Thursday, 23 March 2017

Oxfordshire: State of Nature 2017 launched

This week has seen the launch at Blenheim Palace of a landmark publication that captures the current state of the county's nature.

Inspired by the national State of Nature, this report has been two years in development and includes a marvellous compendium of facts, figures and case studies, contributed by numerous individuals and organisations. 

The report's overall findings are that sadly the overall trend is towards loss and decline in nature, especially for farmland and woodland wildlife, but it also gives clear direction on the way forward needed to reverse this trend and highlights the action required across many sectors. 

Essential reading for anyone with an interest and concern for nature in Oxfordshire, it is also beautifully produced and includes images taken by many local photographers.

Led by Wild Oxfordshire, the report is available in two formats on the Wild Oxfordshire website - a Highlights report and Full report.  Do look at both.  The Full report in particular is a great source of information about who is doing what, and where.  The Oxford Mail has given it some great coverage.

If you don't have time to start reading the reports today please do have a look at this four minute film.

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Queensland 2016 No. 3: Mt Hypipamee

Mount Hypipamee is one of the best and most accessible places to connect with many of the special birds and marsupials in the Atherton Tablelands.  It is part of the extensive Wet Tropics World Heritage Area.  We made two visits - the first was early morning and the second was an evening spotlighting trip led by Alan Gillanders.

Driving up in the early morning we hit several belts of fog and I wondered if we were in for a damp and dreary start.  Fortunately, as we drove up into the rainforest the fog disappeared and soon we were parked up next to a large grassy clearing in the forest.  Following directions from Alan, we carefully made our way into the rainforest and located a particular spot that was well hidden in the lush vegetation - the display ground of the Golden Bowerbird - one of the endemic birds of the Atherton Tablelands. 

We waited for about 15 minutes, then suddenly the male bowerbird appeared and immediately started tending his bower.  A stunning looking bird, his bright yellow and olive plumage glowed within the muted greenery of the rainforest.  He was soon carefully arranging clumps of grey lichen around the bower.  In low light conditions within the depths of the rainforest, photography was challenging, but I managed to capture a few record shots. 

Golden Bowerbird
We had this stunning sight to ourselves for about ten minutes, then a group of photographers appeared - slightly off course and heading straight for the bower!  I managed to avert the risk of damage to the bower and redirected them to our vantage point.  We decided to leave them too it and retreated back towards the road, then, fortuitously, the bowerbird perched on a branch just above us for a short while and enjoyed a final view of this wonderful bird.
Golden Bowerbird
We then spent time exploring the trails that lead further into the rainforest, past waterfalls and onwards to a very deep crater lake.
Crater viewpoint

Golden Whistler
We returned in the evening to join a spotlighting tour led by Alan Gillanders.  This is a great way to see many of the nocturnal marsupials and learn about their behaviour and ecology - highly recommended.  We visited two different habitats - rainforest and the drier eucalypt forest.  I was especially thrilled to see my first ever Tree Kangaroo, but the sheer variety and beauty of these endearing marsupials was really amazing to see.
Lumholtz's Tree Kangaroo
Squirrel Glider
Yellow-bellied Glider
Lumuroid Ringtail Possum
Coppery Brushtail Pussum