Two Yanks Downunder

A blog about the experiences of two Americans on their first visit to the fabulous continent of Australia

Friday, November 17, 2006

Creatures of the Night

October 18, 2006

I'm almost a month behind in the blog and since there is only one Yank down under here now I'm writing under a fictitious precept but about a time when there were still two of us here. (grin).

One of the more interesting things that my Mom and I did while she was still here was a visit to Dryandra Woodland park to see some of the nocturnal marsupials.

I had originally hoped to drive through historic York, but we got lost (big surprise) and ended up getting a late start, so eventually we had to turn around in order to get ot the park in time for our appointment to see the night animals.

We did stop along the way to look at flora and fauna along the side of the road and found some particularly nice wild flowers at a little rest stop half way to the park.

As you can see the woods have a different quality than those in the south, still pleasant but the area feels more sparsely populated and dryer.

These are not lush spreads of flowers and yet they are quite abundant and varied in form.

We arrived at the park a little over an hour before our appointed time and feared we would not find the entrance to the animal sanctuary so we drove around the park a bit.

The above picture does not capture the peculiar quality of the woods the way the picture (below) on the web site does.

Unfortunately all the driving around meant we lost the sun and did not have time to draw as I had planned. Instead we wolfed down a sandwich amidst multitudes of flies and after a quick duck into the brush then headed for the sanctuary.

I took a few quick pictures in the bush while I searched desperately for a numbat famous for being one of the few diurnal marsupials that stayed awake and fed during daylight hours. Alas no numbat and very little light to take pictures by.

Dryandra Woodland Park is named for a peculiarly Australian plant form, the Dryandra, that grows in abundance in this area of Western Australia.

It is related to the South African Protea and is a strange alien-like plant form with unusual pointy leaves and antennaed flowers. (sort of).

This is an interior part of the continent and thus does not have the gorgeous beaches and humid air. Instead there is a dryer climate that serves as a home to the ants and termites and the animals that feed upon them.

The CALM (Conservation and Land Management office) website comments, "Although the numbat is probably Dryandra's best known inhabitant, woylies, tammar wallabies, brushtail possums, tawny frogmouths, kangaroos and wallabies are regularly seen by visitors to Dryandra. More than 100 species of birds live in the area, including the mound-building malleefowl."

Of course we did not see the numbat, but the Barna Mia sancturay has a big fence inside of which they keep members of endangered species to protect them from predators while attempting to breed these animals in the wild in order to release them back in to their natural habitat. They feed these animals at night so that visitors can see them (but keep the percentage of feed down so that the animals msintain their foraging habits and will be able to survive in the wild.)

The guide...

first does an educational program which tells of how and why they bait the non-native with poison-laced meat. The posion is derived from local plants which are posionous to European species , but to which the Australian animals have long become immune through constant contact. Then we go out in the dark and congregate around red lights to watch for the animals. Of course there was not enough light to take photos but that did not stop me and here is some of what we saw:

Mostly we saw woylies and bilbies. Here (from the Barna Mia website) is a bilby.

We also saw lots of boodies, and...

more exciting this rufous hare-wallaby.

Altogether we saw five different rare species and went home absolutely thrilled with the experience (even though
an inconsiderate British man insisted on talking through much of the waiting and thus risked scaring the animals away!)

We drove home in the dark contented and aware of the small animals we saw but could not identify on the side of the road.
(I guess we need to go back for a second course!)


At 10:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where are you, now?

At 1:07 AM, Blogger Wendy and/or Don said...

I'm making the coffee.


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