7th February, 2016
Red Eyed Green Tree Frog (Litoria chloris)
What A Hoot
It's me again. I am alive and well. I have not disappeared into the ether. I have not been eaten by, or bitten by, or killed by a dangerous animal. I have just been extremely busy. As I try to readjust my life to fit in full time work, full time study, wildlife rescue and photography my schedules are topsy turvy but I'm trying my best.
I have not had a full day of photography since New Years Day but I have been able to get out at night a few times to look for nocturnal activity and also do a bit of herping. It has been a bit quiet on the night front but still have found a few things, just not the quantities and types I had hoped to have seen.
On the Wildlife caring front I have had a fair few animals come through so, of course I will share these moments with you if you choose to continue reading!
The Many Faces of Boobooks
Southern Boobook Owls are one of Australia's smallest species (owls) and most common. It doesn't necessarily mean that if you go out at night you will see one. You still need to go out and actively look! They have become one of my favourite raptor species purely based on how many I've had this season. Between the various wildlife hospitals I'm in contact with I've had over 15 Boobooks. It has been great seeing the various personalities of each individual owl over the various stages of their life from Branchlings to Adults.
The reasons for coming into care have been things like habitat loss (Tree hollows cut down), fledging too early (Trying to fly) or injury/weakness. I can only think of two that came in injured, the rest were from habitat loss and early fledging. Of the two injured, one was euthanised. Her name was Ratri and was a female SB who had been hit by a car. After being checked it was found she was blind (possible detached retinas). The other had a bruised wing and was released not long after.
Owl's or any nocturnal animal are susceptible to car accidents due to the nature of the food items they hunt. When driving at night stick to the speed limit, Boobooks and other insectivorous animals will often use the headlights as a hunting aid as it attracts insects. They will fly out and grab anything attracted to the light. Sometimes we can't avoid an accident but sticking to the speed limit will help. I often see many cars doing 20/30km over the limit in National Park areas because "no one" is around. It doesn't necessarily mean "nothing" is around though!
Southern Boobook Owls
I also had my first Pacific Baza in care. What a privilege! A raptor that eluded me for so long on the photography front ended up in my care for a few days! I originally was told I was collecting a fledgling handed in by the public but upon sighting it, I knew this wasn't the case. It appeared to be a juvenile from the previous season. It was very docile and was not food oriented in the slightest. After getting it onto some food I passed it onto another raptor carer who specialises in dehumanising raptors. It is doing well!
Juvenile Pacific Baza
A few non raptor rescues also occurred. First was a Juvenile Brush Tailed Possum that I grabbed from a possum carer to take to Currumbin Hospital. It was paralysed from the waist down due to unknown reasons however, it is likely it was from falling off it's mother. At this size they are known as back riders. A fall from a tree does not end well and unfortunately this fella was euthanised.
Brush Tailed Possum that was euthanised due to paralysis
One of my most exciting releases recently was a Wedge Tailed Eagle and Brown Falcon. I had to travel 450kms north to release these two beautiful specimens. The Wedgie was found severely underweight and confused at a local residence sitting on top of a Budgerigar aviary. He in turn took on the name budgie and become a favourite at the rehab centre with the Vet nurse team.
The Brown Falcon was found nearby in a state forest by some motor cyclists on the ground as a fledgling. It had severe bruising to it's wings and was unable to fly.
I would not typically travel so far for a release but it is rare to have the opportunity with a Wedge-Tailed Eagle so often so the 14 hour and 900km round trip was worth it!
I made a video so please enjoy!
Raptor Release Day
Lastly, the weather forecast was looking good the weekend just gone. I decided to plan a trip 2.5 hours west for some bird photography. A few species of note have been present so wanted to get out there and grab some photos. Upon arriving in the general area I was greeted by a blanket of cloud and inconsistent rain. This left me feeling deflated as this would have been the 6th consecutive weekend of bad weather (Don't move to Queensland, summer is not full of sun, it's storm, storm, storm!).
After visiting a few locations in the vicinity and no birds really being present due to the high wind and rain I decided to head back home. Just before doing so I headed down a quiet dirt road that often presents itself with Cockatiels, Glossy Ibis and raptors such as Kestrels and Hobbies. None were around this time but as I continued to drive past, looking for birds perching on barbed wire I noticed something quite unusual.
A Little Red Flying Fox was caught in barbed wire. The Little Red Flying Fox is the smallest of the 4 most common found in Australia. There is also the Grey Headed, Black and Spectacled varieties. After realising I had no rescue gear on board, I had to improvise. I immediately jumped from the car and used my beanie was a makeshift pouch. If I decided not to take this road, she would have more than likely died within 24-48 hours from dehydration.
PLEASE DO NOT HANDLE ANY BATS UNLESS YOU HAVE BEEN VACCINATED FOR LYSSA VIRUS!
After 5 minutes of untangling this cute little Fox was safe in my beanie and my head was now a little cold although worth it! I contacted Bats QLD and a carer met me at my place when I arrived at home to take the little girl into care. She is expected to make a full recovery!
A female Little Red Flying Fox
To say I am really looking forward to Autumn and Winter would be an understatement. The unpredictable weather does not bode well for great days out. I have planned to head 4-5 hours west next weekend for some herping. I really hope the weather man is kind as I want to target some interesting nocturnal reptile species that we don't get here on the East Coast. If that doesn't work out, well.. I am going to Indonesia and Sydney in 3 weeks.
More on that later :)
Lesley Cainson February 6, 2016
Really enjoyed this blog Matt, and the beautiful images of course. The message you're getting out there about the daily struggles our wildlife encounter is awesome, thank you for all you do.