Kangaroos – and a few birds

Western Grey Kangaroo, Pondalowie Bay, South Australia

Okay – so this site is supposed to be about Australian Birds. Every now and then, however, I come across something interesting to photograph which doesn’t fall into that narrow field. Here is one example.

On our recent short holiday to Yorke Peninsula we visited the lovely and secluded Pondalowie Bay. The weather was quite unpleasant with light showers and almost gale force winds. The birding was consequently very limited. I did see several Pacific Gulls along with a few Silver Gulls and a solitary Sooty Oystercatcher. Two Pelicans braved the wild conditions in the bay and a small number of Crested Terns kept watch from some rocks. A Nankeen Kestrel used the wind to its advantage, soaring on the rushing air to search out a late afternoon snack.

Leaving the shoreline and driving inland a few hundred metres the wind abated somewhat in the lee of the sand dunes and thick coastal vegetation. Here the birding was a little better and I sighted a small list of species, including

  • Masked Lapwings
  • Galahs
  • Willie Wagtails
  • Grey Currawongs
  • Silvereyes
  • Singing Honeyeater (also seen near the water)
  • Rainbow Lorikeets
  • Crested Pigeons

And just as we were leaving the camping ground area we sighted a group of five juvenile Western Grey Kangaroos grazing near the road. They are used to vehicles in this area and didn’t stop their grazing as I stopped to take some photos.

Western Grey Kangaroos, Pondalowie Bay, South Australia

Australian Magpie, Pondalowie Bay, South Australia

There’s a kangaroo loose in the garden

Female Western Grey Kangaroo, Monarto Zoo, South Australia

Female Western Grey Kangaroo, Monarto Zoo, South Australia

Yesterday morning we had the delight of having a Western Grey Kangaroo in our garden for a few minutes.

I need to explain that our garden is rather larger than most; we live on a 5 acre (2 hectare) block of land on the outskirts of Murray Bridge in South Australia. This is not the first time we’ve had a kangaroo on our land, but it is unusual. It’s only happened on one other occasion over the last 25 years. Might have had others but my memory is fading. We’ve seen individuals along the road on other occasions, and sometimes we see one or two in the paddock opposite our driveway. They are far more common in the large tract of mallee scrub about a kilometre up the road from our driveway. Whenever I go birding up there I usually disturb several of them.

The species found around here is usually the Western Grey Kangaroo. It is theoretically possible to get Red Kangaroos here but I haven’t seen any; they tend to be found much further north in dryer parts of the state. I was not quick enough to get the camera to take a photo of the roo which paid us a visit. Instead, I’ve posted two photos I took recently on a visit to the local open rangeĀ  Monarto Zoo which is about a ten minute drive from our home. The zoo has many Western Grey Kangaroos within its boundaries. They naturally occur there and have remained within the confines of the outer perimeter fence of the zoo.

The two photos on this page are of the same female. In the photo below you can just see the joey’s face poking out of the pouch. Click on the photo to enlarge the image.

Female Western Grey Kangaroo with joey, Monarto Zoo, South Australia

Female Western Grey Kangaroo with joey, Monarto Zoo, South Australia

The kangaroo we had visit us only stayed for a few minutes. When I tried to get a little closer it bounded off through our orchard, across our open paddock and then down the road along side our property. It jumped three 1.2 metreĀ  (four foot) fences so effortlessly they might as well not have been there. The route it was taking was an easy way back to the scrub area where it had come from – and away from the busy road in front of our place.

Related articles:

Kangaroos and Honeyeaters: a happy arrangement

Brown-headed Honeyeater

Brown-headed Honeyeater

Quite often I receive some fascinating accounts about birds from my readers. Often these are left in the comments box and all are able to read them.

On other occasions people use the contact form and this is fine too, but only I get to read them. Some of these are too good to keep to myself.

Kerry is one such reader. By coincidence she lives only a fifteen minute drive from where I live. Her experience of the relationship between kangaroos and honeyeaters is fascinating. I have also seen this kind of behaviour with koalas in Victoria.

Thanks to Kerry for giving me permission to quote her.

Hi Trevor, I have just discovered your site and I absolutely love it!

My husband and I are wildlife carers through Fauna Rescue and we have just recently moved into the area (we are half way between Murray Bridge and Tailem Bend on 120 acres of mallee scrub) so your site is proving very helpful in identifying local species.

One of our favourites is the Brown-headed Honeyeater. We raise orphan kangaroos and we have 2 acres of mallee scrub fenced in to raise the kangaroos (we have western greys and reds). Come late winter, the little Brown-headed Honeyeaters assiduously collect fur from our kangaroos to line their nests and this continues all the way through to December (for refurbishment purposes we assume).

They only ever pluck fur from the western greys and ignore the reds completely. We assume that is because the greys have longer fur than the reds, which are more desert dwelling. The honeyeaters land on the backs of the western greys and pluck fur out until their beaks are completely stuffed and then they fly off. I have seen up to three birds on the back of one roo, busily plucking out fur. The roos don’t mind at all and make no effort to move away or brush the birds off – maybe they like the sensation of being groomed so it is a symbiotic relationship! They are extraordinary little birds.