Wildlife Visitors in July 2017

The month of July was actually the warmest July in Australia on record – no wonder it didn’t feel like mid winter! Here in Queensland, there was only a day or so of rain and the rest were sunny with clear blue skies. On the weekends I was out and about in short sleeves, often in temperatures of 25 degrees Celsius. Looks like spring will be coming early and we may be in for a long hot summer. The wildlife must be feeling the change in the air too. I’ve already seen a magpie flying over with a stick in its beak heading off to make a nest, and also a kookaburra preparing a termite mound for their nest, same place as last year.

So here are photos of some of the wildlife visitors to my place during July.

This Crested Pigeon was busy eating some little seeds that had fallen from the nightshade tree. You can find out more about this bird here.

Crested Pigeon

This Yellow Faced Whip Snake was sighted almost in the same place as the last one I saw some time ago, likely the same snake. You can see more of this snake here.

Yellow Faced Whip Snake

This Ichneumon Wasp is only 1cm big, I’ve seen a few of these around now.

Black And White Striped Ichneumon Wasp

This spider is a Plebs eburnus or Eastern Grass Orb Weaver and is barely 1cm in size and is endemic to Australia. They have a web that shows the time, 5 minutes to 5!

Eastern Grass Orb Weaver

A healthy looking male of the pair of Pied Currawongs that live around my house. You can see more of these birds here.

Pied Currawong

One of the family of four Pied Butcherbirds that often visit.

Pied Butcherbird

I rescued this Monarch Butterfly from a spider web.

Monarch Butterfly

Some Rainbow Lorikeets having a feed. You can see more photos of these birds when they sheltered on my veranda during a rainy day here.

Rainbow Lorikeets

An adult and juvenile Kookaburra.

Kookaburras

I was taking photos of these pretty sweat peas one afternoon then later realised I captured an aphid on one!

Aphid on a sweet pea flower

A commotion one afternoon drew my attention to the return of a Pacific Baza. Here he is in the middle of eating something he caught. You can find out more about these birds here.

Pacific Baza

A Hoverfly can be hard to get a good photo of, but it stayed still for this portrait.

Hoverfly

Here’s something I’ve never seen before – a Sunskink, possibly a dark flecked sunskink. It’s only about 10cm long. Sorry for the quality of the photo, it was on zoom so I didn’t scare it away.

Sunskink

I busted this Brushtail Possum cleaning up the leftovers of the lorikeet food in the bird feeder.

Brushtail possum

This is a Common Crow Butterfly. They are slow flyers and this one stayed still long enough for me to get some nice shots. Read more about this butterfly here.

Common Crow Butterfly

And lastly, I spotted this Eastern Rosella checking out one of our glider nest boxes for a possible nest, but the entrance hole is far too small for them so they’ll have to keep on looking.

Eastern Rosella

Thanks for visiting and reading about my backyard wildlife visitors. 🙂

This is my participation in a monthly event called Wildlife Wednesdays hosted by Tina of My Gardner Says… You can see the wildlife visitors of other participants here.

 

Common Crow Butterfly

I came upon this butterfly in the yard the other day – a common crow butterfly, also known as an oleander butterfly.

These are found along the east coast of Queensland and New South Wales and have a wingspan of about 9cm.

An interesting fact I read about the common crow butterfly is that they produce toxins that have a strong scent to deter being eaten by predators, and the toxins are so strong that it makes them inedible, so if a bird did eat one, the bird would be sick.

These butterflies are slow flyers, seeming to take their time fluttering about casually and spend a lot of time on the flowers. As you can see, this particular one stayed around long enough to get some decent photos. 🙂

Wildlife Visitors in May 2017

brushtail possum eating banana

May was the final month of autumn here in Australia, and it was great to see the regular wildlife visitors out and about. I was also happy to see a rare visitor to our place and we also had a surprise visitor!

Below is a Golden Orb Weaver spider with a massive web that I came across in the yard. The spider is about 10cm in total length (including the legs). Look closely, and you’ll see another much smaller spider just above the big spider. That little one is the male!

golden orb weaver male and female

This Monarch Butterfly was fluttering around the yard at the end of the month. I thought it was unusual to see one at this time of year, but apparently where I live these butterflies are still around because it’s warmer along the coastline.

monarch butterfly

Below is a short video of a Juvenile Grey Butcherbird who has nearly got his adult colours. I watched it sitting on the tree branch watching for bugs after my husband mowed the grass.

