Full List of Amphibians of East Gippsland, Victoria, Australia
East Gippsland, Victoria has 29 native extant (living) amphibian species. They represent 2 families in 1 order. East Gippsland comprises only 0.3% of Australia’s total area, but is home to nearly 14% of her frogs.
Mallacoota in far East Gippsland is Victoria’s most diverse region for plants, especially flowering plants. Where there are flowers, there are honeyeater birds: a group of noisy, colourful Australian birds adapted to feeding on flower nectar.
In the Mallacoota region it is possible to see 21 species of honeyeater.
Most of the common Victorian species are here: Red & Little Wattlebird, Eastern Spinebill, New Holland & Yellow-faced Honeyeater; but there are also special ones: Tawny-crowned, Crescent, Lewin’s Honeyeater; some are summer visitors: Scarlet Honeyeater; and some are real rarities from NSW and Qld: Noisy and Little Friarbird, White-cheeked Honeyeater.
The Mallacoota region has hills and mountains, coast and heathlands, estuaries and rivers, rainforests and dry woodland, each home to a different group of honeyeater birds.
Here’s a list and description of all the honeyeaters recorded in recent years around Mallacoota.
Eastern Spinebill Acanthorhynchus tenuirostris
Description: small, colourful honeyeater with long curved beak.
Where to see: Can be seen almost anywhere in Mallacoota region where native trees or shrubs or garden plants are flowering.
Red Wattlebird Anthochaera carunculata
Description: Large, streaky grey honeyeater with yellow patch on belly. Very noisy.
Where to see: can be seen almost everywhere in Mallacoota including gardens, all year round
Little Wattlebird Anthochaera chrysoptera
Description: Similar to Red Wattlebird but lacks yellow patch. Very noisy.
Where to see: Mostly near the coast, all around the region.
White-fronted Chat Epthianura albifrons
Description: a small black and white bird that is most often seen on or near the ground in open areas. Chats are considered honeyeaters, but they are quite different to the rest of the group, both in shape and habits.
Where to see: Not common, best chance is near the coast in open areas – Bastion Point, Mallacoota airport.
Tawny-crowned Honeyeater Gliciphila melanops
Description: an elegant brown, tan and white honeyeater with curved long beak. They are not easy to see, they often stay low and quiet in thick heath.
The Mallacoota region is one of the best places to see this bird in all of Australia.
Where to see: Mostly along the coast in heathlands south of Mallacoota – Shipwreck Ck, Mallacoota airport.
Yellow-faced Honeyeater Lichenostomus chrysops
Description: A small green-olive honeyeater with yellow patch on face.
Where to see: Almost everywhere around Mallacoota region in forests and gardens. Possibly the most common small honeyeater in region.
Fuscous Honeyeater Lichenostomus fuscus
Description: a small, yellow-olive honeyeater a bit like the Yellow-faced but lacking the large yellow patch.
Where to see: Not often seen in region, they seem to prefer drier forests. One reported on north side of Inlet in 2013, another found north of Wangarabell in 2012, another in Mallacoota in 2010 (source: Birdata)
White-eared Honeyeater Lichenostomus leucotis
Description: Medium-sized dark green and black honeyeater with white patch on face
Where to see: in forests – Wallagaraugh, Mallacoota (Shady Gully, Casuarina Walk), Genoa Falls.
Yellow-tufted Honeyeater Lichenostomus melanops
Description: a beautiful yellow and black, medium-sized honeyeater with dramatic facial markings.
Where to see: in forests, mostly in the hills – Wangarabell, Genoa Falls, Maramingo.
Description: a small green-yellow honeyeater with a white plume on cheek.
Where to see: Not often seen this far east, more a bird of western Victoria, but some recent records at Genoa Peak and Shipwreck Ck.
