Tuesday, January 2, 2018

2017 End of Year Overview from Jarowair

2nd January 2018


Happy New Year 2018 from the Gray's at Jarowair
This is my fourth year writing an end of year overview of the last 12 months at Jarowair, and the fourth year in which I have forced the family to take part in a family photo at our entrance sign.  This year again it was hard to pick a winning photo from 35 awkward ones taken hehe. I must admit I love looking back on the last few to compare how not only we have all changed, but how the land has also.  I will try to keep it short this time, and this last year I haven't achieved as much as I would have liked in making a difference with wildlife conservation, but there has still been quite a few significant plusses on looking back.


  • Successful bird include Sacred Kingfishers, Laughing Kookaburras, Crested Pigeons, Torresian Crow, Rainbow Bee-eater, Pale-headed Rosella, Owlet Nightjars to name a few.
  • Feral species removed included 9 wild dog pups, one fox and one cat and too many cane toads!
  • Trees Planted -  Eucalyptus teretecornis and Eucalyptus camendulensis, Acacia ......tba.
  • Winter was relatively frost free, with very little losses of plants.
  • Toowoomba Field Naturalists Group came for a night time insect outing at Jarowair  that was run by Helen and resulted in discoveries of a large range of insects that we hadn't recorded before.  View the write-up from the club here.
  • Glen Lepier, author of the Mangroves to Mountains Plant Field Guide (aka Plant Bible) visited Jarowair to photograph the Leafy Templetonia when it was in flower and also took a sample to submit to the Queensland Herbarium, which is the only recorded specimen for our region, which was very exciting.  My photo of this very plant featured in the new edition of their book also for the first time.  Glen also submitted a few other specimens to the Herbarium on our behalf and let me know as to the identifications of them all to add to our plant list.
  • Plant List - finally after all these years I have started to compile a plant list for Jarowair.  This is still a work in progress, but I have combined what I have recorded so far, along with plants identified by other experts here.  This can now be found on the blog, however it does look very small, and I can see that there is a lot of work to still do on this.  I may have to recruit the help of a few local experts to add in some necessary extras, including the different grass types.
  • We saw the return of the Bandy Bandy Snake along with the Australian Coral Snake, after a long time since our last sightings of these stunning creatures.  Rufous Bettongs also continue to be sighted sporadically, and Koalas have been a constant regular


  • This year I have cared for 53 different wildlife animals at Jarowair with a wide range of species including plenty of orphaned babies along with two baby Turtles,  Long-nosed Bandicoot joeys, four Tawny Frogmouth fledglings and a lot of birds, a large Eastern Water Dragon, Ringtail Possums, Red-necked Wallaby and Eastern Grey Kangaroo joeys just to name a few. 
  • This year saw the very soft-release of two of my hand-raised Red-necked Wallabies.  The rehabilitation of both of these joeys who I raised from young ages, was a long commitment, but very enjoyable and successful.  Both 'joeys' continue to stop by and visit every now and then, and continued to come back and forth from the soft-release enclosure for months.
  • Brendon completed building a fabulous enclosure for the wallabies and we were grateful to have some of the timber donated from friends to complete this project.  A large amount of shade cloth & wire had to be purchased and this was costly (as are all wildlife projects) but the enclosure was a great success and is a wonderful asset for my wildlife rehabilitation work.
  • Close of day 31st December 2017 I had just two Red-necked Wallaby joeys in care, and two juvenile Brushtail Possums, despite three call outs for rescues on Christmas Eve with the calls stating at 6.30am and ending at 9.30pm!
  • Koala & Wildlife Rescues.  We haven't kept track of how many rescues we have done this year -but we continue to get more and more koala call outs and a tremendous amount have been in Toowoomba itself.  We both enjoy the rescues and doing what we can to help these precious animals found in dreadful situations and conditions at times.  There has been many success stories this year with plenty going back to the wild after treatment at a wildlife hospital, which is always very rewarding.

  • Charles & Motee Rogers Bushland Reserve - another disaster caused by dreadful council planning again threatened the reserve with a library, wide road and a new road to go through the endangered ecosystem.  This resulted in me having to create another petition and campaign to save this precious bushland, and this received a lot of media coverage including front page and a two page spread in the Toowoomba Chronicle Newspaper.  Council has agreed to preserve the bushland for the time being, but it is no more secure than it was before.  A lot of meetings, stress, research and campaigning was involved again, and a lot of un-necessary upset and time once again spent by myself and other members of the public to try and get council to do the right thing and to view our bushland parks as natural assets.  I note that two koalas were seen at the reserve this year which was both remarkable and wonderful.
  • Sydney Morning Herald - my photos of three of my wildlife rehabiliation animals featured in this national newspaper to promote Snuggle Coat - up-cycled vintage fur that is donated back to the animals.
  • I featured in a variety of campaign advertisments for WWF who have focused this year on Koala conservation on the Darling Downs.  I was honoured to be interviewed and have my thoughts on the issue included in a variety of different videos used on social media and on the internet.
  • My photo taken at The Palms National  Park made the front cover of the newest edition of Bushwalking in South East Queensland Book!  Myself and my daughter also had photos feature in the book itself for local bushwalking places on the darling downs.
  • I was nominated as a torch bearer for the 2018 Commonwealth Games for my wildlife work. I wasn't successful, but was absolutely thrilled that someone nominated me for such an honour.
  • Brendon and I featured on the Great Day Out tv show for our wildlife eco tours in the Toowoomba Region.  We also conducted various tours for children to learn about wildlife and nature throughout all the school holidays this year.
  • Wires used some of our photographs to promote the importance of nesting boxes.

