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.

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.
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

How to prevent wildlife drowning in your pool

Ornate Burrowing Frog exiting the swimming pool at night, via the Frog Log wildlife escape ramp at Jarowair.

Swimming pools are a lot of fun for humans, but they can be deadly for wildlife.  We installed an in-ground pool here at Jarowair a few years ago and along with fencing for humans safety, we were aware of the need to ensure wildlife would also be safe also, should they venture into the pool.

In our area, as a wildlife carer, I’ve heard dreadful stories of pool owners finding dead bandicoot’s, possums, ducklings, lizards, frogs and even koalas in their pools. Wildlife will often look for the closest water source for drinking and come into strife after falling in the pool, or finding it impossible to get out. One particular example is that of ducklings, whose parents lead them to the pool for their first swimming outing, however they find they can't fly out like their parents can and they get sucked into the filter basket with no way to escape. Most pools have a high lip and slippery sides making escape impossible for the unfortunate animals who have fallen in.

Once our pool was installed, we found that after the first dose of rain, we immediately had frogs in the pool at night.  We could hear them calling out and it was a constant effort scooping them out of the pool at all hours of the night, and then checking for them again in the morning. I had read an article about a wildlife floating bridge that allowed for animals to escape, however most of the articles I could find that included products for sale were American, and it was challenging to find a product available in Australia. I eventually found an Australian supplier for a device called the Frog Log. This is a floating canvas semi circle pad with a gauze edge that floats on the water surface on the side of the pool. It has a gauze and canvas arm/bridge that has a weight section on the end that sits on the pool coping tiles or edge. The weighted end is filled by adding either pebbles or sand to as the sandbag weight up hold it in place.

While we were waiting for the frog log to arrive in the post, we experimented with a couple of ideas including draping a rope across the pool, tied to the pool fence on each side. This was semi- successful and saved two baby bearded dragons who were able to climb onto it, but it was too flimsy for the frogs to utilise. We toyed with other ideas  such as a fibreglass ramp that can be screwed to the pool coping tiles, but this didn’t seem practical for pool cleaning and usage for us.

As soon as the frog log arrived it was an astounding success. No more saving of frogs and lizards in the pool required. We have no doubt that the frogs still kept coming to the pool, but they were safely able to escape- see photos in this post.

The photos below were taken this week after a downpour of rain at night. Once again the local native frogs went looking for a mate to the closest water source and ended up in the pool. Three Ornate Burrowing Frogs and an Emerald Spotted were all having a great time in the pool. I could hear them from inside the house and went out to inspect and found one already escaping the pool on the frog log. We have had the Frog Log for a few years now and despite it being in full sun every day and in the chlorinated salt water, it is still holding up well, continuing to prevent wildlife from drowning in the pool.

Ornate Burrowing Frog exiting the pool via the "Frog Log" at Jarowair - December 2017.  This clever floating device has been preventing wildlife drownings in the pool here for years.

You can buy a frog log in Australia online at The Land Down Under. Direct link here:®-critter-saving-escape-ramp

I highly recommend all pool owners purchase one of these or a similar product to prevent wildlife drowning in your pool.

Judi Gray

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Bird Feeder Experiment - Week 1

8th October 2017

There is much debate about the pros and cons of feeding wild birds bird seed in a bird feeder, and as wildlife carers and bird observers, we have always been very conscious about doing the right thing.   Until now we have only put bird seed in a secluded bird feeder in the garden on rare occasions and the feeder has mainly been used for fruit & vegies to supplement my soft-release possums coming back for something a bit extra.  Recently we spent a few days camping at Cullendore High Country just over the NSW border and observed the bird feeding, noting that the Rufous Bettongs came at night to 'clean up' the left over bird seed.  We decided on return that we might experiment with a new bird feeder in a different location at Jarowair, as a supplement for local birds doing it tough in the drought when there isn't much grass seed, flowers or much of anything around for them to eat... we also thought that the local bettong's might come at night to clean up any left-overs as such.  Friends who live not too far "as the crow flies", have had Rufous Bettongs coming to eat the bird seed under their bird feeder for years.

