All posts tagged: Lesmurdie Falls NP

Cowslip Orchid Caladenia flava Swan Coastal Plain Western Australia

Djilba Orchids

As soon as the cold, wet and stormy winter weather gives way to an increasing number of clear and warm days, we know the so-called season of conception or Djilba has arrived. This transitional stage that started a few weeks back is always accompanied by the emergence of wildflowers; rather hesitant at first with some yellow acacias, soon followed by more spectacular displays in the most striking colours of red, blue and purple. Although there is an abundance of wildflowers with different colours and shapes to be discovered, orchids spark one’s imagination most. With around 25,000 species orchids form one of the three largest groups of flowering plants in the world; in Western Australia alone more then 400 species – 413 to be precise – have been identified so far. Scientific recording started as soon as the HMS Discovery anchored in King George Sound in 1791, and the ship’s naturalist Archibald Menzies collected the first three species. For the local Noongar people orchids provided an important food source, as the starchy roots were roasted in hot ashes …

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.

Female Splendid Fairy Wren Lesmurdie Fall Western Australia

Splendid Fairy Wren – Masks and Bills

When in the Australian bush, most people have visions of marsupials and reptiles in their mind. Understandable, however, the feathered inhabitants of our reserves and parks often get overlooked, and this is a pity regarding the fact that their number and diversity are far greater than those of mammals and reptiles combined; and with around 150 different species there is an impressive number to tick off! The biggest and noisiest birds are fairly easy to spot and identify, however, the majority of birds are small, move around rapidly and are hard to see and recognise. This certainly goes for the splendid fairy-wren; not so much for the blue males in full breeding plumage, but for the plainer, brown-coloured females and non-breeding males. Add the fact that five different species live alongside each other in our local bushland and you’ll get an idea about how complicated identification can be. When several species are around in an area, useful clues can be given by the colour and plumage of accompanying males or the repertoire of songs. However, out …

Sea Urchin Hakea petiolaris Lesmurdie Falls NP Perth Hills Western Australia

Sea Urchin Hakea

The last few weeks have been a real wildflower carnival. With warm weather and still decent rainfall we have been watching a parade of colours and shapes unfold up in the hills. Although the participants in this parade try to outshine each other in the quest for pollinators, the striking Sea Urchin Hakea (Hakea petiolaris) is one of my favourites. This early flowering tree is mainly found around the granite outcrops where it benefits from increased moisture and shade, and because of its stem-flowering or ‘cauliflory’ habit, it is thought that the Sea Urchin Hakea is a relict of an earlier, wetter and more forested habitat.

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 …

Whistling Kite Haliastur sphenurus Lesmurdie National Park Mundy Perth Hills

Whistling Kite

Summer has really started with temperatures soaring to a record high of 44.4°C a few days ago. The bad news about those extreme conditions is that bush fires are an almost common feature this time of the year – and we already had some eerily close. Apart from their beneficial effect on the germination of native plants, uncontrolled fires can be devastating for men, property and wildlife. While taking some pictures of blooming Christmas Trees a few weeks ago I noticed a raptor cruising the high skies while using the early afternoon thermal currents. Excited as a young kid I started to look for its perch, and to my big surprise I managed to locate the nest about 300 metres from where I first noticed the bird! According to the distinctive high-pitched call there was no doubt I had found the hide-out of a family of Whistling Kites (Haliastur sphenurus), a medium-sized raptor found throughout Australia and New Guinea. Mum and dad perched on the high branches of a tall Marri tree, but my discovery held …

Christmas Tree Nuytsia floribunda Perth Hills Western Australia Moodjar

Christmas Tree – Season Greetings

The Australian Christmas Tree (Nuytsia floribunda) or Moodjar is not exactly known for its lights or baubles, but for its spectacular display of golden flowers that appear in Birak or the ‘yellow season’. The succulent roots, nectar-rich flowers and nutritious sweet gum of the world’s largest mistletoe are prized by the Nyungar, however, as the tree is thought to be inhabited by the spirits of dead people it is better left alone when not in bloom. So we are lucky to have another kind of Christmas tree around our place – and therefore would like to wish you all a Merry Christmas while it’s in full glory!

