Tutanning Nature Reserve – Sat 2nd September.
Cont’d from Wildlife at Dryandra Woodland – Boyagin – Tutanning – 2018-2018 – Part 1 _ Autumn into Winter
It was an early September morning where the promise of Spring was in the air but where the temperatures were still very much winterlike that I drove down the Brookton Highway to Tutanning Nature Reserve arriving around 11am.
I drove in from the Stanes Road entrance at the West end of the reserve and it wasn’t long before I picked up a splash of colour alongside the track, a Donkey Orchid.
I got out of the car to take a picture and as I wandered 10m into the bush I picked up the following orchids in quick succession.
Then to cap it all off a fabulous splash of red lit up the bush!
The tracks at Tutanning can be a little rough and sandy in places so I decided to explore the reserve on foot. I parked the car at the North end of Tammar Road and walked the length of the road in a Southerly direction.
My first encounter was with a Pallid Cuckoo that was hunting among the she-oak forest for food successfully finding and demolishing a caterpillar as I watched on.
I diverted to the granite outcrops at the side of the road to find the usual Ornate Crevice Dragons scarpering around and also noted the first Everlastings of the season at the periphery of the granite.
At the far end of Tammar Rd I reached the accommodation annexe before following the boundary track and picking up an acrobatic Echidna busily foraging for termites. This little fellow was clambering up on logs and tight rope walking along them with a single mindedness that could only indicate a good dose of hunger.
I wandered back to the car via an array of unmarked tracks. There was plenty flowering at Tutanning during the visit with all of Gastrolobium, Dryandras, Hakeas, Drosera and Acacias represented as well as many others.
My original intention had been to wait for darkness to fall and spotlight but after my recent chest infection and puffed from the day of walking I decided to return to Perth for a night of rest in front of the TV, with the intention to return to Tutanning for a spotlight before the month was out.
Dryandra Woodland – Fri 8th Sat 9th Sun 10th Sep
I had watched the weather change four times during the week for Saturday, not unusual for September I suppose, and it was in the back of my mind that a trip to Dryandra might be on the cards. Final forecast had Saturday looking good so Friday I flexed off work an hour early and hit the highway.
Arriving in Dryandra it was the tail end of a warm day so I was not surprised to pick up two Echidnas on Kawana Road near the village. I drove down to Gnaala Mia Campsite and put up the tent and boiled a nice cuppa tea. As dusk fell I checked out the flowering heath opposite the campsite for Western Pygmy Possums / Honey Possums to no avail.
There had been some light rain on the drive down so the first site I headed to was Old Mill Dam. I wondered if there would be any Motorbike Frogs around but the only frogs I found were two Banjo Frogs in a mating embrace in the dam itself but of course the usual cacophony of Bleating Froglets was present as always during winter / early Spring.
I then spotlighted the area of wandoo woodland behind the dam and was delighted to find a Brushtail Possum with Joey, the result of the Autumn breeding season. I could see it thinking about climbing the tree but then I could also see it thinking about how much effort it would be with a joey on its back so I managed to get a photo then left them in peace.
There were plenty of Brushtails around and I spotted another with a Joey on its back. There were also Western Grey Kangaroos grazing around the dam.
The next site I visited was the dam North of the village on Kawana Rd. Here the call of Banjo Frogs was constant so when I got eyeshine I wasn’t surprised to find the owner was this species.
As I drove East on Kawana Rd I found an Echidna crossing the road and casting my headlight into the bush there was another Possum with Joey, to take the total for the night to three.
My destination was the Old Fire Tower at the start of the Lol Grey Loop because I wanted to check out the flowering heath for Pygmy Possums sighted here in previous years. I had to wait in the car while a shower passed before setting off. The heath was only a short walk but the only wildlife I saw as a Brushtail Possum high up in a tree.
As I was walking back to the car another light shower passed over, then when I got to the top of the hill near the carpark I got eyeshine. It was a fabulous Barking Gecko! As I was trying to get a photo I got eyeshine off a second Gecko five metres away, then I picked up a third one. The warm (16C) humid night was obviously perfect conditions for this species.
As I drove back along Kawana Rd I flushed two Woylies from heath one of which sat in the road giving stellar views.
