It was hot and dry and I had just avoided a Red-bellied Black snake on the path to the Double Creek Inlet. I heard a hiss and to my right was a metre and a half long dinosaur sitting in a tree head height only a few feet away. I walked back a bit and took a few photos. You will see these large reptiles on most visits to Mallacoota. They can be quite passive if left alone and great to photograph. This was one of the largest Lace Monitors that I have seen and he did not budge when I squeezed past to keep walking along the path…he probably thought he could take me, probably right too.
Lace Monitor, Double Creek Inlet, Mallacoota, Vic
Posted in Animal, Victoria
Tagged Australia, Australian Birds, Australian Reptiles, Bird Photography, Double Creek Nature Reserve, lace monitor, Mallacoota, Nature Photography, Photography, Victoria
There is a beautiful drive along the famous Snowy River from Orbost to Marlo. It is part of my pilgrimage route from Melbourne to the far east Victorian wilderness areas. Along the way I stop at various points to see the differences from previous year’s trek. I stopped at a picnic/viewing spot along the river and happened to find this Water-dragon sunning itself in the morning sun. on a fishing pier. While I often find these large lizards when I go to the far east there is some concern by the locals that they are becoming rarer due to pollution, loss of habitat and poaching. The trapping of the lizards is especially bad around the Mallacoota area. I was glad I found one so early in my trip.
Gippsland Water-dragon, Snowy River, Marlo Rd, Vic
Posted in Animal, Victoria
Tagged Australia, Australian Reptiles, Gippsland Water-dragon, lizard, Marlo, Marlo Road, Nature Photography, Orbost, Photography, reptile, Snowy River, Victoria, water-dragon
I sometime run into locals while walking around my usual circuit at Green’s Bush and I can always learn from them about what is happening in the area. Earlier this year Virginia taught me about the local trees, which I am hopeless at identifying. I ran into her and her partner Mark again last weekend and caught up with the local happenings particular around finding owls. There are a few species at Greens: Powerful Owls, Owlet nightjars and Southern Boobooks. I have yet to find any but there seems to be quite a few around. I asked V about how her animal orphan caring was going and she reached down her shirt and pulled out this little Ring-tiled possum from a small pouch. The ring tail possum and its much bigger, meaner cousin the Brush-tail possum are a favourite food for the Powerful Owl. The possums are very common and the large powerful owls quite rare due to lack of old growth trees for breeding hollows. But I would not wish this little guy to become a snack for a big owl. So much effort and time goes into giving it a chance to grow up.
Ring-tailed Possum, Greens Bush, Mornington Peninsula National Park, Vic
The Grey Kangaroo mobs that inhabit the Greens Bush section of the Mornington Peninsula National Park are generally quite skittish and can spot me quite a distance away. On occasion while I have been standing still watching birds, a group has moved past me along one of their trails. Once they notice me there is a mad panic as they bound off in all directions. The last few visits I have found a lone Grey along the ridge-line track. The first time I was photographing a nest and he just moved from beside a tree a few feet away and stood up tall next to me and just stared. When I noticed him from the corner of my eye, he didn’t even budge while I shrieked at the sudden potential attack by a “yowie”…He dropped down onto his front paws and fed on some grass and then ambled off the track and back into the bush. On the weekend I came across him again just feeding on the grass along the track near the same spot as last time. I walked right up close and took a few images. He looked healthy enough, clear eyed and could hear me make my Skippy the Bush Kangaroo sounds, so I am not sure why this Roo is so easy-going. I will have to keep an eye out for him – and those pesky yowies and drop bears.
Eastern Grey Kangaroo, Greens Bush, Mornington Peninsula National Park, Vic
Posted in Animal, Victoria
Tagged Australia, Drop bears, Eastern grey Kangaroo, Greens Bush, kangaroo, Mornington Peninsula, Mornington Peninsula National Park, Myths, Nature Photography, Photography, Victoria, Yowie
On the weekend I was nearing the end of my usual Greens Bush circuit, when I heard a Crescent Honeyeater and stopped to find the bird in the high trees. Straight away I noticed a large grey shape in an Acacia tree. It is only the second Koala I have found on this circuit and like the other Koala this one was also in a non-eucalyptus tree. As I walked towards him to get a closer view he watched me, becoming quite alert, not the usual dopey, sleepy animal, and then assumed this odd position, leaning back out of the fork. I am not sure what it was going to do, drop, climb, stretch. I have not seen this behaviour or position before – (well obviously it is the drop position for the drop-bear). After a few photographs I backed away and let him get back to his nap – I was not going to fall for his trap.
