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The heron, the tortoise – another Aesop’s fable?

January 10, 2013

Nankeen Night Heron

Nature is full of surprises. After nearly a decade of fauna spotting on our property we had concluded that our list of (large) fauna was complete. Then last week two more species visited.

Sitting on the edge of our dam, probably reducing the populations of other fauna like frogs and fish, was a Nankeen Night Heron (Nycticorax calendonius). It’s a bit of a misnomer as it wasn’t night, but the chest was definitely nankeen coloured (nankeen is the name of a pale yellow cotton cloth originally produced in Nanjing, China). Almost undiscernible behind its back are the tips of three white plumes that extend from the back of the head. These indicate the bird is breeding.


The other addition to our list was casually paddling its way around our dam. My guess is that it’s a Common Long-necked Turtle (Chelodina longicolis). I am no expert in identifying these creatures. I do know that examining the sutures on the shell will tell you the species. Even though I asked nicely, this turtle was in no mood to show me its sutures or anything else and quickly disappeared under the water once it was aware of my presence. It was probably doing what we have all been told from a very early age … never talk to strangers (just like our parents tortoise!).

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