Easter possums of Mandurah

As part of our annual Easter family tradition, we spent the Easter long weekend in Mandurah, along with family friends. We took the kids out spotlighting for the critically endangered Western ringtail possum ( Pseudocheirus occidentalis).

We headed down to Dawesville just south of Mandurah. It took some time initially but we were able to find some possums alongside the road in Peppermint trees (Agonis flexuosa). We mainly found ringtails but also found a few Common brushtail possums (Trichosurus vulpecula).

This was the first year my daughter joined as she was 2.5 years old. It was a little too much overall for the kids as they were all tired, but they enjoyed the spotlighting – the car trips there and back were challenging.

The spotlighting gang – Easter 2019

Russ and I went out another night (without the kids) to Warrungup Spring Reserve. We had been once before but I had information someone had seen a Brush-tailed phascogale, so I wanted to check it out.

We saw quite a few brushtail possums with the occasional ringtail and a lovely Tawny frogmouth. No phascogale and some distant views of Western grey kangaroo.

It’s really nice to see so many ringtail possums in a location just an hour south of the Perth CBD, but you still have to remind yourself that this species is not doing well.

Searching for Quokka in Jarrahdale..

I have been looking for mainland Quokka (Setonix brachyurus) for sometime and saw information that people had found some in Jarrahdale. While they were careful not to disclose the exact location I saw some facebook chat about a location a little out of the main strip of Jarrahdale where people had seen Quokka in the mornings, so wanted to check it out.

I took my 4 year old son Liam for a drive hoping we might get lucky and find some Quokka’s enjoying breakfast. We took off a little later than planned but made good time to the location.


We crossed a bridge over a dried up river so the habitat seemed good with thick riparian vegetation but also with a fair few blackberry bushes. Once we found the spot (a gravel parking area fringed by forest) we parked up and waited for some movement.

We waited for some time (as long as a 4 year old can sit still!) and then jumped out of the car to take a closer look. We skirted the fringing vegetation and quickly found this likely looking scat. While I can’t rule it out as Western grey kangaroo it had the features of a Quokka scat – size 1-2cm, cuboid and slightly flattened. These were also fresher than the ones I had previously found in the Canning Dam region.

When walking through the fringing vegetation we found we had we had to be careful even with the small little seedlings on the ground as they were often Blackberries with nasty thorns.

We headed towards the bridge and we heard something mid-sized move suddenly in the vegetation but it was too thick to see properly. Given the likely scat I think this is my unconfirmed closest encounter with a mainland Quokka – but I will have to try again! 🙂

Heading back to the car we found this amazing bug – the wonderful iNaturalist & awesome bug ID app MyPestGuide Reporter – run by the Agriculture Department’s entomologists on the hunt for the next nasty pest! Through both avenues it was ID’d as a Red-banded seed eating bug (Melanerythrus mactans).

20190304-2019-03-04 08.35.22
Red-headed seed-eating bug @ Jarrahdale

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 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!

Possuming @ John Okey Park #5

Its been a little while since I last blogged – lots has gone on in my personal life – so that was priority and kept me from getting out.

Anyway I had met a guy from the US who hadn’t seen much of Australia’s wildlife and I offered to show him some possums – he is here only for a couple of months so we had to lock it in and negotiate the weather.

We went to John Okey Park in Gosnells which I have blogged about a few times.

This was my fifth visit and I have seen Common brushtail possums on every visit.  It was a cold, dry, July night and it started off slow – I thought they might be all hiding in their tree hollows!  We then started spotting quite a few possums.

It had been pretty wet for the week before and there were a few Moaning frogs around as well – we probably saw 4-5, spotting them from their dull greenish eyeshine.  I also heard a few slender tree frogs but didn’t go specifically looking for them.

We walked further down past the TAFE than I had been before seeing possums all the way along.

All up we probably saw 25-30 possums – a successful night!  Also I heard a few tales of the wildlife of the US – how Opossums don’t look as nice as our possums and I really would love to see wild bears!

 

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!