Habitat destroyed in the bushfires

It is hoped that rain will bring a welcome relief from the extreme heat and from the threat of more bushfires. Our wildlife have so much to contend with in their struggle for survival. Wildlife habitat is disappearing fast and the Sunshine Coast is fast becoming a landscape of houseblocks. Even in Yandina I cannot believe that citizens have to fight to retain some bushland in an ever increasing sprawl of housing developments.

Right: Photo of a very sad short-eared brushtail possum, also known as bobuck, which was found near the bushfires of Coolum. It is possible that he was dislodged from Mums back while she was escaping the area.

It is a wonder that our major Australian capitals ever managed to retain vegetated areas within the city. Their decision makers must have had foresight and seen that there are more important issues than just raking in the dollars from ratepayers. Today the aim seems to be a sea of rooftops. Connecting areas of bushland are non-existent or ill-planned. Why does every development have to become an instant moonscape?

The amount of habitat destroyed in the bushfires outside Coolum was just devastating. WILVOs are very grateful for the many offers of help from members of the public to help with transport or in any way possible. This support is much appreciated. Unfortunately, in fast burning fires there is a great loss of wildlife. The damage done continues for weeks and months to come. After the fire is forgotten, the native animals are still struggling. They can present as severely dehydrated or injured in the weeks after the initial fire. Of course with the vegetation gone, those that do escape then face starvation.

Backyard trees, shrubs and grasses provide a source of food for wildlife but provide new dangers. As the hungry wildlife come into our gardens they have to face another threat, our domestic animals. It is extremely important now, more than ever, to keep cats in a cat aviary and dogs contained. The loss of so many native animals is just tragic and heartbreaking. We do not want to exacerbate the situation.

I have just been told that Julie Penlington of 4Paws Animal Rescue Inc received the Sunshine Coast Australia Day Citizen of the Year Award. Congratulations Julie! This is a very well-deserved award. Julie does wonderful work in the community, both with domestic animals and with people who need help. WILVOs send their well wishes and their sincere thanks for all you do. Working with animals on a daily basis is so rewarding but there are those days that are just heart wrenching. Julie’s founding of 4Paws has helped so many animals that otherwise would be without hope or a future.

A Little Lorikeet in hiding

As with everything in life, wildlife caring is on an ever-learning course. After passing on most of my lovely squirrel gliders, possums and macropods late last year I was able to take in more birds. This was necessary as there has been an unprecedented amount of orphaned and injured native birds needing care. It is always easy to find a wildlife carer for the cute furry animals but unfortunately birds are not so easy to place.

I didn’t realize that I was going to meet such a range of bird species in such a short space of time. Another three masked lapwing (plover) eggs were brought to me mid December. Again the hatching rate was 100% as three weeks later there were three little chicks. The other four plovers were released, along with a fifth one that had arrived in care. The entertaining nine little dusky moorhens are only a couple of weeks away from flying and release. Sadly, one of the ten chicks died. It was the last to hatch and the weakest but I felt it was coping. Exhausted from the continual feeding, I think my weariness led to its demise. They had all learned to pick up their own food after a week or so and that was a blessing. Though precocial chicks, they aren’t quite as fast as the plovers at learning the feeding process. Maybe they were just more spoilt!

Besides the spangled drongos, koels, coucal pheasant and a number of figbirds, I had an interesting call from our local Yandina Vet Surgery. They had a little parrot there but didn’t know just what it was. I had a quick look and thought it must have been a South American or South African species. Not having any free time to do intensive research I sent out an email with the photo and soon had identification. It was a Little Lorikeet. What an exquisite Australian native bird. Almost a quarter of the size of a rainbow lorikeet, it also had its own interesting behavioural characteristics. After some days in care it did become suitably vocal. Its injuries are healing well and I am optimisitic it will survive whatever encounter it had. The person who found the little bird was worried it may have been attacked by a cat and it wasn’t able to fly. He was concerned that his dogs may take an interest in it so very kindly brought it into the vets. With pain relief and antibiotics and much bathing of wounds in saline, this little creature didn’t lose its hearty appetite. He is quite the recluse and likes to hide in a ‘tent’ in his basket, where he must rest until his injuries have healed.

Though Little Lorikeets will join in with rainbow and scaley-breasted lorikeet flocks, it is a worry that they are rarely seen. Declared endangered in South Australia, this trend usually flows north. Another species facing extinction before their existence is even common knowledge? I must say I did not know what species it was. A learning experience!

Happy 2017 to all!

This 2016 Christmas period has been one of the most dismal that I have ever known for our wildlife. As habitat shrinks our wildlife become more compromised. It is not only development on the Sunshine Coast and hinterland that has resulted in habitat destruction. It is the reprehensible actions of private landholders who blatantly clear land. Are they totally ignorant of the effect this has on our native animals? Or do they just not care? I just wish they would go reside in a city apartment and watch videos on rural living!

Because many of our wildlife species are nocturnal there are many people who don’t even realize what lives in their area. Maybe lack of interest pervades! Both suburban and rural properties are havens for our exquisite native animals. Setting up an infra-red, movement activated camera at night would show you just how busy it is out there every night.

This year we have had an influx of nestling birds. Often, after checking that the chick is uninjured, it can be returned in a man made nest close by to where it was found. It is a fallacy that parents won’t accept their chicks back after a human has handled them. Many of the chicks that should be returned to their parents, ensuring that the parents are observed feeding them, still find their way into our care. We do our best as foster parents, trying to mirror diet and behaviour as closely as possible, but we can never be as efficient as the birds natural parents.

I had a wonderful Christmas with family and friends but wildlife just seemed to find me. Driving to my sisters on Christmas morning I came across an eastern grey kangaroo lying on the road. Thinking it dead, I pulled over to move it off the road. To my horror, on approaching it, I found it was still just barely breathing. I was able to lift the lovely animal into the kangaroo carry bag hanging off the back of my car seat. Sadly it required euthanizing but I was glad that I actually had found her there, so a kinder death could be quickly arranged.

In the week prior to Christmas a female grey kangaroo with joey in pouch was hit by a car in the middle of Yandina. The poor lady driving the car was very upset, but it was an unavoidable accident. Unfortunately, a passerby removed the very little joey from the pouch. Though advised not to do so, the woman pulled it out of the pouch, not realizing that these little ones are very securely attached to the mother’s teat for their first few months of life, and incorrect removal is fatal. The mother died soon after being hit by the car. The joey died soon after being pulled off the mother’s teat. As wildlife carers, we don’t mind if people turn up at our door with the mother’s body so that we can correctly remove the young from the pouch.

Hopefully 2017 will be kinder to our wildlife. I think I say that every year, but I am ever the optimist! May everyone enjoy a safe, healthy and happy 2017 and thank you for your support of the wonderful WILVOS organization. They are an amazing group of people. WILVOS would also like to thank our local veterinarians who are so generous with their time and expertise, our local police who respond to our calls for euthanasia of wildlife when needed, our supportive local community and animal welfare organizations and media, the Australian Wildlife Hospital and RSPCA’s Eumundi Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre. Last but not least we’d like to thank those members of the public who take the time to give our hotline a call and assist our injured and orphaned native animals.