|Southern boobook; Photo by Matteo Grilli.|
A group of six nature enthusiasts joined me for a walk around Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve last Sunday, where we were met with a wonderful array of wildlife, plants and fungi.
Red-legged pademelons (Thylogale stigmatica) were particularly abundant, being sighted numerous times throughout the rainforest.
Ecology student Ariana had an especially close encounter with one of these beautiful marsupials, as it approached her to feed on fallen fruit just a few metres away.
|Close encounters of the marsupial kind!|
Silhouetted in the morning light, I had originally considered these animals to be the more common black flying-fox (Pteropus alecto), but eagle-eyed Davydd found some bats roosting lower in the forest that were revealed to be the grey-headed flying-fox (P. poliocephalus), a Vulnerable species.
Our time with the bats was cut short, however, when a passing photographer named Steve informed us that he’d just found a roosting owl about a hundred and fifty metres further on the track.
I’m normally not so bold and insistent, but I guess owls bring out a different side of me, and I implored Steve to retrace his steps on the circuit and show us exactly where he’d seen the bird. He very kindly complied—thank you once again, Steve!
Sure enough, in the undergrowth only a short distance away, we had fantastic views of a gorgeous southern boobook (Ninox novaeseelandiae).
While not necessarily a rare bird, the boobook is small, cryptically-coloured and spends the day resting in dense vegetation, so the opportunity to see one is always something to appreciate! Photographer Matteo in particular had to be almost physically dragged away from the bird, so entrancing was its presence and beauty!
|Logrunner; Photo by Matteo Grilli.|
Elsewhere, we found logrunners (Orthonyx temminckii), black-faced monarchs (Monarcha melanopsis) and more; full bird list here.
|Large-billed scrubwren (Sericornis magnirostra); Photo by Matteo Grilli.|
Often we craned our necks skyward simply to admire all the gigantic trees preserved within the park, including ancient flooded gums (Eucalyptus grandis), strangler figs (Ficus watkinsiana) and red cedars (Toona ciliata).
Fungi-enthusiast Lee made sure we looked down at the forest floor from time to time as well, to take in spectacular mycological specimens we may have otherwise missed.
All in all, it was a fantastic morning thanks to a great mix of people and some wonderful nature experiences. Thank you Matteo, Davydd, Chad, Judith, Lee and Ariana for being such great company, and hopefully I’ll see you all again out in the wild sometime!
|Red cedar; Photo by Chad Alan.|