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Saturday, December 20, 2014

Toowoomba's Organic Gardens

A late afternoon walk through the Toowoomba Organic Gardens, during December, proved enjoyable and educational.  This community garden can be accessed at 22a Goggs Street, Toowoomba or walking entrance from West Street.  The Toowoomba Organic Gardens were established in 1996 and occupy two acres of Toowoomba Regional Council land in the centre of Toowoomba, not far from the CBD.  The gardens are open for viewing 7 days a week and interested people can join the TOGA organization and lease their own plot of land to grow fresh vegetables - a great initiative for those wanting to grow their own produce, who may not have the space at their own homes.  Volunteers meet twice a week according to the signs, Wednesday & Sundays 9am-12noon.

Our walk through the gardens found that the current vegetable and fruit plantings were quite extensive and looked in great condition, showing the volunteers have been hard at work. The signage and maintenance of the exterior of the grounds was a little tired looking however.  Other areas of the gardens include a Native Wildlife Garden and a Bush Foods Garden. There are many beautiful established trees within the park and a small pond in the native garden section.  Paved walking tracks wind through the park for easy access and garden viewing.  Parking is available in Goggs St but you will need to pay for a parking metre.  There is on-site parking available in the gardens which I presume is only unlocked for volunteers on their meeting days.  West St access is only by foot and there isn't any parking available.

For more information please visit the Toowoomba Community Organic Gardens Website.

Toowoomba Organic Gardens, December 2014
Corn growing at the Toowoomba Organic Gardens, December 2014

Some of the original "tired" signage at the Toowoomba Organic Gardens, Dec 2014.
Toowoomba Organic Gardens - Native Gardens & Bush Foods Section, December 2014.
Flowers in bloom at the Toowoomba Organic Gardens, December 2014

Pink Lace Flower Trees in bloom at the Toowoomba Organic Gardens, December 2014

Pink Lace Flower (Archidendron grandiflorum) December 2014

Large beautiful Blue Quandong (Elaeocarpus grandis) at Toowoomba Organic Gardens, December 2014.

Citrus trees and nasturtiums at Toowoomba Organic Gardens.

Nasturtium Flowers at Toowoomba Organic Gardens - Dec 2014

Grapes at the Toowoomba Organic Gardens - December 2014

Raspberries at Toowoomba Organic Gardens, Dec 2014

Agapanthus in flower at the Toowoomba Organic Gardens, December 2014

Having a bit of fun at the organic gardens.

Toowoomba Organic Gardens, work shed, December 2014.

Composting system at Toowoomba Organic Gardens, December 2014

Goggs Street Entrance Signage for Toowoomba Organic Gardens, December 2014.


Thursday, November 20, 2014

Koalas doing it tough in the drought

So you think your life is hard??  Try being a Koala trying to survive in the drought in the Darling Downs!! The extreme drought and heat wave has dried what suitable gum leaves there are for Koalas to eat and the continued land clearing and road-verge clearing has forced Koalas to have to travel on foot for long distances to reach the next food source or a rest tree, putting them at high risk of predators like wild dogs, domestic dogs, being kicked and tossed by inquisitive cattle, being caught on barbed wire fences and mostly hit by cars when crossing the roads.  If you think that this doesn't happen, sadly you are mistaken. In the Geham area where this koala was spotted it is common for Koalas to be hit on the highway on a regular basis, despite installed koala crossing signage, they are often left for dead.

The plight of the Koala in the Darling Downs is an ongoing challenge for those doing their best to ensure these animals survival.  This Koala was spotted in a very dry gum-tree at Geham on the 19th of November in a paddock.  As you can see from the photo showing the full size of the tree with the Koala in it, it offers little shade and very little food due to its wilted leaves.  Fingers crossed this one can make it.

J & B.

Koala high in the tree tops of a brown gum tree at Geham, 19/11/14 in the drought.

Can you see me?  Koala high in this dried out gum tree at Geham, Qld.  Note the terrible conditions.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Looping Bandy Bandy Snake

Last Night, while driving home, we came across this large healthy looking Bandy Bandy Snake, on the road at Kleinton. Brendon proceeded to move it off the road so it wouldn't get run over -  it wasn't happy with this and went into it's defensive looping mode- in which it holds it's body in braced loops off the ground. This particular snake was the biggest one we have ever seen in the wild.  (I also saw another one at Murphys Creek on Saturday Night, also crossing the road). (These photos taken on my iphone).

The Bandy Bandy (Vermicella annulata) is a nocturnal hunter, feeding solely on Blind Snakes and small lizards. During the day, the Bandy Bandy can be found under logs, or burrowed deep into the earth.
The Bandy Band is found throughout Eastern Australia, and apparently is numbers are secure. The Bandy Bandy is an egg laying species with females laying between 2 - 15 eggs with young being seen in early Autumn. Newly hatched snakes measure abut 175mm in length. The Bandy Bandy's it is not believed to be dangerous to humans and is only rated 1Flag for Dangerous in the Wildlife of Greater Brisbane Book. They grow to a total length of just one meter, making them one of our smaller snake species.