Plenty of Brushtail Possum visitors during May as well, and there has been lots of running (or chasing!) up and down our veranda as well as on the roof at night! Here’s a photo of a female possum who looks ecstatic at getting a bit of banana! 🙂

brushtail possum eating banana

My rare visitor during May was the Yellow Tailed Black Cockatoo. These are huge birds, about 60cm (24 inches) in length and very majestic to watch. I had 2 sightings of them during the month which is amazing because I’ve only ever seen them a couple of times in the 12 years I’ve been living here. The first visit caught me by surprise, as I was on the veranda and suddenly there were two of them casually flying past my house! I only had my mobile phone on me at the time so snapped this photo.  They were actually a lot closer than they look in the picture.

flying yellow tailed black cockatoos

On the second occasion, I heard the distinctive loud call of one of these cockatoos and raced outside with my camera. One had landed in the gum tree out the back. The photo below is not good quality because it was cropped and enlarged, but it gives you an idea of the lovely yellow colouring on these birds.

yellowtailed black cockatoo

I managed to get a quick video of it before it took off, calling as it went. Sorry if the video is a little dark, it was overcast that morning, but as well as hearing its call, you can see how beautiful this bird is with the lovely black feathers, yellow patch on the cheek and the yellow under the tail. Magnificent!

And finally, here is my surprise visitor (no kidding! 🙂 ).

goat

I’m guessing someone got themselves a goat and it escaped. I thought I could catch it and enquire with the neighbours, but it wouldn’t let me get anywhere near it and toddled off to another neighbour’s place. I haven’t seen it since so I hope it made it home okay.

Hope you enjoyed seeing some of my wildlife visitors. 🙂

This is my participation in a monthly event called Wildlife Wednesdays hosted by Tina of My Gardner Says… You can see the wildlife visitors of other participants here.

Wildlife Visitors in March

March was the beginning of autumn here in Australia although you wouldn’t know it here in Queensland. It was hot and humid and the rain we had almost consistently for about 3 weeks (which we badly needed) just made it even more muggy. Nevertheless, I’m sure the birds and animals enjoyed the rain and there was an abundance of food and water for them. So here are some photos of some of the wildlife that visited my backyard.

A pied butcherbird shows off his catch.
Maggie the magpie with one of the juveniles out for a stroll looking for bugs.
One of the younger eastern water dragons we have in our yard.
A larger eastern water dragon in our yard.
A pacific baza. I was lucky enough to see these birds a second time, but haven’t seen them since.
A female sub adult possum, too hot to stay in the box, munching on some carrot. Look at that bushy tail!
Regular box occupants, mother possum on the left and her female joey on the right.
Baby on board! This is the mother brushtail possum that had a full pouch in my February Wildlife Visitors post. The joey is now a backrider.
Yet another female possum! You may remember seeing photos in previous posts of this possum because she has an abnormality where her tongue hangs out all the time.
A venomous Yellow Faced Whip Snake. This is a young one measuring about 30cm long. They can grow up to a metre in length.
The kookaburra family still drop in for a visit almost everyday. Here’s one of the juveniles fluffing out his feathers while one of the parents sits nearby.
A pied currawong. He might look big and intimidating, but he’s really a scaredy cat.
Nice to see the return of the beautiful pale headed rosella
A pretty coloured white banded noctuid moth (owlet moth). Unfortunately I found this one dead on the veranda.
Ants having a discussion about how to move an egg.
Common grass yellow butterfly

This is my participation in a monthly event called Wildlife Wednesdays hosted by Tina of My Gardner Says… You can see the wildlife visitors of other participants here.

Hope you enjoyed seeing my wildlife visitors. 🙂

Orchard Swallowtail Butterfly

The other morning I went to let the chooks out for some free range time and I got a pleasant surprise when I came across this beautiful specimen fluttering about in the chicken run.

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This is an Orchard Swallowtail butterfly, native to Australia and found along the east coast.

The red dots on the butterfly indicates this one is a male.

It’s one of the largest butterflies with a wing span range of 10 to 14cm, and they also flutter more slowly than other butterflies.

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This is a stunning looking butterfly, it’s deep black in colour with white markings and it also has flecks of gold on its wings as you can see in this close up.

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Just beautiful!

Wildlife Visitors in November

This is my participation in a monthly event called Wildlife Wednesdays hosted by Tina of My Gardner Says …

November was the last month of spring here in Australia, and it clearly showed in the wildlife I saw out and about on our property. There was the surprise return of an old visitor, a family of new visitors, and finally the appearance of baby birds!

