First Visit To Tamar Island Wetlands

Just 10 minutes drive out of Launceston in Tasmania is the Tamar Island Wetlands.  I was looking forward to a nice day out birdwatching, however, it turned out to be an extremely cold morning and with only a little sunshine that was very weak so I didn’t stay as long as I had planned.

Sign near the entrance to the wetlands
A great cormorant sunning itself with rather cold looking groups of various ducks
A section of the boardwalk
A black swan foraging
Looking back to the Information Centre
Australian Shelduck
A bird’s eye view for these Australasian swamphens
Australasian swamphen
Swamp paperbark trees along the path to the bird hide
Bird hide
My first sighting of a wild Tamar wallaby. We surprised each other as I came out of the bird hide!
This swamphen was showing me the way!
Morning low tide looking back to the suburb of Riverside
Masked lapwing (plover)
White faced heron
Grey teals trying to keep warm in the cold
Further along the path, looking across the Tamar River on the left and the suburb of Riverside on the right
Great egret and a swamphen
Chestnut teals and grey teals trying to warm up in the early morning sun
More birds trying to keep warm. Who can blame them when it was only 6 degrees!
Grey teal

 

Female superb fairy wren
At this point I turned back as it was too cold for me. But I’ll be better prepared on my next visit.

The Tamar Island Wetlands is a great place to visit, whether it just be for a nice scenic walk or to try your hand at birdwatching. Entry fee is a few dollars donation and is definitely worth the small admission cost. Don’t forget to drop into the Information Centre there and chat to the friendly and helpful volunteers.

I can’t wait to visit again and see what wildlife I find! 🙂

Nature And Wildlife At Pacific Pines Central Park

Central Park at Pacific Pines, Gold Coast

It’s been about a year since I’ve been to Central Park on the Gold Coast and I thought I would go again and see if I find the same birds. However, the day I decided to go was really warm, 27 degrees, very unseasonal for a winter’s day, so I left it until around 4pm to arrive there. Although it was nice and mild and shady by that time, I forgot that it also meant the light was pretty poor for photography. Ah well.

Here are some shots of part of the pathway and the small lagoons as well as the main lake. I have to say that this park is very well maintained and looks clean and tidy.

 

A section of pathway past the lake
Cricket oval next to the lake with torresian crows and willie wagtails
A small lagoon
One end of the main lake
Some of the local residents of the park

It was a pleasant surprise to find some native blossoms throughout the park.

Pink blossoms on a gum tree – they remind me of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie!
More blossoms on a gum tree
A type of wattle flower
Another wattle tree

There was quite a good number of birds in the park, most swimming and diving in the main lake, the others sitting on the bank in the afternoon sun, or perched in the trees twittering away.

One lone Australasian grebe
A Pacific black duck catching the last rays of afternoon sun
A Peewee or Magpielark
Dusky moorhen
Australian wood ducks
Willie wagtail
Little corella
Eurasian coots
Common myna (or Indian myna) which is an invasive species
Australasian swamphen who walked right past me!
Darter – a surprise find at the park
Little egret

But the nicest find for the day was seeing the pair of black swans and their nest.

For more information about visiting Central Park on the Gold Coast click here.

 

 

 

New Bilby Exhibit at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary

I have never seen a bilby in the wild so I was really happy when I heard that there was a brand new bilby exhibit at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary here on the Gold Coast.

Unfortunately, there weren’t any signs throughout the grounds that I could see telling you where to find them (although they may have them up now since it’s been a few weeks since my visit). After checking the Nocturnal House (where you would think they would be) and then walking around for ages looking for the bilbies, I eventually asked a Sanctuary volunteer.

I was quite surprised where the bilby exhibit was located. It’s not only difficult to find, but it’s in amongst a children’s play area. No wonder I couldn’t find it!

The exhibit itself looks quite good for the several bilbies they have, and they were quite active when I was there. Interestingly, they share the enclosure with endangered ghost bats! The exhibit is a long enclosure with a glass wall so even little ones can easily see the bilbies scampering about and also watch the ghost bats hanging from the roof. There is a door at each end of the walkway along the glass wall and it’s quite dark when the doors are closed with only a dim light to see by.

Unfortunately, because of the enclosure’s location, there were numerous kids running through the walkway, opening doors, screaming and yelling, standing in the doorway holding the door open so the whole place was flooded with light. Needless to say, I didn’t spend a lot of time there.

I later found out that the bilby enclosure is placed in that area because it’s part of the Sanctuary’s Kids Conservation Trail.

