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Volume 51


pp. 1-8

Wild mammals at a nocturnal feeding station near Lake Eacham in the Wet Tropics were observed variously by the viewing platform lights, by regular torchlight and by 395 nm ultraviolet torchlight. The fluorescence of two species of native rodent, two species of marsupial (one species of possum and one species of glider) is described, as well as further notes on fluorescence in one species of bandicoot. This doubles the number of published Australian mammal species with known fluorescent fur from four to eight. Additionally, an introduced species of rat in suburban Cairns was found to fluoresce.

Linda Reinhold

Mammals with fluorescent fur: observations from the Wet Tropics

Reinhold 2021

pp. 9-11

A monarch flycatcher with plumage indicative of a possible hybrid between Black-faced Monarcha melanopsis and Spectacled Symposiachrus trivirgatus Monarchs is reported. Hybridisation between these species is hitherto undescribed.

John D. Grant

A possible hybrid Black-faced x Spectacled Monarch in north Queensland

Grant 2021

pp. 12-15

This note details multiple observations of grouping behaviour in small juvenile Blacktip Reef Shark (Carcharhinus melanopterus) around Milman Island in the northern Great Barrier Reef. We conclude that this is social grouping behaviour and is suggestive that the waters around Milman are a pupping area for this species.

Alastair Freeman and Alex Wright

Social grouping behaviour in early juvenile Blacktip Reef Sharks around Milman Island in the far north of the Great Barrier Reef, Queensland

Freeman & Wright 2021

pp. 16-25

Using time-lapse photography supplemented by direct observation, courtship behaviour in a pair of Coastal Taipans Oxyuranus scutellatus was recorded in the field over a nine-day period and the details of the behaviour are described. During courtship the male remained in close proximity to the female, frequently in direct physical contact with her, where it engaged in a number of stereotypical behaviours such as massaging her dorsal surface by making lateral wave-like movements with its body, chin-rubbing, head-jerking, and probing the length of her body with his snout. The female lay passively at all times during courtship and sloughed on the final day when mating presumably occurred.

Grant S. Turner

Courtship in a pair of wild Coastal Taipans Oxyuranus scutellatus (Elapidae)

Turner 2021

pp. 26-29

In north Queensland, the Yellow-bellied Glider (Petaurus australis) makes incisions in the bark of Eucalyptus resinifera (Small-fruited Red Mahogany) to access the sap that flows from these cuts. It is known that other bird and mammal species feed at these incisions including the Spectacled Flying-fox (Pteropus conspicillatus), but there is no published record of Little Red Flying-fox (Pteropus scapulatus) doing the same. Here we report observations of Little Red Flying-foxes feeding on this sap and provide evidence of agonistic interspecific interactions between it and the Yellow-bellied Glider at a sap-tree.

Patrick De Geest and Alan Gillanders

Observations of Little Red Flying-fox (Pteropus scapulatus) feeding on sap of Eucalyptus resinifera (Small-fruited Red Mahogany)

De Geest & Gillanders 2021

pp. 30-37

The Eungella Honeyeater (Bolemoreus hindwoodi) is classified as Vulnerable under the Nature Conservation Act 1992 due to its limited distribution to rainforest between Cathu State Forest and Crediton State Forest centred on the Clarke Range 70 km to the west of Mackay, Qld. Between January 2019 and December 2020, the feeding habits of banded and unbanded Eungella Honeyeaters were monitored at four sites in the Dalrymple Heights area and one site in Crediton State Forest, 11 km north and south respectively from the township of Eungella, Qld. Individuals were observed feeding on the flowers and fruits of thirty species of native trees and a further seven species of cultivated or non-native species, a far broader range of plant species than previously recorded for this species. Mean body mass of captured individuals remained constant throughout the period of study. There was evidence of movement to preferred feeding plants at different times of the year consistent with the wide range of flowering and fruiting species that are utilised throughout the year. There was also evidence of adaptive behaviour by the Eungella Honeyeater, with certain plant species used only in times of limited food availability and ignored when other food sources were available. A preference for certain non-native plant species (e.g. Lantana camara) when those species were in flower was evidenced by flocking behaviour, providing a further indication of adaptability to changing food types in this honeyeater. Gaining an understanding of the food needs of this honeyeater will help to shed light on its vulnerability to climate change and the influx of non-native plant species.

A. J. Bean, D. S. Braithwaite, R. E. Braithwaite and J. T. Coleman

Food plants of the Eungella Honeyeater (Bolemoreus hindwoodi)

Bean et al 2021

pp. 38-49

Unconfirmed field reports of the Australian Yellow-legged Flycatcher Kempiella griseoceps kempi in the Wet Tropics present unresolved issues in some formal and informal publications on north Queensland birds, although there are no verified specimens or photographs south of Cape York Peninsula rainforest. Using published and unpublished sources, we review the basis of records in the Wet Tropics from 1931 to 1987 and consider the materials and experience available to assist observer identifications, and their reliance on prior reports from the region. The descriptions of foraging behaviour, calls, plumage, and bill and leg colours of supposed Yellow-legged Flycatchers are consistent with features of – and arguably were – adult or immature Northern Pale-yellow Robins Tregellasia capito nana. We report the withdrawal of one longstanding Yellow-legged Flycatcher record, and recommend that all remaining records in the Wet Tropics should be rejected and excluded from accounts of their distribution and behaviour. Future field observations in the region would benefit from improved documentation of variations in bill and plumage colours of immature Pale-yellow Robins.