Back on the West side of Wandering-Narrogin Rd still on Kawana Rd I parked the car and walked down a promising vehicle track through a stand of she-oak. There I encountered a Western Spotted Frog sitting nonchalantly on the side of the track.
Further down the track I could hear the incessant calling of a bird of some sort. Intrigued I walked towards the sound and encountered two small birds sitting on fallen logs. I managed to fire off a couple of shots of what turned out to be Owlet Nightjars. The photos were terrible but they did enable a positive identification by consulting my excellent field guide “Birds of Western Australia.”
I managed a second quick look around the Old Mill Dam and was rewarded for my trouble with a second Western Spotted Frog for the night but the time was nearly midnight and I still had a full day ahead Saturday so back to Gnaala Mia it was.
I woke Saturday morning to find Gnaala Mia indeed Dryandra Woodland shrouded in mist, but the morning was certainly not cold.
I drove into Narrogin for breakfast and returned to Dryandra about 9.30am when the day was starting to warm. Today I wanted to drive some of the roads I had spent little time driving previously. Colac Road was one of these roads and it gave me the first Bobtail of Spring soaking up the sun at the side of the track.
Gura Road was closed because of recent flooding with reports of at least one car getting bogged, so Newell Road made a good alternative. I started at the junction with Kawana Rd and headed West. I quickly found my second Bobtail of the day followed in quick succession by an Echidna.
West of the Junction with Gura Rd is some excellent wandoo habitat and it was here that I encountered three Echidnas together. I considered that it might be a (small) Echidna train where up to 11 males trail a female during the mating season, but this is a phenomenon seen earlier in the year. I think it was just a case of three Echidnas coincidentally being in the same place at the same time especially as one of them peeled off as I observed them.
Further down the road the Gastrolobium bushes were in full bloom. These plants commonly known as box poison are the reason for the diverse number of mammals at Dryandra. They contain a compound toxic to non-native species. 1080 is a synthetic poison based on this compound and is used in the Western Shield programme to recover populations of native species throughout the state.
I parked the car and walked into the bush to take in the sights and smells and as I did I flushed a beautiful Elegant Parrot into the tree.
I saw a further two Echidnas driving Newell Rd taking the total to six for this road, a further two later in the afternoon elsewhere in the woodland, so including the three seen Friday afternoon / night this took the total number of Echidnas to 11 in 24 hours definitely a record.
Orchids were everywhere in Dryandra, much of them in common with those seen previously in Tutanning the previous week but a Pink Candy and Lemon-scented Sun Orchid were two new ones for the year. I also picked up a Hybrid of Cowslip and Pink Fairy no doubt the work of the European honey bee that is an insect of loose morals when it comes to pollinating orchid species, unlike the native pollinators which usually service only one orchid.
After dinner at the Cuballing Tavern, the nearest place to Dryandra to eat. I returned and spotlighted firstly the Sandalwood Plantation on Gura (I had to park the car at the corner of Newell / Gura because Gura Rd was closed.) There were lots of Possums around but not much else.
Next, I spotlighted the Old Mill Dam and found my third species of frog, a Motorbike Frog, sitting at the side of the water. There were of course the usual Possums and Western Greys around the area.
The last area I spotlighted that night was the Arboretum on Tomingley Road. Here I watched the massive yellow orb that was the moon on that night rise in the East. There were a number of Possums around but this was the only species seen.
Back at the campsite I had a quick check of the flowering heath finding this colourful eight-legged inhabitant.
The following morning was much cooler with the threat of rain so after a drive around the woodland and finding nothing I returned to Perth.
Tutanning / Boyagin Nature Reserves – Fri 15th Sat 16th Sun 17th Sep.
I arrived at Tutanning around 6.30pm on Friday just as it was getting dark. As I drove Bee-eater I disturbed the Tammar Wallabies that I had previously encountered at this location amongst the Gastrolobium bushes, one of which froze for great views.
At the intended camp for the night I put up the tent before wandering back down Tammar Road to the boundary. The night was still and dry after what had been a warm spring day (28C,) but yet I soon came across a Western Spotted Frog sitting on the track. I was surprised to find this Autumn breeder on a warm spring night but even more surprised that this was the first of twenty or so of this species I saw during the evening.
