The Scenic Rim – Oh, the Things You Will See!

After revealing my unnerving night escapade in the previous post, I think it’s time to share far more genteel pursuits. In the last couple of years, I’ve spent increasingly more time exploring local creeks, historical cemeteries, and roadside rest areas than national park hiking trails.

Many of these outings resulted in bliss from unexpected wildlife encounters. Others sent me on philosophical ponderings or hours of historical research. Regular readers may not be surprised to learn that despite the less taxing nature of these walks, I still managed to end up in a pickle on multiple occasions.

Instead of one story, today I’m going to share highlights from  multiple meanderings in an area very close to my home – the Scenic Rim  region of Queensland – unceded land of the UgarapuI people.  I’m even going to try something extremely radical – subheadings! While I’m lexicurious and logofascinated, I’d never describe myself as a wordsmith. I do get a buzz out of sharing the wonders of the natural world though.

The Muppets of Lake Maroon

Down by the waters of Lake Maroon, in a busy recreational area, I spotted an adorable pair of muppets.

Tawny Frogmouths are often mistaken for owls, but are more closely related to nightjars. Weaker feet and the absence of curved talons are two obvious differences.

These endearing creatures often visit my backyard, however I’m far more likely to hear than see them. They spend their days resembling tree branches and at night drop down to catch small prey on the ground, or large flying insects attracted to lights. Their scruffy feathers and bland colours really do make them difficult to detect, and on this occasion, other lake visitors were oblivious to their presence.

Besides excellent camouflage abilities, Tawny Frogmouths have other forms of defence. Mating pairs will  mob nest intruders by pecking them, and if this doesn’t work, may spray predators with their  pungent faeces. In her fascinating book, Tawny Frogmouth (2nd edition), Professor Gisela Kaplan explains that this may confuse reptilian predators who rely heavily on smell.

Tawnies have a variety of calls including a low pitched repetitive “oom-oom-oom’ at night, a tom cat screaming sound when distressed, and a mournful whimpering, which may be produced by orphaned chicks or those about to leave the nest. Monogamous and highly affectionate, they’ve been known to produce heartbreaking whimpers for long periods after their mate has been killed. Gisella’s observations of a particular female who lost her mate and rejected others for two years, led her to suggest that the female may have been experiencing the emotion of grieving.

Gisella also reports that Tawnies have very good temperature control. Not only do their feathers insulate well, but in hot weather they can triple their breathing rate while their beaks remain closed. They also produce a special kind of mucus in their mouths which helps to cool the air they breathe. To cope with heat and energy loss in winter, tawnies will also go through short bouts of torpor – a kind of hibernation.

While their nest building abilities are poor, it has been suggested this is because in the past, they’ve relied on large bark-flaking branches of eucalypt trees that are no longer as abundant.

In my last post, I discussed being enamoured by powerful owls. I love Tawnies just as much, but in a different way. How can one not be fond of these hilarious muppets with their wide mouths and messy sticking-up facial feathers? Loving non-traditionally beautiful creatures such as tawny frogmouths is a reminder to love the quirky features about ourselves. I have a big mouth and fine fly-away hair that often looks like I never comb it. I still remember complaining to my daughter one day that I looked far too dishevelled to go shopping. She replied that all I needed to do was brush my hair and I’d be fine to go. I’d just finished brushing it.

Mee-bor-rum Transformations

There is much to learn from the cycles of the natural world. A plethora of caterpillars, butterflies, and moths at Mee-bor-rum (the north peak of Mt French),  reminded me that we all go through stages in our lives.

Larval and pupal stages can be precarious times. Somehow these soft, vulnerable beasties  manage to survive disease, predators, and weather events to transform into magical creatures of flight.

Life is about change. If we’re open to making mistakes, learning and growing, we can also make transformations, and not just to ourselves.  When we  open our hearts and minds to  the suffering of others, it can motivate us to make transformations to the society in which we live.

My favourite sightings at Mee-bor-rum were Blue Tiger (Tirumala hamata) butterflies on grass tree flower stalks. Sharing the sweetness were tiny native bees.

Although found in other habitats, Blue Tigers are mostly a tropical species that breed in monsoonal and littoral rainforest.

In spring and summer, adults may disperse as far south as Victoria.  Enormous numbers may sometimes migrate through the Greater Brisbane Area. When  cooler weather arrives, Blue Tigers will head back north.

Many butterflies live extremely short lives. Blue Tigers may live for only one or two months in summer, but due to a special survival strategy,  may live for up to nine months. “Aestivation” or “overwintering” enables this species to become dormant through the winter months until more favourable breeding conditions in spring.

During “overwintering” they can be seen congregating in huge numbers, clustering on stems and vines in sheltered gullies in central and north Queensland.

Fassifern Valley Rail Trail – Ghosts and Gratitude

I’ve only hiked one rail trail and doubt I’ll be going on any others. Don’t get me wrong. I think turning disused rail lines into walking and cycling trails for the general public is a fantastic idea.  The lack of shade doesn’t appeal to someone who is heat and sun sensitive like me though.

So why did I attempt a rail trail in the first place if it was so unappealing?  I usually like to try something at least once before making a judgement about whether it suits me. At 6 km, the Fassifern Valley Rail Trail loop is probably the shortest rail trail in Queensland. Perfect!

