Tree Kangaroo | Striped Possum | Spotted Tail Quoll | Fluffy Glider | Rock Wallaby | Brushtail Possum | Northern Bettong | Long-necked Turtle | Ring Tailed Gecko | Black Mountain Gecko | Golden Oreille | Laughing Kookaburra | Brown Goshawk | Grey Goshawk | Brush Cuckoo | Bronze Cuckoo | Paupan Frogmouth | Nightjar | Fairy Wren | Helmeted Friarbird | Imperial Pigeon | Azure Kingfisher | Cassowary
Like the vegetation of the wet tropics the communities of animals which live here are the end result of many influences. Some show a Gondwana inheritance, others more recent migrants from Asia.
To list them all here would be like opening a can of worms so we intend to keep it brief. Therefore we have listed some of the endemic species. Some of these remain threatened, but many that were once threatened are coming back in numbers due to the preservation of the region by government and private land owners.
Our property is a private nature refuge that is able to offer these endemic species their homes back without threat due to the commitment of the Haslop family and the team at Mungumby Lodge. To list everything here we would be here for ever. However this list is a start to what will grow as we take images and learn more about them all.
Here is a video recently sent to us by guests Dr Sven & Karin Giersdorf who stayed twice and made this excellent video of their time here at Mungumby Lodge. “My Mungumby” (click text to view)
Here is a local Cooktown region bird list
Here is a bird list made by a local who came here for an afternoon stroll.
Bennett’s Tree Kangaroo (Dendrolagus Bennettianus) (Tcharibbeena)
Endemic to the Mungumby Valley and Shiptons Flat. This elusive species remain a mystery to many, due to their limited numbers select locations of residence and relatively limited understanding we have of the species.
It is thought that there are seven species of Tree Kangaroo in the world. Five of which live in Papua New Guinea and two species reside right here within a limited area (less than 4000 km) of Far North Queensland.
Living high in the rainforest canopy these magnificent creatures can leap up to 9 metres in a downward direction and are understood to be able to withstand an 18-metre fall without injury. Aided by their long tails they maneuver with ease foraging the treetops over what is thought to be a vast but highly protected acreage. Seldom returning to hard ground they are also thought to be very territorial and live alone few really know how and when they adapted themselves to live in the trees rather than the grassy plains where they are thought to have originated.
Dendrolagus Bennettianus (Tcharibbeena) are unfortunately little studied so that reproductive behaviour and species are poorly understood. Bennett’s Tree-Kangaroos, being rare and extremely elusive, seldom comes in contact with humans, the main factor that makes them difficult to study.
Striped Possum (Dactylopsila trivirgata)
This little bloke has a distinctive black and white stripped coat with a pronounced white Y on the face. It has a large head, a long body and bushy tail, prominent ears and an elongated fourth finger.
Slightly built with a variable pattern of black and white stripes which run along the length of its body. Has a clinging pungent odour and an unusual way of walking, that is, along horizontal branches with a rowing action (simultaneous swinging movement of diagonally opposite limbs).
Its position can usually be traced by the noises of its slurping and chewing, or from the falling of litter from its perch. Even though it is a conspicuous animal, the fact that the Striped Possum is a rare and shy animal makes it one of the least known possums in Australia.
Spotted Tail Quoll (Dasyurus maculates)
The Spotted Tailed Quoll is the largest Quoll and generally referred to as the bush cat. Mainly found on parts of Cape York, Quoll is the Aboriginal name for bush cat.
The Spotted Tail Quoll fur ranges from light orange brown, dark chocolate brown to almost black, with white spots. Its underbelly is cream to white when clean. This species of Quoll is the only one in which the pattern of white spots on the body is continued into the tail. (The pattern is different on each animal).
Its face is made up of a moist pink nose, pointy ears, a thick snout and a mouth that can open wide to show a lot of sharp teeth Males measuring up to 130 cm long and 4 kg in weight. Females are significantly smaller than males. The long tail is not prehensile which means it is not used like a fifth leg or arm in climbing.
We have regular sightings of spotted Quolls on the property and around the lodge. Generally in the early hours of the morning they can also be seen late at night or evidence of a feast left on the lawn.
The spotted Quoll is a solitary, nocturnal animal, sheltering by day in burrows, tree holes, hollow logs or rock crevices, occasionally in cold weather it may sun bask or forage in daylight. They are very agile moving through the forest both up in the trees and on the forest floor. Primarily a predator, the Spotted Tailed Quoll is a hunter of other animals such as rats, birds, frogs, possums, reptiles, insects, rabbits, mice etc Spotted tailed Quolls kill their prey by biting its victim behind the head They also are scavengers and they also eat dead animals.