As I walked down Tammar Rd I got eye shine from the canopy and it turned out to be a
Boobook Owl, a species I had heard calling earlier in the night as I put up my tent. The Boobook is Australia’s smallest Owl and is by far the most common Owl in WA.
I walked Bee-eater Road in a Westerly direction towards Casuarina Rd and I encountered many more Tammar Wallabies. Although skittish they were I was able to get good views as they tend to hop a short distance then stop and look around before hopping off again if pressed. I found a small scrape under the fence and surmised these animals were making incursions into the surrounding fields to graze at night.
I walked up Casuarina Rd and wasn’t surprised to encounter a number of Tawny Frogmouths which seem to have an affinity for She-oak (Casuarina) woodland. I also came across a Brushtail Possum with Joey that made for its hollow. Further up the road I found a second Boobook Owl for the night.
My final encounter for the night resulted from eye shine off the bark of a Powderbark tree. At first from the size of the eye shine that I thought I had found a small mammal, but the owner of the eye shine turned out to be this GIANORMOUS spider. It was so large that I had no doubt that it had eaten children to get to that size, so I quickly fired off a picture before returning to the tent and making doubly sure the zip was done up tightly.
Saturday morning, I woke early so decided to go for a walk and explore the Eastern end of the reserve before the day warmed. I disturbed a mob of Western Grey Kangaroos as I descended Tammar Rd, the first of three mobs of this species I disturbed during the length of the walk. I didn’t see much else other than a Frogmouth/Owl startled from its daytime roost when I walked off the track to check out some everlastings.
After breakfast, I packed up the tent and decided on a walk at the Western end of the reserve before heading to Boyagin. The day was warm and the Ornate Crevice Dragons very active as I passed a granite outcrop on Eagle Road.
As I passed she-oak woodland on Goanna Road an orchid caught my eye fluttering in the light breeze. It was a Fringed Mantis Orchid or as my friend Karen calls them “Green Spider Orchids.”
My last encounter at Tutanning for the day was with a Bobtail sunning itself on the track as I drove out of the reserve.
Saturday afternoon I drove the hour to Boyagin Reserve because I had an appointment with another amateur naturalist to look for Numbats. As I drove to the Northern end of the reserve to our meeting point I encountered two Bobtails on what was by now a warm day.
Once we had ditched a car we drove around the reserve to look for Numbats. I had marked out some good habitat from previous visits to the reserve. It was at one of these areas on Thornbill Road that we encountered another termite feeder, an Echidna.
Despite driving around for the afternoon, we didn’t find any sign of the striped one although we did find a second Echidna heading North on Wattlebird Rd.
After setting up camp for the night we drove to the pub at nearby Pingelly for a steak and chips and a beer. Refreshed we returned to Boyagin for an evening spotlight.
The first spot we visited was the picnic area at Boyagin Rock, a good site for Western Spotted Frogs, a burrowing frog that the other guy was keen to see. We had success with two Western Spotted Frogs located despite the dry conditions.
Our next destination was Triller Road where Tammars are reported to hang out in the dense vegetation. To get there we drove the boundary fence Parrot Rd. It wasn’t long before we found a Brushtail Possum shortly followed by a Tawny Frogmouth both common encounters at Boyagin.
Driving North there was the third Western Spotted Frog for the night on the track and we found two more Brushtails in the canopy over the track. Driving Triller Road, we did not encounter any Tammars or indeed any wildlife. What followed was very much a Brushtail night, with up to fifteen animals encountered (one with joey,) but nothing else of interest really. Tired I crashed at 11.30pm after a long day of walking and driving.
Sunday morning had been forecast cloudy with a possible shower, but in the event, it was a beautiful morning if not a bit chilly. The dawn chorus was a joy to listen to as I lay in the tent after waking, but the only calls I could identify were that of a Golden Whistler and of course the very distinctive introduced Laughing Kookaburra call.
While we started the day with a cuppa we were visited by a striking Red-capped Robin. I am far more used to seeing the Scarlet Robin of the Southwest Forests but the Red-capped is a species that becomes more common heading out into more semi-arid areas, especially areas with good stands of she-oak.
