A ringneck parrot on Molloy Island.
|Australia is a
wonderful place to visit for those who appreciate the great outdoors, proving
rewardingly rich in wildlife. Our author and nature photographer Andrew
Walmsley enjoyed a pre-festive tour Down Under, discovering the areas around
Perth, Dunsborough, Molloy Island and Denmark in Western Australia.|
I greatly enjoyed my wildlife tour of this huge continent, although the weather wasn’t quite so sunny by the time I arrived in Denmark, further south! Yes, venomous snakes are occasionally encountered - along with other creatures that would do harm to unsuspecting humans - but there’s also a wealth of often gloriously colourful birdlife to appreciate, abundant spring-time wildflowers, many absolutely harmless reptiles and much, much more.
Even city parks and suburbs boast their fair share of parrots, including pink and grey galahs, bright green and yellow ringnecks, multi-coloured rainbow lorikeets and huge, raucous black parrots (supposed harbingers of rain) that flap about in loose flocks, searching for tree seeds on which to feed. Kings Park, overlooking the skyscrapers of Perth, is particularly worth a visit.
Kangaroos are common and widespread away from heavily built up areas.
|Areas of bush, thoughtfully left by the planners as the suburbs have spread, and suburban golf courses often harbour the Western grey variety of kangaroo while, in the countryside, these sometimes alarmingly large animals are often abundant, although frequently wary. Visit the Pinnaroo Cemetery, which more resembles open bush land than a UK-style cemetery, not far from the freeway and 20km north of Perth city centre, for remarkably close-up views of kangaroos!|
Skinks can be quite confiding and can sometimes be seen
scavenging for Food.
|Skinks also provide endless fascination. King’s skinks, large black or brown lizards that are particularly common on Rottnest Island, grow to an impressive length of 55 centimetres, whilst Western bobtail skinks are also often seen. Often fittingly known as ‘blue tongues’, these chunky animals, when approached too closely, lift their head in an aggressive pose and stick out their long, blue, diamond-shaped tongue as a warning to interlopers on their patch.|
|Also worth a visit is Penguin Island. Located a little offshore near Rockingham, 50km south of Perth, it boasts a land mass of just 12.5 hectares but wow, is it rich in wildlife! Sea lions can sometimes be seen from the small ferry boat that carries visitors across to this wildlife paradise, as can bottlenose dolphins, while there’s also a chance of humpback whale sightings during the autumn migration season.|
But it’s the birds on
Penguin Island that do it for me, although the little penguins that live here
are unlikely to be seen other than in the Discovery Centre, as during the day
they will typically be either out at sea or concealed deep within their nesting
burrows. Bridled terns, however, are abundant on the island from mid-October
through to March. These dainty black, grey and white seabirds breed here, but
winter in the tropics. Up to several thousand are present and are so tame that
good views are always available.
Then there are the
Australian pelicans, birds that only started to breed on Penguin Island in
around 2000. The island boasts two variably used nest sites that are clearly
visible from publicly accessible walkways, both occupied by huge numbers of
these enormous creatures that can often be seen flying overhead like ungainly,
Ospreys can be seen hunting for fish around much of the Australian coastline.
|Crested terns, silver gulls, occasional fairy terns, Australian ravens, passing ospreys and skulking buff-banded rails are also present. And, of course, there are the king’s skinks, too, particularly around the picnic area where these cheeky reptiles scavenge for food, wary but largely unafraid of the day trippers.|
If you are lucky enough to have the chance to visit Western Australia, you won’t regret it! There’s so much to see and, of course, lots of sunshine to enjoy before returning to the British winter and our own wildlife species.