Saturday, 24 December 2016

Maria Island details

I like to get close and explore texture and form when I take photographs for myself.

Here is a set of such shots from the Maria Island trip.

The Painted Cliffs - a well known sandstone feature on the island.

A close up of the weathered sandstone around the corner from the previous shot.

And another from around the next corner.

Meanwhile, over on the far western side of the island, there are the fossil beds at Fossil Bay - once quarried for limestone to make cement.

Footprints left on the beach by a Tasmanian Devil as it prowled at night.

The distinctive claw pattern of an echidna's tracks where one crossed a sand dune.

To keep sand and dirt out of their ears, wombats have a dense mat of hairs covering their aural orifices.

The striped pattern on eucalyptus trunks left by bark cast at different times.

Maria Island wildlife

Here is a simple set of images that give a taste of the wildlife on Maria Island. I could say much more and post a blog on each species, but for now I prefer to present just a short list to give a hint of the flavour.

A hermit crab climbs back into its shell as it is rescued from the tideline - there were gulls and oystercatchers about.

Bright starry flowers and fleshy succulent leaves of Pink Pigface.

A pair of Cape Barren Geese - these birds, which were becoming endangered elsewhere, had been breeding well on the island until Tasmanian Devils were introduced. No geese have produced young for a few years now. The devils were sent there to maintain a virus-free population in isolation, at the cost of them killing geese and other animals. A strange conservation strategy.

A Tasmanian Native Hen, they too are no longer rearing young due to predation by the devils.

A Tasmanian Pademelon - these marsupials are about the size of a large brown hare, or a little more. Perhaps, they are just large enough to escape from the devils, as they seem to be thriving on the island.

A Bennett's Wallaby - as she scratches her ear, her joey peeks out from behind its own tail which is hanging out of the pouch.

A Wombat lies sleeping during the day. A favourite wombat past-time. This one is lying at the entrance to its burrow.

A modern, or rather, a still extant mollusc sits on the fossilised shells of extinct molluscs.

Thursday, 22 December 2016

Maria Island

This is the first of three posts, an overview, on a recent trip to Maria Island off the east coast of Tasmania. The island is a national treasure, for history as well as wildlife and it is managed by the Parks and Wildlife Service, Tasmania. As it is an island, it has to be accessed by boat and there is no vehicle service, so all is quiet on the island. And I never tried to seek a signal for my mobile either. Peace.

Our perfect landing spot on the beach of Chinaman's Bay on the west coast of an isthmus between the two main landmasses at the north and south of the island. At the longest, the island is about 20 km, and at the widest, about 13 km.

Trails of Pink Pigface Carpobrotus rossii spread down a sand dune on the east side of the isthmus on Ocean Beach, where there is usually a swell coming in from the Pacific.

Granite rocks present a rough headland at the southern tip of the island, the clean rock indicating how high the sea hammers on the cliffs in storms.

Orange lichen grows on the coastal granite just above the water splash zone. These are Hymeneliaceae sp. and are characteristic of coastal granite in southern Australia. This cove is Haunted Bay, sheltered from the westerlies and once used by whalers to lie up while processing blubber from whales and seals killed in the surrounding sea.

Mount Maria (711 m), the highest point on the island is in the northern part. This and the other high peaks, Bishop and Clerk, are of dolerite and all the high ground is swathed with continuous eucalyptus forest.

There are a few wetlands, pools and marshes on the coastal plains on the west of the northern part of the island. The most abundant birds I saw there were white-faced herons and black swans.

The eastern side of the island drops off in cliffs, their abrupt edge contrasting with the gentle slopes on the west. The whole island would have been covered with forest as in the background of this photograph, the grassland is a remnant from the days of european settlement and agricultural clearing.

The east coast of the northern part of the island does not present such a perfect landing spot.