Sunday morning, we drove the same areas as the previous day, but again no Numbats were to be found. With a scheduled return to Perth before midday time was not on our side but it was great to spend time at Boyagin.
Project Numbat Weekend 11th 12th 13th Nov.
For the past five years I have participated in the Project Numbat Survey Weekend at Boyagin NR. The purpose of the weekend is to survey pre-set sites, in both the East and West Blocks of Boyagin, for evidence of Numbat activity in the form of diggings and scats. This ongoing survey initiated by DPaW gives an indication of Numbat numbers in the reserve. The survey is undertaken at this time because young Numbats are dispersing, and by surveying different habitats from the ideal wandoo valleys, through the Powderbark slopes, to the least favoured She-oak (Allocasuarina huegeliana) thickets an estimate of numbers is possible.
Tutanning NR – Fri 11th Nov
The survey started 8am Saturday at Boyagin and I took this ideal opportunity to camp at nearby Tutanning Friday night. It was a hot Friday with temperatures still warm when I arrived at Tutanning on dusk. I set up camp on Tammar Road in the reserve and set off walking a loop along Tammar, Casuarina and Mopoke back to Tammar.
It was very still as I set off and things were unusually quiet with not a Tammar to be seen in the usual spots, only a few Western Greys. Things picked up on Mopoke, with first a Tawny Frogmouth and then blue eyeshine that I was not able to identify, possibly a Chuditch. Returning on Tammar Rd I was amazed to find a Western Spotted Frog in what were exceptionally dry conditions. These frogs truly are a hardy species.
Back at camp I pottered around and nearly trod on a Southwestern Blind Snake as I moved supplies from the car to the tent, but by the time I had fetched my good headtorch I lost the snake, but nevertheless great to see this species active at Tutanning.
The wind picked up as I set off for a final walk along Tammar Rd down the adjoining fields, and this time there was a lot more activity on the walk. I disturbed three Tammar Wallabies, a further Western Grey, another Western Spotted Frog, and a Boobook Owl that obligingly sat in a tree for photos.
The final mammal as l returned up Tammar Rd to camp for the night was an Echidna on the track. These monotremes are almost exclusively diurnal during the winter months, but as temperatures rise during the summer months these mammals become very nocturnally active.
Boyagin NR / Dryandra Woodland – Sat 12th Nov
Leaving Tutanning at an ungodly hour I drove past Western Greys on Tammar Road and a Tammar Wallaby on Tutanning Road. After a brief coffee at Brookton Roadhouse, I drove the back roads to Boyagin, and because I was early I decided to have a poke around Lorikeet Rd for Numbats.
I didn’t really expect to see any Numbats, but at 7.20am with the temperature already 22C, one bolted up the road in front of the car. I stopped the car to watch this rare mammal that didn’t seem concerned by the presence of the car, eventually getting out on foot for further excellent views. I was able to watch the Numbat for a further two to three minutes before it moved into heath with its dense understory and I lost it, but not before stumbling over a Bobtail warming itself in the early morning sun.
The hot day was spent on the job with Project Numbat, with no more wildlife sightings except when exiting the reserve to return to Dryandra for the night, when I disturbed three Gould’s Monitors.
That night after dinner I had a quick spotlight along Gura Rd and around the Sandalwood Plantation picking up four Brushtail Possums and a Woylie.
Boyagin NR / Dryandra Woodland – Sun 13th Nov
Sunday was another hot November day at Boyagin and I was pleased to find a Gould’s sunning itself on the boundary track during the day.
Back at Dryandra I did a short drive late afternoon when I added a further two Echidnas to the weekend tally.
I had a brief nap on return to the village and then packed the bags to return to Perth but not before a final spotlight. During the weekend I had heard whispers of Western Pygmy Possums on flowering bushes at the base of Weirah Rd, an opportunity I couldn’t let pass.
I first spent time at Old Mill Dam and saw ten Brushtail Possums and a Tawny Frogmouth before making my way to the Arboretum where I parked the car.
There was already a red light on the flowering bushes and I was astounded to meet Domenic Brugiere a fellow mammal watcher who also writes reports for Jon Hall’s mammal watching website.
