Stroll through Kings Park

My beautiful wife and I try to get some date time each fortnight.  This fortnight Mel had the brilliant idea to drop the kids off with their Grandies and go for a walk in Kings Park next to Perth CBD.  Kings Park is Perth’s botanical gardens, combined with lovely parks, play areas and two thirds of it bush in a 400 hectare reserve very close to the CBD.

It was feeling like spring weather and we headed to the park planning to walk through the botanical gardens which should be full of flowers this time of year.  I also wanted to walk down “Law walk” as I had heard on facebook that someone had seen 12 Quenda (Isoodon fusciventer) during the daytime on a walk recently.  It’s surmised that an unauthorised release of Quenda occurred in the park as their genetics indicate they come from the Bibra lake region and the staff both love and detest them – they are digging away, do what bandicoots do, but can’t read the signs to keep out of the immaculately tended botanic gardens full of rare plants!

It was really busy and we found it tough to get a park but immediately felt at peace once we started walking through the gardens.

Once we headed down to Law walk I saw what I think were possibly bandicoot diggings but didn’t see an actual Quenda.

As we headed down the path a little further we saw a bounce of a bird that was unmistakably a Fairy-wren.  It settled on the fence and we could see the blue of an eclipse non-dominant male.

Purple-backed fairy-wren @ Kings Park

We then caught a glimpse of a brilliantly coloured bird with a couple of other drab cross the path in front of us.

It was the dominant male and I had a suspicion it was a Variegated fairy-wren (there are many species in the wider Perth region).  I checked with the brains trust (WA Birds fb group) and they confirmed it was this species but also advised it had been recently split from the widely distributed Variegated fairy-wren and now was known as the Purple-backed fairy-wren! (Malurus assimilis).  It is also possible to determine which species the female belongs to with this imaginative titled Birdlife Australia article ‘50 shades of brown!‘ see a photo of a female below.

We followed the flock and I saw one other new species for me – a Varied sittella (Daphoenositta chrysoptera).  Not a great shot but was able to tell the species from underneath.

Varied sittella @ Kings Park

A lovely walk with great company (wife without kids!) on a beautiful Spring day – the warmer weather is coming!

 

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Piney Lakes – revisit

I had some spare time during the day and thought it would be nice to see some mammals if I could.  I previously saw Quenda during the day at Piney Lakes, Winthrop – so I thought I should head back.  I timed my visit during a dry window on a July day – I actually saw a little sun which was nice.  I parked at the Environment education centre which is just off Leach Hwy (the carpark is closed weekends).

I headed for the wetland walk which is a boardwalk where I saw Quenda last time.  I walked a long way through a number of different paths and around the lake – but only heard a noise in a bush by the path which could have been a Quenda – I didn’t spot any :(.

I got a couple of nice bird shots but it was lovely to be out during the day anyway.  And perhaps Piney Lakes isn’t a dead cert for Quenda  like I thought it was – or perhaps the inclement weather had them in their burrows.

This is a Western wattlebird – not as well known as the more common Red wattlebird.

And this Willy wagtail posed just in front of me.  All in all it was a nice day to be walking through bush.

Willy wagtail @ Piney Lakes.

 

Ringtails in Dawesville, Mandurah

The Western Ringtail Possum (Pseudocheirus occidentalis) is not as common as the Brushtail possum which I have seen many times and spoken about in this blog.  In fact the Western species is classified as vulnerable (some say they are endangered now) and the overall population is tending to decrease due to habitat loss, fragmentation and predation by pythons, feral cats & foxes.  They are pretty much aboreal (live in trees), eat mainly peppermint (Agonis flexuosa) leaves and make nests in trees called dreys (brushtails prefer tree hollows).  There main stronghold is in the Busselton region where they are often seen but much of their original habitat has been lost.

I got a tip off from my in-laws who were staying in Mandurah that they had possums outside their accommodation and after clarifying with them – they were ringtails!  I did some googling and found that Dawesville has the most Northern populations of ringtails.  These populations are meant to have come from a successful translocation from Yalgorup National Park and they have moved into this area.

My family and another were staying in Mandurah on the Easter Long Weekend.  Last year I convinced my mate Russ to go spotlighting at Paganoni Lake and all we saw was a roo and a Southern Boobook – when we had hopes of phascogale!  Anyway this year I thought the ringtails would be good target after the information I had received.

We headed out after getting the kids all in bed and leaving our wives behind.  The first thing we saw was this lovely Tawny Frogmouth.

Tawny Frogmouth @ Dawesville

We tried to get a photo of a cat (either roaming pet or feral) roaming a park by the estuary but it was very wary.

We then visited Warrungup Spring Reserve thinking there must be wildlife there.  We soon saw a brushtail possum on the ground dash up a tree, some sleeping kookaburras and a couple of roos.  No ringtails though.

