Saturday, 31 December 2011

Jottings from the Tropics: 31 Dec 2011

Overnight rain has stirred up the frogs. Although the striped marsh frogs (Limnodynastes peroni) have been calling for weeks, other species are slower to respond. Now the green-eyed tree frogs (Litoria serrata) have joined in. Green-eyes were previously known as Litoria genimaculata — or Litoria genimac to those of us who are simultaneously pedantic enough to use Latin names yet too lazy to say them in full — but that title is now reserved for a New Guinea species. Litoria serrata does not take truncation well, but the name is still only seven syllables, so it comes out even in the end. 

It is not yet wet enough for the orange-thighed tree frog (Litoria xanthomera), which breeds in pools in and adjacent to the rainforest. Litoria xanthomera was split from the more southerly red-eyed tree frog (Litoria chloris) in 1986. And it was a sad day for the linguistically idle when that happened.

-  o O o  -

There are now two choirs of cicadas. The golden emperors (Anapsaltoda pulchra) kick off in the late afternoon with their intricate and melodic songs. Although they do not appear to be coordinated beyond starting and stopping at roughly the same time, the sound is not at all like my old school orchestra. In fact, it is quite pleasant. Especially when contrasted with the northern greengrocers (Cyclochila virens) that follow at dusk. These jolly loud green giants make up in volume what they lack in complexity. I like to think of their chorus as the greengrocers’ cacophony.

 -  o O o  -

Red-legged pademelons are not talkative mammals. They have a small repertoire of vocalisations, including hisses, clicks and coughs. Joeys also make contact with their mothers with a short ‘sneeze’. It is quite unlike any other sound and carries some distance through the forest.

On Wednesday morning, I heard Crinkle Cut’s joey calling for her mum. Although joeys spend a lot of time out of sight of their mothers —they are ‘parked’ in the forest while the adult forages — they often remain within hearing distance. That morning, Crinkle Cut’s joey could not contact her mother and was getting agitated.

She continued to call throughout the day and then into the night, doing circuits of the rainforest edge. The little joey would hop for a few metres, call and wait for her mum to come. This continued for more than twelve hours. But her mother did not come and she finally went to sleep in the small hours.

The joey continues to call, but with decreasing frequency. She comes out at night and in the late morning to feed in the spots where she foraged with her mother. Rain had made the grass grow and knocked down leaves from the trees, so food is not in short supply.

I last saw Crinkle Cut on Tuesday. As she had been daily visitor to the house for two and a half years — occasionally trying to raid the kitchen bin — I can only think that she is now dead. Perhaps killed by a python, which is not unknown, but more likely by human agency, which is the more common fate of wild animals here. 

I am not fond of people who nail up signs proclaiming their love for the environment and then drive recklessly and let their dogs run free in the rainforest. On the whole, I think I prefer the pademelons.

Crinkle Cut and Pip in mid-December


Tyto Tony said...

She's done her chips? I'm turning over a sensitive leaf in 2012.

Snail said...

Yeah, I'm pretty sure she's cashed 'em in.

You're as sensitive as a mimosa, Tony! I can tell. :)

Anonymous said...

So I presume Pip would still have been drinking milk? What to do now Snail - do you just let nature take its course or are you tempted to put out some supplementary food for the joey?
Best wishes for 2012

Snail said...

It's a tricky one, Barbara. She's certainly a feisty little animal. I've seen her chase off brush turkeys when they've come too close to her while she's been feeding. If any youngster is going to make it, it's this gal.

I've been known to throw a little bit of suitable food in her direction if I see her, but I don't think too much supplemental feeding will help condition her for growing up in the wild.

It's not as if there's any shortage of paddies here, but it is still not pleasant to have this happen.

Oh, dear. I fear I'm turning into the marsupial equivalent of the Simpsons' mad cat lady!