We were happy to see the return of this old fellow – an eastern water dragon. I don’t know much about these reptiles, I don’t even know if it’s a he or a she, but we think he’s been hiding out somewhere all winter and has reappeared since the weather has warmed up so much already.

eastern water dragon
eastern water dragon

The caper white butterfly migration that had been fascinating everyone recently is now over and this is the last photo I managed to get.

caper white butterfly
caper white butterfly

I also saw this Australian painted lady butterfly, but it was difficult to get a decent picture as she would never stay still.

australian painted lady butterfly
australian painted lady butterfly

I’m not a big fan of arachnids, but I couldn’t help but marvel at the spectacular web of this female golden orb weaver.

golden orb weaver
golden orb weaver

And for only the second time in my life, I managed to capture a photo of a dragonfly!

dragonfly
dragonfly

The nocturnal activities of the local possums seems to have died down for now, and I didn’t get a chance to get any photos of a night, but I did capture this lovable mum and joey chilling out in one of our possum boxes.

mother brushtail possum and joey in a possum box
mother brushtail possum and joey in a possum box

There was another visit from a galah, who was just checking out the scene and had a drink from our old birdbath.

galah
galah

Still plenty of rainbow lorikeets around, as you can see by this late afternoon photo of the gum tree in front of our house.

rainbow lorikeets
rainbow lorikeets

I also got this picture of one of two baby lorikeets amongst the crowd.

baby rainbow lorikeet
baby rainbow lorikeet

The rainbow loris continued their daily antics to entertain us. Here’s a video of a couple of them playing and hanging upside down on a piece of rope that is attached to the top of a gum tree in front of our house. It’s been there ever since we bought the place, no idea how it got up there it’s so high, or what the purpose of it was, but the birds seem to have a ball with it.

I was lucky to spot several of the gorgeous little scaly breasted lorikeets one day. I counted 5 of them, I’ve never seen so many here before. Here are three of them, not sure what had caught their attention, but they were amusing to watch before they flew off.

scaly breasted lorikeets
scaly breasted lorikeets
scaly breasted lorikeets
scaly breasted lorikeets

Brand new visitors to our place is a family of grey butcherbirds. We have been here almost 12 years now and never seen these birds before. The grey butcherbirds look similar to our regular pied butcherbirds, just lighter in colour, and have a different song, so it took a second glance to realise these were not our usual visitors. And there wasn’t just one, there was a whole family!

grey butcherbird
grey butcherbird
two baby grey butcherbirds with a parent in the background
two baby grey butcherbirds with a parent in the background

In the photo above, the 2 birds in the front are the juveniles, not long out of the nest and still being fed by the parents. You can just make out a parent behind them on another branch.

The pied currawongs have had 2 babies again this year. The magpies have significantly let up their dive bombing tactics and the currawongs can get closer to our house again, but the babies are still sitting in trees out of the magpies reach. Here is a photo of the 2 young ones.

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two baby pied currawongs not long out of the nest

 

Last month I mentioned the appearance of birds of prey causing a stir amongst the magpies, well, I saw them again, several times. On one day, I saw 3 birds of prey, circling right over our house (2 at once!). And another time I saw both magpies madly chasing a brown hawk of some description right over our roof. Wow, those birds can fly! On another day, I heard the urgent cries of the magpies again, so I grabbed my camera and dashed outside, and sure enough, there was a bird of prey circling high above. I managed to get one reasonable photo of it before it went away. It’s really hard to use a zoom and find a speck in the sky! I’m not sure what bird this is, some kind of kite or hawk I’m thinking, depending on the angle of light, it looked brown or white/grey.

a bird of prey
a bird of prey

And this is Igor, our resident male magpie, following me as I’m out and about taking pictures, and finding some food to take back to their nest.

male magpie collecting food for his young
male magpie collecting food for his young

And finally, we see the two baby magpies, just out of the nest and still being fed by their parents. I was lucky to get this shot because the parents had been keeping the babies separated in different trees.

two baby magpies
two baby magpies

Some more good news is that the pair of kookaburras we have been seeing regularly over the last few months have a nest close by and we have watched them taking food to feed babies. Unfortunately due to the location and angle of the nest, I can’t see it very well, and we’re not going to go anywhere near it, so we will just have to wait a bit longer for the babies to grow up and then I’m sure we’ll be seeing more of them  once they’ve left the nest.