Elinor C. Scambler, Lloyd Nielsen and Ben J. Wallace

Revisiting history: the case of the Wet Tropics Yellow-legged Flycatcher

Scambler et al 2021

pp. 50-56

Field studies and laboratory trials show the Golden Leaf Beetle Lilioceris nigripes (Fabricius) (Criocerinae) feeds on the foliage of species in two families of cycads. The cycads consumed are species of Cycas L. (Cycadales: Cycadaceae) that form a continuum along 1000 kilometers of coastal Queensland, and the northern of two species of Bowenia Hook. ex Hook. (Cycadales: Zamiaceae) in the same areas but separated by the Burdekin Gap. Lilioceris nigripes browsed the foliage of Cycas ophiolitica, C. media subsp. banksii, C. cairnsiana and C. platyphylla, activity being restricted to young foliage produced in flushes prior to onset of the wet season or after fires when previous foliage had been burned away. Lilioceris nigripes also fed on leaflets of both nominate and putative B. spectabilis in north-east Queensland but not on the foliage of B. serrulata in central Queensland despite feeding on C. ophiolitica growing two kilometres away. Laboratory trials were conducted of L. nigripes feeding on different species of cycads without other food sources being available. Lilioceris nigripes previously feeding on nominate B. spectabilis did not eat the foliage of B. serrulata but did eat that of C. ophiolitica. Beetles collected from C. ophiolitica did not eat the foliage of B. serrulata but ate that of B. spectabilis. Adult and larvae L. nigripes collected from nominate B. spectabilis ate the foliage of C. media subsp. banksii and the reverse. The data presented in this paper extend the record of L. nigripes feeding on species and genera of cycads, and records of the chrysomelid genus Lilioceris (Criocerinae) piercing leaves and feeding on the sap in them.

Gary W. Wilson

The beetle Lilioceris nigripes (Fabricius) (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae: Criocerinae) feeding on cycads in north-east Australia

Wilson 2021

pp. 57-61

Talaroo Hot Springs are a unique environmental feature to Far North Queensland and Australia. The spring mound has a long geological, ecological and anthropogenic history. A review of the available information on the natural history of Talaroo Hot Springs identified several historical accounts. The aim of this note is to document these. Early colonial visitors to the springs identified their unique natural history and unfortunately their encouragement to preserve this uniqueness was not acted on until the Traditional Owners converted the area to an Indigenous Protected Area over a century later.

Peter Negus

Colonial history of Talaroo Hot Springs

Negus 2021

pp. 62-66

The first record of the adventive shrub Wissadula contracta (Malvaceae; Malvoideae) is reported from Australia. A population of the species was discovered along a railway line near Redlynch, north of Cairns in Queensland. It is a species of open roadside areas in South America; how it has entered Australia is open to speculation. While the population appears to be self-sustaining, more surveys are needed to establish if the species has become naturalised, or if it has invasive potential. Illustrations for identification and habitat notes are provided.

David Y. P. Tng, Gemma Horner and Massimo G Bovini

A South American in Australia: Wissadula contracta (Malvaceae), a distinctive adventive shrub

Tng et al 2021

pp. 67-86

Spring wetlands are biodiversity hotspots; however, conservation efforts for many spring wetlands are limited by a lack of knowledge. This study provides information on the natural values of the hot spring and associated wetlands at Talaroo Station in north Queensland. The natural features, the aquatic biodiversity and the threats to their ecological functioning are the focus of this investigation. Talaroo Hot Springs is a unique geothermal natural spring ecosystem characterised by the hot, carbon dioxide rich water discharging from multiple vents and interacting with a community of microorganisms to produce a terraced travertine mound. The microorganisms are the most conspicuous parts of the mound in the form of yellow fans and the black stromatolite barrages of cyanobacteria (Ewamiania thermalis). The springs also support other rare and endangered species, such as the Salt Pipewort (Eriocaulon carsonii) and an aquatic snail (Gabbia sp.), which is likely to be a new species. Ecological understanding of hot springs is lacking from Australia, and Talaroo Hot Springs is amongst the few geothermal sites worldwide where life in extreme environments can be studied and further scientific investigation is likely to identify other new species. The study was initiated and supported by the Ewamian Aboriginal Corporation representing the traditional owners of Talaroo to provide information for their plan of management. Priority threats to the ecosystem functioning include introduced species, such as Cane Toads and Feral Pigs, and physical disturbance to the mound, which can alter water flow paths that maintain the active microbial processes that build the mound.

