Category Archives: wildlife

Lik Lik Rokrok – Little Green Frog


“Liklik rokrok” means little frog in Papua New Guinea pidgin. I once designed and will be bringing back a collection of children’s T-shirts called “Liklik Rokrok”.  Watch this blog for the re-launch later this year.

Frogs play a huge role in our environment and especially the condition of our environment. I have a special affection for this little frog. It was wonderful to find a short YouTube video posted by “Love Nature” about their life and how they have changed over time. I hope you enjoy this video as much as I did. It is amazing to learn about how a tiny creature could evolve throughout revolution and protect itself from predators to this day.

Kaz is a Father – Wildlife Stories


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Baby lorikeet tries to balance himself on the umbrella tree fruit.

Kaz, our pet lorikeet is a father, and he has been for about a month. I only just found out a week ago. I guess I am a grandmother again, having already had several ducklings being born to ducks my sons and I have raised in Bellbowrie, Queensland.

Weeks before the baby was born, Kaz the lorikeet came for chats in the Umbrella tree (Schefflera actinophylla) while I was hanging the washing. He normally visited us on the verandah where he grew up, at the front of the house. I thought at the clothesline was an odd place for him to be. A three metre drop just under where he sat was a typical place for snakes, and even the snake catcher reminded me a few times. “Dry leaves under shady dry quiet place with both sunny and dark nooks – a snake haven” he said with a grin. I suppose one day, I would cut everything down, but I didn’t have the heart to  damage the place. Both the pythons and brown snakes were removed by snake catchers from this spot and taken to the park. Currently, a baby green tree snake lives there – he is only 50cm long and suns itself on the back verandah often.

Near the umbrella tree where rainbow lorikeets gathered, Kaz would fly low onto the mango tree branches and tell me long-winded tales while I hung the washing or tended to my garden. I wished I understood him. The changes in the pitch and his excitement showed there was some important things happening in his life, but all I could do was respond in whistles, PNG pidgin and make my own sounds so he knew I was listening. He always responded cheerfully. Often he would hop onto the clothesline for a few minutes before he flew away.

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Kaz in his element, as he watches over his family.

One day, two weeks ago I heard a baby bird cry and a soothing motherly response just above the clothes line. I heard these cries start a month ago. It was louder and closer. It sounded like a baby parrot in the umbrella tree, but I could not see it. The giant leaves hid the birds. I also did not know what type of parrot it was, but I suspected a rainbow lorikeet because these birds loved the spiky flower of the umbrella tree which turns into fruit.

A week went by and I noticed my feathered son Kaz coming out of the same tree. He usually slept in the palm and the gum trees in front of the house.  At the house, he came alone and stayed longer than five minutes which was his usual visiting time. He also chased baby parrot Boz out of its cage and ate the crumbs. Katz often stayed in the cage for a while longer. He was unaccompanied. His female partner was nowhere to be seen. Since he had left home, Kaz always flew with her. I wondered if she ditched him which wouldn’t have surprised me because Kaz could get rowdy and demanding at times. Last week, he flew down to me when I arrived home and flew straight back into the umbrella tree and made so much noise. He called loudly and whistled. I followed him and could hear the baby bird as well.

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Mother and baby take a moment under the leaves of the umbrella tree.

Under the clothesline I listened. I saw Kaz on the branch, his partner and a baby bird. I was so surprised, but my thoughts went back to how little he was and how he just fitted in my hand when he first came to us. Kaz could not stop talking and shouting. I stared at him realising I had become a grandmother. That was what all the clothesline storytelling was about a week ago. At that moment, my excitement and sense of pride felt like I could easily fly up to the umbrella tree. I could not tell anyone about Kaz’s news as I was alone. I felt strangely moved and wanted to hug Kaz and tell him I was proud. But he is the wild thing he is supposed to be, and I just hope he can see how happy I am for him.

Over the week, I watched Kaz’s family and how attentive the parents were; keeping their little one safely in the large leaves of the umbrella tree. They protected the baby from crows, kookaburra and other large birds. Kaz visited the house daily to bring ‘take-aways’ of honey, bread, fruit and seeds back to the nest.