I hope you enjoyed seeing my photos of wildlife in my backyard. 🙂

 

 

 

Wildlife Visitors in October

This is my participation in a monthly event called Wildlife Wednesdays hosted by Tina of My Gardner Says …

October was the middle of Spring here in Queensland. We only had a few days of light rain and unfortunately we need a lot more. The days have been warm and sunny and the temperature is creeping up as we head towards summer. And the humidity is starting to make its presence known too. There was plenty of wildlife about during the month, including the arrival of a bird I had not seen before and the discovery of some interesting insects.

You definitely know it’s Spring when you see these beauties – the monarch butterfly.

monarch butterfly

I’ve been seeing quite a few of these monarch butterflies as well as the caterpillars eating the milkweed. I managed to get this little video of one of them eating. Fascinating to watch!

If you’d like to see more pics of the monarchs, check out my recent post here.

I discovered other butterflies too. This one is a caper white butterfly. We’re in the middle of a mass migration of these lovelies because there has been a lot of inland rain and they are heading to the coast. With so many around at the moment, there is plenty of food for the birds.

I also spotted this pretty one called a meadow argus butterfly. These fly low to the ground and are often seen sunning themselves on the grass. These butterflies are currently migrating from southern Australia to the northern part of the country for the warmer conditions.

October was another busy month for possum activity. Remember the little joey? Here’s the latest photo of him and his mum from when I checked the possum box last week. Talk about being relaxed! 🙂

And here’s the little star himself, happily munching away on some rockmelon. He loves the seeds from the sound of it!

This short video is of another joey who got side tracked and was left behind by mum. He turned around and realised he was alone and then trotted along the veranda railing sniffing for her scent I guess. If you listen closely with the sound up, you can hear him make a noise. I’ve heard joeys make this sound before when they’re by themself, so I think it’s their way of saying “Mum, where are you?” Anyway, this little one was heading in the right direction as his mum went up onto the roof at the end of the veranda, which is where he ended up going too.

I finally managed to get some decent photos of this possum. It’s an adult female that has been around for a few months now, but she’s always been too scared for me to get anywhere near her. At the moment, she’s living in one of our possum boxes and turns up on the veranda just on sunset.

The odd thing about her is her tongue. It appears to be hanging out all the time. You can click on any of the photos above to bring up a larger image for more detail. I don’t know if she was born that way or had an injury from a fight or accident. It doesn’t seem to affect her eating, I’ve watched her eat all types of food. And I’ve also seen her fight with another possum, including a joey who mistook her for its mother, so she can definitely hold her own. When she first showed up and we noticed her tongue was always sticking out, we tried to catch her to take her to a wildlife hospital, but she was having none of it. In the end, we realised she had survived so long already, and was able to eat, so we just let her be. She has stuck around since then and has become a little more friendlier in that she no longer runs away when I go outside.

Birdwise in October, I got to see a new bird called a channel-billed cuckoo. This pair have been hanging around for most of the month and cause a stir with the local birds. If you’d like to see more pictures of them and hear their calls you can read about them in a recent post here.

two channel-billed cuckoos in a tree

These are crested pigeons and there are quite a few about at the moment. They’re very timid and fly off if you even look in their direction! I had to use a zoom lens to get this picture.

It’s not very often we see a galah around here. This one stopped by for a quick drink at our pond.

Here are some rainbow lorikeet shenanigans. 🙂

One day we had quite a turn out of rainbow lorikeets for an afternoon feeding session. If you watch this video you will see me pan out to show how many are waiting for their turn. You can’t see them, but there were also some in the trees!

And we had a few brief visits during the month by two scaly breasted lorikeets. These are lovely little parrots.

It was wonderful to see the pair of kookaburras back again. They’ve found they can hang out the back and mostly keep out of the way of the territorial magpies. Here’s one of them perched on a kookaburra nesting box we put up ages ago.

And here’s the other one all fluffed up!

The pied butcherbirds have made brief appearances as well, when they can safely get through the magpies’ defence lines that is. This photo is of an adult and a juvenile.

And this is an adult pied butcherbird with two noisy miners. The little buggers are making a raucous letting the magpies know the other bird is there. Within seconds a magpie appears from nowhere and chases the butcherbird away.

