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