MALANDA FALLS VISITOR CENTRE Six things to look out for in March The forest laurels are producing some large seeded fruit at the moment. These were some of the key food sources for rainforest aboriginal people. Pictured is one of the favourites, Yellow Walnut (Ngajan = ganggi), which is one of the seeds needing least processing. Hairy walnut (very thick flesh) and Black walnut (apricot inner flesh) are also falling. With the summer rain and wind, there has been massive leaf fall. The leaves will soon be converted to soil by fungi and other organisms. As well, there is lots of new plant growth. Look out for the red new leaves quite common in rainforest. New leaves are not ready to photosynthesise yet and many reflect the red light normally used for that process. One of the birds that will make use of all the fallen leaves is the orangefooted scrub fowl. It is more shy than the common brush turkey that inhabits the forest, but it also incubates it’s young with the assistance of a compost heap. Eggs are laid in a large pile of leaves made into a heap (to 4.5m high and 9m across), often against a tree. Of course, watch out for our amazing Lumholtz Tree Kangaroos. Young individuals have been sighted near the road edge recently. Originally thought to be nocturnal, it is now known they are cathemeral - active intermittently throughout the 24 hour period. Tree kangaroos are often sighted by tourists at the park, both resting and active. The park is home to several snake species, mostly not considered dangerous (like the carpet python pictured). All the same, please stay on the paths and be aware. If you are lucky enough to see a snake, just keep your distance and stay calm. (In the recent flooding, a large snake was seen swimming across the river). While snakes are more likely to be seen when the sun comes out after rain … wet conditions favour leeches. The bite won’t hurt (due to an anaesthetic in the leech saliva) but bites get very itchy a day or two later. Due to the anti-coagulant in the saliva, the small bites do look messy.