Peter Negus, Jonathan C. Marshall, Alisha L. Steward, Glenn B. McGregor and Ruth O’Connor

The unique aquatic ecosystem of Talaroo Hot Springs

Negus et al 2021

pp. 87-90

A Little Red Flying-fox (Pteropus scapulatus) was captured on a camera trap, baited with KFC chicken nuggets at Mount Lewis National Park, north Queensland. While it cannot be determined if the flying-fox was attracted to the bait, this observation presents a behaviour undocumented in megabats.

Emily R. Rush and Manuela Fischer

Finger Lickin’ Good: observation of a Little Red Flying-fox (Pteropus scapulatus) on a camera trap baited with KFC

Rush & Fischer 2021

pp. 91-97

Eight species of frog in the Wet Tropics of Far North Queensland were viewed in the field under ultraviolet torchlight. The skin of the frogs variously reflected, absorbed and fluoresced the light. These preliminary observations into the external fluorescence of Australian frogs are of a phenomenon that has been observed in amphibians across Europe and the Americas.

Linda Reinhold

Ultraviolet reflectance, absorption and fluorescence in frogs: observations from the Wet Tropics

Reinhold 2021b

pp. 98-102

Male Great Bowerbirds (Ptilonorhynchus [Chlamydera] nuchalis) build and decorate stick structures (bowers) to attract females. In some populations, they arrange grey and white decorations by size, with smaller decorations closer to the bower entrance. This size-distance gradient has been hypothesised to create a “forced perspective” illusion that females prefer. I assessed whether a common type of red decoration – red wire – was also arranged by size at 18 bowers in Townsville, Queensland. Males placed shorter wires closer to the bower structure, but most wires were outside of the females’ field of view, precluding them perceiving forced perspective. Instead, males might keep shorter wires closer to the bower because they frequently use red wires during display, and shorter wires might be easier to handle during display movements. Longer wires farther away might aid in long-distance mate attraction.

Natalie Rae Doerr

Male Great Bowerbirds arrange red wires at bowers by size, without forced perspective

Doerr 2021

pp. 103-109

The Australian endemic Chowchilla (Orthonyx spaldingii), a medium-sized terrestrial passerine confined to rainforests of the Wet Tropics Region of far north Queensland, remains biologically little known. An interpretation of the significance of its dorsal plumage, common to both sexes, and the sexually dimorphic ventral plumage is given. The terminally spine-shafted tail feathers of logrunners present an example of convergent evolution with tail morphology and function in non-passerine woodpeckers (family Picidae), and these are illustrated. Knowledge of the unusual nesting biology of Chowchillas is briefly summarised. Recent observations at a nest found a longer incubation period than previously known. Limited observation of social interaction between flock members including a female and her juvenile offspring suggest the possibility of an unusual, indirect, form of cooperative breeding but too little is known to confirm this. It is hoped that this contribution will stimulate further pertinent field study.

Clifford B. Frith and Dawn W. Frith

The entertaining and enigmatic Chowchilla; a summary of our limited knowledge

Frith & Frith 2021

pp. 110-118

Bromfield Swamp is a nationally-important wetland in an extinct volcanic crater near Malanda on the Atherton Tablelands, far north Queensland, noted for paleoenvironmental studies, showing vegetation and climate changes over millennia, and as a wintering roost for significant numbers of Australia’s two species of crane. We draw on published and unpublished sources, particularly records by army Captain A. Frank Austin while stationed on the Tablelands during WW2, to present new information on aspects of the swamp’s natural and conservation history.

Elinor C. Scambler and A. Frank Austin Jnr

‘A wonderful swamp’: Military ornithologists and others at Bromfield Swamp, Atherton Tablelands, 1914–1967

Scambler & Austin 2021

pp. 119-126

In Australia, the Ashy-bellied (Pale) White-eye (Zosterops citrinella) is known from islands in Torres Strait and off Cape York Peninsula as far south along the east coast as Rocky Islets, 85 km northeast of Cooktown. In the literature it has been confused with the Silvereye (Z. lateralis), at time from locations well outside the Ashy-bellied White-eye’s known range. The identity of a population of white-eyes on Green Island, northeast of Cairns, has been controversial. Birders have recorded them as Silvereye but provided no supporting evidence, while others with photographic evidence have identified them as Ashy-bellied White-eye. While this species is an inhabitant of offshore islands, the northern subspecies of Silvereye (Z. l. vegatus) is a mainland bird and is fairly common on the mainland adjacent to Green Island. There appears to be no positive records of either species from the other’s range and there is no evidence that the two interbreed. In March 2021 I spent three days on Green Island observing white-eyes and all proved to be Ashy-bellied. This extends its known range southward from Rocky Islets on the east coast of Queensland by approximately 220 km.

Lloyd Nielsen

The identity of white-eyes on Green Island, North Queensland

Nielsen 2021
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