mine! XD

 

 

 

Can You Help Identify This Bird?

Yesterday I heard a new bird and don’t know what it was. It sounded like it was a few doors down and was quite a pleasant chirrup. However, because I didn’t know what it was, I had no idea what I was looking for.

I managed to get a short audio recording of the bird call. You can hear the bird calling over the chatter of rainbow lorikeets and a pied butcherbird.

 

When: 9th April 2017, around 4pm

Where: Gold Coast area, semi rural

If you know what this bird is, please let me know!

International Seal Day

March 22 is International Seal Day!

I thought I would celebrate the occasion by sharing some of my own photos of seals as well as some interesting trivia about these marine animals I came across on the internet.

Did you know?

  • There are 33 species of seals in the world, 10 of those are found in Australia, and 3 of those are listed as vulnerable. 
  • A seal’s diet consists of fish and squid, and seals in Antarctica eat krill (leopard seals are also known to eat penguins).
  • The Australian fur seal is the world’s 4th rarest species of seal.
  • A seal’s large front flippers help them to propel themselves when swimming while the back flippers help them to steer their body in different directions.
  • Threats to seals include the great white shark, killer whales, commercial fishing which reduces food sources for the seals, discarded plastic bags in the ocean that may be mistaken for food and swallowed, becoming entangled in fishing lines and nets, and water pollution.

 

I took the photos in this post in 2003 (which is why they are not crisp images and were actually from developed film and scanned onto the computer) on a boat trip off Bruny Island in Tasmania. It was exciting to see seals lazing about on the rock cliffs and even swimming in the water near the boat. This excursion was a highlight of our holiday and was quite an adventure despite the poor weather conditions and we were able to see plenty of seals, seabirds, and incredible scenery. I definitely recommend this boat trip if you’re in the area.

Did you see the cheeky fifth seal in the above photo? If not, take a closer look and you’ll soon spot him. 🙂

 

Myrtle Tree Microcosm

 

A few years ago I had a go at growing native trees from seeds, and I managed to grow a crepe myrtle tree. When it grew big enough, I planted it in what I hoped would be the perfect spot and crossed my fingers that it survived. Now it’s about 1.5 metres tall and in all its splendour. This tree is appropriately named as the pretty pink petals definitely look like crepe paper.

I went to take a few photos of my success in gardening and while I was there I discovered a whole little world going on just on that one small tree.

I was very happy to see at least half a dozen native stingless bees visiting the flowers. They were all loaded with pollen like this little guy.

Unfortunately, these little busy bees also risked becoming food for the resident spiders on the tree. This is a small St Andrews Cross spider who caught a bee and promptly wrapped him up for later as I watched on.

And this lynx spider also caught a bee for his next meal.

I saw this black flying insect hovering around the flowers. The photo isn’t really clear unfortunately, but I don’t know what it could be.

I found this cicada husk hidden under a leaf.

And I saw this hoverfly flitting among the blooms.

This cute looking insect is a type of weevil.

I even spotted this strange looking insect but it flew off pretty quickly so I only have this one photo which is not enough to try and identify it.

I also discovered two interesting looking brownish caterpillars, munching away on the leaves and flowers from within their cocoons.

I went back a few days later and the caterpillars had tucked themselves up into their cocoons.

I don’t know what they are, so I will keep checking the tree to see if I spot them emerge.

Amazing what you see in your own backyard!