I’d also read that it passed by an historical cemetery. If you’ve read a couple of  my early blog posts you’ll know I’m a fan of old graveyards. Some may regard this as a morbid interest, but there can be great value in visiting old graves.

Graveyards can remind us of those who’ve battled before us. They are reminders of wars, famine, disease, natural disasters, atrocities, crimes, and accidents.  The current world pandemic is not the first in history. And indeed, during  the challenge of Covid-19, many have also been battling  ongoing injustice, conflicts, famines and natural disasters.  Our very existence is a reminder of those who came before us. We represent their survival. We can take strength and comfort from knowing that many of our ancestors also struggled. We can also feel gratitude.

In the tiny Baptist Cemetery, shaded by towering eucalypts along the Fassifern Valley Rail Trail, lies the grave of Emma Neibling. She was only 22 when she died of typhoid fever during a local epidemic, leaving behind a husband, a 6 year old daughter and a baby boy.

It seems Emma was loved by her family and the community as these Trove newspaper articles indicate.

After reading that she was a young mother, I feared for her young children’s future. After hours of research, I was heartened to discover that six year old Beatrice lived to be a 97 year old great-great grandmother, while baby Bernard lived to be an 82 year old great-grandfather. The illness which killed so many, and still kills people today in areas of the world with poor sanitation and contaminated water, spared Emma’s young children. Some Aboriginal communities in Australia are still fighting for access to a clean, reliable water source, a basic human right that many of us take for granted.

I wondered why I was so drawn to Emma’s grave. Was it because I was also  a mother of a baby boy at the same age she died? Further digging led me to discover she is likely to be a distant relative. It seems we may be linked via the German branch of the family tree who migrated to the area around the same time.

You may question why I chose to share a grave about a person who isn’t famous. It struck me how many women don’t have their names in history books. While researching my own family tree, I could find little information about the women besides their names, and even then, there was often no mention of their birth surname, only their married name. Many of these women are lost in history even though they worked so hard as mothers, provided invaluable support to their partners, and contributed to their communities.

Sanctuary Among the Thorns

As well as Emma’s grave, a surprising number of wildlife sightings had me repeat the section between the graveyard and Pocock Road on numerous occasions, even during devastating drought conditions.

The presence of  introduced highly invasive African box thorn attracted many small bird species, including double-barred finches, red-backed fairy-wrens, and superb fairy wrens.

The spiny stems, flowers, and berries provide food and protection.

Fresh manure from grazing cattle attracts flies and beetles, adding to the food source for bird species.

I must admit I fell a little bit in love with this red-backed fairywren (in transitional colours) that followed me along the trail.

I often passed kangaroos and wallabies down by the cemetery. Unlike me, they sensibly sheltered from the heat.

And a nankeen kestrel kept watch from a distance on all of my visits.

Originally, the Fassifern Rail Trail was meant to be part of the planned 76km Boonah to Ipswich Rail Trail, but this project was suspended in 2012. To be honest, I wouldn’t recommend the full 6.2 km Fassifern Valley Trail loop as 3.2 km is on unshaded public road. The 3 km section of rail trail that starts at the Boonah Lookout and passes through farmland by the tiny graveyard, and  ends at Pocock Road appealed to me because of the unexpected birdlife.

Dragons, Damsels, and other Beasties

The park by the Boonah Information Centre where you can may choose to begin the Fassifern Rail Trail was such a haven for pond wildlife that one day I ended up with heatstroke. It’s easy for me to lose track of time when engrossed in the behaviour of dragonflies and damselflies.

Dragons and damsels are extremely territorial – a boon for photographers. They’ll return again and again to the same reed, twig or rock, in between fiercely defending their patch.

Many species inhabit the pond and were engaged in producing future offspring.

In the middle of the day, I regularly saw dragonflies exhibiting the obelisk stance. Apparently this position aids in cooling the insect. What a shame I didn’t heed their warnings.

The drone of cicadas is a quintessential sound of the Australian bush. I often see the exuviae (exoskeleton remains) of these creatures in my backyard or on walks, but rarely spot a newly emerged adult. I was thrilled to discover hundreds of this large species resting on casuarinas on the banks of the pond.

Cicadas spend most of their lives underground as nymphs. Some of the larger species in Australia may spend around 7 years underground before emerging, while in North America, Periodical Cicadas may spend 13 or 17 years beneath the earth.

It probably won’t surprise you to read that cicadas are the loudest insect species in the world. Only the males sing and each species has its own distinctive call. In Australia, there are around 200 species with most singing during the heat of the day. Some weaker fliers, like the bladder cicada, sing at dusk. The communal ear-piercing singing is thought to aid in confusing or repelling predators.

As well as insects, reptilian creatures eyed my activities with suspicion.

As did a young brushtailed possum from a fork high in a casuarina tree.

Minto Crag – A Spot of Trouble

As many of you already know, I’m frequently directionally-challenged. This led to a brief heart-racing encounter while in search of an access road to Minto Crag, or Whinpullin (in the language of the Aboriginal Custodians)  – one of the few volcanic ring dykes in Australia.

