Watching Me Watching It

eastern water dragon

With the hot summer days comes the appearance of the local lizards, mainly the eastern water dragons, usually spotted lying in the afternoon sun on the warm pavers.

One afternoon I came across a male dragon who was basking in the sun on a pile of overgrown rubbish down the paddock.

eastern water dragon

If you take a closer look, these reptiles really do remind me of a dragon.

eastern water dragon

 

eastern water dragon

 

eastern water dragon

This water dragon continued to watch me watching him while I paused to take a few snapshots as I moved around him.

eastern water dragon

 

eastern water dragon

I’m sure he was hoping I would keep on walking away so he didn’t have to move out of his sunny position. No worries there old fella!

 

 

 

 

 

Wildlife Visitors in January 2018

male eastern water dragon red chest

January was a busy month for me as I was taking on extra work on weekends, but I still managed to see plenty of wildlife visitors in my backyard, some of which are featured here.

The kookaburra family only has one baby this year, and they have been visiting quite a lot. Here’s a photo of the baby (not so little anymore!) with one of the parents on the left.

kookaburras in a gum tree

Here it is again looking very hungry.

kookaburras in a gum treeI was fortunate one day to see the young one being fed a mouse, so if you would like to see pictures click here and if you would like to see the young kookaburra eating some leftover prawns I had one day click here.

The backyard was also a abuzz with the arrival of some blue faced honeyeaters. Apparently they like the flowers on the banana tree.

The rainbow lorikeets have increased in numbers again, possibly food was getting scarce since we only had the briefest drop of rain all month. And they have been cooling off in our roof guttering again. I think the water is cool because it’s run off from the air conditioner, and as you can see in the video below, they are thoroughly enjoying themselves!

I also got to see more of the eastern water dragon. Late one afternoon I spied him warming himself on the concrete, his big red chest on display. Doesn’t he look magnificent?!

male eastern water dragon red chestThis guy also turned up unexpectedly one day to eat some leftover prawns along with the kookaburras, click here to see pictures.

A visitor we don’t see very often was this big guy – a goanna, or lace monitor, as it’s also known.

goanna lace monitor in treeThis goanna caused quite a stir when he made an appearance. You can see more photos and video in my earlier post here.

My little posse of possums seems to be ever growing. This photo is of Sassy (the one who has her tongue sticking out all the time) and she has a joey as you can see.

Sassy munching food on the roof. You can just see a joey’s leg sticking out of the pouch.

And this is no kookaburra hanging out in the kookaburra nesting box, but at least it’s being used!

possum in kookaburra nesting box

This is newcomer Minnie and she has an older joey with her. But the young one must be quite a handful because most nights there is such a loud screeching coming from the box. I went out with a torch one night to investigate in case there was an unwelcome visitor causing trouble, but it was just Minnie screaming at her joey in the box. Maybe she’d had enough of his whining to go out and play and sent him to the naughty corner.

And this possum was too far away to tell who it was.

brushtail possum in box

brushtail possum in box

But he or she likes their new home.

And lastly, I’d like to share a few short clips of one of my favourite possums, Chloe, who has a young joey. In my last monthly wildlife round up post I shared some images of the glimpses I got of the tiny joey, well, now it has grown. Here they both are on 6th January –

Isn’t that little one adorable? It’s so young it doesn’t even resemble mum yet!

And here they are on 28th January –

You can see that the joey has more fur on and actually looks like a possum now. It’s also starting to investigate its surroundings, from the safety of mum’s back of course!

 

Thanks for reading about my backyard wildlife visitors! ūüôā

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tasty Afternoon Treat

What could be more Aussie than feasting on prawns on the Australia Day long weekend? ūüėÄ 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! ūüôā

 

 

Just hangin’

Earlier in the week I heard a very loud raucous going on in the backyard that just seemed to go on and on. A whole group of birds of different species all congregating together in the one spot making a racket can only mean one thing – an unwelcome visitor.

Seeing as my chickens were out free ranging for the afternoon, I donned my boots and grabbed my camera and went out to investigate to make sure everyone was okay. Rounding the corner, this is what I saw:

A goanna up a tree! And a big healthy looking one too! He is well over 4 feet in length from head to tail.

Here is a closer look. Check out those huge claws!

goanna up a tree

He may have been either passing through or perhaps searching for food and wanting to get closer to the chook pen, seeing as they eat eggs and birds and other small animals. It seems like the birds had upset him so he’s made a dash for the nearest tree and biding his time for an escape.

In the video below you can hear some of the noise being made by the birds – kookaburras, magpies, pied currawongs, grey butcherbirds, blue faced honeyeaters and even rainbow lorikeets! They were all in the trees around, pointing out where the goanna was. Even the neighbour’s dog got in on it!

