All posts filed under: Australian Mammals

Western Grey Kangaroo Leeuwin National Park Western Australia

Portrait of a Buck

When the search for a small animal turned into a close encounter with a big one! This portrait of a Western Grey Kangaroo – often overlooked and taken for granted in the Australian bush – shows its raw and authentic features when foraging at arm’s length. Inquisitive enough to pose for the camera, sufficiently alert to defend its nearby doe with a kick of its mighty hind legs.

Common Wallaroo Euro Bigurda Marsupial Kalbarri National Park Western Australia

Common Wallaroo – Bigurda

“The estuary appeared this morning even more lovely than yesterday, and as the heavy morning mists arose, unfolding its beauties to our view, all those feelings came thrilling through my mind which explorers alone can know; flowering shrubs and trees, drooping foliage, a wide and placid expanse of water met the view; trickling springs and fertile flats were passed over by us; there was much barren land visible in the distance, though many a sign and token might lead the practical explorer to hope that he was about to enter upon a tract of an extent and fertility yet unknown in south-west Australia” – George Grey, Journals of two expeditions of discovery When Sir George Grey and his exploring party stranded in Kalbarri in 1839, they were the first Europeans to see the mouth of the Murchison river, with 820 kilometres the second longest river in Western Australia. It rises north of Meekatharra in central Western Australia, from where it flows southwest to the Indian Ocean. For about 80 kilometres, when the river enters Kalbarri …

Agile Wallaby Broome Bird Observatory Western Australia

Agile Wallaby

After a very dry wet season, the bush surrounding the Broome Bird Observatory looked brown and dry. The sandy soils of this part of the Kimberley are dominated by Coffee Fruit (Grewia breviflora), Helicopter Trees (Gyrocarpus Americanus) and Broome Pindan Wattles (Acacia eriopoda), with diffused tufts of Spinifex grass in the understory. Although this habitat offers most abundant food in the wet, opportunistic feeders as the Agile Wallaby (Macropus agilis) are perfectly able to broaden their diet by shifting to alternative food resources, such as fruits, leaves and roots from other plants: the tracks that can be found on the beach every morning show those marsupials come to the mangroves to feed on propagules during the night. But Agile Wallabies are not the only creatures that harvest the beach after dark. Every morning before the sun rises, thousands of Land Hermit Crabs or irramunga (Coenabita variabilis) commute between beach and bush after the collection of their newly found homes. A journey that many are not likely to survive when crossing Crab Creek road – a journey …

Short-nosed Bandicoot Quenda Perth Hills Western Australia

Bandicoot in monochrome

We’re into May already and well into the season of Djeran, with cool nights, dewy mornings and pleasant daytime temperatures. The colours around us slowly start to shift from predominantly browns to greens, and that feel will remain until at least the end of September. These conditions make spending time in the bush rather pleasant, and therefore I have been out regularly in the last month. Last week’s highlight was this inquisitive and frantically foraging Bandicoot or Quenda. With its brownish color it was fairly neutral against the leaf litter, so I desaturated the picture to remove color and increased the blacks for a contrasting fur and snout.

Common Brushtail Possum Trichosurus vulpecula Leeuwin Western Australia

Brushtail Possum – Conto’s scrounging scavenger

After the Dingos of El Questro, Hyenas in Mpila and Moongooses on Sugerloaf, we can now add the possums at Conto’s – the scrounging scavengers of one of our favourite campsites in WA. Spot them on the prowl in the dark of the night, high in the canopy of the peppermint woodland; just stay around long enough around the campfire with torch, camera and nightcap for guaranteed mischief!

Common Brushtail Possum Lesmurdie Falls National Park Mundy Perth Hills Western Australia

Publishing, Long-Tails and Possums

As a wildlife photographer I always hope to spot spectacular creatures, to capture them in the most artistic way and to publish the results in posts that go viral on the internet. Wouldn’t that just be fantastic? Absolutely, but it never happens. I guess that iAMsafari is just a reflection of our ramblings in the outdoors, aiming to entertain highly esteemed followers, fellow-bloggers and ourselves! A glance at our blog’s statistics shows that some posts are more popular than others, but just a handful seem to draw in visitors over and over again – these are the true ‘hits’ and ‘best-sellers’ here at iAMsafari. The majority however is read and liked significantly less regular – as opposed to the very popular posts they are what is often called the ‘long-tail’ of publishing. This is nothing new as every blog or collection of published articles will show the same distribution unless you either release just blockbusters or ill-received content (both options seem pretty unlikely to me by the way). Although I admit that statistics and popularity are …

Bottlenose Dolphin Tursiops Aduncus Monkey Mia Shark Bay Western Australia

Bottlenose Dolphin Puck – Leading Lady of Monkey Mia

When international dolphin research started in Western Australia’s Shark Bay in 1982, female Bottlenose Dolphin (Tursiops aduncus) Puck would never have believed she’d become a true film star – but she did. Just before we left for a trip to this remote World Heritage area 850 kms north of Perth, we watched the 2009 BBC Documentary ‘The Dolphins of Shark Bay’. This documentary follows a family called ‘The Beachies’, named after their regular fishing expeditions in the shallow waters of Monkey Mia. As other dolphin families living in the vast Shark Bay area The Beachies form a tightly knit group led by adult females; matriarch Puck and her daughters Piccolo and Kiya. Together with their offspring they regularly visit the beach of Monkey Mia to hunt or to receive fish from Department of Parks and Wildlife rangers – the perfect chance to meet those big brained mammals up-close and personal! Interaction between humans and dolphins in Monkey Mia goes back long time. Aboriginal fishermen would use dolphins to chase fish close to the shore and share their …

