Crepuscular: Active at twilight or before sunrise.
We started our day late, arriving at the Bonarong Wildlife Sanctuary when the day was already hot. Failing to learn the lesson of our visit to the albatross sanctuary on a similarly bright day, we entered to find that most of the animals are not very happy when it’s hot outside. The many Forester kangaroos that have the run of the place sprawled on the ground. Most couldn’t be bothered to approach the visitors eagerly holding out handfuls of kangaroo food that each person is given on entering. We saw a couple of kangaroos licking crumbs of oatmeal and kangaroo chow (?) off the ground from a largely prone position. It was pretty funny.
The listless kangaroos were a harbinger of what all the other animals were up to, resting in the shade. That meant that we couldn’t see the wombat, or any quolls–they were all deep in their burrows or clumps of tall grass avoiding the sun. We did see echidnas and a variety of birds. The koala was very cooperative because all they ever do is sit on a tree branch. We saw a Tasmanian devil. They look like little chubby puppies apart from their prominent toothy mouth.
We made the best of our visit, and even spotted a new bird, the noisy miner. Following the intelligent lead of the animals, we lay low for the rest of the very warm afternoon, catching up on writing. It turns out there are many different hopping pouched animals, including tree kangaroos, rat kangaroos, wallabies, quokkas, pademelons, wallaroos, euros, potoroos, and bettongs. I had never heard of most of these.
We ate dinner on the deck, looking across the valley, where two nights ago Jonathan spotted a flock of cockatoos roosting in trees at the far end of the valley. We decided that if they came again we’d try to find them. They were out again, almost 50 big white birds clustered on four or five trees. It was 8:30 pm, the sun was about to set, but there was still time to drive a mile. We turned off the highway onto a dirt road that wound into the hills toward the stand of trees covered with cockatoos. As we worked our way along, it became apparent that the trees were not accessible by road. We continued, hoping the road would turn again, when we were distracted by three wallabies hopping across the road. One stopped long enough for me to get its photo.
We moved on slowly to avoid spooking the animals, which is impossible. The reason there are so many dead wallabies and kangaroos by the roadside is because their instinct is to jump, which puts them in the middle of the highway on the first leap, often too late to take another. We kept going because we kept seeing wallabies. The road curved upward and we looked across fields full of wallabies. Our photos are “hidden pictures”. Find the six or seven wallabies staring at us.We never did find the trees full of cockatoos, but we saw fifty wallabies, maybe more. We got so good at recognizing wallabies that we knew we’d spotted something different on our way home. A bit of research showed we saw a pair of pademelons, a smaller pouched marsupial. We wondered whether these “crepuscular marsupials” settle down when it is really dark. Is all the roadkill a phenomenon of the hour after sunset and before sunrise? The wallabies we saw are safely tucked away in a sparsely populated rural area, but every time we go out in the car we see the remains of others. Evening speed limits don’t seem to help.
Pademelon; Bennett’s (Red-necked) Wallaby; Forester (Eastern Gray) Kangaroo