Discovering a hidden haven in the Latrobe Valley, Victoria, Australia

Posts tagged ‘Australian native birds’

Killer Snails and Lying Birds

I’ve been meaning to share with you a walk we went on recently. It was up to a place called ‘Mushroom Rocks’ about an hour or so north of where we live.

The walk will give you a little peek at some of the indigenous plants on the mountains and hills that border the valley where I live. The valley itself has few stands of bushland left, let alone ones containing indigenous plant life.

We’ll also get to see some of the local wildlife…best to look but not touch!

The Mushroom Rocks walk forms part of the Australian Alps Walking Track in Baw Baw National Park that can take you 650 kms and nearly to Canberra if you are really keen. We walked the 1.5 km Mushroom Rocks section.

My daughter was a little worried when I said we could walk all the way to Canberra if we hurried.

Fair go. I hadn’t packed lunch.

The lower section of the walk winds through damp ferny gullies dominated by giant tree ferns.

We hadn’t gone far along the ferny gully beneath the Mountain Ash (Eucalyptus regnans) canopy when we found this lurking by the side of the path, possibly waiting for unsuspecting hikers to sit down beside him for a rest…

Sure he looks harmless enough, but this is Victaphanta atramentaria, a carnivorous snail.

I think he is actually quite attractive and textural. But it is true, he is carnivorous. But you can relax a little, as he is not going to bite your hand off.  According to Museum Victoria his prefered diet is worms, other molluscs and insect larvae. Just don’t wiggle your finger like a worm.

Look at all the different plants clinging to this granite...I wish I'd taken the time for some individual photos.

As we moved into the more open Snow Gum (eucalyptus pauciflora) forest there were new things to see.

Bright purple seems such a weird colour amongst the subtle hues of the Australian bush. I think this is the fruit of Dianella caerulea, the blue flax lily.

See anything interesting in this photo..?

look a little closer…it’s a…

Tiger snake!

Tiger snakes (Notechis scutatus) can inflict a bite that can kill, but they generally don’t like to hang around for an argument. If disturbed they will tend to do what this one is doing and slither away to find a quieter place to sun themselves.

A variant of Correa Reflexa - Mountain Correa I think (Correas are sometimes referred to as Native Fuchsia)

On the return journey we were stopped in our tracks by the sound of a male Lyrebird in the scrub just off to one side.

Lyrebirds are great imitators and this one was merrily running through his range of calls. We heard him accurately imitate a Kookaburra, a Black Cockatoo an Australian Magpie, a Sulphur Crested Cockatoo and a Crimson Rosella, all in quick succession. He also make another weird electronic sound that my daughter thought sounded like a submarine, but was probably the ring tone of a park ranger’s mobile phone.

These guys are incredible mimics and can easily reproduce the ‘brrring-brrring’ of an old-fashioned telephone or the buzz of a chainsaw, which can be quite disconcerting.

Lyrebirds are usually shy and I have only been fortunate enough to get a good look at a lyrebird in the wild once – and of course I was without my camera! If you are interested in finding out more about  Lyrebirds, who are named for their lyre shaped tail feathers, not their mimicking habits – you can find out more here.

All I was able to manage by way of a photo this time is below. You will have to look hard to see the ‘tall chicken’ like shape roughly in the middle of the photo…

Do you see him?

Most often, you will find a Lyrebird with your ears not your eyes!

It was one of those days where we came home feeling exhilarated because we saw and heard so much more than we expected to. Can’t wait to visit again!

****

On a slightly different note, I have been considering the layout of my blog and have a few questions to ask over the coming few entries. First up is about photos. Do you find a post like this one, where I have used larger (but still compressed) photos takes a long time to download or is it quite manageable?

cheers,

Heidi

Land of the Flying Dinosaurs

A couple of weeks ago my partner D mentioned that he was listening to a visiting American comedian being interviewed on the radio. He couldn’t remember her name, but laughed at her response to an Australian ‘dawn chorus’.

Apparently, at home,  she was usually woken to the gentle sing-song voices of sweet little birds bopping about outside her window. These birds, she said, had such delicate songs that she woke to greet the day with a spring in her step and feeling happy to be alive.

On the morning of her interview she had been woken instead by something that chose to sit outside her window yelling ‘RAWK!! RAWK!! RAWK!!’ to greet the dawn.

She thought something had come to kill and eat her.

A Sulphur Crested Cockatoo twisting around for a better look at me so it can take my number.

It was probably just a cockatoo.

OK, so they aren’t dinosaurs really, but there is something about a parrot that reminds you that birds are descended from the dinosaurs. At least, I think the link is far more apparent than it would be should you be looking at say, a robin redbreast or a hummingbird. It’s the way they look at you. A parrot will size you up. You can see it making mental calculations. Deciding if it could bring you down first.

The sound they make certainly adds to the effect.

Rainbow Lorikeets (Trichoglossus haematodus) ready for another argument

Gang Gangs sound like a cross between a creaky door and someone twisting an inflated balloon, Galahs sound a bit like someone trying to wipe a difficult mark of a pane of glass, Rainbow Lorrikeets sound every bit as argumentative and bossy as they look in their photo and I’m not even going to try and describe the sound that a juvenile Little Corella makes when it’s parents are trying to hint it’s time  for her/him to get a flat of their own. Trust me, it’s awful!

Galahs (Cacatua roseicapilla) are probably the most common parrot in my area.

At least the Rosella family have sweeter voices. The Crimson Rosella will let out a chiming ‘bink-ee-tink’ from time to time and the Eastern Rosella has a similarly sweet and chiming song.

Crimson Rosella (Platycercus elegans) enjoying sunflower seeds. I'm kicking myself for forgetting to plant some more this year!

If you haven’t already had a look, check out the post on Sulphur-Crested Cockatoos over at Bush Bernie’s Garden Blog. She’s really captured the personality of this very intelligent and down right funny bird!