Category Archives: Wildlife of the Scenic Rim and Border Ranges

Wildlife sighted in the Border Ranges and Scenic Rim, conservation issues, wildlife-related news of the region, general notes about local wildlife

Butterfies in our butterfly walk from winter 2013 to autumn 2015

blue tiger butterfly
blue tiger butterfly

The butterfly walk on the Araucaria property has been planted out with the food plants of local caterpillars, divided into the five major families of Australian butterflies.

Every month I walk the trail 5 times on 5 separate days, recording the butterflies I see: once in the morning, twice at mid-day (when butterflies ae most active), once late afternoon and once after dark (when some of the caterpillars are more active). For several years we saw no obvious increase in butterflies, but suddenly this summer they more than doubled in frequency of sightings

So far our butterflies include:

lemon migrant buttefly
lemon migrant butterfly

Pieridae (whites and yellows)

  • Most common: Lemon Migrant and Grass Yellow
  • Others: Caper White, Albatross and (introduced) cabbage white
  • Caterpillars: none as yet, but many grass yellows seen apparently laying eggs on Breynia leaves

Nymphalidae (nymphs, browns and danains):

  • Most common: Monarch (introduced), evening brown, aeroplane, lesser wanderer
  • Others: common brown, blue tiger,  jezebel nymph, common crow, varied eggfly, meadow argus, admiral
  • Caterpillars: monarch

Lycaenidae (blues and coppers):

  • Most common: ? several unidentified (tiny and very fast!)
  • Others: pencilled blue, speckled line-blue, wattle blue
  • Caterpillars: none seen

orchardswallowtail-caterpillarPapillionidae (swallowatils):

  • Most common: orchard butterfly (several on finger lime in our butterfly walk, also on orange tree near house)
  • Others:blue triangle, dingy swallowtail
  • Caterpillars: orchard butterfly, blue triangle

Hesperidae (skippers and darts):

  • Most common: orange palm dart
  • Others: regent skipper, common red-eye, orange ochre and a few unidentified (as for Lycaenid spp above)
  • Caterpillars: orange palm dart, in roll of palm-leaf

 

 

 

Frugivory and seed dispersal at Araucaria, SEQ

 

Wompoo Fruitdove eating bangalow palm fruits
Wompoo Fruitdove eating bangalow palm fruits

Animals obviously need plants, but many plants also need animals. If all seeds drop beneath the mother tree, they’ll be competing with their mother and with their siblings for light, water, space and nutrients, and there may be heavy shade under the mother. They are also more easily found by seed-eating animals if they are in a big clump  on the ground. The tree has a better chance of contributing to the next generation if its seeds  are spread through the forest (or other habitat) in the  hope that some of the sites are better for germination and survival. Many trees, shrubs, herbs and vines simply scatter their seeds in the wind, but in the rainforest there’s not so much breeze, and when there is, the seeds are likely to hit a neighbouring tree and thus not travel far.

Frugivory (fruit-eating) is obviously useful for the animals that derive the nutrients, and if they also digest the seed (as parrots and many pigeons do) it’s not much good for the plant. If however they only digest the soft parts and regurgitate or pass the seeds through their digestive tracts unharmed (as some of our pigeons do, and also bowerbirds, honeyeaters and many others) they also provide an unwitting service for the tree, vine or other plant they fed on.

I was attracted to the topic because it involves so many disciplines – conservation biology (we can’t think only in terms of conserving species,but need to consider the relationships between them and others they interact with, and are there particular animals that threatened =plants depend on, and threatened animals that depend on particular fruits, especially in lean seasons?), ecology, evolution, animals behaviour and physiology.

A channel-billed cuckoo eating native  figs
A channel-billed cuckoo eating native figs

I’ve been conducting research on frugivory and seed dispersal, especially local birds that eat rainforest fruits, for some years now. One of the most popular fruit in our region – in terms both of of numbers of individual birds and the numbers of species feeding on the fruits – is a native fig Ficus rubiginosa (formerly regarded as  F. platypoda). So why aren’t there more growing around here?

I’m currently looking at this and other local plant species from three angles: (1) what eats them and how frequently? (mostly looking at birds, but other creatures as well) (2) where do frugivorous birds sit when not feeding (and thus likely to deposit seeds) and (3) what conditions do they need for germination and growth?

I do most of the observations alone, but guests on our tours can also assist on  forest walks by helping to find birds that are either eating fruit ( for 1 above) or  doing other things (for 2 above).

