The Rainforest Journal: Outing #12 – Day 6

(Wednesday 22-October-2014)

@11:34am

Lovely day in the park today; sunny with a top of 21°C and a cool breeze. I have to refill my water today of course, so I’m thankful the rain has cleared just as my water bladders and bottles are running low: walking there and back in the pissing rain would suck.

I’m tossing-up though, whether to start strapping everything on and heading-out now or wait until after the midday period to walk to the creek. Not because it’s too hot to go now, but because I’m expecting the Lace Monitor to drop by today – now the Sun’s finally out again – and this usually occurs between 11:00am and 2:30pm.

If he comes I want to know about it, and if I’m not here I won’t. Then again, if he doesn’t visit until two in the afternoon that’s plenty of time to get to the creek and be back before he makes an appearance.

@1:21pm

I’ve waited till now, but since I’d like to get the water over and done with I’ve changed tack: rather than wait here all afternoon and then have to go for water, I’ve cooked up a quick noodle meal and placed it outside on some bread. It’s not the pasta he loves so much but it still has the pizza sauce and parmesan, so he should at least show an interest in it if he drops by.

Goanna breakfast.

Goanna breakfast.

If I get back from my walk and the food is un-touched I’ll know he hasn’t been: since he’s the only diurnal animal that I’ve so far seen in the area apart from birds. Hmm the birds.

THE ALIENS HAVE LANDED

@~2:30pm

I’ve taken a detour today to check out a mound I noticed from the distance the other day. This – thing is easily taller than me, and I’m about six feet so yeah it’s pretty fuckin big.

Termite mound, Ant nest or Alien egg?

Termite mound, Ant nest or Alien egg?

It’s the first termite mound I’ve seen with my own naked eye, and it’s a pretty impressive structure indeed. As the title implies, it almost looks as if some kind of egg from outer-space has crashed to the ground, then formed a crust around itself.

... a bit closer

… a bit closer

Edit: I’ve looked through page after page of Termite mounds online and for the life of me I cannot find any photo that resembles the mound I’ve found. Most look like pointy spires or star-wars buildings made of sand: long spikes pointing straight at the sky. Some even look *kinda* rounded, but in a blobby Elephant Man’s face way. Not one looks like a big bulb caked in dirt.

THE NOT-SO-SNEAKY MONOTREME

@~3:30pm

Quite often – walking around out here – you walk along without noticing anything worth turning your head for. You see all kinds of birds, sure. Strange bugs, yeah whatever. All kinds of “micro” fauna scurry around, going about their daily animal blugh. Big deal, whatever.

The big animals are what we all wanna see: Kangaroo, Wallabies, Koalas – all that shit. To be perfectly honest, I don’t give two shits if I ever see a Koala, but that’s only my personal preference; Koalas just don’t do much for me. Anyhoo, today on my trek to the creek to refill my water I was lucky enough to see two such animals. The first – a Wallaby – wasn’t anything particularly special.

Wallabies could be great if they’d stick around for longer than three seconds, but every time I’ve seen one (same goes for the wild Kangaroo out here), it’s seen me first and all I get is an eye-full of rear-end as it bounces away into the brush.

Today was not much different: I’m walking along, see a dark shape for a moment then hear it crashing through the bushes. This time though, the Wallaby stood up on a rock about twenty meters away and looked down at me. I stood there watching him, being oh so careful not to make any sudden moves, as I slowly reach into my pocket to get out my phone and try for a photo.

But true to form, as soon as the camera was ready and I started raising it to frame the paranoid little fucker he hops away. “Oh come on!”, I yell after him, but he doesn’t care. Wild animals have zero appreciation of the frustration involved in trying again and again to take a photo of something that runs everytime it sees you.

I put my phone away and continue walking down to the creek where I fill my bottles and bladders with 10ltrs of water, guzzle as much as I can while I’m there, wet my hair and start walking back.

It wasn’t too long before I reached an area Cockatoo like to hang-out at, and as I’m walking past I hear a rustle in the ferns above and slow my walking down to a quiet, panther-like stealthy prowl. I’m not sure what is up there but since every animal out here runs away when it hears footsteps approaching, you learn pretty quickly to walk a certain way: slightly roll your feet, eyes shifting between scanning the ground around your feet as you take each step – for sticks, leaves or anything else that will make a noise if you step on it – and scanning the trees; watching for movement in reaction to yours. You get the hang of it, since walking normally causes far too much noise: every critter bolts when it hears noisy, crunching footsteps heading straight at them.