After taking what I thought was the correct gravel road, I found myself on private property. I finally realised my error, turned around, and was on my way out  when the owner pulled up to question me. Given the size and ferocity of some of the “Keep out” signs I’ve seen in the Boonah region, I was fully expecting a big burly, angry-faced white Australian farmer with a gun slung over his shoulder.

I was slightly relieved when a middle-aged woman asked, “Can I help you?” through her open car window, although I could tell by her tone she was far from impressed. Once she’d established that I didn’t have nefarious intentions, she relaxed her gruff attitude a little. In my heart-thudding nervousness, I did what I often do. I started babbling on about unrelated things. I’d seen some wild gourds growing on the roadside on my way in and asked if I could have a couple.

Do you ever hear yourself saying inappropriate things but just can’t stop yourself? I tend to do it more when I’m frightened or nervous. Here I was, a trespasser on someone’s property, and yet I’d cheekily asked if I could have something. I thought I saw a look of pity on the poor woman’s face, or maybe it was fear that I was mentally unstable? She kindly allowed me to have them though and watched me go on my way.

What am I going to do with them? I haven’t decided yet. They just excite me! And why shouldn’t they? Gourds have been used for thousands of years by many cultures for all sorts of things,  including  food, bottles, art and musical instruments.

This unexpected acquisition led me to research gourds further, which then led me to Toowoomba where there is an amazing gourd shop and cafe. Of course, I couldn’t resist buying gourds for family members (whether they liked them or not), and one for myself which had been converted into a birdhouse.

I even ordered gourd seeds online to grow in my own yard. Yes, I confess. I have gourd greed!

But did I ever make it to Minto Crag? Yes, and no. I couldn’t get close enough to walk or climb on the dyke itself, but was able to take photos from a distance, although they don’t really show its distinctive ring shape.

When I did find the right road, I spied an old home, shed and car.  Derelict buildings fascinate me. I can easily imagine the excitement of their first owners when they moved into their freshly painted residence. This  dilapidated structure was probably a  bustling household once, full of children squealing and laughing.

Sometimes I imagine there are ghosts watching me from windows.  I often feel that old buildings contain traces of their occupants in the form of a particular mood. Some places feel peaceful. Some melancholy.  Others have a noticeable chill.

This rusting beast was once someone’s pride and joy.

And a leaning skeleton once housed machinery and hay bales.

So while my  trip to Minto Crag did not result in many wildlife sightings, it did  whet my gourd desires, and provided hours of entertainment for my fertile imagination.

Oh, the Things You Will See!

These views are only snippets from my many wanderings in the Scenic Rim area. National parks are wonderful places to explore, but there is also so much to discover in  local creeks and reserves.  Places like cemeteries, rail lines, ponds, and urban gardens can provide vital habitat for endangered species, as Melbourne researchers, Kylie Soanes and Pia Lentini found out:

“Precious endangered species aren’t all tucked away in national parks and conservation reserves. These little battlers are more often found hiding in plain sight, amid the urban hustle and bustle. Our research found them living along railway lines and roadsides, sewerage treatment plants and cemeteries, schools, airports, and even a hospital garden. While these aren’t the typical places you’d expect to find threatened species, they’re fantastic opportunities for conservation.”  The Conversation, 2nd April, 2019.

Many of us don’t have the time, the money, the physical mobility, or good health to travel far and do challenging hikes in national parks, so it’s  encouraging to remember that wildlife treasures can be found much closer to home.  In the time of coronavirus restrictions, and when we are also looking for ways to reduce our negative environmental impact, it’s good to remind ourselves that long distance trips are not compulsory to receive a nature fix. It can sometimes be a challenge  to slow down and look through fresh eyes  at familiar surroundings, but the benefits are worth the effort.

I walked slowly, and listened

to the crazy roots, in the drenched earth, laughing and growing.

From “Sometimes” by Mary Oliver.

References:

Kaplan, Gisela (2018),  Tawny Frogmouth (2nd ed),  CSIRO publishing.

96 thoughts on “The Scenic Rim – Oh, the Things You Will See!

    • Thanks, Marina! I’ve got so many photos and stories I’d love to share with you eventually. I do hope your situation is ok where you are regarding Covid-19? It’s a tough time for so many. All the best! 🙂

    • Thanks, Ashley! I’ve a real soft spot for Tawnies. They’re such adorable muppets, aren’t they? I have a couple that breed in my yard but I’ve never been able to locate their nests. As for the Blue Tigers, I was having a bit of a bad day at Mee-bor-rum, but as usual I was gifted with a glorious nature experience. I came around a bend in the path, and there they were. Such a delight. Best wishes. 🙂

  1. Hi Jane

    A fascinating post as always, however, I think that this is your best to date. The photography is just stunning.

    • Awww…thanks, Andrew! Very kind of you. You’ll be pleased to know I’ll be heading out to the wonderful Mt Barney area again soon when the weather clears. This rain is beautiful though. So many places really need it. We didn’t get enough in summer. Best wishes. 🙂

  2. Wow! What an eye you have and how well you photograph what you see, this post was a real learning curve for me, thank you. Have your wanderings been affected by the Covid 19 virus?