Quolls are now an endangered species with the Spotted tail Quoll seriously threatened in its mainland habitats The introduction of feral cats & dogs, diseases and the destruction of their forest habitats has greatly reduced their numbers These introduced animals competed for the Quolls food, as well as attack them.
Fluffy Glider (Petaurus australis)
Fluffy Gliders in north Queensland are found only in wet sclerophyll forests like ours. Like so many animals found in this particular habitat, they have close relatives in similar habitat further south (southern Queensland to Victoria) but have been isolated from the main population long enough to become a sub-species.
Elsewhere in Australia, fluffy gliders may feed from over 20 different tree species, but those in north Queensland eat sap only from red stringy bark trees.
The fluffy glider, named for its particularly long bushy tail, is also known as the yellow-bellied glider – although the belly fur is white in younger animals, turning cream and yellow with age. In north Queensland these gliders rarely, if ever, have the bright yellow bellies of their southern counterparts.
Fluffy gliders carry leaves in their coiled tails to line their dens, made in hollows in living rose gum trees. These dens are shared by some or all members of a group, generally consisting of one male, with up to five females and juveniles. Members of a group frequently exchange scents produced from glands on the top of the head and on the underside of the base of the tail. This is done during a head-to-tail maneuver, the animals of most junior rank in the group doing most of the head to tail rubbing and the dominant male having his tail rubbed.
Brushtail Possum (Trichosurus vulpecula)
The Brushtail possums are fond of visiting sap-producing sites on stringy bark trees. Unlike the gliders, which are able to hang upside-down to feed from the sap, and thus avid gluing up their fur, these heavier animals must feed right way up and thus approach this sticky feed from below and to the side.
Brushtail possums are widespread throughout Australia with one form, the coppery brushtail, living in upland rainforest.
Northern Bettong (Bettongia tropica)
The Northern Bettong (Bettongia tropica) is found in the tall and medium tall grassy forests closely associated with wet sclerophyll. Occurring in only a limited number of pockets in north Queensland, this endangered little rat-kangaroo is pale grey above with cream on the belly and a short, black brush on the tip of its tail. Adults are a little smaller than the average rabbit.
Northern Bettongs depend largely on truffles, the fruiting bodies of underground fungi, for food, using the strong claws on their forefeet to dig them up. Truffles are not generally a good source of nutrients for mammals but Bettongs have developed a strategy for using them. Special bacteria in one part of the Bettongs stomach consume the fungi. These bacteria and their by-products are then digested by another part of the stomach, providing a balanced diet.
Cann’s long necked Turtle (Chelodina Canni)
A freshwater turtle frequently found in rivers, lagoons and swamps where it feeds on small aquatic animals around the Cape York region.
It has a broad head and a long slender neck hence the common name. The carapace or shell is rounded, brown to black with a paler rim, the lower surface is yellow.
Ring Tailed Gecko (Cyrtodactylus louisiadensis)
Frequently found at Mungumby Lodge these elusive geckos are one of the largest of the Gekkonidae family. Nocturnal this one mainly lives on rock outcrops and bolder scree in dry tropical woodlands, vine thickets and rainforests.
It is swift and agile climbing on vines, rough vertical rock, planks of wood on buildings. Their pattern is striking comprising of evenly spaced, sharp contrasting bands of cream and reddish brown, commencing with a dark band curving back from behind eyes onto the nape of the neck.
Black Mountain Gecko (Nactus Galgajuga)
This extremely slender gecko possesses very large eyes; slightly upturned snout; long thin limbs and tail with smooth scales beneath the tail. Dark purplish brown with broad, irregular pale gray bands which defuse on the body becoming sharp edged and white on the tail. This Gecko is endemic to Black Mountain.
Bird Watching Cooktown & Cape York.
Nobody, local or foreigner, can really say they have birded Australia until they have spent quality time in Queensland. Queensland has the largest bird list [over 600 species] so Queensland especially Far Tropical North Queensland should be an essential part of any Australian itinerary.
Queensland boasts some 21 endemic species plus many more specialties including Australian endemics and some exotic northern species shared only with New Guinea. Riflebirds, Bowerbirds, Cassowary, Chowchillas, Pittas, Manucodes, Monarchs, Fruit-doves, Parrots and Kingfishers are just some of the birds that can be enjoyed. Add to this to classic mammals like echidnas, platypus, kangaroos, tree kangaroos, rock wallabies and koalas making Queensland the perfect destination for any naturalist.
Olive Oreille (Oriolus flavocinctus)
Often called the Australasian Yellow Oriole is only found in Northern Australia at is the one that punctuates the silence here at Mungumby Lodge. Yellow Orioles forage slowly and methodically through the mid and upper strata of dense forests, taking fruit in the main. Typically alone or in pairs, they sometimes form small flocks in the non-breeding season.