Anyway, I’m doing my slow, wildlife-stalking panther-walk – approaching the area of ferns and rock above me – when it rustles again. I stop, freeze and watch: Something is emerging from behind a large boulder and I see it, kind of. A Blue Tongue? A Snake maybe? I suddenly see black spines as the creature drags itself up onto the edge of the rock.

“What the fuck..”, I mumble to myself. What kind of creepy-arse shit has black spikes and hides under a rock? Damn. I continue to watch it, then a few moments later I finally see the nose, and have that “Ahhh” moment as I realize what I’m looking at: An Echidna 🙂

A very small, very dark-coloured Short-Beaked Echidna – Tachyglossus aculeatus, for the record. Adorable little thing is just shuffling around at the edge of the rock. He’s about half a foot around, or fifteen centimeters give or take and I know I’ve seen them on TV much larger than that: usually being cradled in some dickhead zoo-keepers arms, and those Echidna are at least a foot.

Short-Beaked Echidna shuffling about in the undergrowth.

Short-Beaked Echidna: shuffling in the undergrowth.

The image is not much of course since the sun was shining smack in the lens, and that’s the best one I got – this time. I did sneak closer to try to snap a clearer pic but he stopped moving around and hid back behind the rock once he heard me closing the distance to approximately two meters, getting too close. I could’ve easily climbed the boulder, shoved the ferns out the way and completely violated his personal space until I got a good photo, but I would’ve terrified him and that wouldn’t have been cool at all, so I stopped, put my phone back in my pocket and resumed walking back to camp again.

A Monotreme is an egg-laying Mammal, only two of which exist in the world today: The Echidna and Platypus. Both are endemic to Australia.

MONITOR MATTERS

@~4:30pm

I arrive back here and before I’ve even reached the tent, look over at the food I’d left. It’s spread and scattered around the bread, but not eaten. Mmm, could’ve been birds I guess: the Currawong and Raven have been stopping by more often lately, and with me gone from the camp they’d be free to browse around like shoppers in a supermarket.

I walk down the trail that loops back around to the tent and there he is – my little Dinosaur – a few meters away, walking out of the camp. As I approach the camp, he moves away faster. Not sprinting or running mind you but he doesn’t stop, just keeps walking. “Bro It’s cool you don’t have to leave”, I gently tell him, “but he keeps walking away anyhow. He seems less .. less relaxed, today.

Come back Bro! Don't leave!

Come back Bro! Don’t leave!

Back at the tent I see that not only have the noodles been spread-around the bread with only the parmesan I’d sprinkled on top eaten, I also note that the pasta that had been stepped into the dirt from two nights ago has been reduced to just a few peices: there was about a coffee mug worth of small shells there this morning. Of course, that doesn’t mean the Dinosaur ate it – could’ve been the birds – but the fact that only the cheese was eaten off the top of the noodles, and that I’ve seen the Monitor use his nose – many times – to move leaves and uncover stray pasta bits buried under the leaf litter well: it points to him being the one eating todays food.

Cheese good, noodles bad.

Cheese good, noodles bad.

If he’s eating he’s not off his food I suppose, but I’ve set aside some ‘proper’ pasta from tonights dinner that I’ll put out for him tomorrow. Problem is there’s more rain forecast for the next few days – with a possible storm tomorrow – so it may be too cold again for him to come out to show me whether his appetite is normal or not.

Have to just wait, and see.

@10:43pm

Moments ago, I reach outside my tent to place my coffee on the stove and light it, and as soon as my hand nears the ground I see a black, shiny spider about 2cm long – an inch from my hand. Dark-grey velvet abdomen, glossy-black everywhere else. Once I saw it I pulled my hand back and it stayed there until I blew it, after which it disappeared – blink-fast – into a hole right next to my stove. Funnel-web? I don’t know for sure but if it was, my hand was *way* too close.

The Rainforest Journal: Outing #12 – Day 6
Rate in Guidos

Jason
Animal-loving cleaner with a parrot.

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