Noisy Miner Manorina melanocephala
Description: a medium-sized miner, grey with yellow and black markings around the face. Miners are a group within the honeyeaters – they are chunky-bodied, have bare skin behind their eyes and quite short beaks. They are not related to the introduced Common (Indian) Myna, though they look a bit similar.
Where to see: Occasionally recorded in Mallacoota town area.
Bell Miner (Bellbird) Manorina melanophrys
Description: a small miner, green-olive with red patch behind eye and bright gold beak. Their bell-like call is well-known and much loved.
Where to see: Common, heard in almost every rainforest or wet forest. They can be hard to see at first, simply because they are hidden in thick foliage, but with patience you can usually see one.
Lewin’s Honeyeater Meliphaga lewinii
Description: a beautiful, medium-sized green-olive honeyeater with yellow crescent on the cheek. Their call is very distinctive – a bit like a machine gun.
Where to see: Common, often in slightly wetter forests but also along the coast.
Brown-headed Honeyeater Melithreptus brevirostris
Description: a small brown, olive and white honeyeater.
Where to see: Scattered records throughout region, often in dry forests, high in canopy.
White-naped Honeyeater Melithreptus lunatus
Description: small, green and white honeyeater with a black head and a red eyebrow.
Where to see: Common in most forest types – usually seen high in canopy.
Scarlet Honeyeater Myzomela sanguinolenta
Description: a small red, black and white honeyeater with a curved beak.
This bird is one of the reasons birdwatchers come to Mallacoota – these tiny birds fly down from the north in Spring and East Gippsland is their first stop in Victoria. Sometimes they spread throughout the state (as they are doing this year – 2017), but Mallacoota is always a reliable site to see Scarlet Honeyeaters in Spring and Summer.
Where to see: They are usually seen along the coastal forests – Shipwreck Ck, Betka Beach, Heathland Walk – but also up Genoa and Wallagaraugh Rivers at Gipsy Point, Wallagaraugh.
Little Friarbird Philemon citreogularis
Description: a medium-sized light grey friarbird with blue skin around face. Friarbirds are a group among the honeyeaters that are large, noisy and usually have bare, unfeathered heads – the Little Friarbird doesn’t have a totally bare head, but does have a lot of bare skin.
Where to see: one seen in 2014 at Gipsy Point (source: eBird)
Noisy Friarbird Philemon corniculatus
Description: a large light grey friarbird with a bare black head like a tiny vulture.
Where to see: Not common, but several recent sightings from Karbeethong, Gipsy Point, Mallacoota, Wallagaraugh
White-cheeked Honeyeater Phylidonyris nigra
Description: a medium-sized black, white and yellow honeyeater, very similar to the common New Holland Honeyeater, but does not have the white eye.
Where to see: This bird is mostly found in NSW and Qld, but there are two records from Cape Howe Wilderness north of inlet in 2014
New Holland Honeyeater Phylidonyris novaehollandiae
Description: a medium-sized black, white and yellow honeyeater with a streaky breast and white eye.
Where to see: Common in gardens and forests all around Mallacoota region.
Crescent Honeyeater Phylidonyris pyrrhoptera
Description: a medium-sized black, white and yellow honeyeater with two black bars forming a broken crescent on chest
Where to see: Can be seen all over Mallacoota region in forests, but do not seem to be as common this year (2017). They do have a tendency to come down to coast in winter and go up to the mountains in summer. Recent records from Genoa Peak and Shipwreck Creek.
Full List of Mammals of East Gippsland, Victoria, Australia
East Gippsland, Victoria has 72 native extant (living) mammal species. They represent 26 families in 8 orders. East Gippsland comprises only 0.3% of Australia’s total land area, but is home to over20% of her native mammals. Most of the major types of Australian mammals are present in this region: 2 of the 2 monotreme families; 11 of the 17 living marsupial families; 5 of the 8 bat families; 1 of the 1 family of native rodents and 7 of the 10 families of marine mammals.