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.

King Skink Egernia kingii

King Skink

We have a family of King Skinks (Egernia kingii) living under the laterite blocks just in front of our tree hut. With the weather warming up significantly the entire family can be seen basking in the sun almost every day now. It is easy to observe them as long as you don’t make sudden movements or cast your shadow over them – those lizards are extremely shy and the slightest movement will make them hide in their burrow. Despite their skittish nature they’ll quickly take a peek to see if the danger has gone after being disturbed, and once your spotted they closely keep an eye on you. Smart thing to do when you’re considered a tiger snake’s favourite prey… Who’s watching? Tell me who’s watching. Who’s watching me? Rockwell – Somebody’s Watching Me  

Motorbike frog Litoria moorei tree frog

Motorbike frog – Born To Be Wild

While cleaning out part of the back garden I stumbled upon this little motorbike frog (Litoria moorei) sunbathing on a sheet of galvanised steel. These little ground dwelling  tree frogs are named after the male frog’s mating call, resembling a motorbike changing up gears. Especially after the last of the winter rains and into the early breeding season it sounds like a scene from Easy Rider. Click on the mp3 below, close your eyes and imagine cruising on you own Harley!

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 …

Common Donkey Orchid Lesmurdie Falls NP

Common Donkey Orchid – Djilba

Common Donkey Orchids (Diuris corymbosa) are some of the easiest recognisable Australian orchids due to their large ‘Donkey ear-like’ petals. These orchids flower between August and October, and with the first specimens blooming on the sandy soils of the Darling scarp the first signs of spring have finally arrived. According to the Nyungar calendar this time of the year is called Djilba – the growing season during which a massive explosion of wild flowers in Australia’s South West is happening. In anticipation of this botanic spectacle it would be an understatement to say we are getting a little excited!

Bobtail lizard

The weather is changing. May is a beautiful time of the year with mild days and crisp nights. Autumn’s chill creeps in and the first rains have started to transform the landscape with grass growing, water flowing and the first trees flowering. As soon as the sun appears on these cool days reptiles can be found on granite outcrops, absorbing heat to regulate their body temperature. When I was looking for Ornate Dragons (Ctenophorus ornatus) hiding in the cracks and crevices of the granite boulders,  I actually stumbled upon this Bobtail lizard (Tiliqua rugosa) at the side of the trail. Absolute motionless with only its eyes observing my movements, it offered the perfect opportunity for some close-up shots.  They are slow, docile and easy to pick up, and therefore often traded as exotic pets for as much as $9,000 on the Asian black market. In order to curb this practice smugglers are sentenced heavily while trying to get those reptiles out of the country stuffed in handbags or teddy bears. Sad but true. Confiscated Bobtails are …

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!

Ringneck Parrot 28 Lesmurdie Falls National Park Mundy Perth Hills Western Australia

Twenty eight Parrot – Welcome to the tree hut

Hurray! After a few months of hard work we have finally settled in. Our new house is adjacent to Lesmurdie Falls National Park, completely surrounded by tall Marri (Corymbia calophylla) and Jarrah (Eucalyptus marginata) trees. As the deck in front of the house is equally high as the canopy we have baptised this wonderful place ‘The Tree Hut’. The surrounding forrest is home to native wildlife including flocks of noisy tail waggling Twenty-eights, a subspecies of the Australian Ringneck (Bernardius zonarius semitorquatis), clearly recognised by its red frontal band and its distinctive ‘Twenty-eight’ call. The Nyungar called this bird Darlmoorluk and regarded it as a guardian or protector of their camps, keeping evil spirits at bay. So hopefully our home is blessed with having those happy birds around, providing us with a place from which we can live our dreams.