Brendon got busy making a new bird feeder from an old satellite dish that he had kept from the roof of our Toowoomba house for many years.... if you keep it long enough it will find a use!!  We decided that the feeder had to be in the open on the lawn, (so that any seed that fell would land on the lawn and not start sprouting in the garden) but close enough to the garden so that birds could duck off into the shrubs if they felt threatened.  It also had to be in view from our veranda so we could see who visited it and document it by photographing them with the long lens.  Brendon got to work building it and the bird feeder was installed exactly a week ago, and we have put a small amount of seed in it and replaced it whenever it has been all eaten.  It didn't take long for the Rainbow Lorikeets to find it.. and then the other birds followed.  We have had the camera out, ready to photograph any visitors to the feeder, and we are pretty happy with the ones we have seen so far, although haven't managed to photograph them all. The photos are rather grainy and a tad blurry as they are taken from quite far away... but at this distance we aren't intrusive and don't risk scaring the birds off.  

We hope that some of the smaller birds will become inquisitive and check it out in time.  Another bird bath is also in the plans to be added in the garden nearby.

Bird feeder visitors in one week:
  1. Rainbow Lorikeet
  2. Australian King Parrot
  3. Galah
  4. Little Corella
  5. Magpie Lark (Pee-wee)
  6. Apostlebird
  7. Laughing Kookaburra
  8. Crested Pigeon
  9. Pale-headed Rosella
Further updates to come.

J & B

Rainbow Lorikeets in Bird Feeder, Jarowair, Oct 2017

Male King Parrot (who has also brought his son by) in Bird Feeder, Jarowair, Oct 2017

Galah  in Bird Feeder, Jarowair, Oct 2017

Laughing Kookaburra in Bird Feeder, Jarowair, Oct 2017

Apostlebirds Rainbow in Bird Feeder, Jarowair, Oct 2017

Little Corella's  in Bird Feeder, Jarowair, Oct 2017

Apostlebirds, with Mandy the Red-necked Wallaby looking on..  Bird Feeder, Jarowair, Oct 2017

Apostlebird and Magpie Lark (Pee-wee)  in Bird Feeder, Jarowair, Oct 2017

and in the last hours of Sunday evening, this beautiful Pale-headed Rosella visited the bird feeder.  Jarowair October 2017

Friday, September 22, 2017

Rainbow Bee-eaters and Pelicans

22nd Sepember 2017

A pair of beautiful Rainbow Bee-eaters (Merops ornatus)  have been witnessed perched on the fence between Jarowair and our neighbours place every now and then in the last few weeks, as well as high in the tree tops down the back of our property. I have seen them many times on the fence while driving home, but they take off as soon as you get close to try and take a photo.  I attempted today and took a couple of poor photos from a very long distance away, while trying to hold a stick above my head to prevent a magpie from swooping me!

The birds didn't stay on the fence for long and as I walked to try and get a better position they took off into neighbouring trees.  I thought I would just wait in the shade for a while to see if they returned, and while I was waiting and watching the magpie watching me.... a pair of wedge-tailed eagles were soaring above, and minutes later a pair of pelicans flew overhead!!  What a remarkable site these huge birds are flying over the drought stricken dry woodlands.  I am guessing they were on their way to somewhere better... flying over our property still counts as a bird record yes?

I do hope that the bee-eaters hang around for a while yet so I might have a chance at a decent photo. I am adding the ones I took today to the blog for our birding record.


Rainbow Bee-eater (Merops ornatus) at Jarowair 22/09/17

Rainbow Bee-eaters (Merops ornatus) & Willie Wagtail 22/09/17

Australian Pelican (Pelecanus conspicillatus) pair over Jarowair 22/09/17

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Re-purposed Hollow Log Nesting Box Installation

6th August 2017

These hollow logs, which have been salvaged (from trees that have been cut down in our local area for development) have been given a 'second  chance' as a home once again for wildlife today at Jarowair.  Brendon has turned the discarded logs into nesting hollows for birds, by adding sturdy tops and bottoms to the cut ends, which both had a natural side hollow entrance already, and has installed them here today in two different sized Eucalyptus tereticornis trees, ready to be loved again by local birds.  

Two different types of nest boxes have been crafted by Brendon, with different species in mind.  One for Pale-headed Rosellas, and another larger log for Galahs.  

It must be time for a nesting box count again at Jarowair as I have well and truly lost count now of how many we have here - I estimate around 35+ different types of artificial homes for wildlife been installed here by Brendon in the last 11 years. 


