Tag Archives: marsupial

Kangaroo

7 Oct

Kangaroo 

Dear Reader:

This post differs from my usual offerings which tell stories with images about a specific area in South Australia and the wildlife I encountered. This time I am focussing on one group of animals and providing some information about each image and what it tells us about our most iconic group of animals….the Kangaroos.

A mob of Western Grey Kangaroos in Belair National Park

 

Red Kangaroo joey being fed on special formula at Adelaide Zoo

The name kangaroo comes from the *Guugu Yimithirr word for Grey Kangaroo and was first reported by Cook in 1770. Kangaroos are confined to Australasia. There are six different species of kangaroo; Antilopine Kangaroo, Black Wallaroo, Eastern Grey Kangaroo, Western Grey Kangaroo, Red Kangaroo and the Common Wallaroo or Euro. The latter three are abundant in South Australia.

Young Grey Kangaroo males boxing

Adult male Red Kangaroo portrait……Cleland Wildlife Park

 

Red Kangaroos are the largest of all the ‘Macropods’; a term that refers to all kangaroos and wallabies and means big footed. A large male can stands taller than a man and weigh up to 85 Kg. Females are smaller, blue, grey in colour and do not have such distinct facial markings. The above image was taken at the Cleland Conservation Park which specialises in indigenous wildlife.

Adult female Red Kangaroo and joey at heel in flight

 

Western Grey Kangaroos moving off slowly

One of the most interesting features of kangaroos is their bounding or hopping gait. As a kangaroo hops the tendons in its legs compress and elongate like springs storing and releasing energy more efficiently than the muscle movements that most mammals use. These remarkable marsupials also use their tails to balance at speed or as a third limb to help them move slowly.

Adult female Western Grey Kangaroo with joey in pouch

 

Reproduction in kangaroos is also remarkable. Like all marsupials, the young, called joeys, are born in an extremely immature state. They move from the birth canal to suckle in the pouch where they develop in the same way other mammals would develop inside their mother. Female kangaroos can be pregnant, have a tiny joey suckling while another one is ‘at heel’ clambering into the pouch to feed when necessary.

Feeding an adult male Red Kangaroo at Cleland Wildlife Park

 

 In the wild, kangaroos are wary animals. Their ears are multi-directional and they have a good sense of smell and sight. In addition, their speed, up to 60 kph, and jumping ability allows them to successfully evade most threats. However, in captivity they are relatively docile creatures which makes them ideal animals in wildlife parks. For a photographer this means it is relatively easy to get good portrait shots and photograph some of their more subtle characteristics such as: split grooming claws, facial patterns, dentition and even mating behaviours.

Western Grey Kangaroos in coastal environment

 

Euro…Flinders Ranges

Kangaroos are found throughout the South Australian landscape. The more robust Euros like the hill country of the Flinders Ranges where their thick fur protects them from falls and extremes in temperature. Red kangaroos prefer the more arid zones and extract moisture from plants and can survive over multiple dry seasons without drinking. Grey Kangaroos are ubiquitous and seem to inhabit the widest range of habitats from coastal heath to dense scrub.

Adult male Red Kangaroo near Whyalla, Eyre Peninsula

 

Over the millions of years and isolated from the rest of the world by continental drift Australia’s macropods have evolved perfectly to suit our harsh and rather unforgiving environment. Therefore, the next time you catch sight of a ‘roo’ take some time to ponder what a wonderful and unique animal it really is.

 

Cheers

Baz

 Additional notes

The majority of these images were captured using Canon EOS equipment and lenses.

*Guugu Yimithirr is the language of the indigenous people encountered by Cook while his ship was grounded and being repaired on the banks of the now Endeavour River after running aground on the Barrier Reef

 Please pass on this blog title and or contact information (URL) to any person or organisation with an interest in taking walks and enjoying wildlife in SA.

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Hills Face Koalas

1 Jun

Hills face Koalas

 Dear Reader:

I drive up the gravel track to a parking lot surrounded by massive eucalypts where several narrow trails lead up the bush-clad hillsides. Wanderer butterflies are feeding on the blossoms of several small groundcovers and a kookaburra is serenading us from somewhere in the deeper recesses of the scrub. But it is a lone koala that grabs my attention as it stretches full length along a tree limb.

 

 

Today is koala day. The sun is out and I am going to drive along the hill’s face to some of my favourite destinations and look for these fascinating marsupials, while trying to capture some images that demonstrate their lifestyle. My first encounter is at Anstey’s Hill Reserve in Tea Tree Gully where I have often seen koalas along the various trails that wind through the area.

 

 

From Anstey’s I drive to Morialta Falls Park. Koalas are often spotted along the road to the central gathering area where the walking trails start. And, as if on cue, I notice an animal nestled in the branches of gum tree growing across the creek. Unlike my first sighting this one is climbing, quite vigorously-for a koala- into the higher branches and is not in the mood to be photographed. Koalas are generally slow moving, laid back animals as the nutritional value of the leaves they eat is low and energy expenditure must be carefully rationed.

