Wildlife at Dryandra Woodland – Boyagin -Tutanning – 2017-2018 – Part 1 – Autumn into Winter

Wiilman Country

The Wheatbelt is a considerable area of Western Australia that has been systematically cleared for agriculture, leaving behind only small pockets of bushland and granite outcrops. Although there are huge numbers of these pockets of bushland there are few large enough to contain good numbers of wildlife. This article concentrates almost exclusively on three large Wheatbelt Reserves, although towards the end of the year I did also explore an additional site (Mount Caroline Nature Reserve,) home of the endearing Black-flanked Rock Wallaby.

The largest and best known of the three reserves, is the 28,000 hectare Dryandra Woodland. It consists of 17 separate blocks interspersed with farmland and is found 164 kilometres South East of Perth, about a 2 hour drive via the Albany Highway. The reason this valuable conservation area still exists is due to its mallet (Eucalyptus astringens) plantations from which tannins were harvested in the early 1900’s.

Boyagin Nature Reserve comprises of an East and West block separated by 500m of farmland and totalling 6,700 hectares. It is 134kms South East of Perth or a 90 minute via the Brookton Hwy. It remains as a result of its geology of laterite breakaways and a large granite outcrop (Boyagin Rock,) sacred to the local aboriginal people. It also contains natural stands of mallet.

The smallest of the three reserves is Tutanning Nature Reserve at 2000 hectares. This is also reached via the Brookton Hwy but is further East than Boyagin via the small town of Pingelly. The distance from Perth at 174kms is almost equidistant to that of Dryandra and is an approximate 2 hour drive. The name Tutanning is derived from the Dutarning Range that runs through the reserve.

All roads within the three reserves are unsealed but are in varying condition. All tracks at Dryandra can be attempted in 2WD under normal conditions, however, after heavy rain some roads are closed when “getting bogged” is very much a reality. The tracks at Boyagin have improved in recent times and are now well graded, however there are certain parts of the reserve that are best attempted in 4WD. Tutanning has few roads suitable for 2WD as most tracks are sandy.

Initially I started this article as a “Winter in the Wheatbelt Reserves” to investigate could Winter be as productive for wildlife watching as the warmer Spring months that I usually visited these reserves.

When the warmer months arrived, I had enjoyed writing about what I had seen and decided to extend the article to cover twelve months. Hopefully by the end I would have an idea of some of the species in these reserves, also what species were in good numbers in which reserves.

Dryandra Woodland – Sat 29th April

The weekend forecast was fine and warm so I decided to camp at Dryandra Woodland for a night. The main objective of the weekend was to drive around and look for Numbats with a spotlight thrown in for good measure Saturday night.

I arrived at Dryandra at 10.30am and enjoyed driving the tracks of Dryandra on what was a beautiful morning.

Lunchtime I drove to the campground to pitch the tent. As I passed through the stand of mallet on the road up to the campground, I saw a Short-beaked Echidna crossing the road.

Because the Echidna was in open mallet woodland provided I didn’t alert the animal to my presence this was a great opportunity to get photos. I spent about 40 minutes with the Echidna as it busily foraged for termites on the forest floor.

Dryandra Woodland

Gnaala Mia Campground was to be home for the night. The campground is situated in open mallet woodland and consists of two loops each containing 18 sites. Some of the sites are allocated for campervans, some are allocated for tents. I pitched my tent and despite an abundance of flies, ate lunch washed down with a nice cup of tea.

It was such a nice afternoon that I decided on a walk. I drove down to Old Mill Dam and parked the car. I initially planned on walking the Woylie Walk but then I changed my mind and walked up Kawana Rd then Gura Rd to the Sandalwood Plantation one of the areas I planned to spotlight later that evening.

This reason this area was on my spotlight agenda was because of the large number of Woylies seen on previous visits. In addition, my sometimes spotlight buddy Ry Beaver had found a Red-tailed Phascogale in the she-oak thicket at the back of the plantation on a previous visit back in January.

I came across my second Echidna of the day as I ascended Gura Rd, although this animal alerted to my presence proved difficult to photograph.

After walking around the Sandalwood Plantation, I returned down Gura Rd picking up my third Echidna of the day. This animal was again in open mallet woodland and so I managed a few photos in the late afternoon sunlight.

Dryandra Woodland

I skirted the field back to Old Mill Dam and disturbed a Western Grey Kangaroo grazing on the grassed area in front of the old woodcutter cottages.