Selecting the tree for the Hollow Log Nesting Box Installation for Pale-headed Rosellas at Jarowair

Hollow Log Nesting Box Installation for Pale-headed Rosellas at Jarowair

Brendon does all the hard work... making the boxes, climbing the ladder and installing these heavy monsters!
Hollow Log Nesting Box Installation for Pale-headed Rosellas at Jarowair

One down, one to go....Hollow Log Nesting Box Installation for  Pale-headed Rosellas at Jarowair


Hollow Log Nesting Box Installation for Galah's at Jarowair

Checking out the best spot for this very heavy Hollow Log Nesting Box Installation for Galah's at Jarowair

Hollow Log Nesting Box Installation for Galah's at Jarowair

Hollow Log Nesting Box Installation for Galah's at Jarowair

Hollow Log Nesting Box Installation for Galah's at Jarowair

The other "Galah"... my job consists of taking photos on the phone while trying to hold the ladder.. somehow I have taken this picture of myself concentrating on what was happening without even knowing hehe....Hollow Log Nesting Box Installation for Galah's at Jarowair

Hollow Log Nesting Box Installation for Galah's at Jarowair

All installed!  Hollow Log Nesting Box Installation for Galah's at Jarowair
B & J Gray

Monday, May 1, 2017

Wild Dog Pups found in hollow log

Whilst going for a walk on Saturday night on our property near Cooby Dam, I heard a strange noise coming from a big hollow log and discovered a litter of NINE wild dog pups. I raced back to the house and returned with my son, a cage n a crowbar. I must admit, knowing that the mother was probably watching me n hearing wild dogs howling in the background, I hastily grabbed the pups n couldn't get out of there quick enough!


Sunday, February 19, 2017

Juvenile Green Tree Snake at Jarowair

18th February 2017

Juvenile Green Tree Snake at Jarowair (new sighting)

This tiny Green Tree Snake (Dendrelaphis punctulata) was camouflaging extremely well in a lomandra near the waterhole down the back of Jarowair when Brendon noticed it.  This is the first sighting we have ever had in 11 years at Jarowair of a Green Tree Snake, despite our neighbour having seen one many years ago.  It is interesting to note that in the same week Brendon saw a full size one cross the road and go over the fence in-between our neighbours place and our place, and disappear in the long grass.

J & B.

Green Tree Snake (Dendrelaphis punctulata) at Jarowair 18/02/17

Not the clearest photo - but I had to add it as it shows how the Green Tree Snake (Dendrelaphis punctulata) is twirled around the old lomandra flower.

Green Tree Snake (Dendrelaphis punctulata) at Jarowair 18/02/17

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Wildlife in the Queensland Heat Wave Feb 2017

12 February 2017

Temperatures soared in mid February during a terrible heatwave in Eastern Australia.  Where we live on the Darling Downs, South-East Queensland, temperatures reached 46 degrees Celsius in the shade!!  During this time we were kept busy ensuring that all local wildlife at Jarowair had access to water.  The bore-pump was busy for days, with sprinklers going in gardens, troughs and waterholes being filled daily with water and we also placed more containers of water around the property for wildlife.

Koala with a wet face, from having a drink from the water container we placed at the base of his tree during the heat wave. He watched us from up high and came down as soon as we walked away to have a long drink of cool water.

Three koalas were witnessed on our property during this weekend, all looking terribly hot and panting in the trees, trying desperately to escape the heat.  We made a decision to put a container of water under each tree that had a koala in it.  One particular tree, we placed the container of water down at the base of the tree and went back to the house to get others to set up at the other two trees - within the time we returned, the koala from the first tree had already climbed down and was lapping the water up from the container at the base of the tree!  We watched from a distance and it proceeded to sit their and have a good drink before it scampered off to some thicker trees close by that were a little shadier.

Another panting koala during the heatwave - a container of cool water was placed at the base of his tree also.

Joeys were steaming in their mothers pouches and the mothers were all congregating around the water holes - the joeys were trying to stretch the pouch open so they could get cool.

