From time to time there are reports of wallabies in Ballarat. Today's photo shows one of these, photographed in the North Gardens Wetlands near Lake Wendouree.
Wallabies make their way into town via various routes such as railway lines, creeks and quieter roads.
Sometimes they stay for months when they arrive at places such as Lake Wendouree and the North Gardens Wetlands.
Adequate food and shelter is available there to support them for quite a while. At this time of the year they will be nibbling at the emerging leaf buds on the willows.
Unlike kangaroos, wallabies are usually solitary animals. Sometimes we might see a couple together, less often three or four.
Although wallabies visiting Ballarat could be any age, they are more likely to be younger, immature animals. Adults would most likely have their own permanent territories.
Our local wallaby goes by two names: swamp wallaby and black wallaby. The former name seemed to be used more frequently a few decades ago, but black wallaby is used more now, and is the name used in recent publications.
Black wallaby is a more appropriate name, because the animal is obviously darker than either the grey kangaroo or the red-necked wallaby. While the wallaby often shelters in damp reedy and sedgy places, it is also found in dry bushland, so the name swamp wallaby is not a useful one. There is considerable variation in their colour, with some being quite orange on the chest. Some have an obvious white tip to their black tail, but others do not.These wallabies are as numerous locally as they have ever been.
A pair of Cape Barren geese in flight at Lake Wendouree is a very unexpected recent report. They flew westward, away from the lake.
A month ago, there were thousands of grey teal on Lake Learmonth. Now they have suddenly gone.
Their departure will be related to reduction of food, which was probably either seeds or leaves of the goosefoot plants that covered the lakebed when it was dry.
At Lake Wendouree, seven whistling kites were recently spotted, along with the first chicks in the colony of nesting white ibises.While not rare at the lake, whistling kites are not common, and a total of seven is unusual there.
The usual large hawk at the lake is the swamp harrier.
Blue-billed ducks, nesting swans, singing reed warblers, and a great crested grebe are other recent Lake Wendouree reports.
Nankeen night-herons are sometimes absent from the lake over winter, but this year they have remained.
NATURE QUERIES ANSWERED
Would a boobook owl prey on ring-tailed possums? We have been hearing more boobook owls recently, while at the same time seeing fewer possums.
D. Q., Cambrian Hill.
An adult ring-tailed possum would be too large for a boobook owl to tackle, although a young possum that had become separated from its mother might be taken. However, youngsters rarely leaving the mother's back.
The boobook owl (southern boobook) feeds mostly on larger insects such as moths and beetles, and small vertebrates such as mice, and birds up to about sparrow size. Rats, spiders, cockroaches and frogs are other items sometimes taken.
Your boobooks may have been calling more simply because their springtime nesting season is approaching.
- Questions and photos are welcome. Send to Roger Thomas at The Courier, PO Box 21, Ballarat, 3353, or email to firstname.lastname@example.org