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! 🙂

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

Wildlife Visitors in October 2017

After about two months of  warm, dry weather we finally got rain on the 1st October! And boy, did it rain! It rained almost continually for 18 days before we even got a glimpse of the sun. It was light steady rain, which was great for the ground as it allowed the rain to soak in before we got hit with some very heavy downpours.

October also saw the gradual return of some of our regular birds, as the very bossy and territorial magpies have lessened their violent attacks now their babies are out of the nest.

One of Igor and Maggie’s babies
Igor eyeballing a pied currawong to keep away. You can just make out the black blob in the tree.
The pied currawong trying to look nonchalant while Igor stares at him.
One of the kookaburras has started showing up in our yard again
A pied butcherbird dropped in to say hello and grab a quick snack

I came across this spider and its web in some plants near the veranda. I don’t think I’ve seen this type before, it’s about an inch in size, but I love its colouring!

Here’s another insect I’ve never seen before. It’s only about a centimetre in size and there were a number of them on the leaves of a gum tree sapling. It’s quite unusual looking, so if you happen to know what it is, let me know.

And here’s something I don’t get to see very often- a golden tailed spiny ant. It’s a big ant, about a centimetre in length. Doesn’t it look elegant with its golden colouring?

And the snakes are on the move too. I saw two different carpet pythons during the month. This one was waiting under the carport for me when I got home late from work one night. It’s about 4 feet long.

Carpet python

There’s been a buzz of activity at the insect hotel as well. Among other unknown flying insects, I found this bee visiting over several days. Not sure, but I think it might be a resin bee.

There were plenty of birds to watch during October (which was great because the Aussie Backyard Bird Count was on) including these sulphur crested cockatoos.

This cockatoo was enjoying a casual stroll through the tall weeds during a break in the rain, grabbing a bite of the stems or flowers as it went.

And this cockatoo was very happy with the onset of the rain. In fact, I’d say it was ecstatic!! Check out the video. 😀

A galah made a recurring appearance.
Quite a few of these Pale Headed Rosellas were seen and heard.
It’s not often I get to see these Scaly Breasted Lorikeets.

This pair of rainbow lorikeets were sheltering from the rain. Aren’t they cute?

And lastly, a bird has been visiting that I can’t identify. I first heard this bird call back in April, but it was some distance away. Lately, it has been calling from a gum tree in my yard but I can’t find it amongst all the leaves, plus I don’t know what I’m actually looking for. I captured this audio recording of it.

If you happen to know what this bird is, please let me know. It’s located in South East Queensland. Thanks!

Thanks for stopping by 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.

Rainbow Lorikeets On A Rainy Day

We haven’t had much rain at all here in South East Queensland, it’s been a very dry winter so far. When it does rain, the birds and animals seem to get noisy with excitement over a bit of precipitation. Several weeks ago we had a good drop of rain one day and it wasn’t long before our veranda became a sanctuary for many wet and bedraggled rainbow lorikeets.

At first, some birds stayed in the tree.

rainbow lorikeets in tree
How many rainbow lorikeets can you see?

But as the rain became heavier, they flew onto the veranda for shelter.

Then more came.

And then more!

They were huddled everywhere.

But the heavy rain didn’t stop some lorikeets from eating ……

Or fighting ……

And some just sat at the empty feeder in the pouring rain.

It got a bit noisy there for awhile, but once the birds had dried off and the rain eased many of them took advantage of the break in the weather and flew off. Others just didn’t seem to care …..  🙂

 

 

 

Lots of Lorikeets!

We’ve had a decent drop of rain here on the Gold Coast over the last several days, and there has been more than the usual number of rainbow lorikeets turning up for a quick feed. In fact, yesterday there were so many of them, I had to put out a second dish of feed but it still wasn’t enough!

Posted in response to The Daily Post’s daily promptvolume.

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. 🙂

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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
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. 🙂