Domenic had already seen Pygmy Possums that night but I was unable to replicate his success although I undoubtedly disturbed a Woylie given away by its distinctive “sneeze.”
Dryandra Woodland – Tues 15th Nov
It was too much to know that the elusive Western Pygmy Possum was within my grasp so I made the long return drive to Dryandra and back in a night to hopefully see this species.
I heard the sneeze of a Woylie as I approached the flowering bush on the short walk from the Arboretum Carpark to the base of Weirah Rd. I unwisely used a white light and as a result got no Pygmy Possums. Time to rethink. I drove up to the Fire Tower and returned using a red filter and lo and behold there was a Western Pygmy Possum. It had retreated to the inner branches of the bush but I managed great and prolonged views before it disappeared.
I spent 30 unproductive minutes at the Arboretum and when I retuned once again using a red light I found a further two Western Pygmy Possums. A Brushtail Possum and Woylie were also around before I called it a night far too early, but sensibly with the long drive back to Perth on the same night. Western Grey Kangaroos and a Microbat gave five species for the short time I spent at Dryandra. Hopefully at some time in the future I will be able to spend longer with this amazing little marsupial.
Dryandra Woodland – Fri 15th Dec
A month had passed since my last visit to the reserves, so Friday night I drove down after work. I quickly set up camp as the last light of the evening was fading in the West of the sky.
As I drove North along York-Williams Rd I had a spotlight out of the car window and picked up bright eyeshine maybe 30m into the bush, At first. I thought I had found my first Possum of the night but the quicker movement suggested to me this was something else.
I got out of the car to further investigate and found the owner of the eyeshine to be a beautiful Chuditch or Western Quoll. It was wary of me but didn’t flee the way Chuditch often do, even propping on a stump for photos! Wow what a start to the night. If the first animal you see is a Chuditch that props for photos then the night is probably going to be a good one!
The last Chuditch I saw at Dryandra was in more or less the same spot and I wondered whether this was coincidence or whether this animal had a den nearby.
There were a few Western Greys on York-Williams and many more of this species as I drove Tomingley Road. I had a brief look around Old Mill Dam as is my custom but there were no frog calls this late in the season, even the last of the spring callers the Motorbike Frogs had finished for the year. I did however pick up four Brushtail Possums in quick succession in the 10 minutes I spent at the dam.
The next site for the evening was a track off Kawana Rd that passes through she-oak habitat. On Kawana Rd itself I passed a Barking Gecko on the road, truly a sign the warm nights of Summer have arrived when this species is active. A brief return walk on the track yielded a further Western Grey, and four more Brushtail Possums.
Lorenz and I had visited the Sandalwood Plantation on Gura Rd December 2016 and had found it excellent for Woylies. This was because of an abundance of sandalwood nuts which lie on the forest floor around the trees at this time of year.
The route to the Sandalwood Plantation took me along Newell Rd where the first Woylie of the night bolted across the road. At the Plantation itself there was indeed an abundance of Woylies feasting on the Sandalwood nuts and they allowed me to get quite close for photos. In addition to the Woylies there were also a few Brushtails at the Plantation.
Despite the time getting on I felt energised enough to finish the evening by doing the Darwinia Drive back to Tomingley Rd. On my first stop I rustled a sleeping Rufous Treecreeper from its roost and I was pleased to see the bird at such close quarters, though probably more pleased than the bird was to see me!
As I approached the farmer’s fields I could hear shots ringing out, always a frightening experience when spotlighting. They were of course culling Kangaroos and I passed quickly with a brief wave of acknowledgment. I disturbed what was probably a Frogmouth off a fencepost but didn’t linger. In fact, I didn’t stop driving until I was safely away from the boundary road and back in the forest.
On my next wander by foot I found an Echidna then another both foraging through the leaflitter.
For the last part of the drive I spotlighted out of the car window picking up lots of Brushtails and a second Chuditch for the night at the intersection with Koomal Rd.
When I followed the Chuditch into the bush I fully expected it to climb the nearest tree. It didn’t it continued along the ground past the tree, and the next and the next and the next. Wow this Chuditch was behaving like an Eastern Quoll, could it be that the effective predator control at Dryandra was changing the habits of its inhabitants? I hoped so.
