All posts tagged: Mammals

Fern Pool Jubura Karijini Pilbara Western Australia

Fern Pool – Jubura

Fern Pool or Jubura is the last of the major landmarks hidden in Dales Gorge. The trail that leads from Fortescue Falls is surrounded by relictual riparian vegetation, reminding the hiker of the humid and tropical climate that once occurred in the Pilbara. Ferns colour the surroundings a lush green while fig trees or Winyarrangu (Ficus brachypoda) slowly strangle the rocks that support them. After a strenuous hike, Fern Pool offers a rewarding swim to some or a peaceful oasis to others, while the noisy Flying Foxes or Warramurungga (Pteropus alecto) have made it their favourite hangout.

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!

Orangutan Pongo pymaeus Forest Reserve Sabah Borneo Malaysia

Orangutan – back to the wild

Wow, it really has been a fair while since my last update on the Easter trip to Borneo. A lot has happened in the meantime: I followed the footsteps of my wife and have started running the Perth Hills trails rather seriously, making me stronger, faster and lighter every day. Winter is the best time of the year to pick up outdoor activities as this – mild temperatures and refreshing rains make those lengthy runs bearable while the transformation of nature into one big flowering mass provides a real feast for the eyes. I promise to post some truly spectacular wildflowers photos on iAMsafari very soon as they are not to be missed. Another project that has kept us busy is the purchasing and gearing up of our own Toyota Landcruiser – an investment in hardware indispensable for the discovery of the Australian outback, just tested around the wilderness of Gnaraloo where we have been swimming with Loggerhead turtles in Ningaloo Reef  – so stay tuned for more indeed! Although I really would like to …

Slow Loris Danum Valley Sabah Borneo Malaysia

Slow Loris

Over the past couple of weeks we have showcased some remarkable animals on iAMsafari and today’s slow loris (Nycticebus menagensis) is definitely another one! With the Western Tarsier being the smallest primate of Borneo, the slow loris is second in line – with only 11 inches in length and a body weight of around 300 grams it’s certainly no giant. Apart from the fact these animals are small they live high in the forest’s canopy and are therefore very hard to spot – combined with extremely low population densities of around one individual per 12 km² one is actually very lucky to find one at all. The first slow loris we encountered near the Sepilok Rainforest Discovery Centre walked on a height of 25-30 metres, slowly but surely moving on a thick branch in search of insects, fruits and tree gum – a fair sighting at dusk from the centre’s canopy walk, and judging the enthusiasm of our guide we got the impression this had to be regarded as very special. But as on so …

Musang Common Palm Civet Danum Valley Sabah Borneo Malaysia

Common Palm Civet – Musang Pandan

As opposed to peninsular Malaysia and Sumatra, Borneo is not inhabited by tigers – the title of biggest predator therefore automatically goes to the Sunda Clouded Leopard (Neofelis diardi). This beautifully marbled cat is one of the trophy mammals when trekking in the forests, however, they are so rare and elusive a sighting would be highly unlikely. Apart from other rare felines as for example the endemic Bay Cat (Pardofelis Badia) or the Leopard Cat (Prionailurus bengalensis borneoensis), civet cats are more numerous and therefore easier to find – especially the Common Palm Civet (Paradoxurus hermaphroditus) can be seen more readily at night around the densely vegetated sides of gravel roads and forest paths. In this habitat the almost entirely frugivorous civet builds its day-bed and acts as a major seed-dispersal agent. On one of our night walks around the Danum Valley Field Centre we stumbled upon this individual sitting on a big vine right next to the trail. Instead of rushing off into the forest it seemed stunned by our presence (and torchlights) only …

