Wednesday, January 12, 2011

More Camping Fun

While we were camping we stopped in at the Visitors Centre which had a some interesting displays up. Mind you, not everyone in our party felt they were interesting, Mr S was appalled I took photos of dead animals. I thought it was a great way for those who might not see such creatures normally to learn about them, which was the entire purpose of the display.

Also, being a Rangers post they were also there so one could learn from past faults in order to better protect or care for the wildlife God gave them.

Think of this fellow as the Australian equivalent to the American skunk of weasel. They can have the same detrimental effect on a farmer's chickens as the American "versions" can. Thus making them incredibly pesky to one attempting to raise such things. We had the opportunity a few years ago to see one of these with some young at a wildlife rehabilitation centre we visited. It was probably the least visited and watched animal. The particular guide there told us that they were in no way related to the weasel despite their slight resemblance in looks and nature.

This was an incredibly young wombat on display which raised the question of how on earth did it meet it's end!? We still have no idea, but while discussing it with the boys they made a logical point that it's mother could have been hit by a car and the baby didn't make it afterwards. Wombats generally stay with their mother until they are 18 months old!

It was interesting to have this close of a view to a platy. We've seen them in the wild many times here and always enjoy visiting the Arboretum because we're generally rewarded with a sighting or two. However, they are usually still out a good distance in the water and only occasionally do we get an amazing up close encounter. Unfortunately, we couldn't get a good look at his back legs to try and check out his poisonous spur. While there's no photo of it, you could actually see the small hairs that help the platypus filter out the water as he dives and catches various bits of food to eat.

Each display was sitting atop a set of drawers which had signs encouraging you to pull them open, and we did. All though the boys did so with caution after opening one and seeing snake skin inside.. This particular drawer is a bit creepy with the swan wing laying there, but the boys and I were far more amazed by the skull/bill that was on display. We see black swans often in our journeys to and fro. In fact, we're often treated to cygnet spottings at the Arboretum in the springs, and there's a couple of black swans there who are incredibly friendly and tend to follow us around. They are large birds though and can be quite intimidating so it was interesting to see a different view of them.

I opened up another drawer full of ocean life which explained that the first Australians were easily able to live off the land thanks to the ocean being close by. Jayden took one look at this funny looking lobster and said, "Oh my, a flea!" He wasn't entirely convinced it was really a lobster because he felt the giant pinchy claws were missing.

Check out this amazing display! I'd like to know how they preserved their egg, because our's is now banished to the outdoors as it's getting stinky and we're terrified it will explode and make our home stink of rotten egg! The boys were in love with the little seahorse. Seahorse aside, these are the same amazing finds we have on our own stretch of beach, which made the boys wonder if we needed to investigate some areas of our beach a bit more so we could spot a seahorse.

Check that little thing out! It's a fish's swim bladder! We find them washed ashore quite a lot and have always wondered exactly what they were. Morgan was a little grossed out to realize he'd been squashing fish bladders, but once we explained this was the one that allowed it to float he wasn't as put out by the whole idea.

We were really impressed with the size of this Hermit Crab. I'm sure you've seen them in the pet shops for sale, but the ones we see, really occasionally, in the tide pools on the beach are always this red and usually much bigger then what you spot in the pet shop. It made us wonder about the red color. After all flamingos are only pink because of the food they eat, so we wondered if the effect was the same for the hermit crab.

This isn't a very flattering picture, but this particular display was suspended from the ceiling and spinning. It happens to be a Wedge Tailed Eagle which is a protected and endangered animal here. They have a bad relationship with farmers because of their need to snitch lambs and other livestock. They aren't small birds by any means and their talons aren't something you'd want to mess with these. These birds are known for being able to snag a kangaroo without trouble! Needless to say, due to their menacing ways, many farmers felt the need to protect their livestock. Spotting a wedge tailed is like spotting a bald eagle in America, you feel just plain privileged to have seen one.  We've actually seen 2 in the wild before, and we've also seen a pair living in captivity in an animal rehabilitation centre. A farmer shot both of them in each wing thus preventing either from being able to properly fly again. Both are able to hop from tree to tree, but that's about the extent of it last time we saw them.

Last, but not least, was this echidna. We much prefer seeing them roaming through our yard, but I will admit they often curl up in a ball when they know you're watching them. This fellow is equally small compared to the one we had recently in our yard. However, I had to post this because while I knew this for a while, the realization dawned on me and I felt the need to set all my American friends and family straight. Despite what the lovely American science books teach, the platypus is not the only mammal to lay an egg. Echidnas do this too.


Anonymous said...

"like to know how they preserved their egg" - This may sound gross but one way is to take a small pin poke a hole in the top and bottom making one a little larger than the other. Use that same pin or another implement (like a skewer) to scramble the insides or at least break the yolk, then blow all the contents out the larger end. Once complete rinse out with water then blow it out again and let it dry....preserved eggshell. This will not, of course, work if a young bird is growing inside.

club villamar said...

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