Busselton holiday – tales of herps, underwater & possums..

Last weekend we enjoyed an extra long weekend at a holiday house in Busselton with my wife, 2 kids and my mom-in-law.

It started well from a wildlife point of view, as I parked outside our house to collect the keys I saw a new species of skink – southwest cool skink.

Later that afternoon we discovered we had a resident King’s skink pair that slept behind a plant pot just on our front porch and spent the late afternoon sunning itself there – not sure where they spent the rest of the day but we did see one in the back garden.  They were very camera shy and the kids also wanting to see didn’t help me!

We also had quite a few bobtails out and about – we had a pair being friendly in the garden just next to the carport.

2017-11-05 12.46.05

I see you and I need some privacy!

That night we took advantage of my mom-in-law babysitting our baby and my wife, Liam and I went to the possum trail I have blogged about before – see blog for directions.  We kitted up with headtorches, cameras and mozzie repellent.

2017-11-04 19.03.24

Ready to go!

We didn’t see possums straight away – our first sighting was this spider and pair of tawny frogmouth.

Liam was having a great time looking for critters in all places like this hollow log.  He did say he saw bears!

We then saw our first Western ringtail possums – all up about 15 that night.

…..then followed by some roos.

And some brushtail possums – they look quite different from the ringtails – especially the ears.

The last possum sighting of the night was this cute mum & bub which completed our night out very nicely.

Western ringtail possum @ Busselton

On one of the days we took the train out to the end of the Busselton Jetty – one of the longest wooden jetties in the southern hemisphere – over a mile!  At the end of the jetty they have built an observatory in approx 8m of water.  I have dived the jetty before in the past but was keen to show the family.

We had a lovely time seeing heaps of marine life – Liam proudly pointing out a dead crab which he said was asleep on its back!  We all really enjoyed the observatory – while not a cheap thing to do – it was good to experience while on holiday and you are supporting the upkeep of the jetty.

2017-11-06 10.01.13

We had a lovely relaxing holiday – I got to see plenty of wildlife and better yet show my kids!

Advertisements

Trapping at Kensington Bushland

One of my local areas of bush is Kensington Bushland – a remnant area of Banksia woodland.  I have blogged about it before when I put a camera trap out to watch a Rainbow bee-eater nest.  I had shown an interest in doing some more trapping and the council & friends group had arranged for a terrestrial fauna survey to be completed.

A research associate from the WA Museum had laid out a series of trap lines – with pit traps (buckets dug into the ground) with a shade mesh fence and a few funnel traps for larger animals.

This trapping went for about 2 weeks – with the traps being checked each morning.

I went the first day and we setup the funnel traps, draped them with hessian to provide some cover and also removed the lids from the trapping run about a month before.

 

The previous trapping didn’t catch much as it was quite cold and rainy which prevents many of the reptiles moving about too much.

Our first catch was a Bobtail in one of the funnel traps – as it was still early and quite cold it was pretty sluggish.

We also caught a few of the introduced pest Portuguese millipedes and this cool looking centipede.

20171004-102a77522.jpg

Centipede in a pit trap @ Kensington Bushland

That was all we caught on my second day helping.

The third day I came down I heard the day before they had caught a dugite in one of the funnel traps.  On the second trap line in one of the pit traps, we caught a Buchanan’s Snake-eyed Skink – this is the common one you often find on the fence in your garden.

Buchanan’s snake-eyed skink @ Kensington Bushland

In the next trap line in a pit trap we caught a new species for me – Common dwarf skink (Menetia greyii).

Throughout the bushland there were lots of lovely wildflowers.

I really enjoyed the trapping and it should run again in December when it will be much warmer and catch more critters!

Looking for numbats at Boyagin Nature Reserve

Its on my wildlife bucket list to see a wild numbat.  I get out wildlife watching fairly often in the Perth region but numbats live that little bit further away, they are diurnal (out during the day) when I am normally working or with the family and also they are listed as endangered as there are probably less than 1000 left.  There are only 2 natural populations left – Dryandra and Perup, with Boyagin a site where they have been reintroduced.  They used to cover most of the southern region of Australia before the introduction and spread of foxes.

My wildlife buddy Jimmy and I planned a Saturday night away at Boyagin Nature Reserve – out in the wheatbelt not too far from Brookton – about an hour 45 mins from Perth.

I had seen quite a lot of facebook activity with people spotting numbats on The Dryandra (Incl Boyagin/Tutanning) – A South West Australian Safari group – so that made me really want to get down and see my first one.  Jimmy had warned me it can be a slog sometimes but that just makes it all the more rewarding when you see one.  I studied these tips from Sean van Numbat (van Alphen)!

