Readers’ wildlife photographs

May 24, 2015 • 7:30 am

Perhaps many Americans won’t be on the Internet today, it being a long holiday weekend and all; but I can’t withhold our usual nature snaps from those who online, or from foreign readers. Here’s today’s installment from reader Tony Eales in Australia. And keep those pictures coming in—the tank is a bit low! Tony’s notes, sent on May 15:

Just got back from a marvellous fieldtrip out to Innamincka in South Australia. This was my first time in the desert regions of Australia and the built heritage, the archaeology and the wildlife were amazing. I picked up 14 new species on my life list on the trip. Mammals were very light on the ground and native mammals even more so, a fact you could immediately tell by the complete lack of road kill. The semi-arid region before the desert proper was a charnel house with dead emus, kangaroos, echidnas, foxes etc every few hundred metres, but in the desert—nothing. One of the most impressive of the feral animals were the herds of wild horses known as ‘brumbies’. The other occasional mammal apart from cattle were red kangaroos (Macropus rufus), the classic large Australian kangaroo which doesn’t occur where I live on the east coast.

IMG_5743 big red

IMG_5929_brumby

There were plenty of parrots, especially galahs (Eolophus roseicapilla) which were common even in the driest parts I visited and there were always one or two nearby where ever I stopped and huge flocks of little corellas (Cacatua sanguinea). Large wedge-tailed eagles (Aquila audax) were common especially in the areas where road kill was common.

IMG_5564 corella

IMG_5603 gallah

 

IMG_5539Wedge tail

Back in the semi-arid region I visited an ex cattle station now run as a sanctuary by Australian Wildlife Conservancy and Birds Queensland. It was everything I’d heard and more. Intact ecosytems out there are rare as most properties have been over-grazed but Bowra was run very responsibly through five generations before it was sold. I saw way more species than I successfully photographed.

A few of the better shots were of a Dwarf Bearded Dragon (Pogona henrylawsoni) peering out of a cattle grid at the entrance to the station.

IMG_5942 beared dragon

A young echidna (Tachyglossus aculeatus) as you can tell by the dark juvenile colouration. Note the huge digging claw on the hind feet which gives them a distinctive but confusing trackway in the sand:

IMG_5999 echidna

Some emu chicks following dad around:

IMG_5951 emu

An Inland Carpet Python (Morelia spilota metcalfei), it was basking in the last rays of sun on a track, so immobile one could have imagined it was dead, the caretaker at Bowra set up a caution sign so that no one would run over it. As the sun disappeared it moved off slowly and it was at this point the birds noticed it. I was amazed at how damn close the birds would get to its head and just bounce around and chirp as if to say “Eat me!” but it just crawled off into an old shed, presumably to look for mice. The birds in the picture are Brown Australian Treecreepers (Climacteris picumnus).

IMG_6002 carpet python

20 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photographs

  1. What an interesting array of wildlife, makes me want to go back to Australia. Love the kangaroo!

  2. Awesome pictures. Someday I have to visit some place where large boids or pythons can be found just laying around.

  3. I love the reddish sunlight of the kangaroo picture as it really complements the kangaroo. I also really liked the Bearded Dragon as I generally like reptiles and amphibians.

  4. Well, it’s definitely off to Australia for me. The kangaroo shot is really nice. The parrots are swell, too.

  5. from reader Tony Eales in Australia. And keep those pictures coming in—the tank is a bit low!

    I’m trying to remember who the prolific poster to USENET://alt.binaries.pictures.animals who lived in Outback Australia somewhere. [Searches] …

  6. The birds are one of the best things about living in Australia. Where I live now, I occasionally see Eastern Grey kangaroos (there’s a reserve a few blocks from where I live), but the abundance of birds in the cities is amazing. Last time I travelled to the Gold Coast, there were rainbow lorikeets everywhere. The last suburb I used to live in had families of gang gang cockatoos, king parrots, eastern rosellas, western rosellas, as well as all the usual suspects.

  7. In the last photo, the bird may be ‘saying’, “I see you, and now all my kinfolk do too!”

  8. What a treat! I lingered over every pic!

    Especially loved the horses, the galah, & the emu chicks!

  9. Just got back from a couple of weeks in the upper Gascoyne region of Western Australia myself, not exactly a desert but semiarid shrubland with poor thin soil that’s been hammered by overgrazing for a century. It was looking exceptionally good with fresh growth of grass and herbs responding to recent cyclonic rain – we got in to do flora and fauna surveys as soon as the creek-crossings were considered passable – and mostly flowering, but in the course of two weeks the ‘annual’ grasses (mainly an Aristida) were shedding seeds into our socks, browning and falling over. Compared to areas with perennial spinifex (Triodia), including ‘true’ deserts, the termites and other insects can’t retain much biomass between good seasons, so the whole pyramid of insects, small and large lizards, small mammals, and raptors was pretty thin. A few species of frogs had done very well but breeding was finished although there were still scattered pools in most of the creeklines; budgies, galahs, corellas and a few other birds were moderately abundant throughout the study area (plus several species of herons and cormorants on the still-flowing Lyons river), but less-mobile and slower-breeding species were uncommon. Very disappointing for lizards and snakes; a few kangaroos, dingoes, wedge-tailed eagles and smaller raptors were probably thinking about breeding but hadn’t got there yet.
    What you expect is climate, and an ecosystem; what you actually get is weather, and usually a depauperate community barely recovering from the latest drought, flood and fire events. It takes several successive good seasons without intervening die-offs for places like this to become productive, but then (if cattle don’t trash it in the meantime) it can really go off. Maybe we’ll see it again next year, weather and economy permitting.

  10. thanks, everyone, for the great photos and the commentary. I remember being fascinated in 1979 when I was in Australia at some museum/zoo near/in Melbourne (or Tasmania?) and seeing how all the niches were filled by marsupials and the amazing variety of birds, insects and spiders, etc.

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