I also disturbed what was almost certainly my first Tammar Wallaby which bounded off into the night, although my eyes were getting tired at this late hour and it could have been a Woylie.
I returned to Gnaala Mia Campsite along Baluuc Rd unsettling grazing Macropods as I did. Firstly, a Woylie, then a Western Brush Wallaby and finally Western Greys. Wow what a night! One of my best at Dryandra for sure.
Boyagin NR – Saturday 16th Nov
Despite the late hour to bed I was up and packed by 6.30am. I drove to Brookton to pick up a coffee and breakfast roll before heading to Boyagin to cruise for Numbats. I had imposed a two hour time limit on the drive, so I could get back to Perth at a reasonable hour and get weekend chores done.
It was a beautiful sunny morning, not too hot and it was a pleasure to cruise the roads of the East Block. My first find of the morning was a small Gould’s Monitor sunning itself on Boyagin Rd. It was a small one and soon took off into the bush. The smaller monitors are usually skittish, it is only as they get bigger that they seem to know they have risen up the food chain and don’t flee as readily.
As I drove Lorikeet Rd in a Northerly direction a shadow scarpered up the road 200m from the car, I put my foot down and when I got to what I thought was the spot I scanned the bush, but instead of a Numbat there was a Gould’s sunning itself, with this reptile in a basking pose I forget about any Numbats and took some pictures and observed this fabulous reptile.
Then the lizard moved its head as if watching something and lo and behold a Numbat walks into the camera frame! I was able to fire off a couple of shots as it meandered into the bush and I could tell straight away from a notch on one of the white stripes that this was the animal that I had seen in November. His territory obviously runs the length of Lorikeet Rd.
From here I had to quickly recce a site in the West Block that I planned to visit later in the month. I had nearly met my curfew and was only 30 minutes late returning back to Perth on the Brookton Hwy. What a magnificent 22 hours it had been with 9 species of mammal seen including two Chuditch and a Numbat. This was going to be hard visit to beat, but beat it I did on my next visit!
Dryandra Woodland / Boyagin NR – Fri 29th Sat 30th Nov
The plan for the trip was to leave bait out under a camera trap at the place on York-Williams Rd where I had seen the Chuditch on the previous trip, spotlight Dryandra then the following morning drive the tracks of Boyagin looking for Numbats.
It was a warm summer day as I left Perth and made the two hour trip to Dryandra, shaving some time off the journey by shortcutting to Gnaala Mia via the Fourteen Mile Brook Rd after Wandering Township.
There were many birds on the drive down Fourteen Mile Brook Rd including Elegant Parrots and Twenty Eights and even a few Kite-like Raptors that I was unable to positively identify.
Arriving at Dryandra I placed the bait at the appointed spots and set up a motion camera at the first of the two spots. It was late afternoon and not a great time for mammals but I did pick up two Quail crossing Tomingley Rd.
Gnaala Mia was wonderfully devoid of campers. I set up camp and ate dinner washed down a cold beer while I waited for dusk to become dark proper, which finally happened at 8.30pm.
I checked the bait on York-Williams Rd but there was nothing doing and so continued on. Instead of heading into the woodland on Tomingley Rd I took a right on Nyingarn Road. When a Tawny Frogmouth flew across the road I got out and quickly picked up three Brushtail Possums in quick sucession. Further down the track I disturbed a Woylie before joining Tomingley.
There was an unnamed track heading North from Tomingley, that links up with Koomal Rd, that I had always wanted to investigate. Woylies were in no shortage on this track with up to five individuals seen. I also saw a Western Grey, Echidna and had an unidentified Bat flying over. A serendipitous piss, lead to a Reticulated Velvet Gecko on a Wandoo trunk, a new species for me. It was a warm 23C night and therefore not surprising to find Geckoes active.
I followed the track to the terminus with Koomal Rd and saw a pair of Boobook Owls.
At the junction of Koomal with Marri Rd I checked the second bait but once again nothing was doing with regards to Chuditch but I did pick up another Woylie driving South to Tomingley. From here I drove to the Sandalwood Plantation on Gura Rd and spotlighted on foot.
