Many visitors agree that spotting a platypus in the wild sits high on the wildlife bucket list. Seasoned spotters would say that the best time to spot a platypus is dawn or dusk as this is when platypus hunt. Spotters should be equipped with a good pair of binoculars and lots of patience. However, platypus can be spotted any time of day if visitors are quiet enough. Parks Victoria has suggested some of the best places across the state for spotting this elusive mammalia:
Near Melbourne, the confluence of the Yarra and Plenty Rivers provides a good chance of spotting one as well as the Yarra River at Warrandyte State Park.
In Western Victoria, Lake Elizabeth in the Great Otway National Park is possibly the best location to see platypuses in Victoria. The lake was formed when the valley was flooded more than 50 years ago. Even if you don’t see a platypus, you’ll be glad you found this pretty spot.
While platypuses are definitely elusive in Central Victoria, people in the know report that on some quiet bends of both the Loddon and Campaspe River can, more often than not, the furry creatures can be spotted.
Currently, relatively little data exists on current platypus populations across Australia. However, many enthusiasts let others know via: www.platypusSPOT.org
Phillip Island Nature Parks has also been a hive of wildlife activity:
The little penguins are getting right into the swing of things! Nature Parks’ researchers have reported that many burrows already have two podgy penguins inside, busily preparing for the breeding season. The first of this season’s eggs have appeared, where visitors can soon see some very chubby and fluffy chicks. The chicks don’t stay fluffy for long as they usually only take between 8 and 11 weeks to fledge and find their own way in the world.
In time for spring, the short-tailed shearwaters have made their way back down to the southern hemisphere. Migrating by the millions, these birds make an incredible trip of around 15,000km which takes from six to eight weeks as they fly from the northern feeding grounds in the Aleutian Islands near Alaska to arrive here in late September. Over one million shearwaters will breed on Phillip Island before starting the cycle all over again and returning to the northern hemisphere in April.
Breeding season has begun on the beaches for the hooded plovers, one of Phillip Island’s most endangered birds. The nests are extremely vulnerable as ‘Hoodies’ lay their eggs in little scrapes between the high tide mark and the dunes. As soon as the eggs hatch the chicks must search for food and hide from predators. The parents do their best to distract humans and predators for the 35 days it takes for the chicks to fly, however accidental trampling can occur, so it is important visitors stay alert when they are on the island’s beautiful beaches.
These big grey Cape Barren geese with their fluorescent green beaks are a familiar sight right across the island, and during this time of year, visitors can spot plenty of gorgeous, stripy young chicks. They grow incredibly quickly from tiny little fuzzballs through the awkward and ungainly ‘teen’ period to mum and dad size within a short couple of months. Visitors driving on the island will have to take extra care on the road, in spring, as these birds can be quite stubborn and are not known for their road sense.
Geelong and the Bellarine
Visitors to Serendip Sanctuary can view an excellent example of the open grassy woodlands and wetlands of the volcanic Western Plains, and learn about and experience birdlife and wetlands ecology. Visitors can see some of the 150 species of birds which breed at or visit Serendip Sanctuary from the bird hides. Birds can be seen within metres of the viewing areas preening, feeding, incubating eggs and rearing young.
Not forgetting the flora
Spring brings a kaleidoscope of colours at the Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria as visitors can see blooming flowers and new growth – from the magnolia and peony varieties of Southern China to the local beauty of the Victorian Rare and Threatened Collection, and the dramatic surprises of Guilfoyle’s Volcano. Whilst strolling, visitors can see an example of exquisite new foliage on Oak Lawn, including the Quercus robur ‘Atropurpurea’, commonly known as Purple-leaved English Oak. Spring is the time to closely explore the wonderful collections in the Gardens, when so many species are at their peak of beauty.
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