And speaking of magpies, here’s a picture of Maggie and Igor, looking over their territory from our veranda. They have both been quite vehement in their actions of chasing away other birds. I think they are having a difficult time this year in bringing up babies. We think they originally had a nest nextdoor, but one day we saw them making a lot of noise and flying erratically when another large bird turned up, and then a few days later they seemed to be hanging around our place more and more and haven’t gone back there. Perhaps whatever bird it was got to their eggs or chicks. And lately, they have been chasing away the cuckoos from our place, and there was also a very big bird of prey they diverted from our house.

I took this photo of Igor in one of his menacing poses. Looks scary, right? Definitely not a bird to mess with!

And this is also a photo of Igor, but shows a softer side to him. Here he is presenting me with a bright green praying mantis.

I think this was Igor’s way of apologising because I yelled at him the day before when he attacked an innocent juvenile pied butcherbird that was just perched on some outdoor furniture. He had this poor little bird on the floor of the veranda with his talons gripped onto him and was pecking him. He ignored my cries to get off the bird and only when I took a step closer and stomped heavily on the veranda did Igor let the bird go. I told him off big time for that episode. The butcherbird is fine by the way, although a little rattled and missing a few feathers, but he still comes around to visit, but is constantly on the lookout for that menace. And who can blame him?

And I can happily say that my friendly magpie Ramsay is still around. He dropped by 3 times during October, still making those silly baby bird sounds and still happily taking food from my hand. He looks healthy too. I’m so glad to have seen him and know that he is still alive and well. Maybe he has his own territory now and just pops over for a visit every now and then.

During October, I found quite a few insects I have never seen before and I’ve been busy researching and making enquiries to find out what they are. This has definitely been a month of discovery and education!

This is a long legged fly. It’s metallic green in colour and looks quite pretty – for a fly! It’s a predatory fly that eats aphids.

This is a common house fly. Quite colourful in close up, don’t you think?

This is a bag shelter moth I found hanging on our screen door. These are originally processionary caterpillars. Both the moth and caterpillar can cause skin irritations for some people, which is why they are also known as “itchy grubs“. It turns out this one is a female moth and interestingly they have no mouth parts and do not feed. They just live for a few days to mate, lay their eggs and then die, and the cycle begins again.

I rescued this little creature from the birdbath. It’s a mango flower beetle. If you’d like to know more about this little guy, you can read my recent post here.

mango flower beetle

This cute looking little creature is called a eucalyptus snout weevil, for obvious reasons! It’s a native to Australia.

This is a concealer moth. At first glance, they look like they have horns, but it is actually their mouthparts which are upturned making them distinctive from other moths.

Lastly, there is this mystery animal. I saw this quite by accident and I have no idea what it is. You can’t quite distinguish it in the photos I took so I thought I would share a short video of it. I’m still waiting to hear back from someone to see if they know what it is. It’s very small, about 1 cm in length and is on a flower on a weed plant. It appears to have placed bits of plant material on its back to camouflage itself. Do you know what it is?

Thanks for taking the time to read my post today. Looking back, this is probably one of the longest posts I’ve ever written, but there was so much happening this month, and I wanted to share all the exciting new finds I discovered in my backyard! 🙂

 

 

 

My Entries In TNC Australia Photo Competition

The Nature Conservancy Australia is currently holding a photography competition and I’ve entered a few of my photos in the wildlife category.

There are a number of different categories for the photos and a panel of judges made up of Australian photographers will decide on the winners of each category as well as an overall winner, plus there are People’s Choice Awards too.

Below are the photos I’ve entered. You can vote for any or all of them for the People’s Choice Awards. It’s quick and easy to do and requires no registration or sign up to vote. Simply click on the heading for each photo and a new window will open and take you to that photo’s page in the competition database to see the full picture and then you can click on the heart in the bottom right hand corner to vote. Voting ends on 4th November. (And if you do happen to vote, thank you in advance!)

Monarch Butterfly – “Sitting Pretty”

Kookaburra – “Bad Hair Day”

Eastern Water Dragon – “What’s Going On Over There?”

Golden Orb Weaver – “Just Hangin'”

Golden Orb Weaver – “Saving It For Later”

(That last photo is supposed to be a portrait orientation but it uploaded as landscape for some reason and I can’t see a way to change it on their website. Oh well!)

This is my first ever photography competition I’ve entered, and even though there are thousands of entries from around the country, it’s still exciting to be a part of it whether or not I win.

This is a fantastic competition open to residents of Australia and has great prizes too. It’s not too late to enter some of your own photos! Just make sure you read the terms and conditions on the website and don’t forget to read the tips from the judges. Good luck!