After seeing the Dugongs in Shark Bay it was time to drive back to the Perth area to prepare for our visit to Rottnest Island. We had a day to spare so decided to return to Yanchep National Park to search for the Rakali. This time we stayed right in the park so we could search before dawn. We walked along the shore of Loch McNess past the Wagardu Jetty to the far end. I noticed something swimming low in the water from the near shore to the reeds. It could only be a Rakali! Commonly known as water rats, a push was made in the 1990s to change to the aboriginal name Rakali to try to give this native rodent’s reputation a makeover. Unfortunately, it was before sunrise and Marc didn’t get a great photo.
|Rakali Before Sunrise|
On March 5 we took a ferry from Hilary’s Wharf to Rottnest Island just off the Western Australian coast from Perth. The island has become a major holiday destination but we visited mainly to see a Quokka, a small native marsupial. In fact, the island was given the name ' ("Rats' Nest Island") by Dutch captain Willem de Vlamingh who spent six days exploring the island in 1696, mistaking the quokkas for giant rats. Rottnest is undoubtedly the easiest place to see a Quokka although we had great luck in seeing them on the mainland. Here on Rottnest Island, they have become part of the tourist attraction where people flock to take a selfie with an adorable Quokka. There are commonly seen around the restaurants in Thomson Bay looking for a handout from tourists who feed them despite laws against it. As a result, the Quokkas around the homestead are unhealthy suffering from deficiencies and predisposed to disease and even death.
We were fortunate to have booked two nights at the historic Bathurst Lighthouse keepers cottage. The lighthouse keeper maintained the acetylene flame daily from 1900 when the lighthouse was built until 1920 when it was replaced by an acetylene flasher. The light was converted to electric operation in 1986 and continues to guide ships safely into Fremantle today.
The next day we rode our bikes out to Cathedral Rocks to see Australian Sea Lions. The sea lions weren’t around but several male New Zealand Fur Seals were frolicking in the surf just below the viewpoint.
On the bike ride back to Thomson Bay we were able to see Quokkas in a more natural setting.
Upon our return to Perth, we had built in a few contingency days at the end of our itinerary and decided to return to Cheynes Beach to give the Honey Possums one last try. This time we solicited help from a local photographer, Raeline, to help us find the elusive Honey Possum. We made the five and a half hour drive to Cheynes Beach and arranged to meet Raeline that evening for a “Honey Possum Tutorial”. She showed us all her usual spots where Honey Possums are often found and indicated that they are best seen in the early mornings or late afternoons. We had been searching in the right areas on our first visit but were looking mostly after dark. This time of year the Honey Possums are seen feeding on the blossoms of Birds-nest Banksia (Banksia baxteri). Sadly we didn’t find a Honey Possum but we did encounter a Grey Butcherbird that had just killed a New Holland Honeyeater. It was in the process of storing its meal in the fork of a branch to be consumed later. Although considered gruesome by some it is an ingenious adaptation.
We were up before sunrise to survey the same route we did last night for Honey Possums. Using the information provided by Raeline we felt more positive. We were definitely looking in the right places at the right time but could we detect the drop-down motion that Raeline kept talking about? The answer was no. When Raeline caught up to us we still had yet to spot a Honey Possum nor had Raeline. Time was quickly running out. Once the sun is up and it gets too hot, the possums go to sleep. Lucky for us it was a cloudy day. Suddenly, Raeline quietly states “I’ve got one.” I got a brief glimpse and Marc missed it entirely. Bummer, had we come this close only to miss it after all? Raeline said “give it a minute” and sure enough, the Honey Possum reappeared. No wonder they were so difficult to find. Male honey possums weigh just 7 to 11 g (0.25 to 0.39 oz), and females weigh 8 to 16 g (0.28 to 0.56 oz); about half the weight of a mouse. Their body length ranges from 6.5 to 9 cm (2.6 to 3.5 in)! This time we both got good views and Marc was able to get a photo!
“Mission Honey Impossumable” (see earlier post with the same title) had become mission accomplished! What a wonderful way to end an incredible two-month journey in Western Australia. A big thanks goes to Raeline for finding us a Honey Possum! We look forward to our next visit to Western Australia. There’s still so much to see and do!
We hope all is well with everyone.
Peggy and Marc
Western Australia Mammal List: January 13 - March 11, 2019
|1||Western Grey Kangaroo||JF, Dry, Boy, Per, SR, BB, CB, TP, Bus, Yan|
|2||Southern Brown Bandicoot (Quenda)||TT, JF, Kar, BM, CB|
|3||Black Rat *||TT|
|4||Woylie (Brush Tailed Bettong)||Kar, BM, Dry, Per|
|5||Common Brushtail Possum||Kar, BM, Dry, Per, SR, Bus, BD|
|6||Tammar Wallaby||Kar, Dry, Per|
|7||Short-beaked Echidna||Dry, FP|
|8||Boodie (Burrowing Bettong)||BM|
|10||Mala (Rufous Hare- Wallaby)||BM|
|11||European Rabbit *||Dry, SR, CB, TP, EP, Bus, FP|
|12||Chuditch (Western Quoll)||Dry, Per|
|13||Numbat||Dry, Boy, Per|
|14||Western Ringtail Possum||Per, TP, Bus, BD|
|15||Western Brush (Black- Gloved) Wallaby||Per, SR|
|16||Quokka||SR, TP, RI|
|17||Red Fox *||SR, Yan|
|19||Australian Sea Lion||BB|
|20||Indo-Pacific Bottlenose Dolphin||KB, MM|
|22||Black-footed (or Flanked) Rock Wallaby||MC|
|24||Domestic Cat (feral) *||FP|
|26||Common Wallaroo (Euro)||FP|
|28||New Zealand Fur Seal||RI|
|30||Yellow-footed Antechinus||CB (glimpse)|
|32||Red-tailed Phascagole||Dry (glimpse)|
TT = Treetops Cottage in Kalmunda
JF = John Forest National Park
Kar = Karakamia Sanctuary
Boy = Boyagin Nature Reserve
Dry = Dryandra Woodland
BM = Barna Mia Sanctuary
Per = Perup Nature Reserve
SR = Sterling Range National Park
BB = Bremer Bay
CB = Cheynes Beach
TP = Two Peoples Bay Nature Reserve
EP = Emu Point
Bus = Brussells Bushland
BD = Boranup Drive
KB = Koombana Bay
Yan = Yanchep National Park
MC = Mt. Caroline Nature Reserve
MM = Monkey Mia
FP = Francois Peron National Park
RI = Rottnest Island
* = animal introduced or not native
* = animal introduced or not native
Animals in red are endangered or critically endangered.
For the 108 bird species seen and photographed by Marc go to his list on iNaturalist:
Western Australia Bird List w/Photos
Our route map: