My First Bird Sightings In Tasmania

I have been living here in Tasmania for a few weeks now and during that time I have spotted a few different birds so thought I would do a quick post with what I have seen so far.

These are birds I have seen in a park across the road and in the nextdoor neighbour’s backyard. Unfortunately, where I am currently staying, there is no yard at all as it’s a unit. Although I am extremely grateful that my friends Bill and Helen have let me stay in their holiday unit I find my own place here, I am hoping it won’t take me too long to find a new home with a backyard so I can once again enjoy local wildlife visitors.

My first photo is actually the very first birds I saw on arrival here. These Magpies look quite different to what I’m used to seeing in Queensland. These ones have a white back instead of the black backs found up north. It is quite comforting to still be able to hear the familiar melodious warbling of magpies in the mornings.

Magpies

This is a Spotted dove, a common enough bird in suburban areas everywhere.

Spotted dove

Turns out there are quite a number of these European Blackbirds around. I haven’t seen one of these birds since leaving Sydney more than 20 years ago.

European blackbird (male)
European blackbird (female)

Not a great photo, but these are Tasmanian Native Hens, referred to as “turbo chooks” by the locals. I spotted these in a new development area when I went for a drive.  And their behaviour really does remind me of chickens the way they forage and run down the road with their wings out trying not to get left behind by the group. 😀

Tasmanian Native Hens

Since arriving here in Tassie, I had been hearing a very strange bird call and it took me ages to try and spot one and then get a decent picture of it. It’s a Little Wattlebird.

Little Wattlebird

I even managed to get a snippet of its call:

 

I spotted this Green Rosella in the park one morning. This bird was a first for me!

Green rosella

And here it is again, looking a bit cold in the weak morning sunshine.

Green rosella

This Silver gull (seagull) spotted me eating my lunch in the park across the road from work one day. He waited patiently till I had finished, and when I left to return to work, he checked around for any crumbs.

And finally, I have seen many of these Masked Lapwings, or plovers. I often seen them in the park or along the roadside, and I hear their squawking call during the night, probably warning something off their territory.

Masked lapwing or plover

So some interesting bird sightings for me in my new environment here in Tasmania. I wonder what I will see next?

 

 

Goodbye Spotted Gum Tree

Last Thursday when I was sitting at home reading a book enjoying a day off work, I heard a loud creaking, cracking sound followed by a loud whoomph! Not the kind of sound you want to hear when you live on gum tree studded acreage!

I rushed out onto the veranda to find that a big gum tree close to our house had fallen over – right across the neighbour’s driveway and onto their fence!

If the tree fell a few metres to the right, it would have badly damaged the neighbour’s carport and vehicles and perhaps their in ground pool.

It was extremely fortunate that no one was hurt and the only damage done was a small portion of our wire boundary fence getting crushed under the tree and a section of the neighbour’s wooden fence being broken by the canopy of the tree. And thankfully the possum box was unoccupied at the time.

From the next few photos you can see that the gum tree took out a few limbs of another tree on the way down and also got one of its own branches caught in a neighbouring tree.

It seems that the ground was just so wet from all the rain we’ve been having here, and being on a slight hill side, the tree roots just gave up their fight of holding on and the tree fell over.

Thankfully we have a good neighbour and the matter was quickly sorted. Their insurance company arranged for tree cutters to come out in the afternoon and remove the tree, but only the parts that had crossed the boundary fence line.

The tree cutters were there for several hours, even continuing after dark for awhile, cutting away the canopy so they could get an excavator in to carry the logs of cut branches back to a truck to be turned into bark chips or sawdust. The following morning they were back again to finish the job. You can see in the photo below the damage to the neighbour’s fence once the tree had been cleared from their driveway.

So now we are left with a huge tree trunk on our property we will have to deal with at some point. It’s probably hard for you readers to determine the size of the gum tree from the perspective of the photos, but I can tell you that the trunk is so wide that when I tried to hug the tree I couldn’t get my arms all the way around it.  I also measured the trunk left on our property out of curiosity and it was just over 12 metres long. I would say then that the height of the tree was easily 25 metres tall.

To show how big and beautiful this tree was, below left is a photo of this tree back in 2015 when we had a friend help us install the possum box (he had an extremely big ladder!). On the right is a photo I took the day after the tree fell.

I guess an upside of this is that we will now have uninterrupted views straight to the forest and also of the sunsets as this looks to the west.

This spotted gum tree was a beautiful tree. It will be sadly missed, not just by the possums who used the box, or the birds that perched in the branches, but by us, as now a source of shade and protection for the house has gone forever.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!