in the night time

While staying at Dryandra Woodland we went on a nocturnal tour of the nearby Barna Mia and saw all the animals in the sanctuary except for the western barred bandicoot.

The animal sanctuary is home to five threatened native animals; bilby or dalgyte (Macrotis lagotis), western barred bandicoot or marl (Perameles bougainville), burrowing bettong or boodie (Bettongia lesueur), banded hare-wallaby or mernine (Lagostrophus fasciatus), and rufous hare-wallaby or wurrup (Lagorchestes hirsutus).

We also saw a possum and was told that the fence surrounding the sanctuary to keep out predators (foxes and cats) was also supposed to keep out the possums as they are not considered a native animal facing extinction. I and others thought this odd, considering the surrounding area was their home too, but I suppose possums do tend to be opportunists, and when they know food is going to be available on certain nights of the week, how could they resist.

The tour starts in an attractive purpose built building that was designed to complement the surroundings in an environmental way. Unfortunately, they turn on a generator for the tour to power lights and such, which sometimes was louder than the silence of the bush, rustling of the animals as they came near, and their very noisy scoffing of the food provided.

The sanctuary is not large enough to sustain the population of animals so carefully selected and weighed food is put down for the animals. Uneaten food is removed and monitored. It was fun if not a little weird to see the different animals eating near each other. At one stage, a boodie put its front paws in the dish while it ate as if another animal was going to come along and claim it. In fact, a bilby did come and share the dish for a little while which was strange as it had its own spread nearby including mushrooms.

The paths and animals were lit with infrared lamps and torches so as not to disturb the animals. It was lovely to sit quietly and watch them, but it was frustrating not to be able to take photographs that capture the moment or the animals well. My picture of the bilby I’m happy with because I recognise it because of the long ears.

Years ago, I remember that chocolate in the shape of a bilby was promoted at Easter time instead of chocolate bunnies. The point being that rabbits are a pest and bilbies are native animals in need of protection. I’m not sure how well that message was communicated, but I do remember Mam explaining this to her pre-primary class at the time. Which is difficult, when it gets pointed out that it would be better to have chocolate rabbits as we should eat them instead of the bilbies. Can’t argue with that logic.

Before the walk, we listened to a presentation and learnt more about the area, and DEC’s Return to Dryandra, Western Shield, and revegetation programmes. Returning to the building, we were given the opportunity to purchase souvenirs and look at the building more closely.

Barna Mia is well worth the visit, and consider that DEC can be more confident about taking ownership of their work and knowledge of the area and sharing this more enthusiastically with visitors. Note: You need to book your visit with the Narrogin District Office.

Tours are after sunset. Unlike the animals in the sanctuary, I think Numbats have much more sensible waking hours 🙂

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