For the third aspect of the study, I’ve been germinating seeds in the brush house, but am now about to embark on some experiment field plots. In the photos below, Darren is heeling set up some of these experimental plots which in the future can be viewed by visitors to the Araucaria property and which I hope will help answer some of my queries.

prepare germination plots  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Frugivores other than birds include fruit bats and other mammals, some lizards (especially the larger skinks and dragons), fish (but not many in Australia) and ants, and we’re planning more observations of these.

Frogs in the Araucaria pond

Frogs at home at Running Creek, Scenic Rim, southeast Queensland

Dainty green treefrog
Dainty green treefrog

We’ve been hearing and seeing a few frogs lately, on warm wet evenings (although some of the evenings have been surprisingly cool for a Queensland summer).

Clicking froglets (Crinia signifera) have been very vocal, and we’ve heard a variety of others, including spotted and striped marsh frogs, tusked frogs, the green tree frog and the great barred frogs.

This little beauty is the dainty green treefrog, Litoria gracilenta, on a Dianella (native flax lily) next to the small pond near our wildlife ecology centre.

Birds on the Araucaria property

Birds we’ve seen or heard so far this month (December 2011) on or very near the Araucaria property in the Scenic Rim, southeast Queensland are:

Australian magpie
barn owl
bar-shouldered dove
black duck
brown cuckoodove
brush cuckoo
channel-billed cuckoo
cicadabird
crested skriketit
eastern rosella
eastern whipbird
eastern yellow robin
fan-tailed cuckoo
figbird
galah
grey butcherbird
grey shrike-thrush
koel
kookaburra
Lewin’s honeyeater
magpielark
masked lapwing
noisy miner
noisy pitta
olive-backed oriole
pale-vented bush hen
pheasant coucal
pied currawong
rainbow lorikeet
red-browed finch
rose-crowned fruitdove
spangled drongo
sulphur-crested cockatoo
Torresian crow
varied triller
variegated fairywren
wedge-tailed eagle
welcome swallow
wonga pigeon

The crested shriketit was a surprise – only the second time we’ve seen it here in 30 years.

The pale-vented bush-hen moved in last month, but that was the first time we have seen or heard it here.

Birds at Andrew Drynan Reserve

Birds seen and heard this morning at Andrew Drynan Reserve

This morning before breakfast  I conducted one of my regular birding walks around Andrew Drynan Reserve (just around the corner from the Araucaria property, and the site we usually use for our camping guests). I wanted to do this before school holidays started, and as had I hoped, the reserve was free from campers this morning.

Pacific_baza
The Pacific Baza used to be called a crested hawk.

Highlights for the morning included:

  • a Pacific baza being mobbed by a couple of very vocal spangled drongos
  • the calls of rose-crowned fruitdove from the forest (hadn’t seen them here since last summer)
  • the calls of a noisy pitta from the forest (only the second time in several months)
  • three eastern rosellas foraging on the grass of the campground (often see pale-headed, not so often the eastern

The baza used to be known as the crested hawk, which more immediately decribed it to those unfamiliar with the word ‘baza’.  The name change was to bring it into line with international naming, as there are other baza species in Asia, Africa and Madagascar. Unlike most hawks, they often forage amongst foliage, eating insects and small vertebrates.

Other birds seen or heard this morning included channel-billed cuckoo (very vocal!) masked lapwing, wonga pigeon, brush cuckoo, common koel, pheasant coucal, rainbow lorikeet, galah (flock of 15 in the camping area), laughing kookaburra,  Lewin’s honeyeater (eating fruit of the introduced lantana), noisy miner, olive-backed oriole, figbird, eastern whipbird, eastern yellow robin, Australian magpie, pied currawong and  Torresian crow

The campsite at Andrew Drynan Reserve, where our guests choosing the camping option stay on the 3-day wildlife overview tour
The campsite at Andrew Drynan Reserve, where our guests choosing the camping option stay on the 3-day wildlife overview tour

Some wildlife is hard to find! Workshop in May.

quollIt is common to walk through a forest full of wildlife and never see an animal.

It is also common for governments and developers to call in environmental consultants towards the end of plans for a new major development, when there is too little time left to find what species of concern may be present.

Why the difficulty in finding wildlife?

  • Most Australian mammals are nocturnal
  • Most Australian mammals, birds and lizards are small
  • Most of our small marsupials and native rodents live amongst dense vegetation on the ground,which combined with nocturnal habits and shyness makes them difficult to see
  • Others live and feed in tall trees, and the smaller,  nocturnal oes can easily be over-looked
  • Some birds and lizards are very well camouflaged, and when they ‘freeze’ can be very difficult to see, even if you know more or less where they are
  • Animals that live solitary lives and have large home-ranges (like the quoll in the photo) can be so sparsely distributed through an area that it is very much a matter of luck to be searching in the right place
  • Frogs may be present in large numbers and calling (or on other nights silent) but in a sheltered position totally out of sight (and when so many animals eat frogs, it’s easy to understand why)
  • Many animals are ‘shy’ (not a social condition so much as an adaptation to avoid being eaten), and disappear from view as soon as they hear, smell or see our approach
  • Small insectivorous bats may be seen fleetingly, but there are so many species in any locality it is impossible to identify them without a close-up look or analysis of their calls

Does it matter if animals are hard to detect?

For the amateur naturalist, researcher or the visitor to a region it can be frustrating, as many hours can be spent without finding the animals of interest (although I always enjoy the whole atmosphere of the forest or outback shrublands even when nothing is found)

For the conservation manager, lack of information on what animal is present may lead to wrong decisions – e.g. what times are appropriate for burning the understorey, what trees are okay to remove, which habitat fragments are important to connect.

Fr local governments deciding on approval of a major development, a list of common birds and easily-detected mammals such as brushtail possums and wallabies may look okay on and environmental impact statement but miss out the rarer, more threatened species that need special consideration.

How do we find rare and cryptic animals?

  • The book by Barbara Triggs “Tracks, Scats and Other Traces” is valuable for detecting the presence of Australian mammals and some of our other cryptic species
  • Getting familiar with the calls of frogs, nocturnal mammals and cryptic birds  is pretty well essential –  Dave Stewart’s NatureSound collection is an invaluable tool for this
  • Getting out there anr being patient – there are far worse ways of spending a few hours than sitting in a forest listening quietly for rustles, squeaks and scratches, and you can gain a lot of insights into forest life by doing so (as well as being a good spot for meditating on other things without phone or email or knocks on the door)
  • Books, journals and google – there is a fantastic amount of information out there nowadays (although there is also still much as yet unknown)
  • workshops, discussion groups etc.

Wildlife workshop on rare and cryptic fauna: May 2011

Organized by Scenic Rim Wildlife, sponsored by the Scenic Rim Regional Council

Where?  The Outlook, Boonah, Scenic Rim. Southeast Queensland

When? 10.00am – 4.30pm with optional field trip to follow, Saturday 7th May 2011

More details?  See the website of Scenic Rim Wildlife website and Facebook

The workshop is free, but bookings are essential

Freshwater rainforest crayfish: NOT for eating please!

We’ve been seeing a few of these red and white freshwater crayfish in the rainforests of the Border Ranges (northern New South Wales) recently on our tours.

On damp days we sometimes see them out of the water, sitting on rocks or even ambling along the forest tracks.

I remember a Swiss lady some years ago telling me one was   ‘waving its scissors’ at her – a rather delightful way of expressing it.

See the (very short) video of this little guy:  Freshwater_Crayfish_Border_Ranges

It’s a Euastacus species, but I’m not yet sure which one.

There is also a blue and white species Lamington Plateau Crayfish Euastacus sulcatus. , in the Lamington National Park just to the north (north of the Queensland/NSW border). Here’s one we saw on the way to Dave’s Creek on a tour last month – busily backing away from us (it was right in the middle of the walking track when we came around the corner).

See the (very short) video: L_Cray_towards_Daves_Ck

Some new species of crayfish of this genus have recently been described, and there are a number of Euastacus species mentioned in the IUCN re list.

I’m afraid I get a bit annoyed when people ask if we can eat these animals.  When the most intelligent animal on this planet meets a small attractive species with restricted range and survival issues, how can the first thing the former thinks of be what it tastes like?

Wildlife Corridors – report on workshop

This is a reproduction of what will shortly appear on the Scenic Rim Wildlife website

(Scenic Rim Wildlife is the Scenic Rim Branch of the Wildlife Preservation Society of Queensland)

Wildlife Corridors Workshop

April 2011, Heritage Centre, Tamborine Mountain

The workshop was well attended by a wide range of people from within the Scenic Rim and other regions, and it is hoped the momentum will continue into future action.