    • You’re too kind, Susan. Thank you so much for the encouraging words. I’m still struggling to learn how to make use of all the features of my Canon, but I’m slowly getting there. I’m very lucky to come across so much wildlife on my walks. It’s easy to take good pictures when the subjects are so beautiful. Up until a few weeks ago we were limited to travelling a distance of 50km, and we were only meant to travel for essential reasons. Then it changed to 150km. I believe about a week ago it became unlimited travel within our state, but the Queensland border is still closed to other states (apart from freight and essential work/school.) We’ve been very lucky with our low number of Covid-19 cases here. Early lockdown seemed to make a huge difference. I’m quite content to stay close to home here for the moment until I’m sure a second wave isn’t coming. It’s been a very challenging time for many though with job losses. I hope your situation where you are is safe, Susan? All my best. 🙂

    • Thank you! I’m so pleased you enjoyed it. I’ve got so many albums and words I’d like to eventually share. Life has been a little disrupted, but the truth is I just need to get more organised. I love to take pictures, but I am not very good at editing them. Yes, my family are all fairly well at the moment, although there are a few tests that still need to be done. Thank you for asking. I do hope you and your loved ones are well too in these trying times. Kind wishes. 🙂

  3. Great photos as usual Jane. I think you are right about trekking into the wilderness on tough walks too – sometimes a suburban parkland (or rail trail) can be almost as rewarding if you know where to look – and you certainly do! Stay safe and healthy up there in the deep north! Cheers Kevin

    • Thanks, Kevin! I do love to take photos of wildlife. Getting slower physically has its benefits. I see way more these days. I’ve never really been one to prefer challenging physical hikes over nature jaunts. I find that a walk down the local creek can give me just as much pleasure or even more sometimes than an extended trip. But I certainly understand that different people need different things. Physical challenge and “getting out bush” can be very rewarding for many people and the Covid-19 lockdown is challenging for people who need that for their mental health. I am lucky that I can get just as much of a kick out of gardening these days. My joints tell me I need to have that attitude anyway! Haha. Best wishes. 🙂

  4. What a glorious region you can explore Jane! Quite different to what I have here in Perth. The story of Emma was so sad, but glad to hear her children lived on.

    • Thank you, Anna! It’s so great to hear from you. I still haven’t made it over to Perth and it doesn’t look like I will this year again. Heheh. I would love to see your spectacular wildflower displays, beautiful coastline, and amazing outback national parks. You live in a pretty special state too. I hope you and your family are not struggling from the effects of lockdown on employment? I know many have lost jobs. All the best. 🙂

      • Yes our state is very special too, just different to what you have! That’s the beauty of Australia! We’ve been fine in Perth. Our business has dropped a bit but we are surviving and keeping all staff which is good. My daughter only had two weeks of school missed but then they opened up again, so nothing major compared to what I’ve heard on the east coast. I’m definitely grateful to live in one of the worlds most isolated cities this time – I think it’s definitely helped us!

        • That’s good news that you are doing ok so far! Luckily, my family are all ok financially for now. I feel very grateful! Some of the news coming from overseas is shocking. Take good care of yourself. x

    • Aww…thanks, Brian! I knew you’d heartily applaud the celebration of more women. You’ve got some pretty special daughters you love dearly. Haha…I do LOVE my muppets! Aren’t they the cutest, ugliest, silliest things? Take good care of yourself down in NSW…the Ruby Princess state! I don’t think things will be over for a good while. 🙂

  5. A wonderful post. I know the danish gourd and bead shop well, the cafe has amazing blueberry ginger scones. So many amazing women who have faded from history and yet lead such challenging lives, whatever is wrong with our lives today they are certainly easier than those of our predecessors, although challenging pandemics will always be a possibility. Places do seem to retain something of their previous inhabitants, some places do feel very much haunted. Love the tawny photos, you really capture their character.

    • Thanks, Sharon! Isn’t that shop and cafe fantastic! I loved it and wished I could have spent more time there. I wanted to browse for hours but was with family and they weren’t quite as excited by gourds as me. Haha. I had gluten-free cheesecake at the cafe and it was scrumptious! The blueberry ginger scones sound delicious, but I suspect they contain gluten. Whoever manages a good recipe for gluten-free scones could make a killing! I’ve never seen them anywhere. Yes, our ancestors certainly struggled through very difficult times. I miss a few things about the past but would never swap my life with those of my great-grandmothers. Tawnies are certainly a favourite of mine. Love their unimpressed expressions and scruffy appearance. Always make me smile! All the best. 🙂

  6. A friend of mine who now lives in New Zealand just pointed me to your blog and this posting. I love your easy-going writing style, which is a joy to read, and your photography is amazing. All of the creatures seem so exotic, compared to what I see in Northern Virginia in the US. I am kind of a nerd about dragonflies and damselflies and it was exciting to see your shots of so many wonderful species there. I must say, though, that I was most delighted and intrigued by your images and descriptions of the Tawny Frogmouths–they really do look like Muppets.

