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!

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Creatures of the Dam

This beautiful water, decorated with water lilies and surrounded by dense reeds on some of the banks, makes up part of the picturesque scene below the verandah of the house where I'm spending a few days near a place called The Channon, in north-eastern NSW. Looking at the perfect reflections which shimmer on a flat surface which resembles a giant piece of glass, the dam gives the sense that nothing is moving. However, as I've found out over the last few days, there is always plenty of wildlife hiding away in such areas. Check out these amazing creatures!

These Hardheads, or White-eyed Ducks (Aythya australis) have landed on the dam for each afternoon. Initially I thought they were a pair, but looking more closely you can see they both have white eyes, making them males - females of this species have a brown iris.

Late one afternoon I was really lucky to see one of Australia's most iconic yet cryptic animals - a Platypus! European settlers first thought this amazing animal was a hoax because it was a mammal with a duck's beak that lived in the water. Platypus live in freshwater streams, diving beneath the surface and using special electro-sensors in their bill to detect creatures like crustaceans and small macro-invertebrates. They surface every so often and raft around on the water before diving, giving anyone who is looking a sneaky glimpse!

As the sun set a few loud noises started up at the pond's edge. Investigating with a head torch and listening carefully, I managed to find the culprits - two species of tree frog which were calling loudly to attract mates. The first one only reaches 3cm in length so was hard to spot among the thick reed stems, but eventually I snapped a photo. Meet the Eastern Dwarf Tree Frog (Litoria fallax):

The second species was much louder and also larger, making it easier to spot with a head torch. Another tree frog, as evident from the large discs on the end of his fingers which are very useful for climbing, sat on a large tree stump giving off his whirring song. This one turned out to be a Peron's Tree Frog (Litoria peronii), a common species of the south-east. You can just make out the yellow pattern between his fingers - this was even brighter along the linings of their legs.

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