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

Friday, February 3, 2017

Vale Bentley the Butcherbird

Bentley the Butcherbird at home at Jarowair August 2016

Our little Bentley the Butcherbird brought much happiness to our lives and everyone who met him.
Many of you who follow our blog or instagram will remember regular mentions of our resident, Butcherbird full of character.

Bentley arrived at Jarowair on 28th November 2015 (see post) - landing on Brendon's shoulder in the yard after he had finished mowing.  It was the most bizarre occurrence and not like any interaction we have ever experienced with a wild animal. From that day on, Bentley (named by our daughter) was here to stay. He remained a wild bird who would come for mince and insect treats, hop around inside the house, sing and call, then go back outside to be a 'real bird'.  He slept in the trees and on occasion on a wall light inside, if he'd ventured indoors at the end of the day- once he had his cosy spot for the night, there was no waking him up. Early morning though he would be the best alarm clock- waking us up in all sorts of humorous ways.

There was a reason why Bentley came to be a part of our family and to become a friend to all of the birds at Jarowair- where he became 'King'. In his short life he captured the hearts of many- he featured in newspaper articles with Queensland Country Life & Rural Weekly, had his own Facebook photo albums on the Queensland Murray Darling Committee page, impressed journalist Belinda Sanders from ABC Southern Qld so much that a lot of her questions in my interview with her changed topic to Bentley.  (More Here)   He featured in the Toowoomba Field Naturalists Newsletter after the group were smitten with his antics during their visit at the end of 2016.

He captured the hearts of all children who visited here and surprised many with his friendly demeanor. He sang in chorus along with us all when we would whistle to him- and especially loved to sing to Brendon and Kirra early in the morning. He watched Cam practice his discus and shot put safely from the cubby house, hopped around the edge of the pool when the kids were swimming, followed Brendon in the yard awaiting snacks found while gardening and would follow me anywhere from the clothes line to the waterholes and would keep me company at the joey pen during feed time.

He took particular interest in any wildlife in care at Jarowair and while curious to who the 'new patient was' he never harmed anything, making friends with tawny frogmouths, joeys and bandicoots. He was a good watchdog and alerted us to a brown snake in the yard and regularly sang out in alarm when a lace monitor visited the chicken pen- and loved giving it a few swipes. He loved to stash 'presents' or 'save it for later' food items in bizarre places in particular under the windscreen wipers on Brendon's Ute, behind cushions on the outdoor lounge, in potted plants on the deck and inside in the upstairs loft library when he had the chance.  He also loved to steal the kids socks when they would take them off outside to jump on the trampoline. Socks could be found 'stuffed' up high in tree branches, and were a hilarious sign of his antics.

Bentley taught us many lessons, including the importance of laughter and humour, and how there is always something to be happy about.  I never would have expected such amazing things from one little bird, but our lives have been enriched forever and his presence here will always be felt.

Fly forever my friend

Rip Bentley the Butcherbird.

J, B, C & K

Monday, January 2, 2017

2016 End of Year Overview from Jarowair

As the end of each year approaches, I often feel like I haven't achieved much of importance when it comes to saving the environment - but when I sit down to write this post and accumulate our achievements with our environmental work over the year gone, there are more successes that we give ourselves credit for.

This year we celebrated owning our little Land for Wildlife Property "Jarowair" for 10 years - and I gave myself a 'pat on the back' for continuing my blogging journey for this whole period, which I am really proud of, and now thoroughly enjoy looking back on our blog and checking on records and time lines of different milestones.

This year we welcomed visits to Jarowair from ABC Southern Qld radio journalist Belinda Sanders and Sandra & Donna from Queensland Murray Darling Committee. This visit resulted in an article in the Rural Weekly newspaper about our wildlife achievements and a radio interview on the ABC about wildlife caring, which was rather exciting.

This spring we have delighted in seeing the success of many birds raising young at our property including the Owlet Nightjars and Pale-headed Rosellas using Brendon's home made nesting boxes to raise their chicks.  The resident Tawny Frogmouths again raised three babies and Crested Pigeons were successful in raising a family for the first time here.  Sacred Kingfishers and Dollarbirds returned to their nesting spots on the property.

