Living with wildlife in their natural habitat is one of life’s great privileges. We have enjoyed that privilege for 35 years here on our two hectare property at Greenbank. After decades, I was convinced we had seen every bird or animal we would ever be likely to see, but I was wrong. This place continues to astonish, and after half a lifetime here I am still able to say “I never know what I’ll see each time I look out the window”.
Our property lies on Crewes Creek, a tributary of Oxley Creek. Along its banks, mature rainforest trees provide deep shade and daytime roosts for owls. Away from the creek, the forest is diverse: mature ironbarks, blue gums, bloodwoods, sugar gums ( Angophora leiocarpa) brush box, swamp mahogany, casuarinas, red ash and callistemons tower over brown laurels, sandpaper figs and a variety of low growing shrubs and grasses. Silk pod vines colonise most of the trees, festooning the crowns with thick glossy leaves.
These male Carpet Pythons fought for nearly 3 weeks in a territorial dispute.
When they chose our front verandah as an arena, I reached for the camera.
Last year, a friend photographed this Koala near one of our walking tracks.
Over the decades, we have sighted over 140 species of birds. Of these, the most spectacular is the Powerful Owl. It is Australia’s largest owl and is under threat in much of its range from habitat loss. These birds require a territory of 800-1000 hectares, preying on possums, gliders and other smaller animals. Since 1980, we have heard its penetrating call in the evenings and early mornings – a haunting ‘woo-hoo’, repeated at short intervals for up to 15 minutes at a time. In 1995, I photographed one with a decapitated squirrel glider in its talons (see image below). In late 2013, our Powerful Owl experiences culminated in the stunning sight of twin well grown owlets roosting side by side within just metres of the house for six weeks. Their plaintive whistling trills at dusk, begging for food, kept us enthralled.
Reptiles flourish here: Lace Monitors, Eastern Water Dragons, Carpet Pythons, Red-bellied Black-snakes, Green Tree Snakes and others. A large python inhabited our ceiling for many years, but when a rival male tried to move into its territory one spring, battle lines were drawn for several weeks. Three times we watched the two in ritual combat, writhing and twining around each other, but never inflicting injury.
Australia’s largest owl, the Powerful Owl, clutching its prey.
This Boobook Owl has recently taken up shelter in our carport.
Despite the decline of Koala populations in so many areas, they are still present here, though fewer in number and visible less often. This spring and summer the loud bellowing of a male at night close to the house on several occasions offered some hope that they may re-establish here.
Encroaching development in this area, as elsewhere, is putting increasing pressure on wildlife, making tracts of remnant forest like ours more important than ever. Observation has led us to believe that some birds and animals are moving into this property as a refuge, providing safe breeding habitat and food. I suspect this is why we saw, for the very first time in November 2013, an exquisite Noisy Pitta fossicking in the leaf litter by the house. For several years now, small numbers of Eastern Grey Kangaroos pass through here periodically, a sight we had never seen until then. The wonders continue.
Article by Annette Henderson Land for Wildlife member Greenbank, Logan