— this picture perhaps 3x actual size

Honey Possums
in the shrubbery
at the
Bluff Knoll Cafe,
Stirling Range,
southwest
Western Australia

18 October 2006

 

Here is a description of the honey possum from a CALM sign at Conspicuous Cliff, in the Walpole-Nornalup National Park (west of Albany).

We had heard from Ayleen, the wonderful proprietor, guide and enthusiasm-instiller at the Stirling Range Retreat, that she had in recent weeks seen honey possums, for the first time in eleven years in the area. They were not in an elusive place but in the shrubs across the road at the Bluff Knoll Cafe.

So we, along with others, went there at dusk to see them.

Our camera was able to photograph shrubs and some New Holland Honeyeaters (at right) ... but the lively family or families of honey possums were too quick. They scampered brazenly across pathways in front of us, raced madly up and down through the grevillea and callistemon shrubs and paused only to drink nectar – with long, long brush-like tongues.

They look like mice, perhaps. They are as small as mice (the children like tiny baby mice, but as lively and run-about as the parents), but they are marsupials with pouches. Marsupial babies (including kangaroos) are born naked and tiny. They crawl at birth, from tfollowing the direction of belly floor, to the mother's pouch where they fix to a nipple for many weeks. The mother will carry up to three young at a time for eight weeks.

Among others in our posserazzi-frenzy was John Pocock of Perth, with a glorious digital SLR camera, who very kindly gave us files of some of his pictures. Whereas my camera reduced aperture severely to work in telephoto mode, and every shot was blurred at 1/30th of a second, John's camera produced the following. Ev's desire for a digital SLR is increased!

So here (and at the top of this page) are images from John Pocock's camera.

See the tongue in that last picture, reaching out to gather nectar.

Thanks John.

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