Thursday, August 26, 2010

Rottnest Island - The Non-Feathered Land Critters

There is a good selection of land based non-feathered critters on Rottnest. The Quokka is probably the most famous inhabitant being directly responsible for the naming of the island. Dutch captain Willem de Vlamingh thought the quokkas looked like rats - I guess you did not need any biology degree to be put in charge of a flotilla in those days .. probably not today either(?) - Well, Vlamingh named the island "Rattenest" which is Dutch for "rat's nest" and over the years the name transformed into Rottnest.

The selection of reptiles on Rottnest is good, more importantly though is that your chance of seeing reptiles is excellent! The lack of dogs, cats and foxes and probably the fact that there is next to no traffic on the island has made the crawling inhabitants feel very safe. Particular in the afternoon they will happily present themselves out in the open, trying to suck the last bit of heat out of the tarmac road. So choosing to do a afternoon ride on your bike around the island can be most rewarding. Do not drive to close to the edge of the road and bring your camera :-)

Once again we managed to spot the local Bobtail subspecies called Tiliqua rugosa konowi, which is endemic to Rottnest Island. Also King's Skink Egernia kingii is a sure spot, I have never pulled out the lunch box at Cape Vlamingh (West End) without a specimen showing immediately afterwards :-)

We did not see any snakes this time around, but a great surprise was a line of Processionary Caterpillar, Ochrogaster lunifer, making their way across the road. Great way to prove that size matters :-) obviously they try to imitate a larger creature by forming a gap-less line, similar to how starlings seek protection in large flocks, "sort sol" and how striped catfish forms dense schools.

Excellent weather, some food heavy backpacks and time off - what more can you hope for? Out at Cape Vlamingh we were treated not only with the views of the Osprey family, but also with some hair raising performance by a couple of surfers in combo with helpers on two jet skis.

I have always though that it was cheating having a friend on a jet ski setting you up for the wave, but watching the battle against those waves at West End, I must admit that there was nothing looking like cheating there! Underwater reefs, massive surf and razor sharp rocks all along the coast - if it was me, I would have like a support vessel or two as well :-D

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