Dryandra Woodland
Western Grey Kangaroo

My fourth and final Echidna of the day scurried into a log as I drove back to the campsite down Tomingley Rd. At the campsite, I enjoyed a pad thai takeaway I had brought down from Perth and waited for dark to fall. The mosquitos were bad tonight and I wished that I had bought repellent with me!

On dusk, I once again set off down Tomingley Rd. Initially I thought about having a brief walk down at the dam to pick up some Brush-tailed Possums, but then I considered the theory that immediately after dark animals are hungriest and therefore most active. The mammal I most wanted to see that night was the Red-tailed Phascogale so therefore I needed to head to the Sandalwood Plantation.

I parked the car and realised the evening was very still, so not ideal conditions for spotlighting, although the moon was only a crescent and pleasingly low in the sky. As always, I removed my shoes to walk around in socks and soften my footfall. The first eye shine I saw was that of a Brushtail Possum. The Woylies were definitely around, given away by the thumping of their feet in alarm, but were skittish so I elected not to spend time trying to get a photo and headed to the she-oak thicket.

Almost immediately on entering the thicket I heard a noise above me and when I looked I couldn’t believe it, there was a Red-tailed Phascogale looking down at me from a mature she-oak tree. The Phascogale was clearly uncomfortable in the white light of my head torch and climbed up the tree. I was able to get a photo of it peeping over the branch before I remembered that I had folded a piece of red cellophane over my second head torch in my pocket.

Dryandra Woodland
Red-tailed Phascogale

The difference in the behaviour of the Phascogale when I used this second red light was immediate. The animal came down the tree to head height from where I was able to get a photo, switching quickly to my white beam. Where I was stood I wasn’t in an ideal position to photograph the animal but with the lack of wind that night the animal easily sensed my movement as I tried to reposition myself and once again climbed up the tree.

Dryandra Woodland
Red-tailed Phascogale

I was however extremely grateful for the experience. This was an animal I had written off as too hard and it had taken me seven long years to see this fabulous mammal. The Phascogale is so small that it actually reminded me of a Feathertail Glider it was so incredibly agile moving through the canopy.

The whole time I was at the Sandalwood Enclosure I could hear the haunting call of Western Spotted Frogs calling from a nearby dam and it was too much for me to resist heading the short distance to the dam for a look.

There were plenty of Brushtail Possums on the short walk to the dam but at the dam no frogs, but I did locate the source of the noise. The frogs had already burrowed into the side of the dam awaiting the very late autumn rains yet to take place this year.

I returned to the car then drove further North on Gura Rd to another she-oak thicket but this time no Phascogales. Despite the early hour it had been a long day and I was starting to feel very tired so I elected to return to the campground.

A quick spotlight around the Old Mill Dam produced a number of Brushtail Possums including the one below with the white tipped tail, that very thoughtfully posed on a log for me.

Dryandra Woodland
Brushtail Possum

As I returned down Tomingley Rd there was something on the road. I slammed on the brakes and got out of the car, and there in the cloud of red dirt was a small rodent alive and well on the road, as it scampered off into a nearby bush I was able to look more closely at it.

My heart nearly stopped when I thought that it could be a Pygmy Possum, but further examination showed it was a rodent. I think a House Mouse similar to the animal Ry and myself had seen as we left Dryandra the previous January.

I was able to get good views of the animal but unfortunately the arthritis in my knee, the fact that it was so quick and probably also my tiredness prevented me from getting a photo, despite views lasting a few minutes.

During the night I had the fright of my life when something jumped next to my head onto the outside of the tent. I could make out the shadow of a small creature outlined against the light of the stars but I was half asleep and didn’t get up and investigate. I thought whatever it was would almost certainly be gone in light of my loud exclamations and any noisy fumbling by the time I got outside. Could it have been a Mardo hunting?

The following day I wasn’t feeling very well and couldn’t decide whether to stick with the original plan and look for Numbats at nearby Boyagin NR or whether to return home instead.

After I had packed up camp I went for a drive around the tracks of Dryandra while I made my decision. Heading East down Norn Rd I approached a tree stump and as I did something dashed into it from the ground nearby. My instinct was that this was a Mardo, but my views were very brief, and despite waiting for fifteen minutes the animal didn’t reappear. I took this as an omen for the day so home it was.

