Tuesday, 27 March 2018

If it looks like a hamster ...

.. it might still be a rat!  Shades of Andrew Sachs and John Cleese!

Each morning that we have been down here when we pass the Southern end of the Lagoon boardwalk a small dark mammal has bolted from near the boardwalk to the nearest bush.  ​I discussed this with a naturalist friend from Canberra and he thought my description was closeish to  Broad-toothed Rat Mastacomys fuscus.  He noted that it is usually thought of as restricted to the high country but has been found at sea level on Wilson's Prom and there is an 1880's record from 10 miles NE of Cann River.  

This morning (about 8:15) I got a snap of it.
My friend thought if looked pretty much like Mastacomys fuscus.  So I have referred the issue to a batologist who works for the Victorian Environment folk.  The batologist has now expressed a view:
"While I find it difficult to be sure from just one photo, I would think, from the look of it and the location, that it is a Swamp Rat Rattus lutreolus.  It is difficult to tell Mastacomys and R. lutreolus, even in the hand. The Mastacomys molar is the give away, skulls are easy to id. "
Looking at the distribution map in ALA ...
... I'd rate it London to a brick (or possibly London, Paris and New York City to a brick) that it is the Swamp Rat!  Bugger: I've got a couple of citizen science records to delete.

That excitement followed a rather nice sunrise.  Note that it is about 1/10th cloud rather than the 9.5/10ths we have been having.

Our second walk today was the Heathland Walk on another part of the Coastal Walk.  (I had thought about going to Shipwreck Creek but doing 12km each way of a crappy road, with few plants or anything much else on the end of it seemed like a bad idea.)  This walk is usually interesting with a wide range of habitats (woodland, heath, beach and riverine).

Today it delivered the first reptiles of the trip.  A Jacky Lizard didn't wait for a picture, but quite a few of these well patterned skinks were about.
 As we got on to the beach we spotted a pair of Hooded Plovers to the North and then by the outflow of the Betka River found this one sitting tight.  It seems a bit late for it to be on a nest but perhaps no-one has told it?
 Here is the lovely weather!
 After lunch I dropped in at the Lagoon boardwalk ...
 .. to get a photo of the Royal Spoonbills which we had spotted in the morning (when I had been too focused on the rat).
 We then went to Tip Beach which we had become aware of when we noticed a sign walking to Bastion Point the previous evening.  A very nice beach which joins on to the Eastern end of Davis Beach.  Several Gannets were fishing just offshore with about half being immature birds.  It is possible/probable that these two Hoodies are the ones we saw in the morning.
 Poetry in motion.
This sandhill looks to be designed with toboggans in mind!  I must save a slab box and give it a go next trip.
 If this was an igneous rock, rather than sandstone I'd call this a sill!  Quite an impressive barrier (of sorts between Tip and Davis beaches.
 We took a spin around the gun Club track but birds were limited to 4 Jacky Winters.  However we found some Corymbia flowers at a photographable height.
 I'll finish with some images on a fence between the surf shop and the relocated community op shop.  There isn't any information - that I could see - about the identity of the folk in the photos but I assume they are just locals pictured cracking a few waves.  Until now, there has been nothing about this on the ineternet as far as I can see!





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