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First family outing.

Today, almost a month after I heard that baby bird, a rare moment presented itself when the whole family flew to another umbrella tree 20 metres away. It happened while I was walking in the back. I quickly ran back into the house to fetch my camera. The lighting was terrible and the shots were fleeting, but I am happy to share some rare images of my feathered family. Life can give you joy in the most interesting ways.

 

 

Go Inky! Octopus Escapes NZ National Aquarium


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Inky the octopus, escaped from New Zealand’s National Aquarium and made his way to the ocean. Courtesy of The National Aquarium of New Zealand.

Inky the octopus didn’t even try to cover his tracks.

I loved this story so much I had to blog it.

By the time the staff at New Zealand’s National Aquarium noticed that he was missing, telltale suction cup prints were the main clue to an easily solved mystery.

Inky had slipped through a gap left by maintenance workers at the top of his enclosure and, as evidenced by the tracks, made his way across the floor to a 15-centimetre-wide drain. He squeezed his football-sized body in — octopuses are very malleable, aquarium manager Rob Yarrall told the New Zealand website Stuff — and made a break for the Pacific. Read more from Karen Brulliard in Washington Post.

Kookaburra – Australia’s Laughing Bird


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JK.Leahy picture.

Kookaburras are a type of kingfishers that live in Australia and PNG and they are very territorial. They are referred to as the laughing birds because of the way they sound, just like someone is dying laughing. They live in most treed parts of Australia.

The birds can grow between 30 and 40cm tall and eat mostly insects, worms, crustaceans, small snakes, frogs and other small birds. Australians sing songs about the Kookaburra’s laugh, but the truth is, that loud continuous sound they make, sometimes in a group, is a territorial call. The bird warns its family of birds about who is approaching their territory. I grew up with a song call, Kookaburra Sings on the Old Gum Tree.  And all this time, before I knew, I thought they were singing to welcome me, but they were warning each other.

The birds can become tame around humans, like these two that have been living on our balcony since we moved to Bellbowrie five years ago. One in particular (pictured here) has recently started grabbing food off the plates or comes into the kitchen to help herself.

She also likes it when you hand feed her. I took these micro shots of the cheeky one. She was very patient and she did not fly off, so these are all her.  Read more here.

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First Day in the Water – Wildlife Photography


Ten ducklings had their first day with their mother in the water yesterday.  The Pacific Black duck pair had been living in our backyard this last year. These are their first hatchlings.

The test begins now to see if they would all survive into autumn. Last night, between 7pm and 9pm, Nathan, Chris and I barely managed to put them into a safe enclosure for the night.

At 4:30am this morning, I woke up to some loud scrapping sounds only to find, it wasn’t the usual suspects, the possums, but the local rascal, the wild cat that kills birds in our neighbourhood. The cat tried to get into the enclosure. I got out, just in time to chase it away.

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Rain Catcher – Green Tree Frog in Photography


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It rained yesterday.  Guess what was on the chicken house? Not a spider this time. The rain catcher, the first Green Tree Frog (I have seen) for 2016. Sitting strategically where all the rainwater ran to it, it had its eyes shut until I approached with the camera.

This frog, the Litoria caerulea or the Green Tree Frog lives in Queensland. It is also found in northern and eastern Australia. It is generally a large frog, and grows to 110mm. The frog is green to light brown or even blue, short snout and rounded face. It has a smooth, thick skin on head and shoulders. Some have white spots or irregular stripe from mouth to forearm. Its abdomen is white and  the back of its thighs is sometimes maroon or yellow. More information can be found on Save Our Waterways.

Although they are called the tree frog, they love to live in building drain pipes and water tanks. In summertime of course, they love wide open spaces with waterways…I guess that’s why this frog found this spot and stayed. I wish I could have told the frog this was not a waterway, but as soon as the rain stopped, it disappeared.