I think it’s great that the Sanctuary has added the bilby enclosure, they’re a native animal that most Australians wouldn’t ever get to see out in the wild. And I think it’s a great idea to get kids interested in wildlife and conservation as well. But if you want to see the bilbies, I would recommend that you go on a weekday when all the kids are at school! 😃

Birds Galore at Pacific Pines Central Park

Last week a relative told me that they had been regularly seeing a family of black swans at their local park, so last Sunday we went for a short drive to take a look. Little did I know that Pacific Pines Central Park is teeming with birdlife! It was a great afternoon outing and we spotted quite a number of different birds, including 3 birds we had never seen before.

pacific pines central park

This is the Black Swan family that we came to the park to see. We were told that this pair originally had 8 cygnets but now there are only 4. The family seemed very at ease in this environment, and we were able to watch them swimming around, feeding, and then preening and snoozing in the afternoon sun on the edge of the lake.

black swan and cygnets

We saw a few of these birds called a Eurasian Coot and it was interesting watching them feed as they swam around the lake.

eurasian coot

There were a number of Dusky Moorhens at the park, including this one who seems to have rebuilt a nest after a bad storm the day before.

dusky moorhen on nest

We saw this solitary Australasian Grebe.

australasian grebe

There was a single Magpielark (also known as a Peewee) feeding around the lake’s edge.

magpielark

We also saw a Willie Wagtail.

willie wagtail

Some noise high up in the gum trees drew our attention to a small flock of Long Billed Corellas. Interestingly, these birds are feral here on the Gold Coast. The numbers have built up over the years due to people releasing captive birds into the wild.

longbilled corellas sitting in a tree

And of course, there are the obligatory Pacific Black Ducks wherever there is a waterway.

pacific black ducks

We noticed quite a few Welcome Swallows at the park. They are incredible to watch as they zip around low over the water feeding on the fly. They are so fast it can be quite challenging getting a good photo of them.

welcome swallows

welcome swallows

This is one of the birds we had never seen before. It’s a Figbird. There were 3 of them perched in a tree and I was able to get a short video of one calling. This tree was close to the edge of the park by the road so apologies for the traffic noise.

figbirds in a tree

 

In the very next tree was another bird we had not seen before – a Striped Honeyeater. This little bird was oblivious to us and was completely focussed on preening. These were the best photos I could get because he moved around so much.

striped honeyeater

 

striped honeyeater

And then just a few trees away, we saw our third bird that was new to us – a Grey Fantail. We spent some time watching this little bird only to realise that as we kept walking these birds were suddenly everywhere in the trees! They are quite small and move very quickly so it was difficult to get decent photos, but I did manage to get a short video of one flitting around on a tree branch.

grey fantail

 

And as expected, we saw a White Ibis (behind the swans).

white ibis and blackswan

This elegant bird is a Great Egret, a very tall distinctive bird, easy to identify and hard to miss.

great egret

This bird is a Little Egret, much smaller than the one above and with a darker bill.

little egret

Further along, the environment changes and we came across some more common backyard birds.

This one is a male Superb Fairy Wren or commonly called Blue Wren.

blue wren

This was the only Magpie at the park and he came up to me to have his photo taken.

australian magpie

 

There were plenty of these Indian Mynas (also known as Common Mynas) at the park. We saw at least half a dozen on the ground and heard plenty more in the trees. These birds are an introduced species and are a bit of a pest.

indian mynahs

There were also quite a number of Torresian Crows, most were walking around but some were flying between the trees and cawing.

torresian crow

And we spied a pair of Wood Ducks looking for food.

wood ducks

As you can see, Pacific Pines Central Park is well worth a visit. We saw all these birds in only an hour of walking around the edge of the lake. It’s a big park and has a few playgrounds for the kids and a sporting area as well as a section of gym equipment for public use. There’s something here for the whole family. The park is easy to find, opposite the Pacific Pines High School and you can find out more about the park here.

 

 

 

 

Late Afternoon Walk At The Coombabah Lakelands Mangrove Boardwalk

Recently we visited the Coombabah Lakelands Mangrove Boardwalk And Birdhide – the short mangrove boardwalk on Shelter Road just before you get to The Animal Welfare League.

Not having been there before, we thought we would do a quick visit so we can see what there is and organise a longer stay another time.

We went on a late Sunday winter’s afternoon, and it looked quite promising when we saw several kangaroos eating grass along the roadside before we even got to the car park. We were the only ones there so it was nice and quite and still, although at first you can hear dogs barking at the animal shelter, but this noise quickly disappeared once you got deeper along the track.

The track is an easy walk with lots of informative signs along the way. I even saw this picture of a possum painted on the track.

The track is well looked after, asphalt all the way to the boardwalk and only about 500 metres. At the end is a bird hide.

 

The tide was still going out when we got there, so although we didn’t get to see any wader birds, I did spy this little bird in a tree near the hide. I have never seen one of these before and it took me awhile to look it up and find out what it is – a grey strike thrush. A first for me!

