Eyre Peninsula  – Western Pygmy Possums & Barking geckos

Western pygmy possum

Western pygmy possum

By the time of my second survey at Dakalanta Sanctuary on the Eyre Penninsular in South Australia, I was mentally prepared for the specific challenges of surveying this remote rocky property, such as digging tranches in solid bedrock in 40 degree heat and no running water, meaning no showers for days on end. But despite the hardships, Dakalanta has one major thing going for it – a large population of Western Pygmy Possums (Cercartetus concinnus). With their huge eyes, huge ears and a prehensile tail that is rolled into a tight coil when at rest,  pygmy possums have got to be one of the cutest species of wildlife on earth. And after spending a few hours in the trap they look like sleepy, grumpy mini Yodas.

Western pygmy possum

Western pygmy possum


Western pygmy possum

Western pygmy possum

The only other small mammal we found in Dakalanta was the feisty dasyurid – Little long-tailed dunnart (Sminthopsis dolichura).

Little longtailed dunnart

Little longtailed dunnart


Little longtailed dunnart

Little longtailed dunnart

Another favourite of Dakalanta surveys is the Barking gecko (Underwoodisaurus milii).

Barking gecko

Barking gecko


Barking gecko

Barking gecko

We also caught a number of Western stone geckos (Diplodactylus granariensis), Lined earless dragons (Tympanocryptis lineata), a handsome Yellow-faced whip snake (Demansia psammophis) and a couple of Bicycle lizards (Ctenophorus cristatus).

Western stone gecko

Western stone gecko


Bicycle lizard (female)

Bicycle lizard (female)


Yellow-faced whip snake

Like Scotia Dakalanta gets spectacular sunsets and sunrises. There is nothing like a flaming red sky to get your juices flowing early in the morning.

Sunrise

Sunrise

Most of Dakalanta has been cleared of native vegetation, but in the south of the property there is still a sizable patch of river red gum woodland. These gum trees provide perfect roosting hollows for owls and many other critters. We took the opportunity to check some of the roosting sites for pellets, and accidentally flushed out a Barn owl (Tyto alba). It hopped out of the hollow and literally hung around for a bit by holding on to the tree with one foot.

Barn owl

Barn owl


Cleared landscape of much of Dakalanta

Cleared and stony landscape of much of Dakalanta


Australian ringneck

Australian ringneck


Mulga parrots

Mulga parrots

One afternoon we came across a large brown snake hunting at our camping site. It found something of interest in a small underground burrow and kept trying to get it out by inserting its head into the burrow and writhing its powerful body trying to get a grip on whatever it was hunting. After about half an hour it got frustrated and slithered away. And off course we followed it. Eventually it got so bored with us – it actually yawned!

Brown snake

Brown snake


Brown snake

Brown snake


Brown snake

Brown snake yawning


Western pygmy possum

Western pygmy possum


Western pygmy possum

Western pygmy possum


Western pygmy possum

Western pygmy possum


Shingleback

Shingleback


Shingleback

Shingleback


Little long-tailed dunnart

Little long-tailed dunnart

By the end of the survey we had a little ecosystem establishing in one of our cars.

Field car

Field car

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2 Comments

  1. Arlene Hope January 19, 2017 at 4:19 am #

    Beautiful as a wildlife carers
    we can see your photos tell us how much love and effort you have done to achieve such wonderful Photos

  2. Margarita January 19, 2017 at 4:37 am #

    Thank you Arlene.

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