Sunday, 12 January 2014

Wildlife on Tour part 2

Swamp Wallaby

The Swamp Wallaby is a small and shy macropod marsupial found in eastern Australia. They're generally loners but will often eat in groups. That's certainly the way we observe them on Phillip Island.  

Like the kangaroo the swamp wallaby carries its young in a pouch. The joey will stay in the pouch for 8 - 9 months and continues to suckle until its around 15 months old.

Swamp Wallaby

Often referred to as peacocks these birds are collective known as peafowl. The male is a peacock and the female a peahen. 

Peafowl love to wander around during the day but at night they like to roost in tall trees for safety.

A majestic pose by this pea fowl on Churchill Island

In Australia peafowl breed in the middle of summer and peacocks fan their decorative feathers in a shimmery dance of courtship. They also display these as a defensive action if  threatened.

Peahens lay up to six eggs per year and the peahen will sit on the nest often with other nesting penhens nearby. When the eggs hatch the chicks have well formed wings and will roost with its mother on a perch fairly quickly.

We see these beautiful birds on Churchill Island and in the Dandenong Ranges. Unfortunately rarely do we get a chance to see them displaying their feathers.


The Emu is a fascinating bird it's large and flightless bird and can run extremely fast. They have 3 toes and long legs and can be quite dangerous. At 1.5 to 2 metres tall they weigh on average  36 kilograms. Emu's feed on grass, leaves and small insects. They live all over Australia in grasslands.

Emus in Flinders Ranges

Emu's breed in pairs during the summer months of December and January. The females court the male and become more aggressive than males during the courtship phase.   They will mate every day or 2 and every second or third day the female lays one egg. They will lay on average 11 very large dark green and thick-shelled eggs.  The male incubates the egg on the nest which takes 56 days.  The female will sometimes defend the nest or wander elsewhere. Newly hatched chicks are active and can leave the nest within a few days.

We see Emu's in captivity at Healesville Sanctuary but in the wild we come across them in the Grampians and many places whilst travelling in the outback.


"The kookaburra sits on the old gum tree......" are the words of an Australian nursery rhyme about the kookaburra the largest kingfisher in the world. Known as guuguubarra by the Wiradjuri (Indigenous people)  the name imitates their call and was translated by Europeans to kookaburra. 

They are found right along the east coast and after being introduced to Western Australia in 1898 the kookaburra is also now found in the south west corner of WA

Their laughter is a pleasant sound heard in bushland and some suburbs.  They eat mice, snakes and small reptiles but can be seen stealing food from picnickers in some areas. For instance this was a constant concern when we travelled around Fraser Island.

Sulphur Crested Cockatoo

The Sulphur Crested Cockatoo is an inquisitive and friendly bird and are sometimes kept as pets and taught to ‘talk’. Their white feathers, yellow crest, large black bill and stately walk make them instantly recognisable. 

This Cockatoo is native to Australia, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea. 


Sighted in the Grampians

Performing at the Spirits of the Sky show at Healsville Sanctuary

We see the Cockatoo in many places when we're touring.


We see a range of parrots whilst on tour. Some are in the wild like the Crimson Rosella and King Parrots we come across along the Great Ocean Road and in the Dandenongs.

Crimson Rosella

King Parrot

Others like this pair are found in the Land of the Parrots exhibit at Healesville Sanctuary where you can hand feel some of the smaller parrots and hear from experts about these colourful birds. You'll see the endangered Orange Bellied Parrot, Regent Parrot and one of my favourite the Red Tailed Black Cockatoo.

Parrot is a common name for birds that belong to the Order Psittaciformes and include cockatoos, parrots, rosellas and lorikeets. These birds love to eat seeds and a number also feed on fruit, nectar and larvae from wood boring insects.

Tasmanian Devil

The Tasmanian Devil is the largest carnivorous marsupial and currently an endangered species. The Devil could once be found on mainland Australia but since pre-European times was confined to Tasmania.

The survival of Tasmanian Devils is threatened by Devil Facial Tumour Disease which causes tumours around the mouth, face and neck.  The disease develops rapidly and is fatal with affected animals dying within six months of the lesions first appearing. 
Unfortunately this cancer is highly is contagious and spread by biting during feeding and mating.  Its estimated that the cancer has spread across more than 60% of Tasmania and has caused a rapid decline in wild Devil populations.

Healesville Sanctuary is one of a number of Zoos that is participating in the Save the Devil Program. At the Sanctuary they breed and manage a disease free population. You'll find lots more information by visiting their enclosure at the Sanctuary including a display of all the Devils that have been born at the Sanctuary since the program began. One thing that fascinated me is that they all have unique markings and the display includes the name and markings of each animal.

At Longhorn YOUnique Tours we've become Extinction Fighters adopting a Tasmanian Devil. You can adopt an animal too for more information see Healesville Sanctuary's website.

We see the Tasmanian Devils at Healesville Sanctuary but you can also see them at  Moonlit Sanctuary and Conservation Park on Mornington Peninsular.  

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