We spent some time just sitting and looking from the hide but apart from the occasional white ibis, there weren’t any other birds to be seen.

I did see this incredibly large striped mosquito, I have no idea what it is, so if you know what it is please let me know!

There was a small bit of mangrove where the water had receded and there were lots of holes in the mud, so I think you would probably see numerous small crabs at low tide. This was all I could see at the time –

On the way back to the car was when we had the most action. First, we saw a brush turkey.

Then we saw kangaroos, and lots of them! There were a couple on the edge of the mangrove and they had muddy paws and legs. They were quite close to the track and didn’t seem perturbed by us in the slightest.

Back on the asphalt track we came across numerous kangaroos, all eastern greys. We even saw one rather large muscly fellow who watched us warily from the forest.

 

Considering we were there for only an hour, we were happy seeing all the kangaroo activity and how close the animals were. Next time we will plan to head there at low tide and hope to observe more water birds.

I recommend this walk if you’re looking for a comfortable easy flat walk, especially if you have a pram, stroller or wheelchair, and you want to see some different forest environments and a bit of wildlife, all while being hidden away in an easy to get to place on the Gold Coast. Don’t forget the insect repellent!

 

Hanging Around With Fruit Bats

Being the wildlife enthusiast that I am, when someone happened to mention there was a fruit bat colony on the coast, I immediately wanted to go check it out. I had never seen a fruit bat, or flying fox, before, except for the occasional dark shadow of one flying over our house on dusk.

So early on Sunday morning we drove out to Cascades Gardens in Surfers Paradise and sure enough, as soon as we arrived, you could hear the bats in the trees as well as see them still flying in to roost.

fruit bats

Here’s a video I took where you can hear all the racket the bats are making. Check out the little guy near the end of the video climbing down the tree branch like a monkey!

The bats were a lot bigger than I had expected. I have since discovered that fruit bats or flying foxes are also called megabats and these black flying foxes are the biggest bats in Australia – their body length can be up to 30cm (12 in) in length and have a wingspan of over 1m (3 ft)!

These flying foxes have the cutest little fox like faces with lovely big eyes. They are a really interesting animal to watch.

Take a look at these cuties –

fruit bat or flying fox

 

fruit bat or flying fox

Here’s one flying fox I saw stretching his wings.

fruit bat or flying fox

fruit bat or flying fox

Here’s a video I took of two flying foxes having a scratch. Hilarious!

Here are some bats in classic Dracula pose –

fruit bats or flying fox

fruit bat or flying fox

My husband managed to capture these shots of bats in flight –

fruit bat in flight

And he also got a quick video of a bat flying too –

All in all, it was a very interesting visit to the Cascades Gardens, and I’d like to go back later in the year when the flying foxes have babies. And I’ll remember to wear a hat next time ….

Some fun facts about flying foxes –

  • They have one live young per year
  • A baby bat is called a pup
  • The area where bats congregate is called a campsite
  • A group of bats is called a colony or a camp
  • Fruit bats can live up to 20 years in the wild
  • They eat pollen, nectar and fruit off native trees
  • Fruit bats rely on their sense of smell and keen sight to find food instead of using echolocation

Walking With Kangaroos (And A Koala!)

Coombabah Lakelands Conservation Area

I had only recently heard about Coombabah Lakelands Conservation Area and seeing as it was a reasonably short drive from home, my husband and I decided to go check it out last Sunday. I had read that you can see koalas and kangaroos there, and I had never seen a wild koala before, and had only seen wild kangaroos a few times in my life (and usually from a distance in a car), so I was hoping to see some up close and get some photos. And I was not disappointed!

plane taking off

The conservation area is situated in between a sewage treatment plant and a flying club, so from the time we arrived there we were buzzed by low flying small planes and helicopters. The animals there must be used to it because none of them showed any interest in the machines flying overhead. The area is maintained by the local council and is free to enter with a few parking areas and basic interpretive centres. The paths are minimally marked and you will need to visit the council’s website to print out a map of the reserve area marking the trails.

Goshawk Track

We parked the car and started our walk at the beginning of Goshawk Track. Wearing sunglasses and a hat and not forgetting the insect repellent is an absolute must when you visit this place! There are some areas that are open and in full sun and there are mangroves around too.

Almost immediately, we saw our first kangaroo! I was trying to capture the mad flying swallows on a video when I spied a kangaroo having a lie down in the distance. In the video you can also make out the heat haze. It was very warm already at nine in the morning. It was so glaringly bright, I had trouble seeing through the camera lens so it’s a little shaky because I couldn’t really see what I was videoing.

