Australia is a magical land of strange mammals and bright noisy birds.
It is not just isolation that has given Australia these strange animals, it is also the climate. Most of Australia is too hot and dry for animal life. It is the dryness, rather than the heat that is the major factor. Other continents are hot – Africa & India spring to mind – but in those places rain falls fairly reliably and in large quantities. Australia is hot, and rain is unpredictable.
Our animals have found ways to cope. Mammals and birds have become crepuscular! (No, not creepy, crepuscular means active at dusk and dawn).
In summer, kangaroos start to move around in the late afternoon. They emerge, hungry, from the shelter of trees where they have spent the day. They spread out across the grasslands, almost oblivious to humans.
As their hunger is appeased they become interested in the other essentials of life: mating, fighting and socialising. Watch:
In the daytime in summer, koalas are the sleepiest of mammals. It is koala breeding season, and they are sleeping off the hectic activity of the night before. Read about their mating ritual. As sunset approaches they come to life. Watch:
Birds are tougher than mammals and can thrive in harsh conditions that challenge most mammals. But even birds will suspend most activity in the dead middle of the day.
As the day draws to a close , birds sing their hardest. The sound can be overwhelming. Flocks of Rainbow Lorikeets and Sulphur-crested Cockatoos fly in to roost together for the night, screeching like banshees. Kookaburras laugh at them, and their volume rivals the cockatoos.
Chestnut and Grey Teal, Hardhead and Pink-eared ducks settle on billabongs, quacking. Read about emus and evenings at the billabong here.
Sunset is the best time to see Australian animals.
Animals know they only have a few hours at dusk and dawn, so they make the best of them. If we want to see wildlife, we should too.
See Australian wildlife at the best time on Echidna Walkabout’s new tour Sunset Koalas & Kangaroos IN THE WILD.