Feature Species: Western Ringtail Possum

How gorgeous is this video of a baby Western Ringtail Possum (Pseudocheirus occidentalis)? These little guys are ranked as Critically Endangered using the International Union for Conservation of Nature (ICUN) criteria and are endemic to the southwest ecoregion, which means that they are found nowhere else in the world! The Western Ringtail is a nocturnal and arboreal species who are usually found feeding, sleeping or socialising high in the canopy. With a small home range of around 5ha, they will use 2-7 rest sites which are usually nests or dreys built in low shrubs, thickets, grass trees and various tree canopies.

These possums feed almost exclusively on the leaves of the Peppermint trees (Agonis flexuosa), but can sometimes be found to be chomping down on Marri (Corymbia calophylla) and Jarrah (Ecalyptus marginal) foliage. Interestingly unlike many other herbivorous mammals, the Western Ringtail only has one compartment to their stomach making digestion of there diet quite a challenge. They have solved this problem by consuming their own scat whilst they are resting throughout the day in their dreys. That’s right, they chew their own poo to maximise their nutrient intake from each meal! The first scat that they produce during the day is known as caeotroph and tends to be thick and dark, almost resembling tar. The second scat is much more dry and firm being produced during the night.

Female possums usually give birth in late autumn and winter, however in and around Busselton where populations thrive possums can birth twice a year. Usually one baby is born after a gestation of 2-4 weeks, however they have been known to give birth to 2 or even 3 young in a litter. After 3 months the babies will emerge permanently from the pouch and will continue to suckle milk for up to 8 months. By 8-12 months, the young have left their mothers home range to discover their own territory.

The biggest pressure faced by these gorgeous marsupials is one faced by animals all over the globe, displacement by human development. Many measures have been put in place to ensure that areas where these little guys are known to thrive are managed to conserve these little guys into the future including education programs to raise awareness, protecting critical habitat and surveying any clearings for evidence of possum populations.

Feature Species: Slender Tree Frog (Litoria adelaidensis)

So far this summer has shaped up to be one of rather tropical characteristics. Warm days, high humidity and unseasonal summer rains in the southwest have created the perfect breeding ground for an array of insects.

With all the extra water around this summer, the insectivorous Slender Tree Frog, along with many other native frogs have been out and about making their presence known along the Track and in our gardens.

With their loud calls, these little beauties are often in great interest to our pets. Be sure to keep a close eye on your dogs and cats if you happen to suspect one of these little guys, or any other type of native animal may be living in your backyard.

Slender Tree Frog

A striking green Slender Tree Frog

They are a small frog, reaching a maximum length of 4.7cms with a narrow and tapering head. They have long slender un-webbed fingers, however their long legs end with webbed toes. These little Amphibians come in a range of colours, from green to all shades of brown.

Often making an appearance through winter and spring, it has been a real treat to spot a few of these guys enjoying all the water and feasting on a variety of tasty morsels so early in the year!

Not all snakes are dangerous!

The Elapognathus coronets (Western crowned snake) is commonly spotted by our walkers on the Cape to Cape Track. Growing up to 70cm’s in length, this small snake will usually freeze when approached but will timidly squirm away with any sudden movement. Active throughout most of the year they can often be found sun baking on flattened sedge or sand patches. Their diet typically consists of small frogs and lizards and thankfully, they are not known to be aggressive or venomous to people.

Elapognathus coronatus

The Western Crowned Snake captured alongside the Cape to Cape Track.

Our Great Friends of the Iconic Track

Last month members from the not-for-profit organisation, Friends of the Cape to Cape Track (FOCCT), joined Cape to Cape Explorer Tours on an eight day guided end to end walk of the Track.

Jenny Kikeros, FOCCT member and nature enthusiast was amongst those who walked the whole Track over 8 days.

“I have been a member of Friends of the Cape to Cape Track since 2008 to do the walks, help out and enjoy the Cape”, she said.

“It’s my part of contributing to the Cape.”