The following is from notes taken by the chair, with apologies to presenters if anything important was missed

Introduction – Ronda Green

(Chair Scenic Rim Wildlife)

Ronda spoke briefly on reasons animals need to move (daily, seasonally, after disasters, finding mates and territories etc.), the value of corridors also in allowing genetic exchange and avenues for recolonization after natural or human-indiced disasters,  and the barriers to movements created by increasing human populations. Provision of corridors is not a ‘one-size-fits-all': we need to understand what is needed by different kinds of wildlife. She stressed the need for information gathering if we are to solve present and future problems – information on where animals are and what they need, and also information on future plans by local, state and federal government and developers so that ecological decisions are not left until the final stages of major plans.

Corridors and roads  international and local – Cathryn Dexter

Cathryn Dexter(SEQ Koala Retrofit & Road Mitigation Project Manager, Applied Road Ecology Group, Environmental Futures Centre and , Griffith School of Environment, Griffith University)

Catherine showed maps of corridors and reserves and pointed out that the decisions on placement of reserves are not always based on what is best for conservation value but frequently for recreational  or political reasons. Effective planning for wildlife movement needs  local, state and national scales.

In a fragmented landscape, the greater the number of fragments, and the closer they are, the more likely dispersal of wildlife will occur between them.

Factors influencing use of corridors:

  • Biology and ecological requirements of particular species
  • Habitat suitability
  • Location of corridors
  • Land use
  • Suitability of habitat in areas surrounding strips
  • The values of the reserves being connected (the large habitat areas that  the corridors lead to)
  • They need to be designed for animals that are vulnerable to extinction: it is not enough for just  the most common species to be using them.

Some consideration of roads, which cut across many animal pathways nowadays and will do so even more in the future –

  • there is a footprint surrounding a road – whether the edges are cleared, lights, noise etc. beyond the area taken up by the road itself
  • mortality of animals crossing roads – very high in some areas
  • roadside habitat enhancement can draw in animals,  for instance mown grass at the edges that will entice wallabies to feed by the roadside, and roadkill produces more roadkill if eagles, quolls and other carrion feeders are attracted
  • public safety – collisions with larger animals can be serious

Strictly migratory animals – as are more common in other continents  –  are easier to cater for than more random movements, because a bridge or tunnel accommodating their usual route will often be used very quickly by the regular migrants.  Our more random and nomadic wildlife are not quite so easy

European approach

European Union  directives

1979 Birds, 1992Habitats Directive  led to Natura 2000 network of sites, with a formal agreement  to abide by the directives or face the EU court

Europe has many more faunal overpasses than Australia does.
If European countries – with all their political differences –  can work together in this way Australian states united by federation and a common culture should be able to similar.

On one road in Spain there are several overpasses of  86-475m –  6 viaducts, 5 tunnels. Total permeability of this road: 47.5%

Compton Road, Brisbane

Glider populations were to be separated by the new road

Land bridges and fauna tunnels, fences, rope ladders for arboreal mammals and glider poles were all planned and ultimately implemented

The overpass has been a great success, and is being used by many kinds of animals – marcopds, gliders, snakes, small bush birds and others.

SEQ Koala Retrofit & Roadkill Mitigation Project
There has been an alarming decline in koalas, mostly due to cars, dog attacks and disease

12745 deaths between 1997 and 2009

Hotspots have been identified

Many koalas are now radio tracked to follow and understand movements – different individual koalas differ in their kinds of movement, challenging some of our our assumptions about corridor placement and habitat suitability.

Some roads are administered by council, some by state – sometimes different policies interfere with overall effectiveness

Green Infrastructure  –  Jaap  Vogel

(Local artist and naturalists, former Tamborine Mountain LandCare president)

Green Infrastructure – a sustainable network of nature, parks and agricultural land, connecting corridors

April 2007 – groups got together to send a message to council about Whole Of Shire Planning

Green infrastructure needs the same kind of process as designing built infrastructure. It supports native wildlife, water management and other ecological phenomena, and involves whole community

The infrastructure consists of hubs, links and sites

We need to establish modelling parameters:  what do we want to achieve – identifying ecological features, then the hubs and linkages, identifying cultural/historical features, selecting trailheads and identifying corridors

AGIC  (Australian Green Infrastructure  Council) – the principle industry catalyst for advancing sustainability – does not mean quite the  same as we do  when speaking of green infrastructure