Western Tarsier Horsfield's Tarsier Kinabatangan Sabah Borneo Malayia Primate

Western Tarsier – Five in One

“Our Simpalili, better known to us as Lili the Simp, was the best endurance flagpole sitter in all of North Borneo. He was brought to us from the jungle clinging to a long stick, and his expression of strained affability, and his determination not to leave his stick, always reminded me of the expressions and actions of human contestants in American endurance contests” – Agnes Newton Keith, Land Below the Wind The variety of life in the Bornean rainforests is truly baffling. Especially the primates are well represented with for example the big-nosed Proboscis, the cheeky Macaque, agile Gibbon and the human-like Orang Utan, but although they are all fascinating in their own way, the Western Tarsier – the island’s smallest primate and mammal – was our favourite by far: just one look in its big eyes simply makes you want to cuddle this adorable prosimian. During the day Western Tarsiers (Cephalopachus bancanus borneanus) sleep on the vines and creepers of the dense forest undergrowth – at nighttime they become active to forage on insects and small vertebrates while …

Borneo Pygmy Elephant Kinabatangang Sabah Malaysia

Borneo Pygmy Elephant

We are back from Borneo. Two fantastic weeks in Sabah have given us one of our best wildlife experiences ever – and this is no exaggeration. Big swaths of land in the northeastern corner of the island are still covered in primary rainforests. Estimated to be over 130 millions old these are some of the oldest rainforests on our planet – no wonder we encountered such a rich and intriguing biodiversity under and above its almost impenetrable canopy. Spotting its diverse inhabitants was by no means easy. With only 2% of the sunlight reaching the forest floor most life seems to be concentrated amid the leafy tops of the tall Dipterocarps, beyond our sight and hearing, while the fact that many mammals are nocturnal is another obstacle for easy wildlife viewing. Add the leeches, stifling humidity and 5.30 wake-up calls (sci-fi ringtones) and you’ll have a rough sketch of the efforts we made to meet the animals – photography in those challenging circumstances is another chapter. But still, we got so much more than we bargained …

Warthog MPila KwaZulu Natal Hluhluwe-IMfolozi South Africa

Warthog – Residential Wildlife

My third contribution in the 5 Days Black-and-White Challenge is an animal that is part of Africa’s notorious ‘ugly five’. I’m not sure if I would have posted this Warthog in colour, although we’ve got fond memories of her as the residential lawnmower of Mpila in Hluhluwe-iMfolozi. What stands out in this monochrome version is the incredible high contrasting texture of her hairy coat. And then those eyelashes – isn’t she pretty??! If there is anyone who could learn us more about black and White photography it has to be Leanne Cole in my opinion. Leanne is a professional photographer based in Melbourne with a wonderful blog that is absolutely worth visiting – don’t miss her Monochrome Madness episodes.

Steenbok Kruger Park South Africa

Steenbok – Just Magic

Welcome back to the second post of the 5 Day Black-and-White Challenge. Today I’ve chosen to feature a photo of a tiny Steenbok we encountered near the boulders of Masorini in Kruger National Park, a cute little antelope that always tries to look pretty on photographs. But that’s not the only reason why I decided to share it with you – the other reason is the emotion behind the photograph. Let me try to explain this. Being outdoors, hearing the sounds of the animals, smelling the bush, see and feel the wild, all of that evokes a sense of freedom and authenticity in me, a sense of being part of a much bigger scheme of things. Apart from being outdoors myself, I’ve always enjoyed the work from people who possess the gift of perfectly capturing those emotions into images or words. Artists as Peter Beard, Karen Blixen or Laurens van der Post still provide me with ample inspiration, as does the work from contemporary writers, photographers and fellow-bloggers – they all share the same passion …

Zebra skin monochrome

Black and White Challenge – Stripes

A few days ago we were honoured with an invitation from our dear friends at De Wets Wild to participate in the 5 Day Black-and-White Photo Challenge. If anyone has ever read their reports on South Africa’s incredible parks and wildlife it’s easy to understand we were absolutely delighted by their invite – which we eagerly accepted. Regarding our own blog I personally believe it’s more about storytelling than anything else, and although you might like some of our shots we never had any technical photography training  whatsoever. To do something different than usual is therefore the real challenge, however, I believe there are a few simple rules or tricks to master black and white photography. The most important of course is the subject, which has to be suitable for print in black and white. And what other animal than the zebra could that be? Although so common in any game reserve it’s often overlooked after the first few encounters,  I’ll always be fascinated by their unique stripy coat that offers camouflage to the zebra …

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!