We headed further south to our ringtail spot.  I am not going to specifically divulge the spot due to their conservation status (if you want to know contact me via the form on the about page).  On the way a quenda crossed the road in front of the car but didn’t hang around for a photo.

We then saw this pretty calm brushtail possum in a grassed area with a few rabbits that hid pretty quickly.

Brushtail @ Dawesville

We then went straight to our possum spot and found another brushtail just hanging out.  Just a few minutes later Russ spotted our first ringtail but it didn’t allow me to get a good photo as it was hidden by a fair amount of foliage.  We walked on and found another! and then another!  They look quite different from a brushtail possum but the giveaway is when you compare the tails – the white thin tail of the ringtail cf the brushy tail of the brushtail.

Western Ringtail Possum @ Dawesville

We saw many ringtails – probably 10-12 all up in trees along maybe 500m of road.

We did see this sad sight of a dead ringtail on the side of the road – possible roadkill while trying to cross.  Typically ringtails rarely travel on the ground but they can be forced to do so where there are breaks in the canopies.

Dead ringtail @ Dawesville

We also saw some other brushies and a feral rabbit.  We did hear overhead a White-striped free-tail bat – one of the only bats audible to the human ear.

The night was very successful from a wildlife spotting but we got back to our accommodation only to hear the dreaded gastro had hit some of the kids 😦

Western Ringtail Possum @ Dawesville

Urban Quenda..

I had heard from a colleague that there were Quenda in Victoria Gardens, Claisebrook Cove in East Perth – less than 2km from the Perth CBD.

The council have put signs up to let people know about them – see this twitter post.

So this week my brother and I went out looking for them.  Initially we didn’t find any on the grassed areas and in the first few garden beds – but just by the water underneath the bridge we found this guy scratching in the mulch in a garden bed.

In the photo on the left you can see a grub of some sort in his mouth.

The Quenda seemed pretty acclimatised to people – I imagine they might get fed as well?

I took some video but I need to improve my technique!

We heard something else in a bush nearby which I assume was another Quenda.  We then looked down along the river to see if we might get lucky and see a Rakali (native water rat).

My brother and I were pleased to see something for the evening in what we both thought was an unlikely spot for a native marsupial – amazing what can be found in the suburbs!

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.

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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.

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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.

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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?.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

Bushwalking at Lesmurdie Falls

My wife had family over from the UK (her auntie and her cousin – who I had already taken out looking at possums).  My in-laws joined us to, with my wife and kids – so quite a crowd!  The plan was to walk to the lookout – enjoy the view and then have a picnic morning tea after.

I had told my wifes cousin we had seen quenda (southern brown bandicoot) at Lesmurdie Falls before but we were walking in the morning to accomodate our 4 week old baby, so I didn’t like my chances!

My son had a lovely rock climb before the rest of the family came.

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On top of the world!

The bush is just lovely here.

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On the walk there my son stopped to throw stones in the river and I spotted a male rufous whistler fly into a tree just in front of us (a lifer for me!).  Of course I forgot my camera and the smartphone is not great at getting bird shots.

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The view is fantastic from the lookout – see the pano at the top & below!

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I missed seeing a few skinks that a couple of the family saw – probably king skinks.

We then setup our morning tea and then amazingly were visited by a friendly quenda – I get the impression they wait until people are eating and then get scraps!

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It was awesome for my nature loving cousin-in-law to see another wild native marsupial – she had seen wild Western Grey Kangaroos the day before at Serpentine Falls.

My son is not afraid of anything so of course came in for a closer look!

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A great day outside and more wildlife in the Perth region!

 

 

 

Bushwalking at Lesmurdie Falls with my son

Last week I had a day off work and a few days before my 2.5 yr old son Liam had asked to go bushwalking.

My friend had given me some tips that Quenda could be seen around the picnic area just down from the Lesmurdie Falls Carpark.

Liam and I had a really nice bushwalk enjoying the views to Perth & waterfall and throwing stones stones into the “riber”.

 

We spotted a red-eared firetail which Liam though was very cool name – he likes all things with fire – as he likes to put them out – just like Fireman Sam!

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We had a picnic and then heard some people exclaiming “Dassie” – they were South Africans and had spotted a Quenda (formerly know as a Southern Brown Bandicoot) – Dassie is a little mammal that might superficially look similar.  In true Liam style he tried to feed it some of his cracker but the Quenda kept leaping about just keeping out of his reach!  Once he threw it a small piece it dashed off to munch it in a bush.  It seems pretty acclimatised to people.

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All in all a lovely walk with some really nice wildlife sightings… though I missed all those snakes Liam said he saw! 🙂