Thursday, March 8, 2018


Recently, I discovered the best rainy day method of avoiding housework ever. It is called Zooniverse. It enlists the aid of people on computers to go through photos and identify what they see. It is not all about animals. There seems to be a people-powered project at Zooniverse for almost anything. Check it out here:

The project I am now addicted to is Numbat Discovery. Here's what hooked me...

"We need you! WWF–Australia needs your help to assist researchers estimate the population of the rare and elusive numbat in south-west WA. Once abundant in southern Australia, this unique termite-loving marsupial, is now only found in a small area in southwest WA" (that's Western Australia not Washington state). ...The Upper Warren region in south Western Australia supports the largest remaining population of endangered numbats and is one of only two natural populations remaining in the world."

And so I spend happy hours pouring over trail camera captures trying to identify animals I've mostly never heard of much less seen... and can't pronounce... hoping to spot the "rare and elusive numbat".

Woylie, I think: Brush-tailed Bettong, a very rare Macropod (big foot ... kangaroo-like) that happens to be plentiful in the cameras in this Upper Warren area.
Another Woylie...

Another Woylie, demonstrating his kangaroo imitation

We see a lot of Woylies, otherwise known as Brush-tailed Bettong and are critically endangered and very rare... except in these photo captures... Maybe they just like hanging out in front of cameras.... or maybe the same ones hop into view over and over.

Koomal, I think: Brush-tailed possum, a marsupial. These like to climb on the cameras.

Here is a Koomal with baby astride!
Although many Brush-tailed possums (Koomals) appear in the videos, I have only seen (to identify) Ring-tailed Possums (Ngwayir). They are critically endangered. I saw this same video clip on two different days. Maybe they're running out of things to show me.

 The Quenda or Southern Brown Vandicoot, is another marsupial. It looks like a pointy-nosed furry rat to me

After 600 "identifications", I finally saw an echidna, spiny anteater...

Most of the photo captures are of Western Gray Kangaroos

A couple curious W. Gray Kangaroos (that aren't gray)

A Kangaroo with joey in her pouch

After many hours of staring at these video captures, I saw a rarity in danger of extinction: Chuditch or Western Quoll, a carnivorous marsupial. I like the ones that are easy to identify because they have obvious spots or stripes...

After some 3 or 400 more, I saw a second Chuditch!

I think the two images below are of  Tammar Wallabys, by the white line from eye to mouth. They are uncommon in this area, apparently. At least, I haven't found many I could identify. They ask us to guess since lots of people will be looking at the same image and if there are lots of different answers, the researchers will take a look. Good thing their research doesn't depend on my answers.

Although the Western Brush Wallaby is much smaller than the Western Gray Kangaroo, I have a hard time telling size in these photos. This one I'm pretty sure is the Wallaby by the white line from ear to nose, black-tipped ears, and black striped rump.

In the photo below you can see the white line on the face, white spots behind ears, black tip to the ears and black feet.

Mostly, the video captures have only part of an animal and we are supposed to figure out what animal that fur or ear or tail belongs to. And many of the captures have nothing in them... just waving grass. A few have birds. I missed out on a pretty blue one before I knew I could steal these photo captures. I have not yet tried to identify these birds... but I think they are varieties of Currawong (from a quick google search). I have cropped the photos to make the birds visible, but a little blurry.

Update: Fred Ramsay has kindly agreed to identify the birds I see. The white-backed bird is an Australian Magpie. The others are all Gray Currawongs (dark form). I am putting more details, as Fred gives them to me, in my Birds blog here:

I do recognize Emus. Their chicks are adorable!

... and a lot smaller than their parent!

This is my favorite. Too bad there's no sound with the videos. I suspect this bird had a lot to say to the camera.

Happily, the marsupial anteater we are looking for, the numbat, is easy to recognize. Also happily, it is not nocturnal like so many of these critters. And, on the second day of searching, one of the video captures had a Numbat in it! I ran downstairs to tell Johnny and make him climb the stairs to see it. After all, how many people in the world have ever seen a Numbat?

It's a little hard to pick out... but it's on the right edge of the picture.

