Ko and I had the fortune to go up into the high country for a weekend away with The Marsupial Society of Victoria of which we are both Members. We stayed at The Latrobe Uni Lodge just the other side of the town ship of Tolmie. The fires ravaged through this area in January this year destroying homes througout the area and also killing thousands of animals. To see the area only 10 months later with the regeneration of growth was just amazing. I can remember seeing the devistation that the fires caused on the news and particulary the rescued animals held up at a rescue facility in a tin shed. We were fortunate enough to visit this rehab facility and see some of these roos being cared for. The government does not fund these people and it costs them thousands of dollars a year to feed and care for these sick and injured wildlife. Gabby had many roos that she releases off her property but can have them for up to a couple of years. She also had a pair of Wedgetail Eagles in a very primitive enclosure, a Koala that Ko was thrilled to see and several other aniamsl. We spent some time holding and playing with several of her juvenile Wombats with one small female crawling onto my lap and falling asleep.
We were really keen to see her Squirel Gliders and Sugar Gliders but she wasn't sure where they were as they are free to roam the house and would be in a cupboard somewhere. The Sugar Gliders were found scared from the fires and had knotted themselves together with there tails. They were found like that and even though the carers unknotted them only one tail could be saved because of this they will not have the ballance they need to be released into the wild so will have to remain in care, although a free range life doesn't sound so bad.
Spending the weekend with a diverse range of views was really stimulating and much was discussed and ideas exchanged. We had a professor form Melbourne University with his son and a his friend. One guy who had many pet Wallabies and Betongs, a women who works for a company that does flora and fauna surveys. A couple who have developed there backyard in suburbia to hold wallabies, ringtail possums and several species of gliders of which we will visit early next year. Then Ko and myself.
Diets were exchanged although all seemed very similar with the gliders. Even though our opnions on care and keeping did vary slightly the discussions were never heated and all opinions were accepted into the conversations and interesting. We acually thought of you guys and thought how great it would be to share in such a weekend as this talking face to face and experiencing some amazing sights.
I have to say that the weekend may have changed my life as I am now thinking of getting a Redneck Wallaby to add to my clan. I thought you needed a large property but our new home on 2/3 of an acre apparantly will be planty big enough. They are great animals to keep and have a simple pellet diet with few medical needs. So some deep thought will go into this before embarking on such a life changing decision but the seed has been planted. Looks like the womabt run might end up the sleeping quarters for the wallaby.
The highlight of the weekend has to be the spotlighting we did on the Friday and Saturday nights. We first just headed up into the backyard of the property and a Sugar Glider was spotted in the sillouette. Ko could make it out but unfortunatly my sight could not see it but was still exciting to think we were in Glider territory
We then headed out in a couple of four wheel drives just up into parts of the bush that hadn't been touched by the bush fires. We slowly made our way along the back blocks of Tolmie with the spotlights out the carwindows looking for eyeshine. I bought a great torch from a local hardwahare store back home and it was fantastic in picking up the yellowy green eyeshine that Greater Gliders give out. Within a very short amount of time we got to see our first of what ended up being 8 Greater Gliders over the weekend. These are quite large gliders probably the size of the Amercian opossum in size with the longest fluffiest tails being longer than the body of the animals.
I tell you i could have died and done to heaven happy with seeing my first wildgliders. people think they are seen all the time but out of the 9 of us away that weekend only one had seen any wild gliders before. We were all excited to spot so many over the weekend from juvenile Greater Gliders to adults. The gliders were about 25 o 30 feet up the trees nd not many close to the road. On the Saturday night the 6 we saw were all seen in very quick succession in a small area. It showed that this species that lives off purely eating leaves mainly from certain gums, was able to escape the grips of the bush fires. The Greater Glider is vunerable due to clearing of forest areas for developemnet and could easily become threatened as a species.
Ko and I were fascinated in the regeneration of the trees througout the area.I thnk the others thought we were nuts. In fact half my photos were of trees, trunks and sap markings made by what we think would be gliders. We even spotted scratchings and markings that were probably made by gliders climbing the trees.There were Gums and eucalypts sprout all up the trunk of the tree so for us two legged creatures we could explore the lower follage and pick and smell the peppermint gum that is favoured by the Greater Glider. the Australian bush actually needs bush fires for many seeds to grow so it is natures way of matianing the bush. I remeber the wildlife carers being snowed under with rescues yet saying that really not many animals were actually found alive because the fires devistated so many heactares of land. Its so scarey to think that again this summer they say will proabably be the worsts bushfires season in history because of the 11 years of drought leading up to it.
Ko and I are already planning our next spotlight weekend, you can never get to much of it. The only thing is I need to exercise my neck muscles so that it doesn't get so soar.