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PostPosted: Sat Nov 18, 2017 6:22 pm 
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Hi,

It took a 3 seasons to get it right but I finally have a series of nice images of the elusive scaly tailed possum from the remote northwest of Australia. This species is rarely seen by humans due to the extremely remote habitat it lives in, the difficult terrain and the shy nature of the animal. Scaly tailed possums feed on fruit and leaves, and are thought to be most closely related to the cuscuses of New Guinea to the North. Although it is difficult to predict where they will feed each night, at least you can get an idea of the path they take from their rocky dens each evening. Much cuter than American possums for sure.

For these images I used a Canon EOS 5DIII with two PC sync connected Nikon SB28 flashes, a 16-35mm f2.8LII lens and a home made Active IR sensor on reflect mode, using the target as the reflector.

ImageScaly tailed possum (Wyulda squamicaudata) by Nathan Litjens, on Flickr

ImageScaly tailed possum (Wyulda squamicaudata) by Nathan Litjens, on Flickr

Nathan

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 18, 2017 9:16 pm 
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Very cool shots -- it definitely has a cuscus like head.


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 18, 2017 11:00 pm 
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Interesting animal and nice photos of him


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 18, 2017 11:50 pm 
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Excellent pictures and well done on getting them.

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 19, 2017 6:22 am 
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You certainly nailed the background and the lighting. It was great that the subject cooperated. Very nice pics!

Blessings.......Pastorjim

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 19, 2017 6:35 pm 
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Thanks Jim

Cooperated? Looking at the results seems that way. This animal was a major pain in my rear for years. Ever since I was looking through my telephoto at this exact Boobook owl

ImageBoobook owl (Ninox novaseelandae) by Nathan Litjens, on Flickr

and heard movement, so I looked down and saw this through my lens:

ImageScaly tailed possum (Wyulda squamicaudata) by Nathan Litjens, on Flickr

A large male scaly tail. This was the first I had ever seen, and it sparked a 3 year, hair pulling exercise to capture one properly. Shots of backsides, knocked over sets (by dingoes), failed camera (after a 8 hour drive over rough roads), no activity, setting apple baits out of frustration only to have quolls steal them, other equipment failures etc. It was at the end of my time in the region it finally all came together. Trouble was, it took up all of my resources I could have used for other species, luckily I got one of those once the possum was finally out of the way: the rough scaled python, Australia's rarest snake:

ImageRough scaled python (Morelia carinata) by Nathan Litjens, on Flickr

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 20, 2017 4:52 am 
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Well your efforts and expense were definitely rewarded. The owl is wonderful. Great shots all!

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 20, 2017 11:47 am 
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More great photos from your cameras -- well done.

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 20, 2017 9:52 pm 
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You've got some terrific shots there. BTW, back in the mid-1960s at the annual meeting of the American Society of Mammalogists in Long Beach California, an Ozzie biologist presented a paper on the "rediscovery" of "Wyulda squamicaudata". Australian participants were rare back then, and the paper was the talk of the meeting. I heard the scientific name repeated so many times that I never forgot it.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 21, 2017 3:09 am 
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They are so elusive that the park rangers that work in the far northwest don't see them. I know 3 with combined experience of 50 years living on site and they all say they have never seen one out foraging, only in traps or on trailcams. So yeah, effort is needed.

But on the bright side, two zoologists I know were out spotlighting and found an isolated population close to Kunnunurra, where they had not been seen for 100 years!

Part of this is of course the terrain. It is hideous to walk in. Massive sandstone blocks, deep crevices, spinifex grass that cuts, spikes and leaves resin all over you that doesn't wash off, snakes, heat, humidity. It is unpleasant. And just getting to the places they live in by road is a nightmare. Hundreds of miles of corrugated dirt roads that shake the vehicle and equipment apart, river crossings and expensive fuel.

When you do get to the habitat the chances of seeing a scaly are slim. You MUST walk silently and quickly. The moment they are aware of you they will immediately descend to the ground and leap into the boulders. I almost never see any if I am not alone. I have become good at finding them after 3 years experience in the field. But you do get enthusiasts coming over to look for them and not seeing one at all.

But you get other things in these remote areas too, like the very rare (these days) golden backed tree rat:

ImageGolden backed tree rat (Mesembriomys macrurus) by Nathan Litjens, on Flickr

or the rabbit sized Monjon:

ImageMonjon mother and joey (Petrogale burbidgei) by Nathan Litjens, on Flickr

Or a blossom bat:

ImageNorthern blossom bat with juvenile (Macroglossus minimus) by Nathan Litjens, on Flickr


So maybe it isn't all that bat after all! ;)

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