They are often difficult to locate, as their yellow-green plumage blends with the foliage and only their deep bubbling musical calls can be heard. They are nevertheless common in suitable habitat: rainforests, mangroves, thickets along watercourses, swamps, and lush gardens.
Breeding takes place during the wet season (Jan-April) but mainly October to March. A neat, deep cup is constructed from strips of bark and vines, lined with rootlets, and slung between leafy branches, usually 5 to 15 metres up. They typically lay 2 eggs.
Laughing Kookaburra (Dacelo novaeguineae)
The Laughing Kookaburra is instantly recognisable in both plumage and voice. It is generally off-white below, faintly barred with dark brown, and brown on the back and wings. It is the first sound we hear out here in the bush, so we cal it our bush alarm for 0545.
The laughing kookaburra has a brown back with feathers lined with black and light blue patches on the middle of its back. The Laughing Kookaburra has white head with a streak of black behind both eyes. It is the most famous of the Kingfisher family.
Kookaburras usually lay three eggs which hatch at different times, and the youngest chick at the greatest disadvantage. The hatching times and the size of eggs laid all occur such that the chances of fighting are increased. It eats small mammals such as mice and small snakes and some times a full grown rat. The Laughing Kookaburra lives in open forests, woodlands, cleared farmlands and parks or gardens.
The Blue Winged Kookaburra (Dacelo leachii) is similar to the laughing kookaburra apart for its lightly streaked head and has mach more blue on its wings. The Blue Winged Kookaburra is found and common here on Cape York also.
Brown Goshawk (Accipiter fasciatus)
Often called the banded hawk this raptor is also called the Australian Goshawk. It has a grey head with bright yellow eyes and a black bill and a rufous (brownish red) collar around its neck. The upper body, top of tail and wings are dark brown to slate-grey. The under parts are rufous striped. The tail is long, as are the yellow legs.
Adult males grow to 45 cm and females up to 55 cm. The diet is mainly small mammals and birds, reptiles and large insects. They usually attack prey on the ground and if available the Brown Goshawk will also eat rabbits, pigeons and poultry.
Grey Goshawk (Accipiter novaehollandiae)
The Grey Goshawk inhabits forest areas of Cape York and other parts of Australia. Unlike the Brown Goshawk, which relies almost entirely on stealth and surprise to catch its prey, the Grey Goshawk is a bold hunter which pursues its prey in flight, striking at speed, and even chasing prey into dense undergrowth. It will also use ambush and surprise to catch birds.
The Grey Goshawk preys on birds, terrestrial mammals up to rabbit size, reptiles, grasshoppers, beetles and other insets such as cicadas. The Grey Goshawk’s preferred habitat is heavily treed and humid forest areas such as rainforests and very dense, tall eucalypt forest.
Brush Cuckoo (Cacomantis variolosus)
The Brush Cuckoo, is a member of the cuckoo order of birds, the Cuculiformes, which also includes the roadrunners, the anis, and the Hoatzin. The Brush Cuckoo male is grey-brown above, light grey to buff below, with a grey head, neck and breast. The tail has a white tip and is barred white underneath.
The female has two colour morphs (forms): unbarred and barred. The unbarred morph is similar to the male but is much paler buff underneath, with faint grey barring across the chest. The barred morph is less common, and has streaked/barred upper parts and the underbody is darkly barred. Juvenile Brush Cuckoos are heavily barred dark brown above and mottled and barred underneath.
The Brush Cuckoo is found across northern Australia from the Kimberley region to Cape York. Also found in eastern Indonesia, including Timor and the Moluccas, New Guinea and to the Solomon Islands. The Brush Cuckoo is found in wooded habitats, including rainforest, wet sclerophyll forests, paper barks, along waterways and in more open forests and woodlands.
Gould Bronze Cuckoo (Chrysococcyx russatus)
Bronze Cuckoo birds live high in the treetops in rainforests and thick eucalypt forests in eastern and south-western Australia. They have fine, straight, pointed beaks and feet with two toes facing forwards and two toes facing backwards. They call with a high-pitched whistle which can be distinctly heard during the winter months at Mungumby Lodge.
Papuan Frogmouth (Podargus papuensis)
The Papuan Frogmouth is restricted to north Queensland for Australia. It is nocturnal and is usually seen on its own, but seldome in pairs. In a roost they are very difficult to spot unless you know exactly where the are living. Similar to the Tawny Frogmouth, the Papuan is larger and has red eyes.
The Papuan’s habits are also similar to the Tawny Frogmouth although the Papuan’s roosting places are often denser. The resonant voice is deeper (oo-oom) and it also has a weird ghostly laugh, ‘hoo-hoo-hoo.’ As with all frogmouths they have a bristly feathered tuft over its bill and an extremely long tongue that is forked.