Bandy Bandy Snake at Kleinton, -05/11/14

Bandy Bandy Snake.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Red Darling Pea Wildflowers at Pilton

This beautiful native Red Darling Pea (Swainsona queenslandica) was in bloom, whilst everything else was pretty much brown and dead during the drought at Pilton on the Darling downs, during our recent visit to a private property. The vibrant red flowers were just beautiful emerging from the black soil.

Darling Pea Flowers (Swainsona queenslandica) growing on the edge of a small dam at Pilton, Qld.

Darling Pea Flowers (Swainsona queenslandica)

I loved these large Yellow "Flat Billy-Buttons" (Leiocarpa brevicompta) that were in flower in the vicinity of the newly dry creek beds of Kings Creek at Pilton. These flowers are huge compared to the similar small  "Yellow Buttons" (Chrysocephalum apiculatum) that we get at home.
Native Flat Billy-buttons (Leiocarpa brevicompta) in flower at Pilton Oct 14

Native Flat Billy-buttons (Leiocarpa brevicompta)

Native Flat Billy-buttons (Leiocarpa brevicompta)

Flowering Lomandra's are one of my favourite sights in spring.  I was pleased to see that despite the drought and there were a few "Many-flowered Matrush" Lomandras (Lomandra multiflora) in flower at Pilton.

Many-flowered Matrush Lomandras (Lomandra multiflora) at Pilton

Pilton Valley - October 2014.
INFORMATION SOURCES: Darling Pea (Swainsona queenslandica) identified with the informative article by Trish Gardner on these local native species. http://toowoombaplants2008.blogspot.com.au/2008/09/pretty-pink-darling-peas.html 

Friday, October 3, 2014

Birds of the Logan River Rathdowney Sept 2014

Junction of the Logan River & Burnett Creek, Rathdowney, Qld, Sept 2014

During the September holidays we spent three nights camping at Rathdowney, South-East Queensland, on a private property bordered by the Logan River and Burnett Creek.  We had a really enjoyable time and loved compiling a bird and wildlife list during our stay.  The children had a great time swimming in the cool water of the river and along with plenty of walking, eating and playing, it was a relaxing few days.

The highlight of our stay, would have to be that Brendon was very fortunate to have his first sighting of the ever elusive platypus in the Logan River.  He was very blessed to see it on two consecutive days while out in the kayak, late in the afternoon, the second afternoon it appeared right next to his kayak and took a good look at him!  I however, despite getting up very early each morning and many hours spent sitting on the river bank didn't get to experience this much sought-after sighting this time around.  It was really wonderful to know that these special creatures are surviving and that they are safe from harm on a property such as the one we stayed at and we felt blessed to be able to share the area with them for a short time.

The area we stayed is very beautiful, but I must admit I was a little overwhelmed by the amount of environmental weeds on the river banks, mainly cats claw creeper which was taking over an extensive area and was out of control.  The native lomandras and bottle brush trees were beautiful and made for very picturesque waterways.We both took many photos during our stay and have included some of the better ones.

We took a couple of drives to explore a few local areas including Maroon Dam (see other post) and also explored the banks of the Burnett Creek near the roadsides (see pics at end of this post).  It was great to get away, however three nights is never enough when you want to really unwind.  We would definitely recommend the Rathdowney area for anyone looking for a relaxing time in the bush with easy access to the local rivers and creeks, and of course the chance of seeing a platypus in the wild.

J & B

The beautiful Logan River at Rathdowney - Sept 2014

Mt Maroon, Rathdowney, Queensland September 2014
Silvereye feeding on the Bottlebrush Flowers at Rathdowney, Sept 14


The surprisingly well camouflaged Scarlett Honeyeater in a flowering Bottle brush Tree at Rathdowney

Azure Kingfisher watches over the Logan River at Rathdowney 
White-cheeked Honeyeater, Rathdowney Sept 14

White-cheeked Honeyeater, Rathdowney Sept 14

Red-backed Fairy Wren, Rathdowney Sept 14
We saw this Laughing Kookaburra each day near our campsite,easily recognizable without it's tail feathers!  It managed however to fly to low branches and source worms within the grass below.  We wondered how it had the misfortune of losing all of the tail feathers!
Little Friarbird at Rathdowney, Sept 14

Grey Shrike-Thrush, Rathdowney, Qld Sept 14
Male Australian King Parrot feeding on the fruit of a Wild Tobacco Tree (Environmental Weed) at Rathdowney Sept 14

BIRDS & WILDLIFE LIST FROM OUR STAY AT RATHDOWNEY:

