Dakalanta Wildlife Sanctuary on the Eyre Peninsula – wildlife survey

Australia's wildlife is in safe hands with the AWC. A juvenile Western Pygmy Possum, beautiful, irresistable and fragile.Nirbeeja and I were recently privileged to be involved, as volunteers, in the first ever survey of wildlife undertaken on the Dakalanta Wildlife Sanctuary, one of the properties owned by the Australian Wildlife Conservancy (AWC).  As many of you would know, we are passionate about our wildlife, but have no relevant academic training and limited experience in ecological field-work.  As a result, our involvement in the survey not only gave the AWC an extra couple of helpers, it also gave us some invaluable experience.


More Adventures in the Flinders Ranges – Wallabies and Native Lilies – February 2011

A field of Garland Lilies

Our first stop after Scotia was Broken Hill – a rather gentle way to re-enter civilization.  After a couple of months in the remote Scotia sanctuary we certainly appreciated the cafes, galleries and interesting streets and old buildings of the silver city.  We intended a short stay but Mother Nature had other ideas, turning on the rainfall in a big way.  120mm or so in one afternoon and our short stay suddenly stretched to many days longer with highways cut in all directions.  We had planned to head up the Darling River to re-explore that area and re-visit Louth, but could cross that off the agenda for now.  We also planned to spend a week at Buckaringa Wildlife Sanctuary in the Flinders Ranges, but Katja, whom we met at Scotia and now planned to meet at Buckaringa, was stranded at Scotia after flooding there.  Okay – postpone that as well.


Kata Tjuta

The main domes of Kata Tjuta.  Mt Olga at centre left, rises 546m above the surrounding plains. Kata Tjuta is beautiful, immense and imposing.

Kata Tjuta, meaning “Many Heads”, may be less famous than Uluru, but is equally spectacular.  Kata Tjuta consists of 36 steep domes rising abruptly out of the surrounding plain.  Formed at the same time as Uluru, in the same sedimentary basin, Kata Tjuta nonetheless consists of conglomerate rock rather than the fine-grained sandstone of Uluru.  The tallest of the domes, Mt Olga (we don’t know its traditional name) rises 546 metres above the plains, almost 200 metres higher than does Uluru.  A walk through this area leaves one in awe, speechless and certainly feeling a little less self-important.  It is one of nature’s places of power.


Friends visit Alice Springs – we show them the Red (or was that Green) Centre

Field of wildflowers beside Binns Track, south east of Alice Springs

Our friends Christopher and Janice from Canberra made a flying visit to Alice Springs last weekend.  It was Janice’s third time here this year, and Christopher’s second.  They almost consider themselves to be locals now.

Their visit had been planned for a couple of months, and we were hoping the area would still be as pretty as we assured them it was.  All year we kept reporting flowing rivers, regular rainfall, wildflowers and abundant wildlife.  In the end I think they visited just to shut me up!


The Bush Stone-Curlew

A wild Bush Stone-Curlew on the prowl.  On the Nocturnal Tour, outside at the Alice Springs Desert Park

The Bush Stone-Curlew (also known as the Bush Thick-Knee) is a beautiful and unusual Australian bird, with an equally unusual name.  This species is unusual in being largely nocturnal and ground-dwelling, and its plumage allows it to blend in thoroughly with the woodland leaf-litter on which it dwells.


Spring arrives early in The Alice

Zebra Finch (male) gathering nesting material, Alice Springs

Spring has definitely arrived early this year in Alice Springs.  Everywhere you look, native shrubs are in flower, the birds are building nests and the hills still have a greenish tinge after consistent rainfall all this year.  It is gorgeous.  We are even getting a few days now above 20 degrees, although the nights remain cool.  Who would be anywhere else?!


Owls and Nightjars

Barn Owl, Alice springs Desert Park

Owls and Nightjars are more common in the Australian bush than most of us realise.  Most are nocturnal – active at night – so we are largely unaware of their presence.  We may hear the hooting of an owl in the early hours of the morning, or see a dark shape fly silently overhead if we are outside at night, but otherwise we are unlikely to see them.



Golden-Backed honeyeater, Alice Springs Desert Park

If my memory serves me correctly, Australia has around 60 species of Honeyeater, native Miner and Spinebill.  And that’s not even counting the Wattlebirds and Friarbirds.  Needless to say, we have struggled with our identification of the many and varied Honeyeaters encountered during our adventures. We have both been heard to comment at times that “these Honeyeaters are doing my head in”.

To make the task more difficult, Honeyeaters are supercharged on a diet consisting mainly of nectar.  Like five year olds on too much red cordial, Honeyeaters don’t stay still for very long, making the task of identifying their species, or of taking a half decent photo, all the more challenging.


Birds of Prey

Wedge-Tailed Eagle

Birds of prey hold a special fascination for us humans, and Australia’s birds of prey are no exception.  We gaze in wonder at them as they soar high above the earth, effortlessly riding the wind thermals, searching the ground far below for food using their exceptional vision. 

In many cultures they symbolize spiritual attainment; their high soaring habit representing a capacity to rise above earthly concerns and to view issues from a dispassionate position, a place of wisdom.  We use the expression ‘eagle-eyed’ for people of keen vision and insight.


Kookaburras, Kingfishers and Bee-eaters

Laughing Kookaburra, Big Brook campsite, near Pemberton WA


Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree,
Merry, merry king of the bush is he,
Laugh, Kookaburra, laugh, Kookaburra,
Gay your life must be!