    • Hi Mike! Great to hear from you and thank you for following me. Your name seemed familiar and I’m sure I was following you at some stage. Not sure what happened. Sometimes WordPress randomly unfollowed me from blogs a couple of years back without my knowledge. I’m afraid that I don’t get a chance to read very many blogs these days and rarely publish any posts now, but I’ve found it to be a wonderful community of people who are extremely encouraging and I’ll be forever thankful for the lovely contacts I’ve made. Thanks also for your kind words about my photography and writing. I love sharing the beauty of the natural world with others. Nature has been great therapy for me. I’m a huge fan of dragonflies and damselflies. I took hundreds of shots that day at the pond, hence the heatstroke. I just get so engrossed in their behaviour. Magical little creatures, that’s for sure. Our tawny frogmouths are pretty special, aren’t they? Such funny faces! All the best. 🙂

  7. Jane thanks for the breath of fresh air. Wonderful post and pictures. So glad I found you many moons ago. The cemetery visit was especially touching —love that you gave voice to a soul often overlooked. Stay safe.

    • Thanks for your lovely words, John. I’m so pleased I got to know you through blogging as well. Yes, it does feel like so “many moons” ago now. I do hope you are keeping well in this world health crisis. I felt very drawn to Emma’s grave. I noticed that in the death notice in the Trove article, the writer never referred to her as “Emma”, just as “Mrs John Neibling.” I know it was the done thing in those days, and even when I was a child, but it feels like one’s identity is erased. She was a person in her own right. I’m pleased you appreciated the story, John. Kind wishes. 🙂

    • Heel erg bedankt, Mary Lou. Uw aanmoediging wordt altijd op prijs gesteld. Ik ben blij dat je genoten hebt van de prachtige bezienswaardigheden van dit bijzondere gebied in Australië. Beste wensen.

      Thank you very much, Mary Lou. Your encouragement is always appreciated. I’m pleased you enjoyed the wonderful sights of this special area in Australia. Best wishes. 🙂

  8. Very well done. Loved the photos and the interesting commentary. And the Tawny Frogmouths were special! They reminded me of our nighthawks, which fly high up in their and then dive. At the bottom of their dive they spread their wings and the sound of wind rushing through their feathers makes a booming sound. –Curt

    • Thanks for the kind feedback, Curt! I’m such a fan of Tawny Frogmouths. They’re one of those creatures that always manage to bring a smile to my face. I’m very interested to read Gisele’s entire book about them. She studied them for 20 years. There is still some mystery about the activities of this muppet. Nighthawks sound pretty special too! I must read more about them. Unlike the nighthawk, Tawnies are pretty poor flyers. Terrible, in fact, compared to most raptors. I can empathise with them – I’ve never been particularly graceful or athletic! Great to hear from you, Curt. All the best. 🙂

      • I noticed the mouth first, Jane, which was what I found familiar. I just looked it up. Both nighthawks and tawny frogmouths belong to the nightjar family, along with whippoorwills. A very interesting family with a fascinating history! The best to you, as well. –Curt

          • The first time I ever heard a nighthawk dive, Jane, I couldn’t imagine what it was. Fortunately my dad was along to tell me.:) In Europe during the Middle Ages they were known as goat suckers. The farmers believed they were coming in and sucking the blood from their goats, like vampire bats. Actually the nighthawks liked to hang out near the goats since the goats were smelly and attracted lots of bugs. 🙂 The nighthawks were feasting on the bugs. –Curt

  9. I don’t know how you do it but your posts are always packed with interest from start to finish and this one was no different. Actually I do know how you do it; you write well, go to interesting places, take wonderful photographs and are an example to us all.

    • Thank you very much, Tom! Sometimes I get embarrassed about the lovely feedback people give. You are far too kind. I do appreciate your generosity though and it’s always encouraging. I am extremely grateful that I live in such a wonderful place in the world, and that I still have the mobility to enjoy walking. Many people don’t have the privileges I do. I am very lucky, and it is such a joy to share what I see on my walks with you. I hope that all is well with the Tootlepedal clan so far in these uncertain times. While our coronavirus numbers are very low here (thanks to early lockdown), I know it’s not the case in the UK. Kind wishes. 🙂

      • Here in our corner of Scotland the numbers have not been too bad but the general running down of public services over the past ten years has not been good for the country.

        • I’m pleased your rates are lower, Tom. Yes, I’ve been reading about the struggling NHS and other issues in the UK. My son had planned to move and work over there with his partner before the Pandemic. I’m very thankful he’s still here now. All the best. 🙂

    • Thank you! I’m so pleased you enjoyed the pictures as I had a fantastic time taking them. It’s great to be able to share the fun with others. I really did spend hours sitting or crouching in one spot, enjoying the dragonflies and damselflies. I was so engrossed that I didn’t even notice it was a 40C day, until I started to feel very ill! If you give me your address via the contact page, I’d be happy to send you a gourd birdhouse, especially if my own plants are successful. Hahah. I won’t know what to do with them all! The gourd shop has some amazing things made out of them. Some are enormous! All the best. 🙂

        • I’m glad my walking revelations help you in that manner. I’ve been known to spend all day along a 1 kilometre stretch. I’ll certainly never break any speed records! Haha.