Its habitat includes margins of rainforests, tracts, clearings, eucalypt woodlands, scrubs, watercourse vegetation, swamp, dune woodland, mangroves. It breeds August – January. The nest is small bunch of sticks, on the base of a branch in a heavy fork.
Large Tailed Nightjar (Caprimulgus macrurus)
This is a species of nightjar is in the Caprimulgidae family. It is found in northern Australia, and other parts of Asia. Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests, subtropical or tropical mangrove forests, and subtropical or tropical moist mountains. It is spotted often here at night especially when spotlighting or in the car on our driveway.
Helmeted Friarbird (Philemon bueroides)
The acrobatic, noisy Helmeted (often called Silver-Crowned) Friarbird is found in open tropical forests and woodlands in far northern Australia. A member of the honeyeater family, it also feeds on insects and fruit, often venturing out on short flights to catch insects in mid-air.
Pied Imperial Pigeon (Ducala Biocolour)
A summer breeding migrant to the coasts of north Australia from August-April, having spent winter in New Guinea. Breed in colonies mostly in mangroves on the offshore islands, with a few breeding on the mainland in mangroves and rainforest. The nest is a solid platform of sticks, often with green leaves attached, on a mangrove fork 1-5m high. One large white egg. Both parents incubate the eggs and care for the young.
Adults feed on the mainland each day on rainforest fruits and then return to the islands at night – popular are Lawyer Vine, Laurel and other rainforest trees. Alternate parents leave the nest each day for feeding. Usually seen in flocks, sometimes singly or small groups, particularly early and then again late in the day. Flight is fast and direct.
Azure Kingfisher (Alcedo azurea)
Courting azure kingfishers may appear as flashes of blue zig-zagging along streams and rivers as they prepare to produce the next generation. The nest is built in a chamber at the end of a one-metre tunnel which both sexes help to excavate into the stream bank. This chamber is lined with fish scales, bones and crustacean shells and four to seven rounded white eggs are laid. This is a common type of egg for birds nesting in holes. They do not need to be pointed because they are not going to roll away and the white colour makes them visible to the parent birds in the gloomy chamber.
This lovely bird lives up to its name. It is indeed a most glorious colour of blue (the word azure is derived from the Persian word for the semi-precious stone lapis lazuli) and unlike many other kingfishers which feed on land, it frequents streams and rivers, perching above the water and diving down when a suitable fish appears. It also eats crustaceans and aquatic insects.
Cassowary (Casuarius johnsonii)
A special Queenslander
The southern cassowary (Casuarius casuarius) is one of the most striking and certainly by far the largest bird to be found in Australian rainforests. It is a member of the ratite group of birds, comprising the large flightless land birds with a keel-less breastbone, hairlike feathers and three forward pointing toes. The group has relatives throughout the southern hemisphere and includes such birds as the rhea of South America, the ostrich of Africa, New Zealand’s kiwis, and the Australian emu.
There are three species of cassowary. Only one of these is found in Australia, while the others are indigenous to New Guinea and some of the adjacent islands. In Australia the birds are restricted to north Queensland’s wet tropical forests and some small isolated areas of north-eastern Cape York Peninsula. We have an area identified as a Cassowary corridor on the back of property, this is due to the plant species. However no regular sightings occur at this altitude.
It is hard to mistake the cassowary for any other Australian rainforest bird. Its impressive size, coarse glossy black plumage, tall helmet, and brilliant red and blue neck and wattles are easily identifiable features. Adults can stand up to two metres tall and weigh up to 85 kilograms, although they average about 38 kilograms for males and about 47 kilograms for females.
We are delighted that you have taken the time to study this section. It is our intention to keep this updated and post new images as they come to hand. If you have any questions on the information provided please check our references below or contact us. We have knowledgeable guides on site for bird watching and or general animal observation. Time is the key to any of this as understandably most species remain elusive to the untrained eye.
- The Environmental Protection Agency, Queensland Parks & Wildlife Service / Tropical Topics of Oct. 2001
- Martin, Roger W. 1995. Field observation of predation on Bennett’s Tree-Kangaroo
- Martin, R.W. and P.M. Johnson. 1995. Bennett’s Tree-Kangaroo. Pp. 307-308
- Newell, Graeme R. . 1999. Australia’s Tree-Kangaroos: current issues in their conservation. Biological Conservation 87:1-12.
- Simpson & Day Field Guide to the Birds of Australia
- Field Guide to Reptiles of Queensland by Steve Wilson
- Wildlife of Tropical North Queensland by Queensland Museum 2000
- Clancy TF, Close RL (1997) The Queensland rock-wallabies – an overview of their conservation status, threats and management. Australian Mammalogy 19, 169-174.