Thursday, 31 December 2015

Last Post for 2015

My last day out in the bush for 2015 has been a trip to Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve, in the Australian Capital Territory. It is only a half-hour drive from the city and is tucked into a valley of the local hill range, the Brindabellas. This was an easy day out in a parkland type setting, and the clouds were flying high over the ridges on a clear mid-summer day.

The reserve is a great place to see the local wildlife without trailing through miles of thick scrub. A casual walk around the laid paths takes you past pools where platypus swim, in full view all day. And they are on calm water, so easy to see as their wakes ripple the flat surface. They can be tricky to spot on rivers, where they can pass unseen in the tumbling water.

As the sun was out, and quite warm, the skinks were out catching the heat. A group of Cunningham's Skinks Egernia cunninghami were conspicuous as they lay on a rock right next to the path. The main group were scurrying about in cracks in the rocks, with only their heads protruding from the shadows. They had obviously warmed up enough as they were busy clambering about. But this younger one was out in the open, basking in the dappled sunshine. It was even lying with its eyes closed, as it was so used to people walking by. When alarmed, they dart into a crevice and curl their spiny tails across the entrance. Those are sharp-edge scales on the tail, and they present a formidable barrier to any predator.

There are also some good views or plants from the path-side, such as this Mountain Spiral Orchid Spiranthes alticola which was growing on close by a pond.

Simple single orchid stems can be difficult to spot in thick cover, so it was good to just stroll along a clear path and see all these animals and plants - not to mention the two red-bellied black snakes which were hunting and sunning themselves close by on the banks of the streams.

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