Sunday 23 April 2017

Down Under Part One: Monotremendous!

The mammals of Australia are remarkable, in many cases unique, charismatic and often incredibly rare, with tiny world ranges. We found about 20 species, some by the wayside, but others through purposeful searches, or site visits. We are indebted to Alan Gillanders who took us out at night to Mount Hypipamee, to search for some rare gliders and possums. Alan also gave us some site info for other mammals, which was really helpful. Do check him out if on the Tablelands. Our main misses were Lumholtz's Tree Kangaroos which should have been around the Curtain Fig area, but we just couldn't get lucky. We also failed to bump into any Echidnas and never made it south to Kangaroo Valley to see Wombats. Otherwise, it was ace - see below!

Platypus, Ornithorthynchus anatinus
Definitely one of the best mammals I have ever seen, and a clear highlight of the trip. One of these unique monotremes seen actively feeding in Peterson's Creek, upstream of the roadbridge on the southwest side of Yungaburra, on the Atherton Tablelands. There is a Platypus viewpoint and car park next to the road on the village side of the bridge but we didn't see one from there. We saw the dude mid-afternoon, by crossing over the bridge dropping down a track and then following it downstream along the bank.


Northern Brown Bandicoot, Isoodon macrourus
A few seen on the roadsides, track edges in the Crater Lakes NP, Queensland.

Koala, Phascolarctos cinereus
Two gorgeously cute Koalas found in trackside trees on the Forts Walk, Magnetic Island. A definite favourite with the kids.


Coppery Brushtail Possum, Trichosurus johnstonii
One seen well at Longlands Gap, near Mount Hypipamee.

Long-tailed Pygmy Possum, Cercartetus caudatus
We would never have seen this mite without Alan's thermal imaging scope, as it was tiny, and with no eyeshine. It happily fed on nectar/pollen from this flower, unconcerned by our presence. At Longlands Gap.

Striped Possum, Dactylopsila trivirgata
Fantastic views of this individual two nights running at Chambers Lodge, Lake Eacham, as it came into feed on honey. Notice the elongated fourth finger, used for extracting grubs from rotten wood, a bit like an Aye-aye.

Yellow-bellied Glider, Petaurus australis
Fantastic views of one sugaring on a Red Stringybark at Wondecla.


Lemuroid Ringtail Possum, Hemibelideus lemuroides
Four of these lemur-like possums seen, in two pairs, at Longlands Gap.

Green Ringtail Possum, Pseudochirops archeri
A couple seen along the roadside at Longlands Gap.

Herbert River Ringtail Possum, Pseudochirops herbetensis
A lovely, boldly-marked possum, seen well at Longlands Gap.

Musky Rat Kangaroo, Hypsiprymnodon moschatus
Several, including a road casualty seen around Crater Lakes NP, in or on the edge of the rainforest. One of the few rainforest marsupials to be seen around in the daytime.

Rufous Bettong, Aepyprymnus rufescens
A pair seen from the truck on a track through woodland near Mount Hypipamee.

Agile Wallaby, Macropus agilis
One seen on a road verge just outside of Etty Bay.

Eastern Grey Kangaroo, Macropus giganteus
Thanks to a tip-off from Alan, we went to Mareeba Golf Course, where after a short walk, we found a mob of about 30 Eastern Grey Kangaroos, some of which had joeys. They allowed close approach. If visiting this site, make sure you seek permission from the clubhouse. They charge a small fee to go on to the course.


Allied Rock Wallaby, Petrogale brachyotis
c20 on rocks around near Arcadia, Magnetic Island.


Mareeba Rock Wallaby, Petrogale mareeba
Plenty around the rocks at Granite Gorge, near Mareeba, including some that approached to be hand-fed.

Red-legged Pademelon, Thylogale stigmatica
Several seen around the rainforest at Chambers, but none photographed unfortunately.

Spectacled Flying-fox, Pteropus conspicillatus
A large roost near Port Douglas over the road on the way into town. This large fruitbat was probably the species seen in north Queensland most evenings.


Grey-headed Flying-fox, Pteropus poliocephalus
A large roost seen in Warriewood Wetlands in north Sydney, plus a colossal roost of tens of thousands in Centennial Park, south Sydney.


Bottlenose Dolphin, Tursiops truncatus
A small and very acrobatic pod presumed to be this species off the esplanade at Cairns, seen from the hospital ward window - which is another story!

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