  10. I absolutely loved this post. I love nature & seeing your photographs of all the diverse wildlife and seeing all the beauty around you on your walks was a real breath of fresh air. I loved the wren especially. The graveyard was fascinating. I totally agree that we should spend more time reading these little snapshots of history. This was a pleasure to read. Thanks 🙂

    • Thank you! I’m so pleased you get a buzz out of the natural world too. It certainly lifts my spirits to see and share all its wonders. The curious red-backed wren was a delight on my walk. I have pictures of it in so many locations. I loved its fluffy chest. I’ve been a fan of cemeteries since I was a young girl and lived in a tiny dry country town. There was little to do there and reading the headstones pricked my curiosity about these people’s lives. The graves of young children were particularly poignant. They made up a greater percentage in old graveyards when many children didn’t survive past infancy. Sadly, it’s still the case today in some parts of the world. It’s lovely to hear from you. Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts. Best wishes. 🙂

    • Thank you! Wow! Her gourd art is amazing! How beautiful. I would love to visit her gallery. A shame she is overseas. I see that she does ship items, although they may not pass our strict quarantine rules in Australia. Now I have lots of ideas for my own gourds if they manage to survive the attentions of all the wildlife in my backyard. I have a sneaky suspicion that they won’t though. Haha. Oh well. Thanks again! Always great to hear from you. All the best. 😀

  11. More of this, Jane! Love getting to “know” Australia through your eyes. Those Tawnies are just adorable! Incredible to think they go through a grieving process… And thanks as well for the insight into local people’s life, I loved how you took the time to research into that young woman’s life. Says a lot about your sensibility.

    Fabrizio

    • Thanks very much, Fabrizio! I’m pleased that you enjoyed this post so much. I’ll do my best to share something similar soon, although it’s hard to improve on Tawny Frogmouths I think! Haha. They are pretty special. I’m looking forward to reading Gisele’s entire book about them. I was really glad to read that Emma’s children seemed to live long and happy lives. Initially, I couldn’t even find any record of their names, let alone if they survived. I’ve actually been looking on and off for many months. I ended up following one wrong lead for ages. Incorrect information was on an ancestry site. Then I happened upon a totally new source just recently, so was able to complete her story. I couldn’t help thinking of what things would have been like if I had died and my baby boy was left motherless. Back then there was even less help than there is now for single parents though to raise children. She seemed to have a loving extended family so I assume that is partly why her children made it through. Thanks again for your kind enthusiasm. It’s much appreciated. I hope you’re coping well with life’s challenges at present too? All the best. 🙂

  12. Oh the things you will see – what a wonderful title for this post. I love how your patience and keen eye helps you not only to see, but also photograph the bounty of wildlife you encounter, Jane. This was such a perfect ‘stroll’ for me today. Thank you.

    • Thanks, Jolandi! I’m so glad you commented on the title as I agonised over what to call this post since it covered so many walks. It’s nice to know that all the hair-pulling was appreciated by someone. Heheh. I wonder if you recognised it as coming from Dr Seuss, or similar to something from a Dr Seuss book? I enjoyed reading some of his books with great enthusiasm to my children and that phrase kept coming up in my mind when I pondered the thousands of photographs I was trying to choose from so I thought I’d give it a go. It’s a pleasure to share my strolls with you! All the best. 🙂

  13. Regarding your comments about words and about managing to get into a pickle, I expected to hear how you got marooned at Lake Maroon.

    With respect to language and tawny frogmouths (what a name!), your comment that “they spend their days resembling tree branches” stands out for such an active use of resembling. We spend time singing or working or running or sewing or typing or driving or chopping, but we don’t normally say we’ve spent time resembling. On the other hand, like those birds, some of us also go through short bouts of torpor.

    • Thanks, Steve! Haha. Yes, being marooned on Lake Maroon would have been a great story! 😀 There might be a chance that will still happen though, as I have grand plans to kayak there. I’m not proficient at kayaking or swimming though, so I’m not convinced it’s a wise idea!
      Thank you for noticing and commenting on my active use of “resembling.” I may not be a wordsmith, but you certainly are and I appreciate your interest in my use of language. When composing the sentence, I remember thinking that I didn’t want to just write, “they look like tree branches,” so it was a conscious decision to try something different. I’m pleased it caught your attention. I only wish I had the mental stamina and perseverance to put effort into all the sentences I write. It’s so much easier to resort to common word use and cliches. Short bouts of torpor appeal to me much more than writing these days. 😀

  14. Oh Jane, you never disappoint me!! I don’t know why I must tell you every time, but you know it’s the “pickles” that you get into that keep me in suspense as I read along. So, you already understand that the part about babbling, and roadside gourds was the climax of the story for me!

    The tawny frogmouths are just fascinating! The bushy-tailed opossum (very different from our opossums) was another favorite. The angle of that shot really showcased those beautiful ears. Jane, your photography is outstanding. I often reread your posts and pour over your photos when I have time or need a pick-me-up. Seriously… I think I’m a Mildly Extreme junkie. XOXO

    • Haha…thanks Lori, for your enthusiastic encouragement! 😀 You always know how to make me laugh with your responses. I was actually thinking specifically of you when I included the gourd incident – I thought you may appreciate yet another Jane blunder! There was a bit more to the story than I actually shared – I actually had another landowner pull up beside me on another road and enquire what I was looking for straight after that. I’ll probably avoid the area for quite some time!
      Yes, our possums are quite different to opossums from what I’ve read. The possums here are somewhat cuter I think. They can make some horrendous noises when fighting though and visitors to Australia can get terrified if not told that it comes from a cute furry possum.
      I’m a dedicated tawny frogmouth fan that’s for sure. I love our Australian muppets. Thanks, my dear friend! xo

