Getting up close with native wildlife in East Gippsland
WORDS & IMAGES: JENNY LAWRENCE
What do you think of first when I mention “Wildlife of Victoria”, perhaps a Koala, Kangaroo or colourful Rosella? Yes of course we have all of these, but also so much more!
Let us introduce you to some of the rich and varied local wildlife that you may encounter during spring. Some of these might be familiar, others less well known.
Jenny Lawrence from Gippsland High Country Tours takes you into her local backyard, and this is what you could expect to encounter…
In the bushland and coastal heaths of Croajingolong National Park, small native mammals like this Swamp Rat are more active and night, however this one was out basking in the sun, close to where we were sitting and chatting. What a sleek coat!
On one of our walks a lyrebird was scratching for insects right beside a walking track and looked a bit indignant when we stopped to snap this quick photo.
Lizards are great fun to watch, often darting around over rocks catching insects. At first glance this beautiful Jacky Dragon was so well camouflaged on a sandy track near the beach we nearly walked right past.
Quite different wildlife is found on the seashore, either beach-washed or in rockpools. A Big-bellied Seashorse was an exciting find on an early beach walk one morning, washed ashore on a sandy beach near Point Hicks as were these egg cases from two different shark species. Not something we often get to see close-up, so it was a great opportunity to delve into our field guides and learn a bit more.
Amongst the rocks and remains of the historic jetty, a fragile paper nautilus shell had come ashore, largely intact. When the tide is low we can peer into the clear rock pools and enjoy the colours and amazing rock pool life within.
Marine mammals are always exciting to observe and in Croajingolong National Park one of the best places to be watching out is from the verandah of the Point Hicks Lighthouse cottages while you relax with a cuppa (or a glass of wine). Humpback whales pass here twice a year and in spring they will be migrating south with news calves alongside.
With a breeding colony of both Australian & NZ Fur Seals at The Skerries near Wingan Inlet, it is not surprising that they are often seen at Point Hicks. Most commonly they are lounging around in the swell or playing in the waves, but sometimes they come ashore to bask on the rocks like this little group.
Birds – there are so many lovely birds, so where do we start? Thinking about the coast, it’s hard to go past a majestic White-bellied Sea Eagle, who never fails to impress as they soar effortlessly along the coastline.
Spring is a great time to celebrate the joys of more common birds like little Swallows and a colourful Galah swaying in the breeze at the top of an old fruit tree.
And don’t forget the little creatures!!! Some have glorious colours, like this Jewel beetle. When we think of wildlife, we often overlook the fascinating world of invertebrates and they are everywhere, but you do have to look a bit more closely!
Other invertebrates have amazing detail so take a moment to look closely at the different antennae on each of this moth… just beautiful!
When you explore in nature you really need to take your time and be observant otherwise you can walk right past wildlife and not know what you have missed.
Gippsland High Country Tours encourages you to explore slowly so you have the chance to enjoy the local wildlife and learn more about them. It’s all part of a rich and full ecotourism experience and part of our philosophy as a tour operator with Advanced Ecotourism certification.
Check out Jenny’s Latest News and Specials page of her website to find out about current specials and tours.
IMAGES: courtesy of Gippsland High Country Tours
Company name: Gippsland High Country Tours
Phone: +61 3 5157 5556
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