Boyagin Nature Reserve – Sun 7th May

I had in my possession a map of Boyagin NR given to me few years previous and I decided it was time to add road names to the map as well as recce some Phascogale locations given to me recently. It was a sunny warm (for May) 29C day.

The drive to Boyagin is 30 minutes less than that to Dryandra and I arrived midday. I firstly drove some roads in the West Block before then heading to the East Block.

Dryandra Woodland
View from Boyagin Rock

Despite passing through excellent wandoo habitat on parts of the drive, I didn’t see any Numbats nor in fact did I see any Echidnas. Four hours of driving and I had at last filled in some road names on the blank map.

Boyagin Rock Picnic Area made a good place for a cuppa and some dinner before I climbed Boyagin Rock for excellent views of the Wheatbelt and enjoyed sunset despite the numerous pesky flies.

As dusk fell there were plenty of Western Spotted Frogs calling around the creek area at the base of Boyagin Rock, I also picked up three Brushtail Possums one with a white tipped tail as per the Dryandra population.

I drove out to the East Block and also picked up a further three Possums on Cuckoo Rd and disturbed a Tawny Frogmouth heading to my first Phascogale site on Silvereye Rd. The conditions for spotlighting were poor with a very bright moon and no wind at all. My walk around the area starting 50m back from the boundary along Silvereye was a noisy one with Powderbark leaves crunching underfoot. In the event, there were no Phascogales at that site.

It turned into a definite Frogmouth night when I disturbed a further two on fence posts as I returned to Boyagin Road via the boundary (Parrot Road.) One of the Frogmouths even hung around on a fencepost for a few photos.

Dryandra Woodland
Tawny Frogmouth

The last site I spotlighted that night was by foot and involved spotlighting the she-oak woodland bordering Falcon Road with a red light. Again, with conditions far from ideal I wasn’t surprised to not see Phascogales.

I couldn’t resist a last 5 minutes spotlighting the other side of Falcon Road before the drive home and as I did there was a Microbat flying overhead. There is heath a short walk up the road and I disturbed what sounded like a Woylie hopping away into the bush.

Boyagin N. R. / Dryandra Woodland – Sat 13th May 2017

Friends of mine Charlie and Theo (termite scientist,) had a guest (Paul) over from England (also a termite scientist.) Paul was interested in seeing a wild Numbat so I had suggested a few hours driving at Boyagin NR although an outside chance it was worth a go.

We met at the picnic area at Boyagin Rock at 11am with the plan to drive around some suitable habitat for 90 minutes, have lunch then drive a further 90 minutes in the afternoon. I suggested an 11am start because of Numbat inactivity on cold mornings. This is due to their food source the termites only coming to the surface of the ground as the day warms up.

We didn’t encounter any Numbats during the morning although we did find some distinctive u-shaped fresh Numbat diggings which pleased the scientists. What pleased them more, judging by their exclamations, was the discovery of termites as they turned over logs.

The afternoons driving produced no Numbats either however we did encounter another termite feeder, an Echidna foraging on Thornbill Road.

After an afternoon cuppa I said goodbye to the boys and drove to Dryandra Woodland where I intended to spotlight that night. On the drive down there was lots of smoke from stubble burning in the wheat fields.

Dryandra Woodland
Wheat Stubble Burning near Dryandra.

Once at Dryandra I drove Newell Road to Gura Road then around to Marri Road where I encountered a second Echidna of the day.

I parked the car up at the Old Fire Tower Site on Weirah Rd to wait for dark. As I wandered around the site I came upon three Kangaroos who somewhat surprised hopped off into the woods.

After dark I drove down to the Sandalwood Plantation on Gura Road. The night was extremely still with not a breath of wind which meant the Woylies were onto me long before I caught site of them.

Woylies have increased in number at Dryandra due in part to a recent trial of the cat poison eradicat. Feral cat numbers became a problem at Dryandra after successful Red Fox (control with the 1080 poison meant that nothing was preying on the kittens ie mesopredator release.) An unknown disease possibly also played a part in the recent decrease in Woylie numbers.

Ironically, the first sign that a species is doing well is an increase in roadkill and in line with this I had found roadkill Woylie at Dryandra and heard of two others in previous months.

Dryandra Woodland
Roadkill Woylie

The night was still and the Woylies skittish so any photography was looking out of the question, I walked to the back of the enclosure to find the Phascogale I had seen there previously, again no luck.

