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Volume 52


pp. 1-3

This note documents multiple observations of juvenile Cowtail Stingrays in the near shore habitat in the south-eastern corner of the Gulf of Carpentaria, their stranding and mortality in beach gutters and predation of individual stranded rays by White-bellied Sea-eagles.

Alastair Freeman

An important feeding area for juvenile Cowtail Stingrays (Pastinachus ater) in the Gulf of Carpentaria, Queensland, can come at a predatory cost

Freeman 2022

pp. 4-18

In 1917, James Franklin Illingworth (1870–1949) moved from Hawaii to work as Chief Entomologist for the Queensland Bureau of Sugar Experiment Stations. Stationed until 1921 near Cairns in Far North Queensland, he led research into pests of sugar cane and investigated potential natural controls, including birds. His commitment to protection of ‘useful birds’ helped position Queensland Government entomology research as part of a first wave of Australian bird conservation. His records included an overlooked, significant early observation of insectivory by the Australasian Figbird (Sphecotheres vieilloti), preying on adult Greyback Cane Beetles (Dermolepida albohirtum) swarming on native trees near cane fields. This, and other incidental records covering nearly 150 years, suggest that insects may be an important breeding season resource for the largely frugivorous Figbird. Illingworth also recorded flocks of up to 500 Straw-necked Ibis (Threskiornis spinicollis) preying on beetle larvae in ploughed cane fields, but ten years later few ibis remained, possibly due to hunting and the clearing of roost trees. He contributed a significant number of Australian insect specimens to collections, primarily to the Bishop Museum, Hawaii.

Elinor C. Scambler

James Franklin Illingworth in Far North Queensland, 1917–1921: ‘useful birds’ and an overlooked record of insectivory in the Australasian Figbird, Sphecotheres vieilloti

Scambler 2022

pp. 19-33

Sid Jackson (1873–1946) was once renowned as a field ornithologist and collector. Beyond his attainments in those domains, he is exceptionally interesting from an historical perspective for the meticulousness with which he recorded not only his ornithological activities but also his subjective state while carrying them out. His diaries offer a window onto the world of a field worker of a bygone age, through which we can glimpse both the similarities and the differences between the ornithological enterprises of then and now. This article, focussing on one of his collecting expeditions, gazes through that window to recount how Jackson conducted his ornithological activities and to explore the passions and ambitions that drove them. It shows that despite the disparities between his modes of birding and those of today, there are many parallels and congruences.

Russell McGregor

An oologist at Tinaroo: Sid Jackson’s 1908 expedition to north Queensland

McGregor 2022

pp. 34-46

Ants were surveyed on a 12.8 ha bush property at 33 Mile Creek, Koah, in Far North Queensland, that comprised eucalypt woodland and a small disturbed area. Pitfall trapping was conducted at eight sites in 2019 and the same sites again in 2020. Ants were also surveyed incidentally by hand collection throughout the property from 2018 to 2021. We recorded 102 species from 30 genera, of which 53 species were trapped in pitfalls. A further 49 species were recorded only incidentally, greatly enhancing the overall survey and accounting for total richness which was similar to that of other studies in the region notwithstanding their greater range of environmental variation. Ant species composition showed little correspondence to the limited variation in vegetation structure and composition, but functional guild composition showed more interpretable patterns. This included the prevalence of Dominant Dolichoderinae and Hot-Climate Specialists at an open site and a low frequency of Generalised Myrmicinae in the face of Dominant Dolichoderinae at that site. Opportunists were particularly prevalent at the site whose dry sclerophyll understorey suggests moisture stress. There was also evidence of an inverse relationship between the frequency of Opportunists and Generalised Myrmicinae. The ant fauna comprises predominately Australian endemics of Torresian (tropical) biogeographical origin. At least 41 species are only known from Queensland. Five species are not native to Australia, all of which are widespread tramp ants.

Scott C. Morrison and Donald C. Franklin

Ant diversity in eucalypt woodland at Koah, the ecotone between Wet Tropics rainforests and the savannah woodlands of the Einasleigh Uplands bioregion

Morrison & Franklin 2022

pp. 47-48

This note details only the second confirmed record of the White Ribbon Eel in Australian waters nearly 100 years after and 780 km south of the first sighting. The sighting was confirmed from images and video, on the reef flat at Green Island north east of Cairns.

Alastair Freeman and John J. Pogonoski

The second confirmed record and a significant range extension for the White Ribbon Eel (Pseudechidna brummeri) in Australia

Freeman & Pogonoski 2022

pp. 49-68

The North Queensland Naturalists Club was formed in Cairns in 1932, with noted radiologist Dr Hugo Flecker as founding President and Joseph (Joe) Wyer, an executive in the powerful Harbour Board, as Secretary. It aimed to “preserve the natural beauties of the district for all time” and inform residents and authorities about the region’s natural history features, which were not well-known or protected. From 1932–1950 there were almost 400 members in Far North Queensland (north of Cardwell, 18o16’S) from a wide range of occupations. About half the members joined in their 30s or 40s and a third were female. The club developed close networks in the region through cross-memberships of committee and ordinary members with local councils, businesses, the press and numerous other community associations. Through these networks and its expert and energetic leadership the club achieved a prominent profile in the region. It raised public awareness of the north’s special natural attributes locally, nationally and to an extent internationally, through lectures, excursions, nature shows, a popular newspaper column, a quarterly journal (the North Queensland Naturalist) and the creation of a significant herbarium of northern plants. Cooperation between the Club and other regional organisations on conservation and tourism may represent one of Australia’s earliest eco-tourism partnerships. We focus on the club’s membership, achievements and conservation initiatives in three periods: the formative years (1932–1939) during the Great Depression; WWII (1939–1945), when despite many challenges the club engaged with military naturalists; and post-war (1946–1950), with new members adding different areas of expertise to the club’s activities.

Elinor C. Scambler and John D.A. Grant

‘A live body with headquarters at Cairns’: the North Queensland Naturalists Club, 1932–1950

Scambler & Grant 2022

pp. 69-74

Eastern Tube-nosed Fruit Bats (Nyctimene robinsoni) have distinctive yellowish spots over the dorsal wing surfaces, ears and nostrils. The externally visible spots serve as camouflage when the bats are at rest during the day. When examined with ultraviolet to violet light, these wing spots photoluminesce bright yellow. The wing surfaces of seven other species of bat exhibited no photoluminescence. Here I present observations of natural photoluminescence in bat skin. The luminophores causing this photoluminescence have not been investigated.

Linda Reinhold

Photoluminescent yellow wing markings of Eastern Tube-nosed Fruit Bats (Nyctimene robinsoni)

Reinhold 2022

pp. 75-77

An adult male Victoria's Riflebird (Ptiloris victoriae) was photographed feeding upon floral nectar of a Broad-leaved Banksia (Banksia robur). While the species mainly feeds on fruit and invertebrates, this observation corroborates recent evidence that Victoria’s Riflebird feeds upon nectar opportunistically.

Clifford B. Frith and James Hammersley

Victoria’s Riflebird feeding on Banksia robur floral nectar

Frith & Hammersley 2022
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