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The Return of the Cicadas


The cicadas are one of my favourite insects. I have listened to them on many occasions through out my life without knowing what a complex and intricate life-cycle they have.  They remind me of the low-sounds made by Jews Harp, a small musical instrument which is held against the teeth or lips. When there are thousands of cicadas calling at once, it is like an orchestra of the Jews Harp.

I hope you enjoy this video as much as I have.

 

Lunch At Bellbowrie


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Baby opens its mouth wide, mum has a grasshopper.  It is lunch at Bellbowrie, but mum is hungry too. Mum eats the grasshopper.

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Let’s see… what else is there to eat? Well, someone dropped some brown rice on the balcony.

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Mum goes for brown rice.

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Baby will eat anything – even rice.

Female magpies work tirelessly all-day-long to feed their young. I wasn’t surprise to see mum take a quick snack.

Snake Catcher is Romance Author’s Husband


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An Eastern Brown snake caught in the net – before it was set free. JK.Leahy picture.

This evening, when I called a Brisbane snake catcher to save an Eastern Brown’s life, I did not expect him to be married to one of Australia’s top romance authors, Ally Blake.

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My younger son Chris had told me on Saturday night he had seen a large snake by the house, but it had gone. I wanted to check the surroundings but it was too dark when I returned from my recent trip to Papua New Guinea. After work today, I checked around the house to make sure no slithering kinds were lurking in the dark corners outside the house. This is the season for hibernators to emerge. Sure enough, at the back of the house, in the shady leafy spot among layers of fallen leaves and a stone wall, the fish net moved from side to side when I approached.

I knew it was alive, and I could see the beautiful long golden tail tuck away instinctively. The head was locked into the nylon knots in an awkward angle. It was an Eastern Brown, about a metre and a half long. We had caught a large male two years ago in the same spot and freed him into the Brisbane City Council wildlife reserve. This one was surprisingly alive and strong after several days in the net. The Eastern Brown snake accounts for more fatalities than any other Australian Snake. It is the second most poisonous land snake in the world and the most poisonous in South east Queensland.

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The snake we caught looked exactly like this Eastern Brown. Picture courtesy of Queensland Museum.

I quickly ran back into the house to phone for help. From 5:30pm today, I called six snake catchers, one after the other – they were all busy. Finally, the fifth snake catcher who was heading three hours out-of-town told me to call Mark, the Bellbowrie snake catcher.

Mark told me he was away, but he would get to Bellbowrie in half hour, and if I had not found anyone else, he would set the snake free or take it away for a small fee. Mark also said he lived in Bellbowrie. I told Mark, I just wanted to make sure, the snake did not die.

After 45 minutes, Mark arrived. Armed with my torch, camera and his hoop, net and snake-catching equipment, we ventured into the back of the house where the snake was. Mark is an environment scientist and like me, he was more concerned about saving the snake’s life. I was relieved when he told me that.

As Mark tried to undo the feisty Eastern Brown, we had a conversation about other things and I mentioned casually that I had to leave soon to attend a creative writing workshop.

“Really! My wife writes romance novels. She has written 32 books”. Mark beamed.

“Who is your wife?”

“Ally Blake”.

“Wow!” – that was all I could say. Mark’s wife, Ally Blake is one of Australia’s top romance authors with over 4 million copies sold world-wide. She has published through Harlequin Mills and Boon, Entangled Publishing and Tule Publishing.

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Mark catches snakes part-time, and only because he loves them, and he wants to protect them. He said most people he helps to catch snakes or removes snakes for – want the reptiles dead.

When Mark could not untangle the snake, he suggested it was safer to take the reptile with part of the net to his house. There, he was better equipped to relax the reptile and properly treat its injuries and rest it before releasing the snake into the local reserve.

Mark said the snake was a female of a few years and that females tended to stay at a favourite spot and the males come to visit.

“If you see two snakes wrestling, those will be two males fighting for her,” Mark said.

That was not really the news I wanted to hear – but a lot of changes will be happening this weekend to the snake’s favourite hiding place.

I have to also check out some of those romance novels by Ally Blake.