Example of green infrastructure in USA:

Florida – 700,000 acres, 2,300km of trails, bought 1.7m acres for $3b over 10 years, funding was from government and private sources
They provide linkages for wildlife, protection of drinking water, guards against flooding, purifying of air, and enhancement of  tourism

What we can do about green infrastructure locally

The first step towards a goal of this kind is mapping –  this has already been accomplished on Tamborine Mountain

The former Beaudesert Shire mapped wildlife corridors around some of the the boundaries of the shire, not much else
The Border Ranges map of corridors shows a corridor from Tamborine Mountain to the NSW border, but cut by roads, e.g. at Canungra (and some cleared areas)

There is now a Tamborine Mountain map showing hubs and corridors
The corridor from Thunderbird Park through to Cedar Creek Winery and beyond is a good example of what can be done.  It involves multiple land tenures, 5 private landholders, and 65% is already consolidated with the help of volunteers and landowners.

The Tamborine Creek catchment is another corridor examples,  including Botanic  Garden, McDonald section of Tamborine NP, Contour Rd., old sawmill, Joalah etc. There is a problem of a road just east of the old sawmill with a high priority to creatae a crossing.

GI is however more than just corridors for wildlife, and it  involves the ability for many groups of people to work together to accomplish them.  It is suggested that we form such a coalition of groups for this purpose locally.

Michael Anderson  – Wildlife corridors in the Scenic Rim

(Environmental Team Leader, Scenic Rim Regional Council)

The Scenic Rim includes 8 endangered ecosystems (ecosystems with <10%  former area remaining  in Qld), 22 ‘of concern’ (10-30% remaining), 25 least concern (>30% remaining). Despite some large areas of national parks and other reserves, most of this is still on private land. “Least concern” is an unfortunate title, leading to the attitude that it is okay to clear plenty of it.

Corridors can be stepping stones, riparian strips, ridgelines etc.

As vegetation patches reduce in size, they are  less viable ecologically,

A draft map was shown as a tool for deciding priorities for reducing clearing, habitat restoration and for such decisions as where to utilize Vegetation offsets (Energex etc.)

  • An eastern corridor – with some breaks – leads from Lamington to Tamborine Mountain
  • A central one – again with breaks – leads from Mt Barney  through Kooralbyn northwards  – heads to Oxley but then what?
  • A western one runs up the main range

We lack good west-to-east corridors through the main part of the region, and there are many other gaps

Some important gaps are those around Beaudesert, Kooralbyn, Mt Chinghee, Kerry, Bremer & Warrill View area, Rathdowney-Maroon, Boonah-Beaudesert, Mt Lindsay Highway, Cunningham Highway.

Corridior problems include:

  • loss of habitat
  • individual habitat tree removal (e.g. old trees with hollows, big feed-trees)
  • inappropriate fire regimes
  • climate change
  • predation
  • weeds
  • barriers – fences, roads etc
  • state infrastructure – dams, interstate rail, motorbike parks
  • nonregional offset policies – may offset something by purchasing land elsewyere, not heling local area
  • limited vegetation protection

Management:

  • Maintain and increase vegetation
  • Provide specific habitat resources for various animal groups
  • Maximize width and function, protection, minimize barriers

Regional programs

  • SEQ fire & biodiversity consortium
  • SEQ biodiversity offsets
  • Health waterways
  • Glossy Black Cockatoo  Conservancy
  • Regional green Energy project
  • Main roads weed treatment
  • Carbon sink project
  • NRM plan – tartgets tp achieve as local government and regional community (big step forward but not yet statutory)
  • Land for Wildlife
  • Macadamia Recovery Project

Concil programs

  • River improvement
  • Environmental grants
  • Property conservation
  • Environmental planning support
  • Reserve management
  • Climate change management
  • Environmental  events
  • Publications
  • Community groups
  • Rivers management (bank rehabilitation, fencing off cattle access)
  • Pest management
  • Education (schools and other)

Fututre programss

  • Expand current base programs
  • Extenal funding
  • Communal Nursery
  • Environmental education centre
  • Expanded community gardens
  • Consolidated offset program
  • Small block wildlife program
  • Expand wildlife corridors projects
  • Koala fodder trees
  • Flora and fauna database
  • Greater arts lnkage
  • Biosphere
  • Ecosystem services
  • Wildlife ambulance

Geoff  Warne – wildlife corridor through Cedar Creek wineries

(Guide, Cedar Creek Estates Winery and Glow Worms)

11 years ago the property mostly had old rhubarb and avocado area, not in good condition. John Pengliss, the managing director of Cedar Creek Estate decided to plant native rainforest trees along Cedar Creek, and this was to become part of a corridor involving other landowners and linking conservation areas (as mentioned in Jaap’s talk previously). The trees and other plants have grown remarkably well since then, providing a closed canopy and general rainforest feeling underneath, and are a good example of what can be accomplished.