And then just barely a minute later we saw a few kangaroos.

kangaroos

kangaroos

Then we came to a miniature forest of paperbark trees either side of the track.

paperbark trees

paperbark trees

It was along this stretch of the track that we saw a koala high up in a tree. There were a few different dark coloured gum trees amongst the paperbacks and the koala was high up in one of these. This was my very first time at seeing a koala in the wild! Unfortunately, we couldn’t get a good look at it. It was certainly a large koala, and it was on the move, but we couldn’t actually see its face. But I managed to get a quick video before my neck was cricked too bad from constantly looking straight up!

We then came out into some open space and there were some more kangaroos.

kangaroo

kangaroo lying down in the shade

kangaroos

There was a bit of birdlife at the reserve too. Apart from the swallows, we saw a hawk flying overhead, some crows, a few magpies, a few pied butcherbirds, a few plovers and lots of noisy miners. We did hear two different birdcalls that we hadn’t heard before, but we couldn’t see the birds anywhere so we don’t know what they were.

hawk flying
A type of hawk or kite
australian magpie
Magpie
pied butcherbird
Pied Butcherbird
masked winged plover
Masked Lapwing aka Masked Plover
australian crow
Torresian Crow

As we walked along further it was quickly getting hotter, so we decided to do a small circuit and head back to the car. On the way we saw a few native flowers. One is a green bottlebrush or melaleuca, and I think the yellow one is either a grevillea or melaleuca. As it was autumn, these were the only flowers we saw along our walk, except for a few patches of blue billygoat weed.

green bottlebrush tree

australian native flower green bottlebrush

australian native flower

While we were admiring the flora, my husband spied a kangaroo close by who was watching us warily.

kangarooWe moved slowly and quietly along the track heading towards the kangaroo and then it suddenly bounded off. My husband managed to snap this pretty awesome photo of the kangaroo in motion.

kangaroosAs we rounded the corner in the track, we noticed a mob of kangaroos amongst the trees, staying still and just watching us. There was a big male kangaroo (the reddish one) who started making this loud coughing sound, probably as a warning to us, so we stopped on the track and took a few quick photos then continued on.

kangaroos

kangaroo

kangaroo

kangaroos

kangaroosWe were nearly at the end of our circuit when we saw another mob of kangaroos lazing in the shade.

kangaroosI took this video of the kangaroos, trying not to be noticed.

We took a few more photos then the kangaroos bounded off into the trees. I grabbed a quick video of the kangaroos hopping away.

And here was my last sighting of kangaroos.

kangaroos

Coombabah Lakelands Conservation Area is a wonderful place to visit on the Gold Coast. Great for walking as it’s all flat, but very hot and open in the sun a fair bit of the time. There are still a number of tracks to explore including the boardwalks and mangroves, but we might be leaving those trips until the weather cools down and the sun is not so harsh and burning. We only  stayed for a bit over an hour and walked 3 km and as you can see we saw a good amount of wildlife. Overall, it was a great morning adventure seeing all the wild kangaroos and now I can happily tell everyone I have seen a koala in the bush!

Boondall Wetlands Visit August 2015

In August 2015 we were driving home from an outing in the morning north of Brisbane and saw a sign for Boondall Wetlands, so on impulse we decided to turn off and check it out. It was mid afternoon and a weekday, so it was really quiet and peaceful and not another soul was around.

The information centre there gave us some details about walking and bicycle tracks as well as the wildlife and birdlife you might get to see. There are several walks, a few short ones through treed areas and along the water, and a much longer one which circuits a little beach.

As we didn’t have a lot of time and the visit was unplanned, we decided to try the shorter 2km walk. The track is easy and quite wide and well maintained. We did hear some birds flying in amongst the trees, but we weren’t quick enough to spot them or take a photo of them. But we were pleasantly surprised when we came across a bird hide along the track and took some time out to sit and watch.

These are the birds that we managed to see in only about 15 minutes of being there.

Here is a video of some Chestnut Teal ducks we saw across the water.

These are the other birds we saw.

AUSTRALIAN PELICAN
AUSTRALIAN PELICAN

 

BLACK CROWNED NIGHT HERON
BLACK CROWNED NIGHT HERON

 

SILVER GULL
SILVER GULL

 

MANGROVE KINGFISHER
MANGROVE KINGFISHER

 

DARTER
DARTER

It was low tide when we were there and there were hundreds of little crabs crawling everywhere.

I got to see this magnificent Mangrove Kingfisher find a takeaway meal!

Boondall Wetlands was an interesting place to visit and I’d like to go again for the day and do the longer walk to the beach and even return in another season to see what type of birds show up around the hide.

Hot tip – make sure you take a hat, sunscreen and have plenty of insect repellent for the myriad of sand flies and mosquitoes!!

Visit the Boondall Wetlands website to find out more about it. Click here to a link to a council brochure with track maps.