Monday, June 22, 2015

Boomers Report Wild Life Sightings

We are now enjoying the second leg of Australian adventure, Queensland. But I really feel the need to totally devote a blog to Australia's varied flora and fauna. I read Bill Bryson's book "The Sunburnt Country" twice.  He is quite effusive about the topic so thought for a start I'd let you know how our animal spotting is going. I'll visit Flora later.

Giraffe Toganda Zoo Sydney
Our first animal encounters were at the zoos. I've been to three wildlife parks so far. Everyone is a haven for kangaroos, koalas, lizards, wombats, echidnas and birds.  

The echidna Featherdale Wildlife

The wombat Featherdale Wildlife
One zoo had a nice selection of African animals but the Aussies pretty much stick with what's in their own backyard. . I have to believe a Grizzly, black bear, polar bear exhibit would be a huge hit.   We North Americans have our own killer beasts and damn proud of them. I took a few million photos. All nice and safe.

The thing about a zoo, it gets you all hyped for seeing them in their natural habitat. But first, the signs. 
These alone tell you there's something a bit different going on here. Kangaroo, wombat and cassowary crossing?
Kangaroo and wombatt Xing

 I kept a lookout for bandicoots but alas did not spot one.

And I suppose they use these water warnings for crowd control.

Nothing makes me want to jump in the ocean faster than the possibility of a big ole croc bite or jellyfish sting.

Based on our in the wild sightings, Australia will be known as the wild bird trip though a couple of non-bird things have made an appearance.

Our first wild animal was the cockatoo. A zillion of cockatoos actually, flying from tree to tree in the royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney.

And oh the noise they make. It wasn't long before we realized the cockatoo is everywhere and is a bit of a pest, like when they hang out in front of the bakery in Katoomba hoping for crumbs.

A volunteer at the gardens told us where we could find the frog mouthed owl. Strange beast sitting in a Norfolk pine. And then there's the Lyre bird. We stumbled across this bird at the Jenolan caves perhaps coming too close to its nest. The Lyre bird began making the most incredible noises I've ever heard from a bird. I think whoever came up with the old video game sounds stole them from the Lyre bird.  Just as annoying as a begging pigeon but much prettier is the Crimson Rosella. People feed them so they hang around looking for a handout. This one wanted our sandwich.

The Australian Magpie was hanging out at the WWII Barracks area on our Manly hike. He was an  extremely patient subject.

I saw a Kookaburra in Manly also but the one that visited our BnB in Cairns was more photogenic. Apparently they are regularly fed by the hosts of our Kooka's BnB just to keep the birds and the guests happy. Working!

The birds go into their maniacal laughter every morning. Quite the alarm clock.

I studied the poisonous looks of snakes at the zoo.  Australia has most of them so you can forgive me for just assuming any snake that crossed our path would be one of the bad guys. We saw two slithering across our trail by a river in Kuranda National Park. They moved way too fast to get a picture or solid identification, but when in doubt assume poisonous viper.

We spotted a couple of wild kangaroos from the car, near the crossing sign.  I think they were the red kind. One was already roadkill but the other one seemed healthy enough. I attempted a photo but by the time we got the car situated, off it went. Most of the zoos let you feed the kangaroos. They are mostly disinterested. Apparently they get fed plenty.  I bought some kangaroo feed that some other pushy wild thing was more than happy to eat.

Our favorite wild sighting so far has been the cassowary. I saw one at the zoo being fed  an ice cream cone by a kid. Later I read a cassowary could kill you if it felt threatened. Still, I wanted to see one. It's like wanting to see a bear in the U.S.  And we did! It seemed curious and came near but once we began to move, it took off.  I learned from a couple of bird watching ladies that a sighting is really rare and that our cassowary was probably just one of four in the Karunda area. I'm glad we lived to tell the tale.

We still haven't seen a wombat, echidna or koala in the wild. We have however had a couple of close counters with a koala. The kind you pay for.

About half way through our trip. Still plenty of time to add to our list. Grace has arrived. On to Part two.

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