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There are six species of gliders in Australia, and Tamborine Mountain is home to five of them. What are gliders?  They are shy, nocturnal, possum-like marsupials who live in the trees of forests and woodlands and rarely descend to the ground.

The gliders possess a gliding membrane that extends from their elbows or wrists to their ankles or knees, this allows them to glide between trees. The gliding membrane provides increased mobility, while conserving energy and may also act as a warm wrap in cold weather. Gliders do not fly like bats, but some are able to glide distances in excess of 100 metres. Gliders play an important part in pollination and insect control.
Gliders need interconnected forest and large old trees. Unfortunately habitat loss, dogs, cats and barbed wire fences are putting gliders under pressure.

The Feathertail Glider is the smallest glider  (6-8cm long, weight 13g), grey brown back and white belly. These little gliders are the size of a mouse and have a tail like a small feather. They live in family groups – parents and past litters. They are able to run up panes of glass. Their diet consists of nectar, pollen, gum, sap and insects. Sometimes they are found in electricity meter boxes, telephone junctions and banana bags.

The Squirrel Glider (48cm long, weight 230g) has soft grey fur with a black stripe along the middle of the head and body and a thick tail. They nest in tree hollows and live in groups of up to 10.  Their diet consists of insects, nectar, pollen and the gum of acacias and eucalypts, which they encourage by biting grooves in the tree trunks. Makes a throaty nwarr sound.

The Sugar Glider (42 cm long, weight 130g) resembles the squirrel glider but is smaller, has soft grey fur with a black stripe along the middle of the head and body. They nest in tree hollows and live in family groups of up to 10. Their diet consists of insects, nectar, pollen and the gum of acacias and eucalypts, which they encourage by biting grooves in the tree trunks. Makes a yip yip yip sound.

The Yellow-bellied Glider (70cm long, weight 550g) has a long tail, long naked ears and charcoal upper parts and cream to orange underparts. They nest in tree hollows and live in groups. Their diet consists of insects, nectar, pollen and the gum of eucalypts, which they encourage by biting, grooves in the tree trunks. They are very vocal and make high-pitched shrieks and throaty gurgles

The Greater Glider (90cm weight 1.5kg) is the largest glider, about the size of a cat, it has shaggy fur and colour may vary from charcoal to creamy white. They nest in tree hollows, mainly solitary. Their diet consists of eucalypt leaves and buds. Territory required is 1.5 ha of forest. They are silent.

Do gliders live near you? They are shy and may be difficult to see, so try looking for landing scratches and sap incisions on tree trunks and listening for their calls at night.

To help protect gliders, the Qld Glider Network was formed by the Wildlife Preservation Society of Qld, check it out on the WPSQ website ( www.wildlife.org.au).

TMNHA and TM Landcare will be working together to encourage local residents to join the QGN project so a glider monitoring program can be established on Tamborine Mountain. Why not join in. Come along to the Community Day on 28 July or email nadia

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Why does attentiveness to nature matter? In a very fundamental sense, we are what we pay attention to. Paying heed to beauty, grace, and everyday miracles promotes a sense of possibility and coherence that runs deeper and truer than the often illusory commercial, social "realities" advanced by mainstream contemporary culture. ... Our attention is precious, and what we choose to focus it on has enormous consequences. What we choose to look at, and to listen to--these choices change the world. As Thich Nhat Hanh has pointed out, we become the bad television programs that we watch. A society that expends its energies tracking the latest doings of the celebrity couple is fundamentally distinct from one that watches for the first arriving spring migrant birds, or takes a weekend to check out insects in a mountain stream, or looks inside flowers to admire the marvelous ingenuities involved in pollination. The former tends to drag culture down to its lowest commonalities; the latter can lift us up in a sense of unity with all life. The Way of Natural History, edited by Thomas Lowe Fleischner and published by Trinity University Press (Texas)