Saturday, September 17, 2011

KI: Seals, Raptors, and Koalas

Flashing back 12 hours before our last post (flinders chase was the end of a very long, picture intensive day), we drove all over the island seeing all the critters and wildlife we could. Chronological blog posting is for suckers. We got up early to start the drive to the south end of the island to go visit Seal Bay. Seal Bay is a conservation park set aside for the wild seals. Like this guy.

These seals apparently have a set weekly schedule. They spend three days out at sea catching fish and eating as much as possible, swimming as far out as a couple hundred kilometers. All that swimming makes them tired though, so when they come back to dry land they pretty much sleep for four days straight. They're not lazy, just exhausted. So all along the path were seals just passed out it seemed wherever they happened to fall.

Seals are really cute when they're sleepy.

The two seals on the left are a mother and baby. The baby had just finished nursing, and settled in for a nap next to his mother, who may or may not have been fully awake during the nursing. The seal-cub on the right badly wanted to play, but was having no luck.

It's been a busy day!

We went a little overboard with the seal pictures, clearly. I think we have about 20 of just this guy here. It's not our fault.  Look how adorable he is!

Why did the baby seal cross the road?

After Seal Bay we drove east to get to Raptor Park and see the bird show. This is a private conservation park which takes injured wild birds and nurses them back to health. Here is the birdman with a magpie named Trevor and another bird named Conroy.

The show was in an open field, with three rows of benches arranged in a semi-circle. The back row of benches was slightly higher off the ground, and a woman was sitting on it with her two small children. The birdman warned them that they might want to move to a lower bench, since the kids might fall. The woman said they would be fine. Fifteen minutes later the kid, sure enough, falls off and starts bawling. The birds did not approve of all the racket. The birdman just shrugged like, Hey, I warned you lady. Australians are a casually non-sympathetic people. It's kind of refreshing after hyper-alarmist America.

Next up in the show were a series of owls, which at this point I do not remember the names of the species, but I can tell you which owl from Harry Potter they most closely resemble. This is Pidwigeon.

Here is Laurel with Hedwig.

Here is Greg holding Cookie, a Blue-Wing Kookaburra.

Laurel holding Ellie, a falcon. She's looking slightly nervous because this is a powerful, fast bird. In the wild, our cats would stand no chance against her. The birdman did some swooping exercises with her that were pretty incredible. One minute she would be casually soaring in the air, and in a flash she would be on the ground tearing the dummy rabbit to shreds.

Last but certainly not least was the star of the show, a wedge-tailed eagle named Rex. That's a heck of a wingspan he's got there. And apparently the femails can be up to 30-50% bigger.  We saw several of these guys as we were driving around the island.

This is the eagle after he's "killed" his dummy rabbit.

The last stop before we got to Flinder's Chase National Park was a koala reserve. The owners had a grove of eucalyptus trees that were host to a group of koalas. Turns out, wild koalas are about the boringest thing in the world. They pretty much just sit in the tree and sleep. Here's a picture of a koala butt.

Laurel and I played a game of "find the koala" as we walked through the grove. Greg won 4-3, but Laurel claims we weren't really keeping score so it doesn't count. We all know Greg won, though. As we were playing the game we were very careful to be on the lookout for the danger of Drop-Bears. What's a Drop-Bear, you ask? Drop-Bears are similar to koalas except they have long claws on their paws and are meat eaters who catch their prey by dropping on it from above. Drop-Bears also do not exist, but Australians (at least Laurel's co-workers) take great pleasure in telling tourists to watch out for them.

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