Some of the highlights from 2016 at Jarowair

  • ABC Southern Qld & QMDC visit Jarowair
  • Toowoomba Field Naturalists Group have day-outing at Jarowair
  • Birding enthusiasts Russell Jenkins and Mick Atzeni visit Jarowair
  • New Species - Ground Cuckoo Shrike witnessed a few times over Spring 2016 at Jarowair. A Red-naped Snake was also witnessed by Brendon with footage taken.
  • We re-discovered the Australian Coral Snake- having two sightings over spring 2016, after not seeing it for many years.
  • Three Bandy Bandy Snakes of all different sizes were seen over spring/summer after a 4 year absence of a sighting.
  • Brendon and I captured footage of two Rufous Bettongs 'playing' at night at Jarowair
  • Brendon had an amazing encounter with a wild Feathertail Glider, videoing the whole event.
  • Brendon continued with cane-toad eradication, taking on maintaining adjoining neighbours properties to reduce this invasive species spreading to our property.
  • Stage 5 Koala Tree plantation was planted in Summer 2016 -with 85 trees of a variety of species of Koala Feed Trees and Wattle planted in a fenced area with water sprinklers installed for continued maintenance of the trees.
Beyond Our Patch 2016
  • Our biggest highlight was visiting the Northern Territory in September, we crammed an enormous amount of sight-seeing and wildlife spotting into our week away, visiting Uluru at Yulara and Alice Springs.  
  • We took a short trip to Ballina in NSW to visit family and enjoyed the break away taking in the beauty of the water and surrounding mangrove areas.
  • We camped at Texas on the NSW/QLD border and enjoyed the birdlife that lives on the Dumaresq River - the platypus remained elusive to us, but other family and friends managed to see him!  My turn will come eventually!!
  • Brendon and I camped at a friends bushland property in November and did some night-time spotlighting for wildlife.

Environmental Work in 2016

  • I continued as President of the Toowoomba Branch of Wildlife Queensland and our small group organized a few successful meetings with guest speakers throughout the year, including a very popular bat night held at Amaroo Environmental Centre.
  • I was guest speaker at meetings for the Friends of the Escarpment Parks, The Toowoomba Field Naturalists Group and the Toowoomba Bird Observers Club events.
  • I had my biggest year ever caring for wildlife.  Just over 70 native animals were cared for at our property throughout the year, including two Eastern Grey Kangaroo Joeys, one black-striped wallaby joey and two red-necked wallaby joeys, two baby northern brown bandicoots, and plenty of birds, possums and lizards.  This year saw a huge influx of wildlife needing tlc, during the mass tree clearing for the Toowoomba range crossing.  All of the local carers are exhausted from this influx of wildlife needing care and are quite relieved that the clearing has now finished. I am very grateful to Eclipse Park Vets at Highfields and Gatton UQ Small Animal Hospital for their assistance in helping provide veterinary treatment for many of these animals free of charge.
  • Brendon and I both continued with our volunteer Koala Rescue work - rescuing many koalas all over the region. Sadly the statistics from this year are again dreadful and koalas on the darling downs are struggling terribly with the effects of habitat loss, disease, dog attacks and road trauma.  In 2017 we hope to raise enough money to be able to purchase our own rescue equipment, as currently we borrow it for every rescue and often this just isn't practical. I have lost track of how many koala rescues we have done throughout the year - I am guessing around 15.
  • For the first time in a really long time - I was able to assist in two koala releases.  The koalas mentioned had both suffered injuries, one from a dog attack and another from vehicle trauma in Toowoomba. Both were sent to the RSPCA wacol hospital and made full recoveries to be released back to the wild - it was refreshing to be a part of this, as not many of the ones we rescue ever make it back.
  • Brendon continued to work on  building a variety of amazing wildlife enclosures & aviaries for wildlife in care for Return to the Wild Koala Rescue.
  •  I continued to be involved with the Friends of Rogers Reserve, maintaining weeds at the Charles & Motee Rogers Bushland Reserve throughout the year.  I also organized the 3rd annual Clean Up Australia Day event for the bushland reserve and it was a great success - with less and less rubbish being found every year.  I am very grateful to the members of the community who take time out of their Sunday to help out with this important event.  I also conduced two guided tours for children through the reserve as part of the school holiday programs run by the Highfields Library. I thoroughly enjoyed these and received good feedback from my tours.
  • One of my photos of my children at the Palms National Park was chosen to be the cover image of the new 2nd Edition of Family Bushwalks in South East Queensland by Mark Roberts and Gillian Duncan.  I as well as my daughter also have a few photos of different local bushwalks featured within the book.
  • A photo that Brendon took of Bob Irwin & Amanda French during the 2015 Cape Croc Camp was published in Bob's autobiography - The Last Crocodile Hunter.
  • A close friend and I started out own small business making pouches and wildlife products for Australian animals in care, after seeing a need for these custom made products.  I have also made a large amount of pouches that have been made from up-cycled products to be donated to other carers, wildlife rescuers and local vets.
We look forward to what 2017 will hold and we will continue with our vision of doing what we can to save the environment in our local area and continue to rescue & rehabilitate injured Australian wildlife.  

Thank you to everyone who has commented on our blogs throughout the year - we really appreciate you taking the time to leave some feedback and thoroughly enjoy reading about every one's wildlife journeys as well.  Your photos all help to educate others about the many interesting and beautiful wildlife species that reside in our amazing country.

All the best for 2017 - and lets pray for rain!!

Judi & Brendon, teenagers and critters 
The Gray Family.

Gray Family - Jarowair - 2/01/2017