Southern Brown Bandicoot Quenda Lesmurdie Falls National Park

Southern Brown Bandicoot – Quenda

Yesterday I spent some time in the bush again and returned as a very happy man. No, I haven’t found any Ornate Dragons – instead I had a superb sighting of an elusive Southern Brown Bandicoot or Quenda (Isoodon obesulus). Often mistaken for large rats, the Quenda is a marsupial roughly the size of a rabbit that forages on insects, small vertebrates and plants in dense shrubland and understory of Eucalypt woodland, a habitat that provides both ample food and security. They use their strong claws to dig cone-shaped hollows for food, most of the time the only trace you’ll find as the slightest movement or sound generally makes this wary animal rush back to its nest for cover – long skirts from grass trees are often favourite spots. The Southern Brown Bandicoot population has been protected as numbers declined due to habitat loss and feral predators. However, the Western Shield feral predator control program from the Department of Parks and Wildlife has brought a recent recovery, and not only the Bandicoot but also other …

Common brush-tail possum baby

Baby possum!

It was a special moment back in April when our brush-tail possums (Trichosurus vulpecula) featured on iAMsafari. Yesterday was maybe as memorable when the female proudly presented her young to us! Although common brush-tail possums tend to breed in spring (September to November) we already saw a lot of activity last autumn with a local male consorting the female around her den. As possums are marsupials the newborn climbs up through the mother’s fur into the pouch to attach to a teat. Only after seven to nine months the youngster leaves the den to ride on the female’s back. Easy to look around and explore the new surroundings but pretty hard work – and balancing – for mum.

Short-beaked Echidna monotremes Lesmurdie NP

Short-beaked Echidna

Sometimes we travel long distances in the hope of finding our favourite animals. The idea is to cover as much ground as possible to increase chances of crossing paths somewhere along the track. However, some of our most memorable wildlife encounters were right at the doorsteps from more or less permanent residences; rest camps, look-outs, campgrounds or, more recently, our own house aka Tree hut. Yes, staying put and quietly observing your immediate surroundings is often the best way to enjoy wildlife in a much more relaxed and natural way – at least in my humble opinion. Yesterday we experienced another highlight so incredibly nearby. Just when I wanted to go for a late afternoon run a rustling noise in the bush drew the attention of my wife. Careful analysing the sound we came to the conclusion it couldn’t be one of the Western Grey Kangaroos living in the reserve. Quickly grabbing the camera and climbing over the fence of the garden we tried to discover the tiniest movement in the scrubby undergrowth of the …

Koala Yanchep NP

Koala

If there is one animal that has become a beloved Australian icon it is the Koala (Phascolarctos cinereus). Widely perceived as cute and cuddly this arboreal marsupial feeds a few hours a day on Eucalyptus leaves. As this diet hardly contains any nutrients and calories koalas spend most of the time sleeping in a tree, and as nineteenth century British naturalist John Gould observed ‘it is so slothful that it is very difficult to arouse and make it quit its resting place’. Large numbers of koalas have been hunted for its fur and skins in the late 19th and 20th century. Regarding the millions of skins exported Koalas once were much more abundant than they are today. However, clearing, fragmentation and degradation of natural habitat, infections with Chlamydia, bush fires and drought are the main causes of population declines or collapses since the ban on the fur trade. The natural range of Koalas currently stretches from the north-east Queensland to the south-east corner of South Australia, a distribution thought to be similar to the one …

Humpback Whale Fluke Flinders Bay Augusta

Humpback Whale

The annual migration of humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) along the coast of Western Australia is a true spectacle. While breeding in the warm northern waters of the Kimberley and feeding in the food-rich waters of the Southern Ocean, humpbacks travel long distances close to shore. The sheltered bays of Point Ann (Fitzgerald National Park), King George Sound (Albany) and Flinders Bay (Augusta) have always been particularly good places for us to spot those graceful animals during the winter months. Despite the fact that the water was rather choppy this time we managed to get some decent sightings of playful females showing loads of fluke- and fin-slapping. No doubt we’ll be back later this year for the gigantic Blue whales. Can’t wait!

Western Grey Kangaroo Yanchep NP

Western Grey Kangaroo

The western grey kangaroo (Macropus filiginosus) is one of four large kangaroos and wallaroos that occur in Western Australia. They are recognisable by the white marks on the forehead as well as their finely haired muzzle. Western grey kangaroos are grazers that feed on grasses and herbs, and like ruminants have micro-organisms breaking down fibrous plant material by fermentation. Most animals move out into the open at dusk to feed from late afternoon till early morning. With plentiful succulent green grass available close encounters such as in Yanchep National Park are pretty easy. Note the little Willie Wagtail (Rhipidura leucophrys) hopping around the roo in order to catch any creatures disturbed by their grazing.

Common Brushtail Possum Lesmurdie Falls National Park Mundy Perth Hills Western Australia

Common Brush-tail Possum

By the sheer number of droppings on the stairs and the penetrating smell of urine underneath the deck of the verandah we should have known we were going to share our Tree Hut with a bunch of possums. Just because of their rather physical presence many people regard those tree-dwelling marsupials as a pest, but because they are protected under the Wildlife Conservation Act possums can’t be removed without permission of the State government. Regarding the abundance of wild fruit on our property and the numerous spaces to establish dens, any vacant possum-smelling space would attract new residents in no-time anyway. Apart from their nocturnal ramblings and territorial fights I guess we have started to love our closest neighbours who come out underneath their Jacaranda tree at twilight almost every day; a routine that makes close-up encounters good fun for kids and easy for photographers!