 

 

The Mount Osmond walking trails in Burnside are another of my favourite koala haunts. I am not disappointed and manage to spot half a dozen koalas in the trees alongside the path that leads to an old quarry. But it is a lone animal that continues my ongoing koala narrative as it walks on all fours between the trees. It is rare to see them walking on the ground as it is here that they are most vulnerable.

 

 

In Mitcham, the road that follows Brownhill creek has numerous lay-bys and koalas are often observed in this area. And my final shot of a koala demonstrating its perfectly adapted hand with two opposable thumbs for climbing and grasping leaves is a fitting way to end my observations of these uniquely Australian animals.

 Cheers

Baz

 

 

Brachina’s Yellow Footed Rock Wallabies

14 Jan

Dear Reader

Today I would like to take you on a brief trip through time n one of my state’s most spectacular environments.

Hundreds of millions of years ago sediments were deposited on an ancient seabed. Over the following millennia, the sediments were compressed to form layers of rocks. In turn, the rocks were uplifted and folded creating a formidable mountain range. Eventually, the relentless action of wind, heat and water wore down the mountains and carved deep gorges through them. The result of this timeless process is the Flinders Ranges, one of the world’s oldest geological formations. Rising from the semi desert landscape some 400 Kms NE of Adelaide; they are a pleasant day’s drive through the rolling hills and open plains of the mid north’s wine and wheat districts.

Flinders Ranges emerging from arid plains as seen from the Leigh Creek Road

I have visited the Flinders many times and the rugged beauty and abundance of wildlife throughout the area never fails to impress me. However, on my most recent excursion I had a specific location and target in mind. Brachina Gorge crosses the ranges from east to west cutting through the layers of rock and revealing a unique insight into our planet’s ancient history. The 30 kms of rutted dirt track is crossed by several creeks and the geological history is traced by a series of interpretive signs. But Brachina’s rock formations are more than a glimpse into the past; they are home to one of Australia’s most beautiful marsupials-the yellow footed rock wallaby.

Layers of sedimentary rock in Brachina Gorge

Small populations of yellow footed rock wallabies (Petrogale Xanthopus) are found in rugged areas of northern South Australia. Like all wallabies they use their long tails for balance rather than locomotion. Their fur is thick especially on the feet where it provides cushioning and grip in the precipitous terrain they prefer. Yellow footed rock wallabies grow to around 60 cms in height and weigh7-13 Kgs They feed on vegetation such as grasses and forbes and sometimes graze on trees and shrubs during hard times. They are mainly active during the late afternoon and early morning.

Yellow footed rock wallaby with joey in pouch

I entered the gorge from the Leigh Creek road on the western aspect of the ranges; and slipped my SUV into high range as there had been a little rain and the track was a little tricky. The flat terrain, where the creek flows out of the hills, quickly gave way to steep sloping rock walls and bush covered hillsides that characterise the Flinders’ gorges. After a few kilometres I stopped by a shallow pool of semi permanent water where a variety of grasses and low bushes were growing along the water’s edge. A jumble of rocks had fallen from the cliff face above creating some small caves and easy access to the shallow pools of water, the perfect environment for these agile little marsupials.

Classic yellow footed rock wallaby environment

For the best part of an hour I sat amongst the vegetation, camera in hand watching and listening. The light was beginning to fade a little and I my optimism was dwindling with it. Eventually I caught sight of a slight movement high above the rock-fall as a wallaby hopped from one boulder to the other-a long shot even with the 24X lens. I shifted my position to get a better angle and to my delight and embarrassment noticed a yellow foot feeding by the creek not 5 metres from where I was crouched. It must have been there for some time and seemed oblivious or indifferent to my presence.

Yellow footed rock wallaby feeding

For the next ten minutes I watched and waited as the wallaby nibbled on the grasses and bushes surrounding the creek. I squeezed off quite a few shots and was about to call it a day when a second animal hopped onto a flattish boulder and stared pointedly at me. As I moved slightly it froze and gave me ample opportunity to capture a few more images. Sadly, I was reminded why these exquisite little animals came so close to extinction. Early settlers hunted them for their pelts and found them easy prey as their first reaction to a threat is to freeze and ironically, rely on camouflage provided by their subtly shaded fur.

Yellow footed rock wallabies showing camouflage in afternoon light

By the time I had finished photographing the wallabies, the sun was low in the sky and driving along bush tracks at night is not the safest of activities as kangaroos, emus, cattle and sheep seem to be drawn to headlights. I packed up and headed on to Wilpena an hour’s drive to the west. A sophisticated tourist development in a natural amphitheatre of towering cliffs, it would provide the perfect base to hunt for yellow footed rock wallabies in some other locations.

The track through Brachina Gorge with Wilpena in background

Cheers

Baz

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