Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Secure, secured and a snake

An echidna resting between logs
Today began with a bit of frost and the animals were a bit slow to get going. I took part in a local university woodland bird survey soon after dawn and was finished by about nine. After that I went and checked on a couple of Tawny Frogmouth sites.

I always keep my ears as well as my eyes tuned, to the sounds of the bush, and while walking quietly through the woods I heard the distinctive scuffling of an echidna. It was about fifty metres away and I watched as it walked over to a log and promptly burrowed into the litter. And that was that, off for a nap. If I hadn't heard it I doubt if I would have seen it, so well hidden between the logs and leaf litter.

They really tuck tight into corners or hollows
I wonder if any predators would find it in such a secure hiding place, or if any would bother to try and open those spines for a meal?

Who would want to tackle these spines
Then just a hundred metres on, I heard a commotion at an old fence which runs through the wood. Eastern Grey Kangaroos are common - abundant - in many of the Canberra woodlands, and a joey had managed to twist a leg through the wires of the fence. Its mother was standing right over it as it tried again and again to free itself. But it was firmly secured. So, over I went to try and free it, at the likely cost of a few hefty kicks for my trouble. Then no, I was safe. As I approached from its front, the direction the joey had been travelling in and persisted in trying to get away from the fence, it quickly turned to flee from me. And as it did so it twisted itself free, bouncing through the trees non the worse.   

A mother Eastern Grey Kangaroo stands over her joey - stuck in a fence
It was quite a large joey and I really didn't fancy a kick from those hind legs, with claws on the end.

The joey's hind leg was trapped through wires of the old fence
My walk wasn't over though and I carried on looking for frogmouths. That involves lots of time spent looking up trees, trying to pick out the birds from the branches they resemble so well. Fortunately, I always keep an eye on the ground too, as that can save one's neck. By watching the ground I find droppings or feathers which indicate that any otherwise non-noticed frogmouth is up above. Then oops, after spying up a tree I turned and took a few steps, and just noticed an Eastern Brown Snake exactly where I was about to drop my left foot. The snake must have been slow to warm up after the cold night, for I don't usually first see them so close, but luckily I didn't hurt it. Although it didn't like me about to tread on it, so it shot away down its burrow about a body and a half's length away - not quite two metres.

An Eastern Brown Snake - not the one I found today, that one was too quick off the mark to photograph

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