Return to Dryandra Woodland – Pygmy Possums and Quolls.

Having written the three posts – A Year in the Wheatbelt Reserves – recently, meant I had spent quite a bit of time at the wonderful Dryandra Woodland. The plan now was to have a break from the place and visit other reserves. However, during mid November last year I had found some wonderful flowering heath at Dryandra that had visitors in the form of Pygmy Possums. My views were brief but I was keen to see if these flowering plants were attracting this elusive species at the same time every year.

Sunday 4th November 2018.

I set off from Perth Sunday afternoon to time my arrival at Dryandra for last light. Fourteen Mile Brook Rd is the quickest route from Perth and I disturbed a Tawny Frogmouth off a fencepost as I drove past one of the outer blocks of Dryandra.

I entered Dryandra along York-Williams Rd and no sooner had I started spotlighting than I picked up blue eyeshine from an agile animal on the forest floor. This was almost certainly a Chuditch and when I went to investigate on foot I found the Chuditch half way up a she-oak tree.

Chuditch.

As I spotlighted further along York-Williams Rd I also picked up two Western Brush Wallabies and a Brushtail Possum high up in a tree.

On arrival at the heath I parked the car and walked over to where the bushes that had been flowering so intensely the previous year but it was clear that they had not yet flowered. I decided to explore the heath anyway and slowly began to realise that there were quite a number of plants flowering including some of the eucalypts.

I scrutinised a callistemon bush for some time but with no success, then as I turned away I caught a flash of movement from a low eucalypt, which on closer examination turned out to be a Western Pygmy Possum.

This animal was intent on avoiding the spotlight and retreated to the highest part of the tree from where I was able to get some pictures, although taking pictures of such a small mammal so far away, with the branches swaying in the breeze and flying beetles crashing into my face, was certainly a challenge!

Western Pygmy Possum.

As I was taking photos an Echidna trundled by, then I noticed another Pygmy Possum head had appeared through the flowers of a eucalypt that was directly behind the tree I was photographing. I think this Pygmy Possum had revealed itself to catch the moths that were attracted to my light beam. Examination of this tree revealed a third Pygmy Possum. Wow this species really was locally common in the right habitat.

Tonight was a school night and I had to be at work early in the morning so it was with reluctance that I returned to Perth. On the drive back I encountered a Western Grey Kangaroo on Tomingley Rd then I delighted to see a Quenda crossing the highway in the middle of the Darling Range, I had never seen this species in this part of the Darling Range, hopefully a sign that the range of this species in increasing in response to baiting.

Thursday 8th November 2018.

I had commitments in Perth on both Tuesday and Wednesday nights, but Thursday night was free, so I left straight after work to once again time the drive to Dryandra to arrive on dark. I once again entered the woodland along York-Williams Rd and once again almost immediately picked up a Chuditch.

This one was a juvenile that was foraging on the road, which when disturbed climbed a stump, fortunately not a particularly tall stump. Whilst I was photographing the Quoll, I could hear sounds nearby which on investigation turned out to be a Woylie.

Juvenile Chuditch.

I continued up York-Williams Rd to find an Echidna crossing further along….

Echidna.

On arrival at the same heath I had visited on Sunday night I once again began to hunt with my beam amongst the flowering shrubs, as I did so a Woylie hopped by and I managed a few photographs before it snorted in alarm and hopped off.

Woylie.

Returning to the callistemon shrub I had been examining, I picked up movement behind one of the bright red flowers, it was a Pygmy Possum. I was able to view and photograph this animal for a few minutes before it disappeared into the centre of the bush. Pygmy Possums are masters of disguise avoiding light beams, then when in a light beam, melting away into the surroundings if the closest of attention is not focused on them.

Western Pygmy Possum.

Friday 9th November 2018.

I was back at Dryandra Woodland Friday night, because this weekend was the annual Project Numbat/DBCA survey at nearby Boyagin NR. The accommodation for the weekend was at the Lions Village at Dryandra I, of course, had a spotlight around the woodland after dropping my things at the accommodation.

I was unlucky with the Pygmy Possums on this night but there were a couple of Woylies present at the heath. Spotlighting around the roads of Dryandra I saw plenty of Brushtail Possums and Tawny Frogmouths, but the night was not a late one as I had an early start the following morning.

Saturday 10th October 2018.

Over the course of the weekend a set number of pre-determined sites at Boyagin are visited to look for the presence of Numbat digs and scats. From this data it is possible to understand whether the population of Numbats at Boyagin is increasing or decreasing. Whilst the work is hard and often in tough conditions it is usually rewarded with various wildlife sightings.

Saturday was a warm day with thunderstorms brewing and as such I was not surprised to encounter large numbers of reptiles on the tracks around Boyagin. During the course of the day we saw Gould’s Monitors, Black-tailed Tree Monitors, Western Bearded Dragons and Bobtails.

Gould’s Monitor.

Back at Dryandra Woodland after a shower there was a Willie Wagtail causing a racket outside the cottage, further investigation revealed the source of its wrath, A Gould’s Monitor. Although this species is no doubt common at Dryandra this was the first time I had seen this species here!

Gould’s Monitor.

Later that I had another spotlight around the woodland finding Woylies, Brushtail Possums, Chuditch and Tawny Frogmouths. I finished off the night at the Sandalwood Plantation where as well as the Woylies and Brushtails there was an Echidna, a Western Spotted Frog and a Wheatbelt Stone Gecko.

Tawny Frogmouth.

Sunday 11th November 2018.

Back at Boyagin the following day we finished off surveying the sites and in the course of the day we saw another Gould’s Monitor and a Numbat that shot off into the woodland. I was devastated to find that another group had encountered a Carpet Python crossing Boyagin Rd. Two years previously another Carpet Python had been seen and again I was in the wrong group, I’m hoping next year I will be third time lucky for this fabulous snake……. # Nature never fails to impress! #

3 thoughts on “Return to Dryandra Woodland – Pygmy Possums and Quolls.

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