Bobucks and platypus were not originally seen on the property but have now moved in. Unfortunately snake-catchers have released too many carpet pythons on the property for the bobuck population to survive.

John Pengliss has put a permanent covenant on  the land to prevent any future clearing

He also offered to build and artificial cave to house glow worms, as the local species were being threatened by the behaviour of many human visitors to their native haunts.  This has also proved very successful. Frog hollow is another initiative soon to open to the public, sowing the frogs native to the Mountain

Lauren Barnaby  –  Wyaralong Dam and wildlife

(General Manager – Environment, Land and Cultural Heritage, Queensland Water Infrastructure Pty Ltd  )

At capacity the dam will hold 103,000ML (10% Wivenhoe) covering  1,230ha

An extensive Environmental Impact Assessment was conducted in 2007, involving 1400 state approval decisions, also commonwealth conditions

75% of the land to be inundated was already cleared

11km of Beaudesert/Boonah Rd was realigned, and this needed faunal underpasses

There are 480 ha of wildlife corridor, including major wildlife N-S movement areas to the extreme Eastern  and Western ends of the dam,  and they are managing existing regeneration by exclusion of grazing, weed removal, and also planting of locally native trees. The Green Army was involved, collecting for an on-site nursery (30,000 seeds collected from existing habitat before clearing)

21 underpasses, 3 for fauna alone, were designed in accordance with the engineering design of the road to meet road standards: topography favoured under- rather than over- passes (high enough for grey kangaroo to move through)

They worked with EPA, looking at height, lighting etc. for different spp, whether dry ledges were required, vegetation at entrance and exits. Post and rails have been constructed for arboreal animals, with some escape posts leading upwards in case of approach by feral dogs etc.

The fauna fencing is now finished. 400 nest boxes of different sizes from Hollow Log Homes have been erected.

There will be 10 years of  montoring and maintenance plan and corrective actions for environmental  corridors, and

25 years of  monitoring and maintenance of fauna underpasses – fauna usage, fatality, types & abundance of fauna

Summary of re-establishing biodiversity –

  • 2 environmentt corridors
  • 220ha revegetation
  • 21 fauna underpasses
  • 400 nest boxes
  • land mngmt initiatives (e.g. cattle exclusion)

Persons interested in commenting on and asking questions on any of the above, volunteering for fauna surveys or telliing us where they have seen various species, ,  please contact  scenicrim@wildlife.org.au or contribute to our Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/Scenic.Rim.Wildlife

Koalas at Andrew Drynan Reserve

Wilbur the koalaDoes Wilbur have a girlfriend?

We hadn’t seen Wilbur ( our more-or-less resident koala) for about a month.  Then a couple of days ago, when I was doing a regular bird survey in Andrew Drynan Reserve (the camping and picnic ground just around the corner from home) I spotted him climbing a gum tree (pictured to the right).

A few minutes later I saw another koala – a smaller one that I think is a female (pictured below). They weren’t exactly close – opposite ends of the campground in fact – but koalas are generally solitary, and males aren’t always very gentlemanly with their mates.

But we’re hoping there has been some romance and that we may see Wilbur’s progeny some time later in the year.

koala at Andrew Drynan Reserve

Loud cicadas!

This is one of those years when thousands upon thousands of cicadas all leave the ground at once, climb out of their old skins with full wings, and all start calling  – no, not quite all, only the males make the sound, but that’s presumably  half the population, and quite enough to make an almost deafening din at times. I’m not seeing so many small birds as I would expect in some sites at the moment, and can’t help wondering if they have moved into more peaceful areas, especially if they rely on sound to some extend to find their insect prey.

The cicadas have their own fascination though, and Darren was able to video one in the process of emerging from its old skin last month. I enjoy their calls most of the time – although a few times have felt like calling out to ask them to give it a rest for just a few minutes.