Drop bear in position.
Koala, Greens Bush, Mornington Peninsula National Park, Vic
Greens Bush is a great habitat for many bird and animal species and I am building a good list of birds but only a few mammals: Swamp Wallaby, Grey Kangaroo and a lone koala. I felt sure that there would be Antechinus (small marsupial hunter) somewhere in the National Park and it took 5 years to finally see four in one day in a small section of the forest in mid-summer. The pair below were running and chasing each other up the trunk of an old tree and along a dead branch. At one point the larger of the two (female?) carried up small branches/grasses in its mouth to what I assume to be a nest. The female can live several years while the male does not live past his first breeding season having mated until organ failure. Watching the energy of these two chase and wrestling up the tree trunk I can see how it might not end well for the male.
Brown Antechinus, Greens Bush, Mornington Peninsula National Park, Vic
While returning from my exploration of the fringes around the Tootgarook Swamp and photographing Striated Fieldwrens and Golden-headed Cisticolas I stood at the edge of the track looking into the swamp and my eye caught some movement at my feet. It was a native rat – an Australian or Eastern Swamp Rat (Rattus lutreolus). It is the first time I have seen a native swamp rat. I have seen and photographed Rikalis (native water rats) a few times but never a swamp rat. It took me a little while to convince myself I was not looking at the standard European black or brown rat. Its behaviour was odd – it seemed to totally ignore me no matter how close I got and only reacted when I made a decent noise (dropping to my knees with all my gear clanking around me). I saw that it had a deep wound on its side – it looked to be healing but may have resulted in unusual behaviours. With the raptors circling above I doubt it will live long coming into the open. While ignoring me it fed on small grass seeds and dug up roots at the base of the grass.
Swamp Rat, Tootgarook Wetlands, Tootgarook, Vic
The tail is much shorter on a Swamp Rat compared to a Black Rat.
I reckon the roo was stunned by my stalking prowess. Usually they are quite shy and will bound off as soon as they spot me trudging along the track with all my gear. I do try to walk quietly in case I find a Bassian Thrush or another ground bird on the path. More likely than being impressed, I think this tall male was quite confident that he could take me so he just waited for me to stop walking and then just ambled across the path and away into the forest.
Eastern Grey Kangaroo, Greens Bush, Mornington Penninsula National Park, Vic
Posted in Animal, Victoria
Tagged Animal photography, Australia, Eastern grey Kangaroo, Greens Bush, Grey Kangaroo, kangaroo, Mornington Peninsula, Mornington Peninsula National Park, Nature Photography, Photography
While driving along one of the forest roads in the Muckleford State Forest in Newstead, I drove along the edge of one of the homestead paddocks and noticed a very odd sheep amongst the flock.
Strange sheep of the Muckleford Forest
An old homestead
Posted in Animal, Black & White, Victoria
Tagged abandoned, alpaca, Australia, Muckleford State Forest, Nature Photography, Newstead, Photography, Sheep, Victoria
When I visit Newstead, I like to drop by Rise and Shine Bushland Reserve in Yandooit. One of the spots in the Reserve is called Pickpocket Diggings. It is an old gold mining area with many mullock heaps. It is a popular area for gold detecting enthusiasts. On most occasions I seem to be able to find Yellow-footed Antechinus, a carnivorous marsupial mouse, hopping across the path to trees in broad daylight. They dont seem to be bothered by people that much and I got pretty close. I watched this tiny hunter looking for insects at the base of a tree and when it caught something it ran back to its home in an old tree stump. The males only live less than a year and die out in a super charged breeding frenzy while the females live on to raise their pups.