Australian Wood Duck (Chenonetta jubata)
Pacific Black Duck (Anas superciliosa)
Brown Quail (Coturnix ypsilophora)
Pied Cormorant (Phalacrocorax varius)
White-necked Heron (Ardea pacifica)
White-faced Heron (Egretta novaehollandiae)
Wedge-tailed Eagle (Aquila audax)
White-bellied Sea-Eagle (Haliaeetus leucogaster)
Masked Lapwing (Vanellus miles)
Spotted Dove (Streptopelia chinensis)
Brown Cuckoo-Dove (Australian) (Macropygia phasianella)
Crested Pigeon (Ocyphaps lophotes)
Peaceful Dove (Geopelia placida)
Southern Boobook (Ninox novaeseelandiae)
Tawny Frogmouth (Podargus strigoides)
Azure Kingfisher (Ceyx azureus)
Laughing Kookaburra (Dacelo novaeguineae)
Dollarbird (Eurystomus orientalis)
Galah (Eolophus roseicapilla)
Sulphur-crested Cockatoo (Cacatua galerita)
Australian King-Parrot (Alisterus scapularis)
Pale-headed Rosella (Platycercus adscitus)
Little Lorikeet (Glossopsitta pusilla)
Rainbow Lorikeet (Trichoglossus haematodus)
Scaly-breasted Lorikeet (Trichoglossus chlorolepidotus)
Superb Fairy-wren (Malurus cyaneus)
Red-backed Fairy-wren (Malurus melanocephalus)
Lewin's Honeyeater (Meliphaga lewinii)
Noisy Miner (Manorina melanocephala)
Scarlet Honeyeater (Myzomela sanguinolenta)
Brown Honeyeater (Lichmera indistincta)
White-cheeked Honeyeater (Phylidonyris niger)
Blue-faced Honeyeater (Entomyzon cyanotis)
Little Friarbird (Philemon citreogularis)
Noisy Friarbird (Philemon corniculatus)
White-browed Scrubwren (Sericornis frontalis)
White-throated Gerygone (Gerygone olivacea)
Eastern Whipbird (Psophodes olivaceus)
Australian Magpie (Gymnorhina tibicen)
Pied Currawong (Strepera graculina)
Black-faced Cuckooshrike (Coracina novaehollandiae)
Grey Shrike-thrush (Colluricincla harmonica)
Willie Wagtail (Rhipidura leucophrys)
Magpie-lark (Grallina cyanoleuca)
Torresian Crow (Corvus orru)
Silvereye (Zosterops lateralis)
Common Myna (Acridotheres tristis)
Red-browed Finch (Neochmia temporalis)


OTHER SPECIES SEEN AT RATHDOWNEY:

Platypus
Common Brushtail Possum
Red-necked Wallaby
Evidence of Bandicoots daily
Microbats

Stoney Creek Frog - Male's with bright yellow breeding colour
Eastern Sedgefrog
Common Green Tree Frog

Carpet Python
Eastern Water Dragon
Short-necked Turtle
Eel

Eel Tailed Cat Fish
Bass
European Carp (Pest)

Fireflys
Lesser Wanderer Butterfly
Dainty Swallowtail Butterfly


Common Brushtail Possums were a welcome sight at night, many with little babies on back.  They were very quite and used to campers and we loved observing them.  These possums were a lot more ginger brown in colour than the ones we have at home.

Red-necked Wallaby at Rathdowney, Sept 14

Logan River at Rathdowney - a great swimming hole for the kids.


Our Camping Spot at Rathdowney for a few days in the September Holidays 2014.


Beautiful flowering grasses on the edges of the Logan River, Rathdowney, Sept 14

Short-necked Turtle in the Logan River, Rathdowney, Sept 2014


Eastern Water Dragon, Rathdowney, Sept 14

Can you see me?  Brendon did well to spot this Carpet Python in the reeds on the edge of the Burnett Creek while kayaking at Rathdowney, Sept 14.

Carpet Python in the weeds on the edge of Burnett Creek, Rathdowney, September 14

Lesser Wander Butterfly, Rathdowney, Sept 14
Eastern Sedgefrog at Rathdowney, found on the edge of the Logan River, September 14.

Male Stoney Creek Frog with bright yellow breeding colours on the Logan River, Rathdowney, Sept 14.
The largest Common Green Tree Frog we have ever seen, poised on the top of the ledge of the amenities building at Rathdowney.  It was so big I was sure it had to be a Magnificent Tree Frog, except for the fact that they don't live in South-East Queensland. 

Huge Common Green Tree Frog, Rathdowney, Qld, September 2014

Noisy Friarbird at Rathdowney, Sept 14.
The Azure Kingfishers were stunning - one could never tire of watching them dive in and out of the water and flying swiftly along the river.  

Logan River - ideal platypus habitat at Rathdowney.


BURNETT CREEK

Burnett Creek, Rathdowney, September 2014

Only seconds after I said "watch out for snakes" Brendon saw this Carpet Python well hidden in the grasses on the edge of the Burnett Creek, Rathdowney.

Carpet Python at Burnett Creek, Rathdowney

Superb Blue Wren, Burnett Creek, Rathdowney

We stopped under this beautiful tree on the edge of Burnett Creek at Rathdowney.