Biodiversity


Bellbunya sustainability centre is located on a rural 40 acre property.  Previously a dairy farm, the property has been regenerated during the last 20 years to create wildlife corridors and sanctuaries.

With State Forests and National parks visible on each horizon, Bellbunya is well placed to offer a well placed nature refuge, buffer and regeneration zone.

Bellbunya has an underground river, springs, a 5 megalitre lagoon and the headwaters of Belli Creek. The property encompasses an impressive variety of native fauna and flora, including native fish species and an extraordinary array of frogs and birds.  

Bellbunya plays host to rare and threatened species,  including the  Cascade Tree Frog, (Litoria pearsoniana) which is listed as Vulnerable, and the endangered Giant barred frog (Taudactylus diurnus).  
This sizeable frog, which grows up to 11.5cm, has experienced a serious decline since the 1980s. Known to occur in the Belli Creek and Eumundi areas, Mary River and Upper Stanley catchments and Conondale National Park, it has suffered from habitat loss, particularly creek bank clearing.  The stabilisation and revegetation of the Belli Creek banks has been happening at Bellbunya for 20 years, and together with the introduction of artificial frog ponds and low toxicity environment, are helping to support these and other native species.

This year we have built on this ecology with the help of the Sunshine Coast Regional Council, Mary River Catchment Coordinating Committee and teams of International Student Volunteers, by clearing weeds and planting native species to encourage bioddiversity along Belli Creek and the riparian zones.   
tree planting

The Council provided grant assistance for trees and mulch, together with expertise in rehabilitation.  With the assistance of the international volunteers, we contributed almost 2000 hours of labour toward this project.  The outcome  is around 4 acres of riparian areas cleared of weeds, liberating an estimated 5000-6000 young native plants that would otherwise have been lost and the planting of around 1500 indigenous plants incorporating almost 100 diverse species.

Many Australian marsupial animals 
are found at Bellbunya, including sugar gliders, wallabies, possums and bandicoots.  With the support of the Sunshine Coast Regional Council, we have installed nesting boxes to support a variety of native animals, such as these sugar gliders.

 Over the last 25 years, over 15,000 native trees have been planted at Bellbunya to create a Koala corridor through the property. Over the last 100 years, koala populations in our region have declined to the extent that they have now been recognised as under threat in South East Queensland. By planting and maintaining primary Koala habitat at Bellbunya, we are assisting these amazing creatures to establish routes between the major forests that surround us.

Bellbunya is also home to the Richmond Birdwing Butterfly, (Ornithoptera richmondia) one of Australia’s biggest and most spectacular butterflies. With a wing-span of up to 15 centremetres (6 inches), the Butterfly used to be found throughout the region. Due to habitat loss and invasive species, the butterfly is now listed as vulnerable and is only found in 2 areas, one on the Gold Coast and the other here on the Sunshine Coast.  

The males have beautiful and iridescent green hind wings. Their forewings are  jet black with a striking iridescent green leading-edge. The females are drab, dark grey or brown wings. They are dependent on the Richmond Birdwing Vine to lay their eggs. This vine is found locally in our adjacent State Forest and National Park and we have planted more vines at Bellbunya to support their numbers in this region.

Bellbunya is host to a large range of birds, and has been an historic destination for birdwatchers.  From  Kookaburras, King Parrots, Black Cockatoos, Woompoo pigeons, Bell-birds and beautiful finches, Bellbunya's landscape is a mass of song.
This is one of our resident Tawny Frog-Mouthed Owls, the parents quietly pretending to be branches throughout the day while their young ones explore the verandah.

Excitingly, Bellbunya is known to host the almost extinct Coxen's Fig Parrot amongst its many Fig Trees.

The Coxen's Fig Parrot or Coxen’s Double-eyed Fig-parrot (Cyclopsitta diophthalma coxeniis) has a limited natural range - from the Mary River (Gympie) in Queensland south to the Richmond River in New South Wales and west to the Bunya Mountains in Australia. Others state that the distribution reaches Maryborough in the north and the Macleay River in the south.

Its preferred habitat includes the lowland dry and subtropical rainforest, especially in alluvial areas in which fruiting fig trees can be found. Some populations have been reported visiting isolated fruiting trees in gardens and cultivated farmlands.

This fig parrot is officially reported to be one of the most critically endangered birds in Australia. Some speculate that fewer than 100 of them are remaining in the wild; others state that up to 200 may still be found in their range.

Recovery efforts to save the Coxen's Fig-Parrot from certain extinction are underway by the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service.  Bellbunya supports their principal aim of preserving and expanding potential habitats and reporting sightings to assist them in determining the extent and distribution of the remaining populations.

Description:

Coxen's Fig Parrots are small parrots with a stout build - averaging 15cm in length, including their short tails. The head has distinctive red and blue markings with a prominent blue foreheadin adults.

These predominantly green parrots have disproportionately large heads and bills. The plumage is a rich green above and a yellowish green below. The sides of its breast are yellow. The flight feathers are a deep blue and dark grey. When perching, two obvious red spots on the back can be seen, representing the inner edges of the flight feathers.  The bill is pale grey at the base and blackish towards the tip.

The male has a blue forehead with scattered red feathers surrounding this and on the lores (the regions between the eyes and bill on the side of a bird's head). His cheeks are orange-red, bordered below by a band of mauve-blue. The female is similar, except she has a smaller blue patch on the forehead, and fewer or no red on the forehead and lores. Her orange-red cheek patch is duller and less extensive than that of the male.

They can be distinguished from small lorikeets by their short tail and lack of underwing color.

Breeding:

Little is known about the reproductive habits of this species. It is believed that they excavate nest chambers in dead or decaying tree limbs or trunks in, or close to, the rainforest. Each clutch usually consists of two eggs. Breeding season in their natural habitat is thought to commence in August and may go on until December or January.

Diet:

The bird prefers feeding on the fruits of fig trees, but also feeds on other fruiting rainforest species. It can be detected by discarded pieces of fig flesh falling from its feeding tree onto the ground.
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