Yellow-footed Antechinus, Rise and Shine Bushland Reserve, Sandon, Vic
Yellow-footed Antechinus home
At the Wilson Botanic Park last week, we noticed that there were dozens of turtles in the water and on the rocks sunning themselves. I watched as a pair fought it out for king of the rock…in slow motion…
Long necked Turtles, Wilson Botanic Park, Berwick, Victoria
Making his move…
Almost got it…
ohh pretty, Lotus Flower
a big splash…and one remained, oblivious to all the action…
I don’t often see Hares in the wild. I have seen two now at Werribee and both were a surprise…once when it came down a dirt track towards the car I thought it was a fox, then a small dog but then it raised its ears and I saw it was a hare.
The hare below was just sitting and enjoying a bit of sun on a cold winters day. When the birds alert went up that a raptor was cruising by it seemed to recognise the call and became much more aware and started to look up and around.
I had to check Wiki to learn more about it: Long-eared, and long limbed, Hares are fast runners, typically living solitarily or in pairs. Hare species are native to Africa, Eurasia, North America, and the Japanese archipelago. Hares do not bear their young below ground in a burrow as do rabbits, but rather in a shallow depression or flattened nest of grass called a form. Young hares are adapted to the lack of physical protection, compared to a burrow, by being born fully furred and with eyes open. They are able to fend for themselves soon after birth where rabbits are born blind and hairless.
Hares are swift animals: The introduced hare found in Australia (Lepus europaeus) can run up to 56 km/h and can leap up to 3 m (10 ft) at a time.
During a spring frenzy, hares can be seen chasing one another and “boxing”, one hare striking another with its paws (probably the origin of the term “mad as a March hare”). For a long time, this had been thought to be male competition, but closer observation has revealed it is usually a female hitting a male to prevent copulation.
Hare, Western Treatment Plant, T-section, Werribee
well suited for a life above ground, fast, wary and camouflaged
On the weekend I met up with my local “gang” of birders and we wandered up Elster Creek to the Golf Course lake and had a look around…besides finding a turtle (my first Eastern Long Necked), we also watched the feeding antics of the local Little Corellas feeding on the ripe seed cones of a tall skinny conifer. They use their feet like we would use our hands. I noticed that when the Noisy Miners (a local, aggressive Honeyeater) screeched out their alarm calls the Corellas stopped feeding and quickly looked skyward but did not seem overly concerned (did the alert suggest a certain generally non-threatening predator?)…I have seen a number of bird species do this…I am convinced there is a common bird language.
Little Corella enjoying a seed cone from a Conifer…
Watching us watch him…
Looking skyward when the alarm call goes out from a different bird species…
Eastern Long necked turtle, Elster Creek, Victoria
Posted in Animal, Bird Behaviour, Birds, Victoria
Tagged Australia, Australian Birds, Bird Behaviour, Bird Photography, Eastern Long Necked Turtle, Elster Creek, Little Corella, Nature Photography, Photography, Victoria
One night a few weeks ago I wandered along the local creek looking for Tawny Frogmouths and Boobook Owls. I have been spending more time lately improving my night and flash photography with my Canon Speedlite Flash units. To get close enough and take a picture of an owl at night I need to become much better at getting into position and using the flash (let alone actually finding the owls). Along the creek to the golf course where the owls had been spotted were many possums – the smaller Ring Tailed and larger Brush Tailed. Using a red coloured flash light and walking quietly I was able to get quite close to the possums and practice my focussing and shooting using the flash. I got mixed results and my owl shots (I actually found a Boobook on a fence at the lake) were terrible…hopefully I will get a second chance…meanwhile I will keep practicing on the local possums…
Ring Tailed Possum, Elster Creek, Elwood, Victoria
Demon eyed Ring Tailed Possum
Brush Tailed Possum, Elster Creek, Elwood, Victoria
While walking part of the Great South West Walk in the Lower Glenelg National Park I came across a Tiger snake sunning itself in the afternoon sun. I moved to the side of the track and photographed it as it got closer to my camera. It seemed curious about the lens. A good way to not fear a snake is to try and photograph it (safely)…well after the yelp of fright from initial contact… they are harder to photograph than birds…while moving much slower, they are less visible and less common to find.
Tiger Snake, Great South West Walk, Lower Glenelg National Park, Victoria