Goannas, also known as lace monitors, are very large and quick reptiles, and can be unpredictable, so I stayed well away. My girls were safe scratching around the yard at the front of the house far away from him and I collected the eggs from the chook shed so there was no reason for him to hang around. He hung out in the tree for a good hour after I spotted him, then he was gone and peace returned.

Common House Gecko

asian house gecko on ceiling

I’m sure many of you would have heard this sound around your home¬† –

That noise belongs to the Common House Gecko, also known as an Asian House Gecko. Love ’em or hate ’em, you see them, and even hear them, everywhere – inside the home, in the garage, even at work. They are even common culprits in short circuiting your electrical equipment, including air conditioners, because they get in everywhere!

I decided to do a little investigating on the internet about these geckos and here’s what I found.

The Common House Geckos were first seen in the 1960s. No one knows how they got here from South East Asia, but quite likely they were stowaways in shipping containers.

They are about 10cm in length and have spines on their tail, and they change colour. During the day they are dark coloured, and at night they are pale pinky-brown.

Like other geckos, these lose their tail when frightened or trying to get away in a hurry. Here’s a photo of one that recently lost its tail.

asian house gecko with no tailWhen the tail regenerates, it’s smooth with no spines, like in the photo below.

asian house gecko on ceilingThese geckos are found in the north east of Australia and down south to Coffs Harbour.¬† They live inside people’s houses, garages, and buildings, and can often be seen on the walls or ceilings at night. They feed on the insects that are attracted to light.

asian house geckos on ceiling

I see quite a number of these geckos on the veranda ceiling at night. When the outside light is on, they all seem to appear out of nowhere, ready and waiting for their next meal.

One night I was in the study and had the window open, the blind open, and the light on while I was working at the computer, and I saw one of these geckos hanging on the fly screen catch a rather large moth.

asian house gecko eating a mothIf you look at the mid left of the photo above, you’ll see the head of a second gecko, probably hoping to join in the feast. Surprisingly, this moth somehow got away and managed to live another day!

These geckos are very invasive and have sadly displaced our native geckos because of the competition with food as well as the quick breeding cycle they have. The Common House Gecko breeds all year round and the female lays 2 eggs every 4 to 6 weeks. Amazingly, you can actually see the eggs in the underbelly of the female as shown in the photo below.

asian house gecko female with eggs

The other problem these geckos have is they carry little red mites. You can just make out a few of them in the photo below if you look carefully at the rear toes. It is unknown at this point if these introduced mites will cause a problem with our native geckos. Let’s hope not!

asian house gecko

If you’ve ever seen one of these geckos on the ceiling or on a glass window, you might be thinking they can move with ease due to suction cups on their feet. However, they actually have tiny hairs tipped with a pad on their toes that enables them to walk on these smooth and slippery surfaces.¬† You can make these out if you look closely at the photos in this post.

Do you see, or hear, these geckos around your place?

 

 

 

 

 

Wildlife Visitors in January

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

January was the middle of summer here in Australia, and I can tell you, it was extremely hot! Where I live in Queensland, nearly half the month had days of at least 35 degrees Celsius (that’s 95 degrees Fahrenheit for you non metric readers!) and the humidity was very high too. I think my air conditioner has been going nearly non stop 24/7 since the start of the year. Because of the extreme heat, I wasn’t out and about as much as usual, and neither were the local wildlife (and who can blame them!).

My best news of January was the welcome surprise visit from my magpie friend Ramsay! It was great to see him again, although he is missing some feathers, but otherwise, he seems fine. Igor, the resident male magpie,¬†wasn’t overly impressed by the visit and kept a close watch on him, even giving him the stink eye!¬†Ramsay only stayed long enough to have his photo taken, take a bit of meat from me,¬†and¬†then he was off down the valley. And he’s still making those funny baby bird noises (that’s how I knew it was him).

Ramsay
Ramsay

A few sulphur crested cockatoos were seen now and again during the month.

Here comes trouble!
Here comes trouble!

The large eastern water dragon made several appearances, no doubt enjoying the warmth of the season, although I did unexpectedly catch it on our verandah late one afternoon in front of the water dish, so perhaps it was even too hot for him!

Adult Eastern Water Dragon
Adult Eastern Water Dragon

And then this smaller eastern water dragon started making appearances near the end of the month.

Juvenile eastern water dragon looking very relaxed
Juvenile eastern water dragon looking very relaxed

The magpie babies are as big as their parents now, and are colouring up nicely. I have seen them eating on their own, although they do still beg for food and both parents give in and feed them. Spoiled birdies!