I toyed with the idea of returning to Perth but instead drove the 23km Darwinia Drive picking up plenty of Kangaroos and Brushtail Possums.

When I returned to the Sandalwood Enclosure later that night I caught a juvenile Woylie in my beam and it froze enabling me to gently creep forward for a photo before I got too close and with a typical snort of alarm it was off. There were also Brushtails around the Plantation this later hour.

Dryandra Woodland
Woylie ( Brush-tailed Bettong )

It had been a long day and happy with my Woylie encounter I returned to Perth. As usual, there were numerous Western Brush Wallabies grazing at the side of the highway on the drive home, to cap off another wonderful day in the bush.

Dryandra Woodland – Fri 19th May 2017

A last-minute decision Friday evening to visit Dryandra, was made in light of the large amounts of rain that the South West had received in the previous 24 hours. I though the rain at this time of the year would bring out Humming Frogs.

Dryandra Woodland
Humming Frog

I arrived at Dryandra about 9pm and went straight to the Old Mill Dam where the usual pool that forms on the North side of the dam contained many Humming Frogs both in the water and on the ground surrounding the pool. The frogs in the pool were given away by eye shine and movement and their soft call could be heard a distance from the pond. There were frogs in a mating embrace both in the pool and on the surrounding land.

Dryandra Woodland
Humming Frog Love

I searched the surrounding woodland hoping the wet conditions would entice other species of frogs, but there were none. I walked along the Wandoo Trail and found a Brushtail Possum posing nicely in a tree fork for photos.

Dryandra Woodland
Brushtail Possum

Next destination Sandalwood Plantation so I drove Gura Road disturbing a Woylie in the process. A brief walk around the Plantation produced nothing so I returned back to the Old Mill Dam area.

Here, walking through the woods I delighted in spotting a Tawny Frogmouth frozen on a fallen branch at ground level. In past experience I have always disturbed them on fence posts from whence they have flown up into the tree canopy. This was a great chance to photograph one at eye level striking its “I’m a branch” pose.

Dryandra Woodland
I’m a Branch not a Tawny Frogmouth

The last area chosen to spotlight that night was off Marri Road near the Barna Mia Enclosure. Almost as soon as I got out of the car, I saw the reflection of eyeshine from a solitary Western Spotted Frog.

Dryandra Woodland
Western Spotted Frog

Further exploration of this area produced a solitary House Mouse and resulted in me getting “geographically embarrassed.” I remembered the compass on the phone in my pocket which enabled me to track East back to Marri Road and eventually my car. This was enough excitement for the night so I made the drive back to Perth ready for my warm bed.

Boyagin N. R. – Monday 5th June 2017

Despite it being early June, the weather was still warm and dry so at the end of the public holiday weekend I decided to pay a quick night visit to Boyagin, to beat the “back to work tomorrow blues.”

I timed my journey to arrive at Boyagin as darkness fell. The first animal I came across in the woodland was a Fox at the junction of Boyagin Road and Frogmouth Road, not what I wanted to see at all. As I drove on towards the Boyagin Rock turnoff, I disturbed a Brushtail Possum that zipped up a tree.

Once in the East Block I drove down Thornbill Road and just as I approached Currawong Rd I heard repetitive screeching nearby.

Closer examination of the source of the noise revealed five Eastern Barn Owls high up in a tree. What I suspect were three juveniles and two adults. A sixth Barn Owl briefly flew into the tree before a brief skirmish with one of the adults, and it flew into another tree. Six Barn Owls in my torch beam, I couldn’t believe it!

Dryandra Woodland
Barn Owls

I then drove to the North East Block to check some she-oak thickets for Phascogales, disturbing another Brushtail.

Dryandra Woodland
Brushtail Possum with Dinner

At the North East Block, I drove to my first stand of she-oak picking up a further Possum, two Western Grey Kangaroos and disturbing what I took to be a Frogmouth off a fencepost.

The first stand of she-oak gave another two Brushtails but no Phascogales. I continued to another she-oak stand disturbing another Frogmouth up into the canopy. A Southern Boobook Owl called incessantly, as I spotlighted this second she-oak site, a beautiful sound.

Again, no Phascogales but I picked up my sixth and final Possum for the night. As I returned to the car, I could hear a White Striped Freetail Bat flying overhead given away by its audible echo-location.