1. Baby koalas are called Joeys. All marsupial babies are called joeys – kangaroos, wallabies, wombats, tasmanian devils, possums & bilbys. The meaning/origin is unknown – it’s possibly just a diminutive used at that time for any small animal. Joey as a baby marsupial was first recorded in use in 1839.
The use of the word joey may have started with the word being applied for a British fourpenny coin. Politician Joseph Hume promoted the use of the fourpenny, thus the coin developed the slang name joey after him.
2. The first time you see a koala joey it is already 6 months old. Koala joeys are born as tiny naked creatures that don’t look anything like a koala. They move straight into the pouch, and remain unseen until they emerge at around 6 months old.
Actual emergence takes time. The joey first pokes his head out of the pouch at 5.5 months, and fully emerges at 6 to 7 months. By 8 to 9 months the joey becomes too large to get into the pouch, and spends all his time on his mother’s belly or back.
3. Koalas invented pro-biotics. Koala joeys eat ‘pap’ – a special substance produced by their mother that looks like poo and acts like a probiotic. It contains gut flora that the joey needs to process eucalyptus leaves. The mother koala produces it from her caecum (a special chamber in her large intestine) and delivers it from her cloaca, so though it looks a bit like poo, its not.
Pap is absolutely essential to a koala’s health. Wildlife Carers with orphaned koala joeys will frequently ask the wildlife care community for a postal delivery of pap from a koala mother – any koala mother will do, the closer the better but any is better than none. Imagine receiving that package of squishy green slurry in the mail!
4. Koala joeys are born out of their mother’s central vagina. Female koalas have three vaginas.
Why? Its complicated, and deserves a complete blog on the subject. Suffice to say that the two lateral (side) vaginae are for the passage of sperm to the uteri, and the median (central) vagina is for birth.
5. Koala joeys are born high in a tree. There is no danger of them falling to the ground – they are so tiny they get trapped in their mother’s fur. At birth a koala joey weighs only 1 gram – as much as a single sultana/raisin – and is only 2cm long.
It’s Koala Joey Season in the state of Victoria right now. All over the state wild koalas can be seen with joeys – hotspots are The You Yangs near Melbourne, the Great Ocean Road and Raymond Island, East Gippsland.
Echidna Walkabout runs the following tours to see koalas in the wild – with a high chance of seeing koala joeys each year from September to November:
Bird names are a bit like the English language – a lumpy soup of broken rules, throwbacks, dialects and slang. Some birds are named for their appearance: Tawny Frogmouth, White-throated Needletail; for their behaviour: Plains Wanderer, Bee-eater; for their similarity to other birds: Quail-thrush, Cuckooshrike, Fairywren; some for their calls: Laughing Kookaburra, Clinking Currawong and some for the region and habitat they live in: Atherton Scrubwren, Australian Reed-warbler.
Others are named for a combination of features, and some for reasons so twisted and mangled that they are nearly untraceable: Pitta, Cockatoo and the hilarious Drongo.
So when you look at a large, elegant, vermillion and emerald-green parrot, the name King-Parrot seems sensible. The plumage of the adult male is reminiscent of expensive velvet cloaks with shimmering satin linings. A flash of turquoise on the wing sparkles like a diamond bracelet.
Obviously King-Parrots are named for their appearance? Well, no.
Watch this elegant parrot for a while and you will see that they are special. They inhabit the cool, wet forests of eastern Australia. They are sensitive to heat and dryness. High in the mighty eucalyptus forests of East Gippsland you will hear their ringing call, but they are elusive and sometimes difficult to see. The ground level of us mere mortals is a long way beneath them.
If you own a bird feeder, as Sue & Glenn Herbert of Snowy River Homestead in Orbost do, you will meet many glorious Rainbow Lorikeets, Galahs, Sulphur-crested Cockatoos and Crimson Rosellas, who crowd and squabble over seed treats.
Rarely, though, will you see a King-Parrot. They will wait until the others have gorged and then calmly appear. They will not squabble. They will not debase themselves. Somehow they know that you have saved a little seed for the most regal of visitors.
