29 October 2008

Double-eyed fig-parrot

Female Macleays fig-parrot

The double-eyed fig-parrot, also known as the Dwarf fig-parrot (Cyclopsitta diopthalma) reaching an average length of 15cm, is Australis smallest and least known parrot.

With 5 sub-species being found in New Guinea and another 3 sub-species found amongst the 3 significant rainforest remnants along the east-coast of Australia; from Cape York to Northern New South Wales.

Small-leafed Fig
Ficus obliqua

As the name suggests, fig-parrots rely upon the Ficus genus (Botanical name for Fig trees) as a primary food source, and as such they mostly hang-out in the upper strata of the rainforest canopy. (which is why they are not often seen by us groundwellers)

Lake Eacham on the tablelands is one of the better places to experience the 'Macleays' fig-parrot close up, with the Ficus benjamina growing in the park.

On this latest visit to the Atherton Tablelands I went to the Malanda library and photocopied an article on the Coxen's fig-parrot with an amazing fig-parrot drawing by William Cooper (a most talented artist who illustrated the amazing Fruits of the Australian Tropical Rainforest)

In the morning, during meditation down at Wrights creek, the fig-parrot presence was really strong, lately I've been getting back into shorter 15 minute meditation where focus is on the moment between the out-breath and the in-breath and vise versa, just bringing awareness back to the that subtle feeling of being alive, of just breathing and observing.

The visualization focused on the fig-parrot in its habitat, eating the seeds out of figs and dropping debri from high up in the canopy. Pretty quickly I felt to go up to Lake Eacham (a few kilometres from wrights creek) where there is a Fig I'd been told they visit when it's in fruit, and it so happened that it was in fruit.

at first I didn't see anything, and then a barred-cuckoo shrike made a noisy exit; flying off into the distance....

and then like pure magic, there she was, at first just a single female Macleays fig-parrot (Cyclopsitta diophthalma macleayana) quietly munching on the fig seed. wow.

That was a special moment. What-a-sight, i can't really express how that felt, with the first rays of sunlight shining through the rainforest overhanging the volcanic Lake.

Nature Bliss...

Then another 3 or so appeared, 2 males with the red cheeks and another female with the blue/white cheeks and red forehead. They were difficult to spot at times, even though the tree was only 4 metres high, it was bushy and they are so small and quiet, The falling fig debri being their only conspicious trait.

At times they came down close to the bottom branches and I could stand within a metre comfortably, and they would not be afraid of close human presence.

I got as close as 10cm at one point, wondering if they would eat seed that has been picked, but unfortunately this was a little too close and it zipped off in a flash into a neighbouring hoop-pine, with a few 'zeet zeet's' on his way, the bird did not waver or dip like rainbow lorikeets, which sound somewhat similar, but flew in direct flight at fast speeds.

When moving along branches in search of the nutrious fig-seed, the fig-parrot will climb with ease along the trunk or branch with it's strong little feet, looking a little comical at times, as it is so short and stumpy with barely any tail

Male Macleays fig-parrot

The three Australian fig-parrot sub-species:

Marshalls fig-parrot (Cyclopsitta diopthalma marshalli) inhabits the tropical monsoonal and gallery rainfort along the eastern ranges of Cape York peninsula.

Macleays fig-parrot (Cyclopsitta diopthalma macleayana) is found in the wet-tropics bio-region; from Cooktown to Paluma in north Qld.

the Coxen's fig-parrot, Cyclopsitta diopthalma coxeni, is the only Cyclopsitta to inhabit the sub-tropical rainforest, and is by far Australias rarest parrot, with the population estimated to be numbering just a few hundred birds, spread out over a huge range in south-east Queensland and northern New South Wales.

This little bird intriques me greatly. (massive understatement)

Although Its numbers have clearfly dropped as a result of human settlement, I feel it could be possible that the Coxen's fig-parrot population has stabalized in the remaining highland rainforest around the Border Ranges/Lamington area, and the lack of knowledge on its ecology due to low sightings and uncommon human/fig-parrot contact, is simply due to the fact that they are so small and green, dwelling in the out-of-sight closed canopy, where few humans go.

It has also been recorded in sub-littoral mixed scrub (Melaleuca and Livistona palm open forest with scattered figs), open forest, riparian corridors with suitable food trees (Ficus, Syzygium, Elaeocarpus) as far north as Bunderberg in Qld and as far south as the Macleay river
in northern NSW.

artistic intepretation of Coxen's fig-parrot
by Sally Elmer with technical assistance from John Young
Cyclopsitta diophthalma coxeni

The southern race of the double-eyed fig-parrot, Cyclopsitta diopthalma coxeni, is thus classed as critically endangered, with around 20 sightings in the past 20 years.

60 skins
were collected up until 1920, when most of the lowland rainforest in Australia had already been cleared. The population decline of coxeni has most certaintly been a direct result of clearfelling Ficus dense lowland sub-tropical rainforests, such as "The Big Scrub" around Lismore in Northern New South Wales, where 99% of this unique habitat was leveled for farming, nearly 100 years ago.

this photo of a strangler fig was taken at 'Fig Tree Pocket'
over 100 years ago
in an area that is now 10 minutes from Brisbane CBD

the most effective approach we can take as a community in helping the recovery of the unique southern fig-parrot is to support rainforest restoration along riparian eco-systems, with a particular emphasis on Fig-tree recruitment on rural properties within the coxeni range.

This appoach to ecological restoration will also help other threatened species, such as the rainforest pigeons and barred cuckoo shrike.

The vision for the Caldera Creations project is to photograph the Coxen's fig-parrot and to raise community awareness of this unique little bird and it's ancient rainforest habitat.

Align Centerfemale Macleays fig-parrot

and some new news to share, myself and brother Tony Allison are having a photography exhibition in Kyogle @ the Roxy Gallery during the month of February next year (2009). definitely with a focus on our little fig-parrot friends and many other weird and wonderful life-forms and lightscapes on the mother Earth.

more info soonalish

In Lak'ech

12 October 2008

Zeitgeist - A Doco on our flawed economy

As you've probably realized so far, Caldera Creations is a nature blog, an expression of but a tiny fraction of the Earths incredible biodiversity. I hope to raise some awareness of the beauty and magic of the natural world and maybe foster an appreciation of the sacredness of our Mother Earth.

More than anything it would be my hope that you go and find your own place in nature to recharge your spiritual batteries and get re-connected, or just observe your sense of disconnection, somewhere to be still and allow spaciousness to guide you on your way.

So I guess it may seem a little bit odd to be posting a video that focuses on the systemic flaws within our monetary system, especially on a 'nature blog'.

My feelings are that the worlds energy, environmental, economic and spiritual problems are all interconnected, and from that point of view it's only natural I share an alternative perspective on the current economic crisis we are witnessing.

If you have a spare hour or two, watch this documentary that focuses on the flawed economic structures that we have subscribed to in modern times.

Keep an open mind and even if you don't resonate with the content, atleast observe your own internal reactions to the message of this movie, and maybe question why it is you believe what you do.

to watch in a large window .. follow this link

Zeitgeist - Addendum

if this doesn't interest you, or you just don't have two hours to spare, then how about taking a nice big deep breath and tune into this green Elaphant for a 10 minute meditation...

or just some good ole mother earth appreciation ...