I decided to spotlight one last stand of she-oak as I left the West Block for home and managed to pick up a nice Tawny Frogmouth sitting on a low branch for photos.

Dryandra Woodland
Tawny Frogmouth

The return drive to Perth was not without incident. There was a Kangaroo standing in the middle of the Brookton Highway as I drove over the Darling Range. Fortunately, it went one way and I swerved the other but it was a near miss.

The autumn rains had resulted in grass growing on the sides of the highway, a result of water run-off, a magnet for Western Brush Wallabies and I passed three of these pretty Wallabies grazing on the journey home.

Tutanning Nature Reserve – Sat 17th June

I had previously visited Tutanning for a few hours one afternoon in August
2015 where I picked up a Bull-headed Skink and many Ornate Crevice Dragons on granite outcrops.

This time I timed it so that I would arrive with a few hours of daylight left, so that I could have a bit of a recce mission prior to the nights spotlighting.

Dryandra Woodland
Tutanning Nature Reserve

I entered the reserve from Stanes Road and drove Tutanning Road in an Easterly direction. I then followed the border fence and ultimately drove across the reserve on Tammar Road.

I didn’t have a 4WD, and I would recommend using one at Tutanning as some tracks are very sandy. A part of Tammar Road passed through a sandy heathland and not being able to turn around I had to keep my speed up and pray hard not to get bogged. It got a little hairy in places!

Once back on the perimeter track I disturbed a huge Wedge-tailed Eagle that spooked and flew into the surrounding fields, what a majestic bird!

As soon as darkness fell I put on my spotlight and there was an Eastern Barn Owl in the trees above my head on Tammar Road. At the North end of Tammar Road, I picked up four Tammar Wallabies given away by a distinctive foot thump.

Driving the perimeter fence back to Tutanning Road I saw a further four Tammar Wallabies adjacent to the fields in Gastrolobium bushes. I got out to investigate further and got brief views but they were as usual very skittish.

The main objective of the night was to spotlight the she-oak forest that Tutanning Road passes through, looking for Red-tailed Phascogales, however this night there was none out to play.

I passed granite outcrops and could hear frogs calling so I stopped for a closer look. The harsh grating calls reminded me of a tree frog but of course, granite outcrops are not tree frog habitat.

The frogs were using the cracked granite at the edge of pools of water from which to call, and the echo made them sound most impressive. I could also see tunnels in the moss and mud on the granite, but only by turning over a rock was to identification the owner of the calls possible.

Dryandra Woodland
Crawling Toadlet

It was a small squat crawling toadlet, and therefore was a Gunther’s Toadlet, as this is the species of crawling toadlet found in the Western Wheatbelt.

Returning to Tammar Road a Brushtail Possum was picked up along with the Western Spotted Frog below that was sitting in the forest wondering where the hell the Winter rains were, one of two of this species I picked up during the evening.

Dryandra Woodland
Western Spotted Frog

Another frog that I found in the middle of the track was a Humming Frog, an arid burrowing frog that also was probably wondering where the hell the rains were. The distinctive red stripe running down the head and back identifies this species over the other arid burrowing frogs.

In the morning driving Tutanning Road I disturbed another two Tammar Wallabies, it really is fantastic to see these medium sized wallabies doing so well. Although they occur in the other Wheatbelt Reserves I have never seen them in these numbers. There were also plenty of Western Grey Kangaroos throughout the reserve.

I was delighted to finally spotlight Tutanning and would like to return in September when reptiles are active, because it is such a good mixture of sandy and rocky country there would be a good number of species!

Dryandra Nature Reserve – Fri 30th June 2017

This was part of a larger trip to the Cheynes Beach. I stopped in Dryandra to spend the night, because the drive to Cheynes Beach was too far to attempt after a working day, and the atrocious weather was not conducive to long distance driving.

I arrived at Dryandra approximately 8pm and after all the rain I thought that the Old Mill Dam would be a good place to start the night in light of all the recent rain (that had now fortunately stopped.)

The water level at Old Mill Dam was the highest I had ever seen it and so the usual pool where Humming Frogs congregate had been swallowed up by the rising water levels. The Humming Frogs however were still around dotted throughout the nearby vegetation.

See also South West Frogs – Western Australia – Motorbikes and Banjos

Dryandra Woodland
Humming Frog with distinctive red dorsal stripe

A walk around the dam also gave a Motorbike Frog and the usual Brushtail Possums.