Maggie feeding a young one
Maggie feeding a young one
Igor feeding a young one
Igor feeding a young one

It must have been too hot for the brushtail possums as well, because they tended to only turn up very late at night after I’d gone to bed, so maybe they have trouble sleeping during the hot days. The possum box has been empty a lot too, but one morning I did see this female possum relaxing in it.

Pin Up Possum

The baby kookaburras are going great, growing quickly now, having seen them just today, their tail feathers are long now¬†like their parents, so it’s only the size of their beaks that give them away unless you see them making those baby bird “I’m hungry!” noises.

Family portrait - L to R: juvenile, parent, juvenile, parent.
Family portrait – L to R: juvenile, parent, juvenile, parent.

There was a bit of excitement one day when I saw one of the adult kookaburras feed a snake to one of the young ones. It was quite amazing to see because it was quite a large snake and I never thought the baby bird would eat it all, but it did, even if it did take about 45 minutes to get it all down. The photo below shows the bird with the last half of the snake. If you’re interested in seeing more photos of what happened, check out my recent post here.

Yum yum!
Yum yum!

And finally, even the rainbow lorikeets felt the heat. Here’s a video of them getting cool in the house guttering which gets cool water in it from the air conditioner.

Hope you enjoyed seeing my backyard visitors. ūüôā

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!

Wildlife Visitors in September

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

September was the first month of Spring here in Australia and it was good to have a few days of decent rain to get things growing and coming alive again to provide more food for all the spring babies.

Everybody loves Rainbow Lorikeets, so I’ve taken a video of them at an afternoon feed on our veranda.¬†And in case you’re wondering, we only feed them sometimes and we use the same food that Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary uses, which is Wambaroo Lorikeet¬†Food, which is a powder that smells like fresh baked sweet biscuits and it’s mixed with water to make a porridge consistency that mimics nectar. The rainbow¬†lorikeets love it and so do the noisy miners and scaly breasted lorikeets¬†whenever they get a chance to grab some!

This is a Blue Tongued Lizard and was over half a metre in length. A group of noisy miners were shrieking from a branch above it and when I went to investigate I thought at first it was a snake, but then I¬†realised it had legs. Whew!¬†I haven’t seen one of these lizards since I was a little girl and Dad uncovered one hiding behind the shed in the backyard in Sydney, so this was a wildlife treat for me!

blue tongued llizard

We also¬†had a visit from several¬†sulphur crested cockatoos. This one was in a gum tree screeching. Wait for it …….

And this one was eating¬†grass¬†along our driveway. Who needs a lawnmower when you have one of these? ūüôā

Now, you might recall seeing a photo of a small brushtail possum joey back in the July post looking like a little orange furry thing. Well, here he is in the possum box with his mother, grown up a bit more with the grey colouring now and sound asleep, quite oblivious to me taking his picture.

brushtail possum mother and joey

And here they are visiting for a nightly snack before they venture out on their possum adventures.

brushtail possum mum and joey

Another female possum and her older joey have been visiting us quite frequently. Here’s a short video of them on our veranda when I gave them each a piece of banana. The joey¬†finished his¬†bit and went after Mum’s. ūüôā

We had a lot of nocturnal activity from the brushtail possums, so if you would like to see more photos of them with their joeys you can see them here.

It has been lovely to see a lot more of the pale headed rosellas around our place. We hear them quite regularly now, so it seems there are more around these days than ever before. I captured this video where you can hear two different calls they make.

There were a range of insects that I discovered during September, and I am still working on the identification of a couple of them, so if you happen to know what they are let me know.

unidentified
unidentified
bronze orange bug on lime tree
Bronze Orange Bug
unidentified
unidentified
unidentified but possibly a looper
unidentified but possibly a looper
common ladybird
Common ladybird
assassin bug
assassin bug

One of my favourite birds is the Pied Currawong. Unfortunately, our magpie father Igor has done a wonderful job in keeping away the meat eating birds while his missus is sitting on a nest somewhere close by, so I have only seen the currawongs in next door’s property. This is a video I took at dusk and using¬†a zoom, so the quality isn’t very good but you can hear their lovely call saying goodnight.

And we haven’t seen very much of the pied butcherbirds either, because as soon as they turn up, Igor appears out of nowhere and chases them away. He leaves the juveniles alone, although he is sitting nearby just watching, so I was able to get a few videos of this juvenile pied butcherbird practising his singing. Although he was happy for me to film him, he appeared to get nervous toward the end as Igor was around and birds were flying about causing a raucous and he even sounded a touch off key near the end! And¬†I love how he fluffs his head up every now and then. ūüôā

And although we could hear the kookaburras in the early morning and at sunset, we didn’t see much of them at all (thanks to Igor!) and this was the only photo I was able to get all month.

kookaburra at sunset

I hope you enjoyed seeing my wildlife visitors. ūüôā