Birds and goannas of East Gippsland, Australia

Written by Gary on March 17th, 2019

I spent the last couple of weeks camping in a tent in east Gippsland which allowed one to witness the habits of the various creatures – they all seem to have a time of day when they would frequent the camp site or go hunting for food on the beaches.

Before we start on the birds, one animal that is very common in East Gippsland and which you will almost certainly see on the gravel roads or in your camp site, is the Lace Monitor lizard or goanna which is around 4 foot long with a powerful tail and claws and some venom in its saliva like perhaps all reptiles, although unlike Australia’s venomous snakes it cannot envenomate to cause significant systemic toxicity, but it’s bite can cause local tissue damage and infection. They are carnivores and seek small animals, eggs or road kill. The ones around camp sites are very used to humans and will walk within a few meters but are generally wary and will not appreciate being approached, so give them their space and they will not be problematic to you.

Australia is well known for its venomous snakes – we have most of the top 10 most venomous snakes in the world – and it is fascinating how they appear to have evolved.

Toxin venom producing lizards (Toxifera) evolved some 200 million years ago and from these, snakes evolved some 120-150 million years ago by turning off the genes which make limbs. Australia’s elapid venomous snakes appear to have evolved from an ancestor of the sea krait snake which appears to have swam to Australia around 25 million years ago (there were apparently no snakes in Australia before that time) and this then resulted in all of Australia’s terrestrial Elapid snakes evolving as well as via convergent evolution, some sea snakes. Monitor lizards didn’t make it to Australia until some 15 million years ago, while it seems pythons didn’t come to Australia until around 8-14 million years ago.

Goanna walking past my tent – remember don’t leave food or anything that smells in your tent, this would be an open invitation for all kinds of wildlife to rip into your tent such as wombats and rodents
checking out our fireplace for left over scraps using his forked tongue as a smell sensor.
gulping down some food it has found under the rocks
a bat that found his way inside a caravan which I was asked to gently remove (with gloves on)
Pied Currawong in the distant tree in Drummer Rainforest taken with a Olympus 300mm f/4 lens and cropped substantially.
Yellow breasted Eastern Robin taken with the Olympus 300mm f/4 lens as I walked by in Drummer rainforest.
Yellow tailed Black Cockatoo in MacKenzie River rainforest taken with the Olympus 300mm f/4 lens – these are definitely heard before being seen on a far away tree – they have a very loud , eerie high-pitched wailing contact call, kee-ow … kee-ow … kee-ow
Female lyrebird scrounging around the leaf litter in the relative darkness of the MacKenzie River rainforest understorey – Olympus 300mm f/4 lens – you may see a few of these whilst driving on remote gravel roads so take care not to turn them into roadkill – they have enough problems with coping with introduced foxes.
Hooded Plover at the water edge at sunset taken with the Olympus 300mm f/4 lens
Sooty Oystercatcher at sunset taken with the Olympus 300mm f/4 lens – my favorite lens for bushwalking and beach walks looking to capture smaller animals
The smaller the bird, the harder they seem to be to capture on camera – they hardly ever stop, always jumping around unpredictably – perhaps it makes them harder prey to catch – not sure what this one is – Olympus 300mm f/4 lens
Dove taken with Olympus 40-150mm f/2.8 whilst I was relaxing at dawn in a hammock
Galah, Olympus 40-150mm f/2.8 lens
Rainbow Lorikeet, Olympus 40-150mm f/2.8 lens
Pair of Rainbow Lorikeets backlit by the early morning sun, Olympus 40-150mm f/2.8 lens


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