With many walks completed over the years she still enjoys the diversity and beauty that the Track offers with her favourite part being one that is the most alone.

“I have walked the Track over 10 times.”

“I love the remoteness, wildlife, beautiful flowers and the contrast of the forest and the beach. I love it all.”

“I really like the part near Augusta because it’s so isolated.”

Mrs Kikeros said she discovered more about the coastal stretch including it’s wildlife.

“Our guides Gene and Drew shared their knowledge and experience and this time we learnt lots about birds.”

With a passion for the region and the 135km Track, CCET Directors and Senior Guides, Gene Hardy and Drew McKenzie, are also members of the FOCCT management committee.

Mr McKenzie said that as part of the FOCCT committee they could contribute expertise and detailed Track knowledge to the meetings and the group’s planning.

“We have a common interest and are happy to share our knowledge and skills with group,” said Mr McKenzie.

“We are also adoptees of the spectacular Bobs Hollow to Contos stretch of the Track,” he said.

“This years Autumn End-to-Ender was a great success and we enjoyed walking with the FOCCT members who are passionate about the Track and took pride in showing off their adopted portions of the Track.”

If you would like to book a guided End-to-End experience like the FOCCT did for yourself then please check out our tours here… Guided End-to-Ender

Rather do it by yourself… Self Guided

We also offer School Group experiences… Schools

To book or for further information please call us on M:0459 452 038 or email E: info@capetocapetours.com.au

To become a member of the FOCCT… Friends of the Cape to Cape Track

‘Jewel of the Capes’ tour a Wildlife Bonanza

Cape to Cape Explorer Tours flagship one day tour, the Jewel of the Capes, provided a number of wildlife encounters and other highlights for six lucky participants during a recent mid-week custom tour.

‘September in Margaret River has been exceptionally wet this year and it’s fantastic to see the surrounding bushland and coastal heath looking so healthy”, said Senior Tour Guide and Cape to Cape Explorer Tours Director Gene Hardy.

“The Jewel of the Cape tour visits possibly the most scenic stretch of the Cape to Cape Track, as well as traversing the regions most exciting cave.”

A number of wildlife encounters occurred, beginning when a very brave Bearded Dragon decided to stand his ground and show the group an impressive set of sharp teeth.

The Bearded Dragon is from the Dragon or Agamidae family. About 73 different Adamidae species occur in Australia, with 66 found in Western Australia alone. They have a unique set of posterior teeth, fused to the outer rim of their jaw, which can be clearly seen in the above photo. These teeth are permanent and are not replaced. However they also have a second set of interior teeth and are continually replaced throughout their life.

“Looking at the amount of teeth still left on this feisty little fellows outer jaw, I’d say that he is still reasonably young”, laughed Gene “Possibly a puffed up teenager!”

The other wildlife encounter to note was a large male emu and his little brood of four chicks. At up to 55kg the Emu is the second largest bird in the world, just behind the Ostrich.

“The interesting thing about Emus is that the fathers do all the childrearing”, says Gene.

“And it’s not just looking after the chicks either, he will sit on the eggs without eating for between 40 and 60 days”

After the brief encounter, the father Emu decided he’d seen enough of our group and ran off, down the Track, with his little chicks powering along behind him.

Another highlight of the day were the golden flowers of the Acacia littoria or Shark Tooth Wattle dominating the wild sea cliffs.

The final highlight of the day was the enormous caverns of the adventure cave, where the group took on the challenge of  a game of stealth in the Ballroom with vigour.

After the expanse of the Ball Room Chamber, the ladder section was a lot of fun and gave everyone a chance to marvel at the amount of wind whistling through the chamber, some 70metres below the surface!

With the cave behind us and a bottle of cold Ballingup Apple cider on the surface the day had come to an end…everyone will sleep well tonight!

The ‘Jewel of the Capes’ tour runs every Saturday and enquiries can be made to have a tour run any day of the week for a custom group of 4 participants or more.

Please call Cape to Cape Explorer Tours on 0459 452 038 to book or for further information.