Seasonal Calendar

Seen all Year

The southern cassowary (a truly iconic species of the Wet Tropics) is listed as endangered with fewer than 1500 believed to remain in Australia. These impressive primitive birds grow to 2m tall and are equipped with a central 12cm long  blade-like claw  capable of fatal injury to animals and humans when provoked. 

Tree kangaroos (yes they are real, but few remain) are characterised by very episodic movements. They have long sleeps to digest their diet of not very nutritious leaves and so spend most of their time resting inconspicuously on a branch.


Summer

December - January - February

Wildlife is at its most abundant and nocturnal walks are best at this time of year, particularly at the onset of the wet season.

The first Hercules moths appear. The largest moth in Australia and one of the largest in the world, it has a wingspan of 27cm! Adult moths do not feed and are short-lived.

Crocodile nesting season peaks during January and February,  and tree kangaroos are also busy finding their mate.

December to March witness the captivating spectacle of 250,000 microbats as they emerge in a feeding frenzy from deep within the lava tubes at Undara National Park.

November to March is ‘Toadbusting’ season – join in with the locals as they campaign to capture the invasive and introduced pest - the cane toad.

In the warmth of the tropics, colourful carpets of mushrooms and fungi can be seen on the forest floor.

Mangosteens, the 'Queen of tropical fruits' are extremely popular and worth the wait! Rambutans or ‘hairy lychee’ offer a variety of flavours and textures. 

Forest fruiting attracts flying foxes, rainbow lorikeets, sulphur-crested cockatoos and cassowaries. 


Autumn 

March - April - May

Waterbirds return to the tropics from their own wet season migration. Waders which have spent the summer on our shores and lakes head as far as the arctic to breed.

The menacing stinging tree should be showing raspberry like fruits hanging in clusters from the stem in May. Be wary of its heart shaped leaves and powerful sting that can last for weeks!

Sulphur-crested cockatoos feast on the seeds from the green fruit of the Davidson plum.  An interesting relationship has emerged where the Amazonian custard apple, with its wonderful aroma, will attract a nocturnal snake such as Amethystine python to prey on the flying foxes as they assume their nocturnal feeding on tropical fruit.

Watergums are dropping their woody fruit which are eaten by the musky rat kangaroo (an endemic animal to the region). They have a number of primitive possum-like features including  an opposable toe on each hind foot and a prehensile tail. They are often encountered around Lake Barrine and Lake Eacham. Little has been known about this most unusual macropod until recent years. With lineage that stretches back over 15 million years, the musky rat is the world's oldest living kangaroo.

 ® Where rainforest has been damaged by cyclones during the wet season , an abundance of flowers and fruit will follow in the regrowth period (cyclones stimulate regeneration).


Winter 

June - July - August

Winter brings many seasonal birds to the Tablelands including the majestic sarus cranes and brolgas. The beauty and spectacular mating dances of cranes have made them highly symbolic birds in many cultures. Watch for them at Bromfield Swamp, flying off in the morning or returning late afternoon.

® Large plump Torresian/Pied Imperial pigeons arrive in large flocks between July and August each year and nest on offshore islands and mangrove areas. Each day, large migrations can be seen flying to the mainland rainforests to feed on fruit.

The Johnstone River snapping turtle is nesting. Clutch sizes vary between 8 and 11 eggs, which hatch in the early wet season.

The Southern cassowary is a solitary bird that pairs only in breeding season (late winter and spring). The male incubates and raises the chicks alone.

Honeyeaters will feed and squabble around the white flowers of a rare tree known as the Mossman quandong, which blooms in July. Fewer than 50 trees are known to remain, growing only in the Mossman region.

 The Ribbonwood blooms in white flowers which turn pale pink and deepen with age. Its fruit is the size of billiard balls, but is toxic to modern animals, leaving its dispersal limited to gravity, water and luck! It is only found in the Daintree and Russell River areas.


Spring

The spectacular buff-breasted paradise kingfisher arrives each year in November to breed in the rainforests of the Wet Tropics, nesting in termite mounds.

Calls of the male white-lipped tree frog (a surprising catlike meow) can be regularly heard after spring or early summer rains. They are the largest tree frog in the world and Australia’s largest native frog growing up to 14 cm in length

Spring is the breeding season for the Northern quoll of the Wet Tropics.  Up to eight young are born at a time, usually in November and December.  It is the smallest of four species of marsupial carnivore, however they are the most aggressive. North Queensland is the only place in Australia where the Northern quoll and spotted-tailed quoll are confirmed to inhabit side-by-side.

 Migrant species such as the buff -breasted paradise kingfisher, Eastern koel and channel-billed cuckoo arrive to nest. Other birds such as the noisy pitta are also breeding and easier to observe as they search for food.

 Proud male cassowaries parade their young chicks. 

 Boyd's forest dragons will be laying their eggs. Unlike most other lizards, it doesn’t bask, but instead lets its body temperature fluctuate with air temperature. It is believed to be the only reptile that has this ability in the world.

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