Friday, 24 March 2017

Snake news!

One of the convenient things about living in the rainforest its that wildlife comes to you.

This carpet snake was looking for somewhere to digest its meal.

This young scrub python found a spot to sleep.

An adult brown tree snake went foraging for food in the laundry.

This baby brown tree snake wanted me to know who was boss.

A blue phase green tree snake. Very handsome. You should have seen it IRL!

The carport was festooned with shed skins, because that's a good place to hang out. Also hang down.

All those stayed outside, but this small-eyed snake found a spot on the threshold.

And one large and feisty red-bellied snake made itself at home in the living room for quite a long time until I finally called the snake catcher. Here it is on the garden steps, making plans.

Not pictured: northern crowned snake, which was the first species I saw at this place.

They're all welcome, of course. As long as they remain on the other side of the door.

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Putting on my tails...

On some days the coppery brushtailed possums wake up early. This fellow was getting ready at 4pm.

Wait! I'm not prepared for my close up

Just need to get my tail in order

And comb my hair

We'll just gloss over this photo

Right. How do I look?

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Maria Island: The Wildlife of Darlington

The wombat stretched as much as a wombat can stretch and settled down for a nap. It had chosen a spot just above the jetty at Darlington. Had I not just arrived on Maria Island, I would have done the same. Facing the sea, of course, because I don't have an opportunity to look at it at my place.

Snoozy among the timbers

Maria Island National Park is home to a variety of mammal species, including Tasmanian devils. There was plenty of evidence of their presence. In some places, it was difficult to walk without stepping in poo: wombat cubes, macropod pellets, and fur- and feather-filled devil scat. But it was a hot day and most of the wildlife was lying deep in the shade. Only Snoozy here made an appearance.

Snoozy wakes

The birds were more obliging, although they weren't going to get too close.

Pied oystercatcher, silver gulls, chestnut teal and Pacific gull

There are plenty of Tasmanian native-hens, a large flightless rail known locally as 'turbo chooks' because of their supercharged dashes. They are also not keen on being photographed. So picture a turbo-chook here →🐔

The most obvious birds are Cape Barren geese. These handsome grey geese spend their time cropping grass, honking at cyclists, and avoiding Tasmanian devils. They are abundant at Darlington. And I really like taking photos of them, if only for their fluorescent yellow beaks and two-tone legs.

At Darlington

And a bit further away from Darlington

The beak is good, but look at the feet!

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Waiting for Grebe

Some time last week I was scanning Lake Barrine with a pair of binoculars and muttering to myself, when someone said, 'Excuse me. Are you a bird watcher?'

I admitted that I was.

'What are you looking at?'

That was a good question. Apart from a pair of Pacific black ducks that were paddling around the tour boat, hoping for a piece of scone, the lake surface appeared lifeless.

'Great crested grebes,' I said. 'There's a big flock of them on the other side.'

I handed the binoculars to her and pointed at the spot, about 800 metres away.

'There,' I said. 'Can you see them?'


She passed the binoculars back to me. I peered through them.

'Oh. They've dived. Hang on. They're back up.'

'I can't see them,' she said.

'No. They've gone under again.'

And so it went, for about fifteen minutes: the binoculars passed back and forth and the dialogue repeated with variations. A Beckett play for bird watchers.

I went back today. This time with a camera.

A watery Sahara
Not a dicky bird
Wait. What's this?
Goodness gracious! Great crested grebes!
There are 25 great crested grebes in this photo. Trust me.

Sunday, 12 March 2017

The Second Worst Birdwatcher in the World

On 1 January 2002, Sean Dooley set off to see 700 species of Australian birds. His first tick was a sooty owl in Bunyip State Park, Victoria. His last bird was a little bittern in a suburban park in Brisbane. By the end of the year, he'd traveled all over the country and spotted 703 species. He recorded his birding adventures in The Big Twitch, a lovely, gently funny book that I've read three or four times.

Now, I'm the second worst birdwatcher in the world modesty prevents me from claiming the title of worst, but, yanno so I'm planning a much smaller project. My goal is to see quite a few birds. I'm not setting a target, but I'll be happy with 300 species. My joy will increase with each successive tick beyond 300. And if I hit 400, I might well require medical attention.

My bird list is over there → (I'm not sure where it is if you're looking at the mobile version.) It's currently at 141 species, split between Far North Queensland and Tasmania. I've planned a few small trips for the year, so let's see how this goes.

First tick of the year: brush-turkey

Thursday, 21 January 2016

Nature Photo Challenge #5: Wall of Fern

I'm not going to say much about today's image, other than it's a tree fern (Cyathea) frond in the morning sun.

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Nature Photo Challenge #4: Fungi

When the monsoon trough made a brief appearance at Christmas, the fungi soon followed. Fallen timber sprouted slabs and plates, shelves and brackets, and parasols of little mushrooms. All of them were photogenic. And all of them were less than 20 cm from the forest floor or, as I like to think of it, that damp, decaying carpet of leaves all set about with leeches, scrub itch and ticks.

Frilly gills all in a row

Now were I dedicated, I would have put down a tarp and lain on it to take photos. Or I would have fitted a right-angled viewfinder. But I'm not, so I didn't do either of those things. Instead, I held the camera down low, aimed it in roughly the right direction and hoped for the best. Sometimes that works.