Although this blog is going live around the end of February 2021, I started mammalwatching as a hobby around August 2019.
My first deliberate foray looking for mammals was at the nearby Imbota Nature Reserve near Armidale in northern New South Wales, Australia. A small patch (220 hectares or 540 acres) of dry Eucalypt forest surrounded by pasture land, with a waterhole, so I was visiting in the late afternoon to try for kangaroos or wallabies. I had not been five minutes out of the car when across my trail trundled a short-beaked echidna (Tachyglossus aculeatus), possibly a young male looking for a new territory to call his own. He let me get several photos before he decided enough and rolled into a protective ball in the leaf litter. A complete fluke and I haven’t seen him since.
Taking my cue, I left him and continued on to the waterhole. There I was successful in seeing both Eastern Grey Kangaroos and Swamp Wallabies, but more about them in another post.
There are three other species of echidna : the Eastern Long-Beaked (Zaglossus bartoni), the Western Long-Beaked (Z. bruijnii) and Sir David’s Long-beaked (Z. attenboroughi) named after the excellent man himself, but they are all residents of Papua New Guinea, so it will be some time before I get a glimpse of any of them in the wild!
The only other monotreme species is the Platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus). They have a reputation for being shy and therefore difficult to see, but quiet time beside streams at dusk is the best place to start. I had a little help here after several fruitless attempts in my area by downloading the mobile phone app PlatypusSPOT where recent sightings around the east coast of Australia are recorded. One sighting was in Commissioners Waters, a few kilometres outside my town, in August 2020, almost a year to the day after seeing the echidna. After checking permission with the landowner I was rewarded with a wonderful twenty minutes of watching a platypus cruise up and down her stretch of river. Such a thrill to see a wild platypus!
Both families of monotremes and two very unique and iconic Australian species seen in the wild.