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
Spending time in the bush looking for birds makes you become more aware of sounds and small movements. If the birds are not being particularly vocal then you have to look for movement. Walking along a heathland walk just outside of town I saw movement on the ground and hoping to find a quail of some sort I instead stumbled onto a hunting scene. A Lace Monitor had caught a Ring-tailed Possum. I moved around the pair trying to keep a distance and found that the possum was still alive and weakly struggling. The large goanna became aware of me and broke off from the Possum and watched me a moment before dashing into thicker scrub. I gave the possum a nudge and it sat up, came out of a stupor, and scampered up a nearby tree and into its drey. I felt a little guilty disturbing the goanna in its hunt but being a mammal myself my guilt did not last too long…
Coming back along the track an hour later, I looked around the area for any sign of either combatant and found the goanna head height staring straight at me. It was in the same tree as the possum drey (nest) and I dont doubt that it would continue the hunt as soon as the possum re-appeared. My money would be on the reptilian patience.
Lace Monitor, Heathland walk, Mallacoota
Lace Monitor with Possum prey
Lace Monitor back hunting his prey
I have visited Greens Bush a few times recently. It is part of the Mornington Peninsula National Park. It is a good spot to visit between seasons as many bird species tend to migrate along the ridge lines heading North or South and I have a good chance of finding something interesting. On this occasion I was looking out for Owls and Nightjars. I think it would be a superb spot for Powerful Owls as the vegetation is right (deep shaded cool gullies) and there seems to be plenty of preferred prey (possums and I am sure some sugar-gliders). I saw many signs of Ring Tailed Possums including quite a few Dreys and even a tree that was packed with a colony with one hanging out…While walking along the track I flushed a Bassian Thrush. The Bassian has a similar habit as the Blackbird (but it a native and much more handsome). The Thrush skulks along paths and shoots off into the low scrub when scared. The one below kept just ahead of me and then flew to a low branch to watch me. I think it was a young bird as usually they are quite wary and fast to disappear.
Bassian Thrush, Greens Bush, Mornington Peninsula National Park, Victoria
Bassian Thrush – very well camouflaged on a bush track, hard to see until they flush
Ring Tailed Possum colony in a tree…
Posted in Birds, Victoria
Tagged Australia, Australian Birds, Bassian Thrush, Bird Photography, Greens Bush, Mornington Peninsula, National Park, Nature Photography, Ring Tailed Possum, 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
Saturday was another lovely Winter’s day in Melbourne and we decided to head down to the Melbourne Botanical Garden, (Cranbourne), also known as Australian Garden. We started at the Stringybark Picnic area and walked along the forest paths looking birds and reading the various information signs. We came across a large curious nest only a few metres off the ground. I could not figure out what made it or what was using it – I could see a brown furry looking lump through the side entrance but could not confirm what it was – I was unable to get closer without bashing through and damaging the prickly bushes in front. Last night, a local naturalist (Gio) suggested that it was most likely a Drey – a round nest made by a Ring-Tailed Possum. I did not know that Possums made nests like this nor had I ever heard of a Drey…
Drey, Cranbourne Botanical Gardens
Moving around the paths we saw a number of Eastern Yellow Robins and watched for a while as they hunted. I found one of their freshly made nests. Very similar style to the previous nest that I have posted about from Moorooduc.
Robin’s nest, Cranbourne Botanical Gardens,
The highlight of this part of the day was spotting a Southern Brown Bandicoot, a threatened marsupial species, often wiped out from areas by foxes. This site is protected by a fox proof fence and so the species is surviving. We saw one dart across a path. As we were walking back to the car my eagled eye walking partner yelled out that I was about to step on another one. This little guy was not very scared of me at all and we moved back a bit and took a few photos. It had some nasty healed up scars on its rump and a missing tail. I was surprised by its size – roughly the size of a small cat – much bigger than I expected. It moved around the path, had a little stretch and at some point decided to bolt off the track but only into the fringe where we watched it a bit more while it napped. We left it alone and drove to the main part of the gardens.
Southern Brown Bandicoot, Cranbourne Botanical Gardens
showing some old healed wounds on its back, its tail is also missing
Long claws front and back and a long nose that was surprisingly agile
Southern Brown Bandicoot
Leaping from the path to the scrub a few feet away – very powerful back legs
Posted in Animal, Victoria
Tagged Australia, Australia Garden, Cranbourne Botanical Gardens, Dray, Drey, Eastern Yellow Robin Nest, Nature Photography, Photography, Ring Tailed Possum, Southern Brown Bandicoot, Victoria
I thought I would have a quick look at the lake at Braeside Park, get my 2015 bird numbers up and practice with my Canon 1.4 Extender Lens. Using it means only shooting with manual focus – always a bit trickier and slower. I did add several birds to my year list and took a few pics, including juvenile darters drying their feathers after a morning swim/hunt.
The Goldfinch, while an introduced species that I am suppose to hate, is a colourful bird that moves quickly in groups and has a distinctive call. I found a flock of adults and juveniles attacking mature Scotch Thistles – they were tearing at the seed heads. I am not sure if they were eating the seeds or collecting the soft material for nesting as they flew off with a mouthful of thistle down.
European Goldfinch II
While at the bird hide adding Freckled and Blue Billed Ducks to my year list I saw this rabbit through the hide glass window and took a few pics. I then started to tap on the glass to see how long it took for it to assess the danger….it did eventually bound a few steps but stopped and started munching on the grass again not overly concerned. At the car-park when I first arrived I saw a few rabbits in the grass fringe, a common sight at this park even during the day. They don’t seem too worried about people. Dogs are not allowed but I assumed that there were foxes that survived the annual cull so I am surprised at how tame the local rabbits have become. As I got my camera gear ready I saw a number of rabbits start to bolt in a pattern that indicated that something was coming that was only slightly threatening – they did not bolt very far. It turned out to be two young foxes having a play hunt. They were quite funny to watch and as I fumbled for my long lens to get a few shots they saw me and took off…foxes are at least scared of people even if the local rabbits are not…
An old Birder once told me that the best place to find birds is at the carpark. I always have a look around the carpark at Braeside Park to try and find the resident Tawny Frogmouths. I can often find them but this time the only odd lump I found in the nearby trees was this lone Ring Tailed Possum trying to get his sleep on….he watched me for a while then tucked his head back in and went back to sleep.
Ring Tailed Possum
Posted in Braeside Park, Canon 1.4 Extender, Darter, Goldfinch, Rabbit, Victoria
Tagged Australia, Australian Birds, Bird Photography, Braeside Park, Darter, Fox, Nature Photography, Photography, Rabbit, Ring Tailed Possum, Victoria