Next stop was the Sandalwood Plantation where I found Brushtail Possums plentiful a Western Grey Kangaroo and finally a couple of Woylies for good measure.

Dryandra Woodland
Brushtail Possum

Further up Gura Road is a fabulous Phascogale habitat of mixed she-oak and wandoo woodland which I wanted to have check out before heading to Gnaala Mia Campsite, although in the event I picked up a few more Brushtail Possums only.

Dryandra Woodland
Juvenile Brushtail Possum

The campsite was unsurprisingly devoid of campers with the inclement weather so I was cheeky and pitched my tent in the camp kitchen to save packing up a wet tent in the morning.

Dryandra Woodland
Dry place to pitch a tent on a wild night!

Despite the rain in the morning I checked out the beautiful flowering Dryandras in the heath surrounding the campsite.

Dryandra Woodland
Golden Dryandra for which Dryandra Woodland is named

I left for breakfast at Narrogin early but wanted a picture of the dam looking so full.

Dryandra Woodland
Old Mill Dam in Flood

Near the dam I passed a mob of Western Grey Kangaroos looking a bit damp!

Dryandra Woodland
Soggy Mob of Kangaroos

Dryandra Nature Reserve – Sat 8th July 2017

I woke this morning in Perth and with nothing on the agenda I decided to drive to Dryandra to do one of the walks and have a drive around and a quick spotlight before returning to Perth the same evening.

The day was overcast and still cool when I arrived at Dryandra 10.30am. It was a few years since I had walked the Lol Grey Trail which at 12.4km fitted the bill for the length of walk I wanted to do.

Ascending the first mallet plantation and across the first laterite ridge I noticed that the Golden Dryandras were in full bloom and it wasn’t long before I came across my first wildlife of the walk in the form of a couple of Western Grey Kangaroos.

The walk passes through some lovely open Wandoo woodland on the East side of Wandering-Narrogin Rd and with temperatures warming and even the occasional bit of sunshine I wasn’t surprised to see an Echidna, as well as a flighty mob of Western Greys.

Dryandra Woodland

After reaching the halfway point of the walk at the Lol Grey Lookout Tree I returned West back to the start of the trail at Dryandra Village passing through the same patch of wandoo woodland where I saw the earlier Echidna and here I picked up a second Echidna of the day.

Back at village despite the overcast weather I decided to have a drive around to look for possible Mardo now that their breeding season had started.

I left the village and turned to head up Gura Rd but something made me turn around and continue down Kawana Rd towards Tomingley Rd.

As I was busily scanning fallen mallet for Mardo, a movement caught my eye far into the woodland on the left of the road. A Numbat! I managed to reach for my camera and fire off a pic before it darted behind a log. Despite heading on foot into the mallet plantation I could find no further trace of the Numbat.

Dryandra Woodland

Seven years of visiting Dryandra and finally my first Dryandra Numbat! I was starting to think they were a myth!

Walking around the mallet plantation I did get good views of a Rufous Treecreeper though.

Dryandra Woodland
Rufous Treecreeper

With light fast failing I drove to the Duke of York Hotel at Narrogin for their fabulous steak and chips.

After dark I returned to Dryandra and driving into the reserve I saw all of a Possum, a Kangaroo, an Echidna (in the middle of the road,) and either a Frogmouth or Owl which flew off into the woods, wow the night was looking good!

At the Sandalwood Plantation there were both Possums and Woylies but the still conditions didn’t make for good viewing.

I scoped two she-oak / wandoo stands for Phascogales but no luck on this front either.

On the side of Wandering-Narrogin Rd pools had formed from the recent rains and there were Humming Frogs in the pools. I went to use the built-in flash on my camera to photograph them when I discovered it wasn’t working. This I took as an omen to knock the night on the head and return to Perth.

Dryandra Nature Reserve – Thurs 13th July 2017

I had managed to swing a Friday off work and the plan was to return to Cheynes Beach but the inclement weather forecast for the weekend made me think twice about the ten-hour return drive.

Another problem was my camera was en-route to the Eastern states for repairs relating to the problems of the previous week but fortunately a colleague at work had kindly lent me his camera.

So, a night in Dryandra it was followed by the rest of the weekend on a warm couch back in Perth.