I met Jimmy at Boyagin as he had already been at Tutanning Nature Reserve looking for Thorny Devils – an amazing lizard that can be pretty hard to find.  On my way off Brookton Hwy I saw a beautiful Wedge-tailed eagle being harassed by a mob of ravens.

We dropped a car off and started the numbat hunt – driving slowly scanning the woodland in likely habitat.  One of their prime habitats is Wandoo woodland with its hollow fallen logs for cover and plenty of wood on the ground for their food – the termite.

Wandoo with plenty of fallen wood – see the Gastrolobium flowering.

The countryside was spectacular with lots of wildflowers – especially the orangey Gastrolobium shrubs.

We found some probable evidence of numbats in terms of a burrow and diggings but none of the elusive critters.  They dig following the underground termite galleries.  We did see 3 awesome echidna and I was able to get very close to two of them.

We searched for about 3 hours and then headed to Pingelly for a pub meal.  We then came back after dark for some spotlighting – hoping to see some nocturnal marsupials and perhaps a Western spotted frog.  Jimmy had seen Tammar wallaby and the frogs at Tutanning the night before so we were hopeful.  We spent 3-4 hours spotlighting but the only marsupials were common brushtail possums and Western grey kangaroos.  We did find some Western spotted frogs – this is a burrowing frog and it was a dry night, not sure why they were around?  I did also hear a White-striped freetail bat flying above us and caught a glimpse of a bat fluttering in the headtorch beam.

The possums posed for shots but the roos were pretty skittish.

We also saw this awesome Tawny frogmouth.

Tawny frogmouth @ Boyagin

The next morning we headed out numbat spotting again – we put in another 3 hours or so but no luck – not even echidna today but saw a few lovely birds and heard many calling.

It was a great time but I will have to put more time in before I get my first numbat.  I need to start making plans to be back during the day!

I headed for home and saw this little guy on the road and helped him to safety..

Bobtail @ Boyagin

Quenda, quenda, quenda – Piney Lakes

I had been on parental leave and this was my last weekday before heading back to work – there was a play date on at home so I was going to head out for some exploring.

In some of my research I had seen Piney Lakes had lots of Oblong Turtles and it was a place I had driven past many times wondering what it was like in there.  In my reading up they also spoke about Quenda that can be found there.

I drove in from Leach Hwy – noting you can’t park inside on weekends.

As soon as I got out of the car I heard the unmistakable call of a rainbow bee-eater – they are a summer visitor and fly down from the North & PNG to breed in sandy tunnels – so lots of places in Perth play host to them.

resize-5925

Rainbow Bee-eater

There is an education centre which I suspect is the main function of the place.   I headed past there seeing lots of honeyeaters and wattlebirds.

resize-5820

White-cheeked honeyeater

I walked through sculpture garden to the walk around the wetland.  Just as I entered the gate I saw a quenda dash away but wasn’t able to grab a photo.

As I walked on the track the vegetation is quite close and you can hear lots of birds.  I came across this awesome juvenile bobtail lizard getting some sun on this warm day.

resize-5842

Just beyond I found a bigger bobtail with one eye – must have been a violent encounter in the past perhaps with a cat, dog or maybe fox?.

resize-5846resize-5844

I hadn’t seen or heard any more quenda for a while but then saw one dash into the bushes – they are pretty timid here.  Flitting about on a nest box was this striated pardalote.

resize-5858

I also saw a skink dash away – I didn’t manage a shot – I was missing lots today.  Looking at the reptile book at home I think it was an odd-striped Ctenotus and they are pretty hard to identify without a really good shot or catching them.

I walked all the way round the vegetated lake and then went onto the boardwalk where I quickly spotted a quenda – this time I was quieter and it was feeding during the day but under vegetation most of the time.

resize-5908

I spotted a couple more – if you were patient and quiet you could really watch their feeding behaviour.

I then spotted a bird which was zipping up and down tree trunks and I thought it might be a varied sittela but on examination it was a rarely seen but common white-browed scrubwren.

resize-5890

I had a nice view of a family of splendid fairywrens – also known as blue wrens where the dominant male is an iridescent blue – it didn’t pose nicely for me!  I also saw a nice Western Wattlebird.

I was so pleased seeing quenda feeding in late afternoon – this has to become one of my spots to see them.

On leaving I saw another Western Wattlebird feeding on Banksia.

resize-5914

This is a really nice spot – I am sure there are more reptiles to be seen and also amphibians – but the quenda during the day was the standout.