Sunshine Coast Birds

Birding and other wildlife experiences from the Sunshine Coast and elsewhere in Australia - and from overseas - with scribblings about travel, environmental issues, kayaking, hiking and camping.

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Around Oz Part 30 - Pygmy Possum & a Showy Western Whipbird: Late Gifts from Cheyne Beach

I posted my report from Cheyne Beach (see here) not expecting any surprises in the short time I had on our last morning before leaving. How wrong I was. We had the eerie experience late during our last night of hearing Southern Right Whales blowing quite loudly, although the sea is 300 metres away.

Western Whipbird
I began by unsuccessfully searching flowering banksias at dawn for Honey Possums. Then I returned to the tracks between the caravan park and the beach (see previous post). I heard a single Noisy Scrubbird, then a pair of Western Whipbirds. One of the whipbirds obliged by hopping onto a bush and singing for a few seconds - enough for a quick snap. This bird is extremely cryptic and my earlier views had been brief.

I had searched flowering eucalypt blossums at night for Western Pygmy Possum without success. The caravan park owner's wife had told me they sometimes nested in the camp site power boxes. I checked every one of them - and it is a big park  but no luck.

As we were leaving, I chatted to the caravan park owner, who asked me how the birding had gone. I told him I'd done very nicely with the birds but would have loved to have seen Honey Possum and Western Pygmy Possum, both of which I knew occurred in the area. He told me that one of the caravan owners and set up nest tubes for the possums outside his van because they had become a nuisance, building nests inside his abode; the van owner thought they'd leave his van alone if he built something for them to sleep in. The 15cm-wide PVC tubes had end caps and holes drilled in the sides for the possums to enter. The park owner told me where to go (he did not know if they were occupied) and I was off.

Possum nest tubes
The first cap I removed revealed one of the cutest animals I had seen, curled up tightly in a nest of eucalypt leaves at the tube entrance - a Western Pygmy Possum!

Western Pygmy Possum
I'd not seen a pygmy possum of any species before and had long desired very much to do so. The disturbed possum moved to the far end of the tube as I carefully removed its nest. We eyeballed each other for a short while - me more godsmacked that it I suspect - before I replaced the nest and the tube cap, leaving the gorgeous little thing in peace.

Western Pygmy Possum
All up, a most satisfactory morning.


  1. Well, my best sightings of pygmy possums was many years ago on silk scarves, individually painted by my daughter who lived in the desert country at the time.
    Splendid captures go the cute little beast. I must go back and check your previous post.

  2. Wow Greg. This would have to be the highlight of your trip. Bet you can't beat this experience even though you are still many miles from home. This wee fellow looks very tiny .. what would you compare the size to ? Common Rat size ? I have loved every one of your 30 blogs.

    1. Thanks for that Roaminoz (name?) It is a bit smaller than a Black Rat - a large mouse would best describe the size. Greg

    2. Ops - Sorry Greg. Roaminoz - Jude from Burpengary. And yet another great blog No. 31.