Here it is cropped...

I'm starting to look forward to rainy days... so I have an excuse to stay inside and hunt for Numbats... and see what other strange creatures might pop up in video captures from Western Australia. So far, I've only found one Numbat... the search continues...

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Anniversary on the Coast

We spent our 51st wedding anniversary, Feb. 13, at the coast. That's not quite as romantic as it sounds. Johnny dropped me off at McPhillips Park, where I start my quarterly mile beach walk for CoastWatch that extends from McPhillips Park south along Cape Kiwanda State Park to the Cape. Johnny drove around to the parking lot on the south side of the cape to wait for me. He is still walking with difficulty since his fall in November. We are still waiting for the doctors to figure out what's going on.

It was a lovely day... because I only pick lovely days at the coast for my mile walk. The high tides of January had eroded the access road, but vehicles were still bouncing their way over it to the beach.

The beach looking north toward Cape Lookout

The cliff eroding from the high tides of January

At the south end of my mile, I spotted two Black Oystercatchers on the point where they often hang out at high tide.

Here they are closer.

zoomed in and blurry

looking north from the north side of the dune

Cape Lookout in the distance

Looking mainly west from atop the dune

Haystack Rock from the top of the dune

Looking south toward the parking lot where Johnny awaits

I spotted our car, the farthest one right in this photo

Last car in the line-up is ours with Johnny inside enjoying the warmth of the sun and listening to NPR
After I joined him, we drove to the Beach Wok for lunch. Their special that day was enough for us to have for supper, too. We miss the Mexican restaurant, though, that seems to have closed.

This was quite a change from our 50th anniversary hike last year, when we climbed Spirit Mtn. I was the one last year with a knee that went out on me on the way down. But it recovered. Hopefully, the docs will figure out what's happening with Johnny's aching body... and he will recover, too.


Snow on Daffodils

A friend who has lived in this area forever says it always snows when the daffodils bloom. And it almost always has since we moved here in 1977. Yesterday, Feb. 17, the first daffodils opened and I picked some for a bouquet, along with hellebores that have been blooming for weeks.

Today, Feb. 18, it snowed.

I hear it is snowing on the coast, too. Once a month I do a beached bird survey at Bob Straub Park by Pacific City, about 25 miles west of our farm. It is my way of having an excuse to go to the coast every month all year. In the spring and summer, I do Black Oystercatcher surveys several times a week, but once they are done nesting, I have no excuse to go... except this survey (plus a once-a-quarter survey for CoastWatch... see next blog post).

But I mostly just want to hike the beach in nice weather and enjoy the scenery, so I watch the weather reports and carefully pick a good day. Such a day was February 9. The beach had been remodeled by the high tide events in January, thanks to the Super Moon. I took lots of photos.

Waves took out a goodly section of the foredune.

I was there at low tide... the beach was very wide...

A closer shot of the bite the waves took out of the dune

Some of the beach grass is hanging on desperately. Imagine waves high enough to reach the top of that dune!

The sand stolen from the dune was deposited on top of the wood that the ocean routinely dumps on the beach.

Here's a closer look at the wood (logs) peeking out from under all that sand.

Looking toward Haystack Rock and Cape Kiwanda, where our family has been going forever. It is now very crowded by the Cape and I enjoy seeing it more, now, from Bob Straub Park beach. Here I see very few people, usually a few horseback riders, lots of shorebirds, and pretty views.

Hundreds, if not thousands, of Sanderlings were on the beach this day.

Sanderlings up close

Haystack Rock up close
 I took lots of photos of Haystack Rock and could not choose which one I liked best. So here they all are...

Black Oystercatchers nest on that rock most every year but it is very hard to find them. Someone else now surveys that rock but has not found nests. I think I will bring my scope to Bob Straub Park next summer and see if I can find little black birds with red bills on the distant rock.

The access point to the beach has this sign for the Coast Guard to know where to come if beachcombers get washed away. The sign below it warning about extreme high tides is new since the Super Tides of January.

Happily, on this day I found no beached (dead) birds. Just a lovely flat beach with stunning views. Here's hoping I'll be as lucky in March.