    • Thanks very much, Liz! I’m pleased you enjoyed seeing highlights of my local area. I’m very lucky to live here. Just this morning I was out at a local creek and the bird life was amazing! It really lifted my spirits. Thanks also for kindly sharing my blog posts on Twitter. Much appreciated. Best wishes. 🙂

  15. Nicely done! Always enjoy learning about different parts of the country. Great photos, especially liked the Double-barred Finch and the Red-backed Fairy-wren. It is funny how small birds seem to be attracted to box-thorn. I hadn’t thought about them feeling protected among the thorns. Happy travels

    • Thanks very much, Kerry! I first learnt about finches loving box-thorn about 20 years ago when I lived in far north-western NSW. The sheep station owners had a box-thorn hedge in their front yard and the finches made nests in it. The feral cats and predatory birds couldn’t get to them. Unfortunately, it’s a terrible pest plant though. Birds carry the berries far and wide. I’ve seen vast tracts of land covered in the stuff. I was grateful to be able to spot all the little birds because of the box-thorn though. That little red-backed fairy-wren followed me for ages. A shame I don’t have your bird photography skills though. You share so many amazing shots on Twitter. Best wishes. 🙂

  16. Oh, those wonderful photos, Jane! I loved this post – well, I love every post you publish – but especially as it had a ‘magazine with articles’ kind of feel. So much of interest told with humour and context.
    I am sorry you got heatstroke while observing those glorious dragonflies. I have had heatstroke and it’s extremely unpleasant. The Tawny Frogmouths are very cute and are excellently camouflaged. I have heard our native Nightjars but have never seen them. They have a distinctive ‘churring’ song/call.
    I hope you and your family are keeping as well as possible in these trying times.
    Best wishes, Clare

    • Thank you very much, dear Clare! I think you’ll be getting more “magazine with articles” kind of blog posts in the future. I do so many short nature walks that don’t really have a full story to be made about them individially, but I’d still like to share all the interesting things I see. Grouping them together like this seems the best way to do it. It also means I am more like to publish something more regularly than once every 6 months! My brain struggles much more these days to construct a story.
      One of the other comments talked about the nightjar family. I knew about Tawny Frogmouths but not about the other members. How lovely that you hear nightjars. I hope you are lucky enough to spot them one night. I hear Tawnies much more than see them.
      My family has missed out on the dreaded Covid -19 virus so far. The detected cases in our state have been zero mostly now, but the state of Victoria has had a worrying resurgence of community spread and we are eyeing the progress with concern. My son and his wife have had health problems and continue to need testing and treatment. That’s more genetic though. My daughter is currently home with me studying for major medical exams so I’m back in mum mode… You know what that is like. 😀
      I hope you and your family are coping with the physical, emotional and financial strains of these difficult times too, Clare. All my best. xo

      • I am so pleased you have all avoided the virus so far. So have we, though I think one of my nieces had it in March and was very ill but didn’t need to go to hospital or to see a doctor. She works for a weaving company and had been in a meeting with Italian silk producers the week before. I miss being able to help my mother as I have been under strict lockdown and so has she. My husband and brother have been shopping for her and taking her to any hospital appointments that were absolutely necessary. As from the beginning of August I will be allowed out and into shops, with care, so I will then get to see her more often. Our country has not dealt with the virus at all well and I can see that certain elements are not behaving like decent human beings now that the restrictions are lessening. I had hoped we would all come out of this better and more caring people! I despair sometimes. I hope your son and his wife keep as well and safe as they can – and you too.
        With love xo

        • I’m so pleased your immediate family has avoided the virus so far. I do hope your niece doesn’t have any long term effects from her illness. There’s so much to still be learnt about it. It is very hard when you have a parent in care that you can’t visit because of lockdown restrictions. They miss you and you want to be there for them during this unsettling time.
          Yes, like you I’ve been very disappointed by people’s lack of care as lockdown eases. I had hoped that this would change people’s behaviour for the good in the long term. Sadly, it’s like business as usual and in some ways other attitudes have worsened… Love to you and your family. x

    • Thanks very much, Geri! I’m pleased you appreciate graveyards too. Some people regard my interest in them as a little too morbid. They are peaceful places that allow for reflection, though. Mind you, I feel different emotionally about graveyards which have close loved ones from my own lifetime buried there. In those cases, I only stay there long enough to pay my respects then. I don’t explore those cemeteries. There is a distance that historical graveyards allow that doesn’t trigger grief in the same way as the cemetery where my younger brother was buried, for example. Tawnies are such fabulous birds. They do look like owls a lot so it is understandable that many people think they are owls. I did for many years! Best wishes. 🙂

  17. Oh My Goodness What a great adventure. I love the flora and fauna around my home but it’s nothing like what you have there. I love the term Muppet birds and the insects are great Happy hunting with your camera the next time

    Stay well and Laugh when you can
    MySidewaysView.com

    • Hello there! Thanks for your enthusiastic comments. 😀 Always lovely to “meet” new people on here. I’m very pleased you also love flora and fauna too. As for the muppet birds, I half wondered if the creator of The Muppet Show was partly inspired by our Tawny Frogmouths! There are plenty of other weird and wonderful creatures (and people) out there for inspiration of course. Heheh.
      Hope you stay safe too. Thanks again! 🙂

  18. Your posts are always such a treat and it’s good to see that you haven’t let travel restrictions keep you from exploring. There are some unexpected benefits to this pandemic–allowing us to appreciate what we have close to home. As for those Tawny Frogmouths–fascinating (and the best name…) Although, I’m always a bit surprised when a biologist suggests that an animal might be feeling grief. To me it’s a no brainer–of course they experience grief and a whole range of emotions. We are just articulate animals and arrogant in our presumption that other species don’t feel emotions in the way we do. Finally, I’m with you on old graveyards. We have many in New England where you can find whole families of young children who died within a few weeks of each other of various diseases passing through. Puts this virus in perspective a bit.