This large Eastern Grey Kangaroo Joey was trying to get some cool breeze by stretching out the pouch awkwardly, while his mum rested at "Wallaby Waterhole" at Jarowair during the heatwave.  You can see how stressed mum is as her whole arms are wet from licking them - a method macropods use to cool down when stressed.
Eastern Grey Kangaroos during the heatwave at Jarowair, February 2017
Red-necked Wallaby with wet arms during the heat wave.  Macropods lick their arms to cool and calm down when stressed.

Birds were painting and the tiny waterhole down the back - was busy with many variety of birds coming down for a drink.  We were expecting to see a python waiting at the waterhole for an easy meal with so many birds coming - but I guess they too were staying out of the sun.  There were a tremendous variety of birds coming for a drink including three juvenile Olive-backed Orioles, Brown-headed Honeyeaters, Yellow-faced Honeyeaters to name a few.

Olive-backed Oriole with its' beak open and wings out- trying to cool down near the waterhole at Jarowair during the Febuary 2017 heatwave.

Australian Magpies with beaks open trying to cool down in the heatwave

Laughing Kookaburra with beak open - resting above the waterhole trying to cool down during the Febuary 2017 heatwave.

Noisy Miner - trying to cool down during the  heatwave

Nosiy Miner coming for a drink during the heatwave.

A wild Brushtailed possum in one of the nesting boxes at Jarowair - was unusually hanging out of the entrance hole trying to get cool during the middle of the day during the heatwave.  Brushtailed Possums are nocturnal - so normally you wouldn't see them peaking out from their safe hiding spots in the day time - but I guess the box was getting pretty steamy in the high temps.

The temperatures continued for many days and we kept up the routine of ensuring waterholes, troughs, birdbaths and containers were full of water, as well as putting on the sprinklers in a variety of gardens to cool down some of the local birds.

The heat-wave certainly took it's toll and we lost a few shrubs that were almost at fully grown size.

Anyone can help wildlife during a heatwave such as this, by putting out water for wildlife.  Deep dishes should have  a branch in them so lizards and small birds do not drown.

J & B

Lastly a Lace Monitor was out and about - stealing eggs from the chook pen during the heatwave - he seemed to be tolerating it much better than other animals.

Stingless Bees Trigona carbonaria

12th February 2017

I just love Stingless Bees!  These microscopic little bees are a joy to watch and today I took time to sit and watch them collecting pollen on their feet from the flowering Liriopes in my little tropical garden.  These particular minatures are Native Stingless Bee - Trigona carbonaria and are around 4mm long.  We know of one hive that it is easy to see on our property, but there certainly has to be others that we haven't noticed - as there are large numbers of these tiny pollen collectors. They look so cute with their vibrant balls of yellow pollen sticking to their hairy hind legs, which they use for carrying nectar and pollen.
The photos are a little grainy as I had to have the camera on a high ISO due to them being in the shade.


Native Stingless Bee - Trigona carbonaria at Jarowair 12/02/17

Native Stingless Bee - Trigona carbonaria at Jarowair 12/02/17

Green Long Legged Fly

12 February 2017

This beautiful metallic insect was resting in the shade on a leaf of one of the eucalyptus trees in our latest koala tree plantation this morning.  It was around 4 to 5mm long.  After a little research, I have found that it is a Green Long Legged Fly (Austrosciapus connexus, Family Dolichopodidae).  Thanks to the Brisbane Insects website for help identifying this one.  

Green Long Legged Fly (Austrosciapus connexus) at Jaowair 12/02/17

Musk Lorikeets at Jarowair

12th February 2017

I had been hearing the Musk Lorikeet's for a few days, but when I couldn't spot them in the trees, I second guessed what I had heard.  Yesterday while Mick Atzeni & Rod Hobson were visiting our patch, they too heard the Musk Lorikeet's and saw them fly over and land in the large ironbark trees, so I new I wasn't going crazy!

This morning around 10 Musk Lorikeet's were hanging around the ironbark trees near the bird flight aviary, and one young one even went to say hello to the birds inside the aviary.  It has been some years since I have managed to photograph the Musk Lorikeet's here.  (see previous posts here: 2012 & 2009)

J & B

Musk Lorikeet ~ Jarowair 12/02/17

Musk Lorikeet ~ Jarowair 12/02/17
Musk Lorikeet's ~ Jarowair 12/02/17

On the outside, looking in... Musk Lorikeet ~ Jarowair 12/02/17