2018 GOALS 
  • Win the lotto so we can purchase more land in the Toowoomba Region for wildlife conservation!
  • Seriously though... continue with our Koala and Wildlife Rescue Volunteer work and fund-raise for our own equipment so we don't have to borrow the bigger items.  
  • Continue rehabilitating wildlife where time permits.
  • Charles & Motee Rogers Bushland Reserve - continue as coordinator of the bushcare group.
  • Wildlife Qld Toowoomba Branch - plan some vibrant guest speakers for the new year and look at finding some volunteers to help the committee out more.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Blue Tiger Butterflies Return

What could be more spectacular during summer, than the sight of newly emerged butterflies on Christmas Eve? This week I have noticed many flitting around the property, and in particular was thrilled to see the gorgeous Blue Tiger Butterfly (Tirumala hamata), as not only is it one of my favourite butterflies, but it is one that we don't see at our property often, mostly because we don't have enough of their food plants growing here. The Blue Tiger Butterflies migrate towards Brisbane from North Queensland, and in the past we have seen them locally in large numbers - almost like a plague!  I note however that in 11 years, this is my first blog post featuring a photo of this butterfly!!

Like most butterflies the Blue Tiger Butterflies food plants are vines, in particular the Cork Milk Vine (Secamone elliptica) and they also like heliotropes (which we have a few of here at Jarowair in the weed variety).  An interesting fact about Blue Tiger Butterflies that I read recently on About the Garden Website is that  "The male Blue Tiger butterfly collects the pollen as it contains pheromones that make it poisonous to the birds but very attractive to the female Blue Tiger butterfly."  A fabulous defence and attraction mechanism all in one!

Judi Gray

Blue Tiger Butterfly (Tirumala hamata) at Jarowair on Christmas Eve 2017

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Dollarbirds return after long journey home to south-east Queensland

Dollarbird (Eurystomus orientalis) resting on the clothes line at Jarowair, December 2017

The Dollarbird (Eurystomus orientalis) is a truly remarkable small bird that travels an extraordinarily long way every spring to return to the same nesting site in a hollow tree, year after year.

The Dollarbird makes it journey all the way from New Guinea and the nearby islands and arrives in northern and eastern Australia around September every year where it resides in dry woodland areas where it nests in mature trees with hollows.  Both parent care for the young Dollarbirds in the tree hollow.

The Dollarbird gets its unusual name because it has a large, prominent white spot on each wing, visible when the bird is in flight; these spots were considered to resemble silver dollars.
The Dollarbird is the sole Australian representative of the Roller family, so named because of their rolling courtship display flight.

It has mostly dark brown upperparts, washed heavily with blue-green on the back and wing coverts. The breast is brown, while the belly and undertail coverts are light, and the throat and undertail glossed with bright blue. The flight feathers of the wing and tail are dark blue. The short, thick-set bill is orange-red, tipped with black. In flight, the pale blue coin-shaped patches towards the tips of its wings, that gave the bird its name, are clearly visible. Both sexes are similar, although the female is slightly duller. Young Dollarbirds are duller than the adults and lack the bright blue gloss on the throat. The bill and feet are brownish in colour instead of red.
SOURCE: http://www.birdlife.org.au/bird-profile/dollarbird

During breeding season, pairs of Dollarbirds are often seen flying in characteristic rolling flights. These flights are more common in the evening, and are accompanied by cackling calls. The white eggs are laid in an unlined tree hollow and are incubated by both adults. The young birds are also cared for by both parents.
SOURCE: http://www.birdsinbackyards.net/species/Eurystomus-orientalis
Dollarbird (Eurystomus orientalis), Jarowair, South East Queensland, Dec 2017

 In March or April the birds return to New Guinea and adjacent islands to spend the winter, until their long journey back in Spring.  I am totally in awe of these birds!

We have been seeing the Dollarbirds regularly for a long time now at Jarowair, and are witness to their crackling sounds and swift flights to catch insects.  They often roost in the large ironbark trees close to our house, however we still have not discovered their nesting site and if it is even indeed on our property.

Dollarbird (Eurystomus orientalis) Silhouette, Jarowair Dec 2017

I can't help think about how distressing it must be for these resilient birds,when they reach their destination in the surrounding Toowoomba Region, after flying for goodness knows how long from New Guinea, to find that their nesting tree is no longer there!  Removal of old growth trees with nesting hollows, not only effects arboreal species, but important bird species as well, who also rely on these territorial homes to breed.

Judi Gray