At the Old Mill Dam I had a practice with the new camera and there was plenty of wildlife around. There were Possums, a solitary Frogmouth and many Humming Frogs. July is usually the last month you see these wonderful little frogs as it is the end of their breeding season.

As is my usual practice I drove to the Sandalwood Plantation on Gura Road and here I encountered a Western Banjo Frog for the first time this year, given away by an obvious scarlet groin. This is the only species of the genus Lymnodynastes found in Southwest WA.

Dryandra Woodland
Western Banjo Frog

July is the start of the peak breeding season for the Western Banjo Frog and I found a second Banjo Frog at the Sandalwood Plantation in addition to the usual plenitude of Brushtails.

As I returned to Gnaala Mia Campground on York–Williams Rd I disturbed an animal off the road and into the surrounding bush, it was a Chuditch (Western Quoll!) I pulled over and followed it into the bush but quickly lost the trail. I cast my beam around but not entirely unexpectedly I had lost this elusive little carnivore. As I returned down the bank to the car my headtorch beam picked up blue eyeshine from a tree near the car and I had found my missing Chuditch.

Dryandra Woodland
Chuditch ( Western Quoll )

The Western Quoll is one of four quoll species found in Australia the other being the Eastern, Northern and Spotted-tailed Quolls, but it is the only species found in Southwest WA. Its aboriginal name of Chuditch is derived from the sound it makes when alarmed although I am yet to hear the Chuditch make this sound.

After this gem of a find I returned to camp and turned in.

The following morning a cold mist hung over the woodland and I drove the back roads to Narrogin for breakfast because it was far too cold for any sensible mammals.

Back at the Dryandra after 10am the sun was out and the day was starting to warm. Near the village I encountered a mob of Western Greys soaking up the sun when lo and behold an Echidna made an appearance.

Dryandra Woodland

The little fellow busily foraged amongst the Kangaroos with neither too worried about the presence of each other until the Echidna got a little close to one of the Kangaroos forcing it to its feet.

Dryandra Woodland
Time for a Scratch!

What followed was a wonderful day driving the tracks of Dryandra with an occasional brief walk into the bush. Wildlife wise I didn’t see very much just an additional Echidna and lots of Rufous Treecreepers but it was great to be out in the sunshine even if the day never actually got warm!

Boyagin Nature Reserve – Wed 2nd August 2017.

My camera unexpectedly arrived back from the Eastern States so with less than two weeks until the Overland Track in Tasmania I figured it would be wise to give it a trial run.

As it was mid-week Boyagin was the obvious choice being the nearest of the Wheatbelt Reserves. I stopped briefly in the Darling Range and got great views of Carnaby’s Black Cockatoos drinking from a puddle in the late afternoon sun, arriving at Boyagin as night fell now at the later time of 6pm.

The first site I spotlighted was the intersection of Boyagin Rd with Falcon Rd to look for the elusive Red-tailed Phascogale in the Powderbark/She-oak habitat. I had accounts of this mammal being picked up on remote cameras at this location but it was not to be on this night. I did however pick up a Brushtail Possum and some flighty Western Grey Kangaroos.

I then drove over to the East Block and picked up a second Brushtail Possum which scarpered into a log on Thornbill Rd.

Dryandra Woodland
Brushtail Possum

I drove North on Cuckoo Rd to a second site Phascogales had been picked up on remote cameras at the intersection of the boundary road (Parrot) with Silvereye Rd. On Cuckoo Rd I got eye shine off an animal on the ground but by the time I crunched through the Powderbark leaves to the spot the animal had disappeared.

Driving Parrot Rd, I disturbed four birds that flew into the woodland none of which I got close enough to identify. At the second site I got my third Brushtail of the night and also disturbed what was probably an Eastern Barn Owl given the screeching as it flew off. I also got great views of a Tawny Frogmouth resting in a tree at this site but again no phascogales.

The final road I spotlighted this night was Wattlebird but there was no action here. As I drove Parrot Road on the boundary back home I disturbed a Western Grey in the field that bounded along the fence line.

Although it was great to be out again spotlighting after my recent lack of photographic equipment it wasn’t a particularly good night with few good sightings and those that were good of animals commonly seen, I did however drive home happy in the knowledge that my camera was once again in working condition. See part 2, Wildlife at Dryandra – Boyagin Nature Reseve – Tutanning – Part 2 – Spring into Summer


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