There were still many sandalwood fruits on the ground late in December but no sign of any Woylies, however, after 10 minutes I picked up my first one near the boundary fence. At the back of the plantation. I disturbed a Brushtail Possum that shot up a tree then my second Woylie. It was a bit far away for any photos and sometimes this species can be hard to approach but another eventually I got close enough for a good photo.
After the Sandalwood I decided to return to Marri Rd via the Darwinia Drive spotting plenty of Brushtails on the way. Once again there was nothing on the bait but driving South I thought I had spotted a Tammar Wallaby far off into the bush. I got out of the car and walked straight past a Brushtail to find out my Tammar Wallaby was in fact a group of five Western Greys.
Shortly after I spotted more eyeshine that I assumed was another Possum, but when I investigated further the animal moved away at a speed that indicated something else. After following on foot finally it ascended a tree from where I was able to clearly identify it as a Chuditch by its beautiful brown coat dappled with white spots, but immediately it descended the tree and took off again. I had left the car headlights on and was not able to follow it any further but from its mainly terrestrial behaviour I think this was the Chuditch I had seen on the previous trip.
Returning on Tomingley I narrowly avoided a Woylie bounding all over the road. I was knackered by this point and after checking the bait on York-Williams I turned in for the night.
I fell asleep to the beautiful sound of a pair of Boobook Owls calling, but unfortunately the raucous call of an enthusiastic bird right above the tent woke me far earlier than I had planned. I packed up quickly and set off anticipating early action at Boyagin on what was predicted to be a 30C plus day.
I stopped to pick up the motion camera on York-Williams, then as I got back in the car there were Carnaby’s feeding on Hakea seeds on the other side of the road. I got some pics taking this as a good sign for the day.
The drive to Boyagin took 30 minutes and I was devastated to kill a Nankeen Kestrel. I was constantly sounding my horn to get birds off the road and when I sounded the horn at what I thought was a bird it didn’t move. Fine I thought, obviously a branch off a tree, which rose from the ground last minute. The spray of feathers made my heart sink, I spent the last few kilometres to Boyagin in sad contemplation.
The temperature at Boyagin was 16C on arrival shortly after 7am and it felt slightly cold, would it be too early for the Numbats to be active? The first road I drove was Frogmouth in the West block and nothing was doing. I headed over to the North-eastern block to drive Lorikeet Rd where on my last two forays at Boyagin I had spotted the same Numbat but again nothing was doing.
On the return down Lorikeet Rd I diverted down Wattlebird and as I was ascending a gravel slope, bang there was a Numbat poking its head over a log. It was an awkward position because I was almost on the Numbat and to move forward would have involved revving the engine. What to do?
I slowly opened the door and fired off a couple of pics. As I was taking photos, I noticed a second Numbat, was it a mother with young? It couldn’t be, it was too late in the year. Then I noticed the rust on the chest of one of the Numbats, this could only be a male in prime mating condition.
There was nothing to do but exit the car and risk scaring the Numbats and that’s what I did but they weren’t overly concerned, raising and lowering their heads to check me out.
The Numbats remained cautious as I circumnavigated the log eventually disappearing into the log. Now all I had to do was remain a respectful distance and observe, and sure as eggs after a few minutes the courting pair emerged and trotted off into the bush.
I kept my eye on them as they moved to a second log where I took up position to further photograph and observe.
This was truly an incredible opportunity, here were two Numbats primarily concerned with procreation providing a rare opportunity for prolonged observation. The male was very single minded and it was entertaining to see the female resist his advances with a snort and cuff to the head.
An engine sounded in the distance and the Numbats reacted to this distant sound. It was pleasing that I was unobtrusive enough that a faraway engine was of more concern than an avid and respectful observer a short distance away.
The Numbats once again retreated into the log, then after another short interval re-emerged. In this time, I relocated. More photos followed but enough was enough, it was time to give these amorous Numbats some space.
The Rust Red Stain was impressive on the Chest of the Male Numbat.
There is no doubt that a weary mammal watcher was blown away with the day’s events, and I was ready to return to Perth, still on a high as I drove back on the Brookton Highway. See part 3, Wildlife at Dryandra – Boyagin – Tutanning Nature Reserve -2017-2018 – Part 3 – Summer into Autumn
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