Okay, then King-Parrots must named for their behaviour? No, afraid not.
There is another way to name a bird. A name can honour a person. American naturalist Thomas Horsfield has a bronze-cuckoo and a bushlark named after him, artist John Lewin has a rail and a honeyeater, ornithologist John Gould has a finch and a petrel, and royalty are well represented by (Queen) Victoria’s Riflebird and Princess (Alexandra’s) Parrot.
Politicians and heads of state also get their share of bird-names-in-honour. Barack Obama, Indira Gandhi and Nelson Mandela all have birds named for them. But this is not just a recent phenomenon.
Philip Gidley King, Governor of New South Wales from 1800-1806 is the King-Parrot’s name source.
According to “Australian Bird Names: A Complete Guide” by Jeannie Gray & Ian Fraser, the name King’s Parrot was proposed by George Caley to honour Governor King. Whether King ever saw or appreciated his namesake is not known. The poor fellow died in 1808, only 2 years after resigning his post as governor and returning to England.
Big animals impress. But what are ‘big animals’ – elephants, rhinos, moose? How about kangaroos, emus, wedge-tailed eagles and goannas?
Australia has its share of megafauna, but we Aussies sometimes make the mistake of overlooking our big natives.
On a steamy, sizzling hot January day in far East Gippsland I took a mixed group of nature photography & wildlife biology students walking in Croajingolong National Park, near Mallacoota. It was funny trying to keep them together – the wildlife students would stand for ten minutes identifying every small bird and lizard we came across, while the photography students yawned and fiddled with their camera settings. Minutes later, the photography students would be in raptures over a rock formation, snapping from strange positions, then comparing histograms – while the wildlife students wandered off in search of obscure insects.
But one sight kept them all fascinated for twenty minutes. It was a goanna (Lace Monitor), and a big one – 2 metres long.
Single-minded, she swaggered out of the mat rush, crossing our path with only a glance in our direction. From her straight path and speed we could tell she was on a scent and getting close. None of us could smell anything, but a human’s sense of smell is embarassingly poor and anyway, we don’t have Jacobson’s organs*.
She was close to her quarry, and seized it moments later. It didn’t fight back. In fact, it hadn’t moved for weeks. A very large, long-dead, dessicated Flathead fish was her dinner and our highlight of the day.
Monitor Lizards, of which the eastern Australian goanna, or Lace Monitor, is a member, can eat anything. If its meat and its immobile, a goanna will eat it. If its meat and can be caught, a goanna will eat it. If you’re an egg, or a baby bird unable to fly, just hope that no goannas come by. You can’t hide from an indestructible, patient predator with a sense of smell that makes every bloodhound look like they have a head cold.
Our goanna wrapped her jaws around the flathead and tossed it around until she could get a good angle. Head first she started to swallow it whole. Gulp, gulp, slowly, almost painfully she eased the stiff old fish into her throat, like a sword-swallower. You could see the outline of the fish inside her chest. Ouch!
The photographers went wild! The shutter-clicks were like distant machine gun fire. The wildlife students watched in awe, no binoculars necessary for this close encounter with megafauna. You can hear their hushed excitement on this video: (video to come)
After swallowing her meal, she climbed slowly onto a fallen tree, eased her belly down, relaxed her legs, laid her chin on the tree and snoozed. Not even a hammock and a cocktail could have made her happier. She was one blissful reptile.
Keep an eye out for the megafauna in the wilder parts of Australia – goannas live everywhere in Australia except for the cities and built-up areas (and the island of Tasmania). They are most active when temperatures are warm but not too hot (20C – 30C). We often see them on our 4 day Wildlife Journey to East Gippsland (where this story occurred) and occasionally on our Mungo Outback Journey and Wild Top End trips.
*Jacobson’s Organ – an odour-tasting organ in the mouth of monitor lizards and snakes