Into the Wild: Part II

January 1, 2012: Ah, Australia. You are filled with animals unseen by girls from Wisconsin/Michigan.  I stalked your rosellas and your cockatoos, and I marveled at the bright King Parrots and Rainbow Lorikeets. Most of all, I loved the “kangaroo/Tassie Devil/wombat crossing” signs.  Do Aussies take photos of the weird (to them) North American wildlife? Are they enamoured by the robin or the cardinal?  Do they pose in front of “deer crossing” signs?  I hope so!

Once seeing the crimson rosellas in Donna’s backyard became a common occurrence, I began to stalk the white cockatoos.  I thought these were majestic birds that unabashedly flaunt their gold crowns – and they are when in flight or resting on a phone line – but I soon realized that they can commonly be found pecking away at manicured lawns, looking for that tasty snack, and are therefore, probably, somewhat of a pest to the lawn’s owner.  Still, they are not found (in the wild) where I come from and so I was thrilled to see them each and every time.

Flock of cockatoos -> flock o' toos -> flockatoos! (Canberra).

Birds became easy to photograph, whether I stealthily approached them or just happened upon them by chance.  In fact, some of the birds rightly posed!  I found the black swan and cyngnets on Lake Burley Griffin surrounded by Japanese tourists who were angling for the perfect shot.  Black swans are native to Australia and were first observed by the Dutch mariner Antounie Caen* in 1636; in 1973, the black swan was officially proclaimed as the “bird emblem” of the Government of Western Australia and now appears on the state flag.

Black Swan family on Lake Burley Griffin (October, Canberra).


The red-throated parrot, called a Galah, is very common around Canberra. I found them, usually in pairs (they mate for life), in Reid and all over Commonwealth Park. They should not to be confused with the pink cockatoos, however, which are all-over pink and have distinctive pink/orange/white crowns.  I saw a few in December but was unable to photograph them (next time!).  BTW, they, too, were pecking away at the lawn!

Galahs (Canberra).

Common sitings on the ANU campus included wood ducks, crested pigeons (which are much prettier than their park-dwelling cousins, BTW), and mapgies. While they are beautiful birds in their own rights, I like the colorful birds best!  On my first trip to Sydney, I spotted a Masked lapwing and chick in the Royal Botanical Gardens.  Typical of its nature, this one attempted to lure me away from the chick… as if!

Masked lapwing and chick (October, Sydney).


On a last-minute trip to the coast of New South Wales with Ian Williams’ geology class, I saw the beautiful King Parrot and the colorful Rainbow Lorikeet, which is only found along the coast.  Seeing them was a happy chance, as we were loading up the van and getting ready to leave!

King Parrot at Pebbly Beach, NSW (November).


Rainbow Lorikeet at Pebbly Beach, NSW (November).

Have you tired of looking at pictures of birds yet?  Well, I saw lots of other kinds of animals, including the goanna, spiders (of course – and including Meredith’s Huntsman), snails (when it rained for, like, 36 hours straight in Canberra), jellyfish, and more roos.  I was happy to not have encountered any snakes at all, though, apparently, they are not as dangerous as advertised. Whatever!  Take a look at the rest of the pictures and let me know what you think!

Goanna monitor lizard at Pebbly Beach, NSW (November).


Giant spider and its web (November, Ayers Rock Resort). I have no idea what kind it is and I wasn't about to get close enough to find out!


Life moves at a snail's pace, after the rain in Canberra (November).


Some kind of jellyfish at Bondi Beach (December). A local girl told us it wouldn't kill us, just make us feel awful. We kept our distance!


Roo Mob at Pebbly Beach on the coast of NSW (November). People? What people?


Best wishes for 2012!  May you appreciate all animals, great and small, even the scary ones!


Other links:
Learn more about Australian birds here.
More about the black swan can be found here.
Information about Australia’s spiders can be found here.
Click here for pictures of Aussies spiders and learn to identify them!  (Yay!)
Information about Australia’s reptiles can be found here.
Into the Wild: Part I


* Interestingly, a Google search on “Antounie Caen” brings up nothing except blurbs about being the first European to spot the black swans of Australia. If you know anything about him, please let me know in the section below. Thanks!


No animals were harmed in the making of this blog page.


February 29 (Update):  Australian animals will never cease to amaze me. Just when I learned that my favorite frog, a species of gastric breeders, is presumed extinct just 20 years after its discovery, I learn about a giant walking stick, as big as your hand (!), that has been found on a lone island off the coast of Australia for the first time in 80 years.  Wow.