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Although Debbie has deployed her collection of cameras numerous times in our joint project searching for Tasmanian devils on the mainland of Australia, I have only just acquired my first trail camera.
This was deployed on Tuesday 15 April 2008 in bushland outside of Sydney, NSW in search of Eastern quolls. The location was chosen based on a sighting made by a wildlife worker of 20+ years. In his sighting the animal was seen in the headlights of his stationery car for about 5 minutes. He immediately identified it as an Eastern quoll (not a spotted-tailed quoll) but checked reference books shortly afterwards and drew the same conclusion. Further, a friend was in the car with him and when presented with the same reference book also concluded it was an Eastern quoll.
Another factor in choosing this location was that there are several natural barriers around the specific parcel of land. Although to look at the area on a map you'd wonder whether it was large enough to support an undetected population of Eastern quolls, trust me - once you walk through it you realise there's plenty of space.
I had hoped to check the camera in a fortnight, being the first deployment, but taking into consideration the drive-time to access the site, plus the time spent walking to the deployment location, I may wait a month or more before returning.
In the photo above (click to enlarge), the camera is aimed in such a way as to capture any animal venturing onto the rock ledge, or seeking shelter underneath it.
Well, after 53 nights in the bush, Charlie came home with 31 photos. Five of these were triggered by me. Of the remaining 26 photos, only 8 showed any sign of an animal. Each trigger of the camera yielded 2 photos, taken seconds apart, therefore there were only 4 instances that an animal was captured.
Of these 8 photos, 6 displayed only the end of the animal's tail but thankfully the remaining 2 photos showed the complete animal: a wallaby.
It seems like a small return for a total of 5 hours driving plus 5 hours walking but it begs the question - what kind of wallaby? I leave the interpretation of the photo to the reader (click to enlarge), but I will be inviting persons with far more macropod experience than me to provide an opinion.
As described in the image, the wallaby's tail is estimated as at least 73cm - this seems far too long to be a parma wallaby. Other species in the area include the red-necked wallaby, the swamp wallaby and the Eastern grey kangaroo. Bear in mind - the infra-red may be making the animal appear far darker than it really is, but despite this there does not appear to be any marking on its back.
The parma wallaby (in case my measurements are wrong) was presumed extinct by the late 1800s. After more than 65 years it was rediscovered living north of Sydney in small numbers where it persists today. (In fact, a very small number were first rediscovered amongst a number of other species of wallaby, in New Zealand in 1963 - having been brought there in the 1800s).