Welcome to the News section of the iNSiGHT Ornithology website (
www.simoncherriman.com). This blog contains updates about various things I've been up to, interesting environmental issues and observations I make regularly while going about my day. It is designed to be fun AND educational, and inspire you about our wonderful natural world. Happy reading!

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Bluetongue!


A little wander along Campbell’s Creek this afternoon gave me an exciting discovery - a bluetongue lizard! I found him crawling through the grass and managed to catch him for a closer look... and to show Gill’s niece and nephew who were waiting across the road. Nothing like a bit of show and tell for the children!

The Eastern Bluetongue (Tiliqua scincoides) is a common reptile, being one of the largest and more conspicuous skinks in Castlemaine. It has beautiful smooth, scaly skin, and as its name suggests, a gorgeous tongue that shines iridescent blue in the sunlight. When chanced upon during a bushwalk, bluetongues will open their mouth and hiss at you in an effort to appear larger and more threatening. I’ve experienced this many times (with Bobtail skinks in the west) and nearly died of fright - glancing down to see a reptile suddenly hissing at you is quite alarming in a land of venomous snakes.

Bluetongue lizards are ground-dwelling animals, moving around in rocky and grass areas and feeding on a variety of plant and animal life including slugs, snails and flowers. You might be interested to know that this species is a live-bearer: it gives birth to 2 or 3 young, which are deposited in a protected place like a pile of wood or rocks. There are four species in Australia: Eastern, Western, Northern and Centralian. All have smooth skin (and a blue tongue!) but the markings on each are quite different.

It was great to be able to make this discovery so close to houses and a busy main road. And even better to be able to take the opportunity to show amazing native wildlife to young children. Next time you’re out walking in the drier months, keep an eye out - you might be lucky enough to see one of these amazing creatures.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Da Eas' Side!


Last night I hopped on a plane and flew across the Nullarbor to spend a few weeks in the eastern states. The initial purpose of my visit is worked-related: I’m thrilled to be involved with Australian Geographic in a series of forums called ‘Experience the Kimberley’, where I’ve been asked to give a short but inspiring talk about Kimberley wildlife on three evenings in Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne. This will be the first opportunity I’ve had to spend time in any of these places other than waiting inside their airports, so I’m really looking forward to it! After my work commitments, I’m on holiday with Gill, and we’ll be traveling to Castlemaine, Canberra, back to Sydney and lastly the Blue Mountains.

This morning I managed to get out and about and explore some parts of Sydney, including the famous harbour and Botanic Gardens, snapping photos of resident Australian White Ibis (Threskiornis mollucca) and Masked Lapwing (Vanellus miles). Then I caught the ferry across to Manly, and met with Kylie Piper from AG for lunch at Manly beach. I was nearly late for lunch because of my excitement to explore and search for wildlife as soon as I’d got off the ferry! After getting up close to a beautiful Golden Orb Spider just near the Manly ferry depot, I found some Rainbow Lorikeets (Trichoglossus haematodus) nesting inside a small tree-hollow, right along the footpath where joggers and walkers busily filed past me. The adult lorikeets rushed in to feed their youngster, who I had seen inside the hollow through a small crack in the side of the tree, then quickly left. I lay on my belly waiting for the juvenile lorikeet to poke his head out, which he did, then an Eastern Water Skink scurried up to me for a closer look. Then it was off to lunch!

Here's a few snaps of the creatures I've seen so far. Keep watching to see what I find in the next two destinations.
Australian White Ibis near the Sydney Central train station.

Adult Masked Lapwing.

Golden Orb Spider near Manly ferry depot.

Eastern Water Skink.
The Rainbow Lorikeet nest tree, right near a footpath!
A nestling Rainbow Lorikeet peers out of his nest hollow.