    • Thanks very much, Brenda. Sorry I took so long to reply! I hadn’t logged onto my blog email account for a couple of days and due to so much spam, I have notifications turned off to my phone. Many of the photos in the blog post are from walks before lockdown, but yes, during lockdown I’ve been discovering and appreciating wonderful nature spots very close to home. I revisited a creek that is only about 2 km from me to see how building and road works have impacted wildlife numbers. I’m pleased to report that much of the area has recovered quite well although sadly I’m not sure the platypus survived. I’ll be sharing some pics from this little treasure spot eventually. As an introvert (and a high functioning autistic person who finds human noise and bright lights overwhelming), lockdown has not impacted my social life greatly. In fact, the reduced traffic and quiet shops have been a relief to me. I’m very conscious of the financial and emotional costs to others during restrictions though and read with horror the suffering and disruption occuring in so many places. We’re lucky here that our state premier enforced lockdown very early and we had lots of testing available, and there is some Federal Government support available for some who have lost jobs. Our current positive Queensland corona virus cases hover around zero. Unfortunately, Victoria, a state south of us has had a resurgence. I’m hoping they can minimise the spread but it’s difficult because some members of the community see it as “just another virus” and are not social distancing. They’re rebelling against sensible restrictions.

      Ah yes, when you look at the large numbers of old children’s graves from the same family, it’s a real reminder of what has already come before. We need to be vigilant about infection control and not take for granted what we have. Those of us who are relatively privileged can forget that there are many people in the world currently still suffering from many easily preventable diseases. The death rate of children under 5 is still very high in many places. It was my hope that the Pandemic may encourage us to look beyond our own situation and come out more compassionate people because we can gain some empathy. Unfortunately, people’s fears and suffering in some cases is causing an “us against them” attitude though. I guess that has always been a part of human nature, though. Fear is a very powerful emotion.

      I totally agree with you about animals experiencing emotions like us. To me it’s also a no-brainer. I’ve spent most of my life closely observing wildife, pets and farm animals. My contact is not limited to research hours like many scientists. You learn a great deal by constantly living with animals. They experience sadness, joy, grief etc. In the scientific world though, many scientists are attacked for using this kind of language, so like this biologist, are careful in their wording. They can’t be seen to attribute human emotions to an animal’s behaviour without thorough “proof.” You and I, though, can happily discuss the emotions of these creatures without as much fear of scorn from our academic colleagues. I agree – it’s terribly arrogant of us to think we are so superior to animals. I don’t think the damage we’ve done to the environment is something we can boast about as being superior, that’s for sure, or the absolute cruelty we often exhibit towards our own kind. Thanks for sharing your own reflections, Brenda. Always lovely to read thoughtful comments. Best wishes. 🙂

    • Thanks very much, Gretchen. I feel very lucky to live near such a beautiful and interesting part of the world. Makes it easier to take nice photographs. Very kind of you to take the time to comment. Best wishes. 🙂

    • The area was terribly affected by drought last year and didn’t really get enough summer rains so it may not look as lush and green as you remember it when you do make it back. Hopefully they’ll have a better year though. 🙂

    • Thanks for those encouraging comments, Glenn. I’ve had a wonderful time exploring the Scenic Rim area over the years and I’m still discovering magical little spots. I’m very lucky to have access to such a special part of the world. Am hoping to get something written about the Mt Barney area soon. Been a little busy though. All the best! 🙂

  19. Jane, I am relieved that this trip was of a tamer and less scary nature. Of all that you share in your photographs, I must confess that the young brushtailed possum was my immediate favorite! Thank you again for sharing your lovely words, photos and countryside with us. ❤

    ~ Lynda

    • Hi Lynda! I’m so sorry to take so long to respond to your lovely comment. I missed the email notification and only saw it once I logged in to my blog again after a long absence. Thank you for taking the time to comment and for your encouragement. I do hope you are well there. Tricky times for many at the moment. I was very surprised to see the young possum up in the fork of the tree. I’d been there for hours and not noticed it though, so hopefully that means it was fairly safe from unwanted attention. Usually they find a tree hollow or house ceiling to sleep in during the day, but old trees are becoming rarer to find and modern home roofs are harder to gain access. Possums are also territorial so juveniles usually get chased away once they are old enough to fend for themselves. It may also have been chased up there by a dog or cat. It had access to water and blossoms in the park, so it’s not a bad place to be as long as it’s safe while sleeping. I adore brushtail possums even though they do disturb my sleep at night. I haven’t been back to the Scenic Rim in months but must do so again soon and see how the countrside is faring. I hope all is well with you in your world, Lynda. All the best. x

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