Lamington NP: A tale of two pademelons
We saw Red-necked Pademelons (Thylogale thetis) everywhere at O'Reilly's. They were in the visitors' areas, around the camp-site and in the forest. Some were out foraging even during the day. But they really appeared in great numbers at dusk, particularly in the paddock below the motel area.
They clearly had lost much of their fear of people.
These delightful, chunky, small wallabies are found on the the edges of dense forests along the east coast of NSW and southern Queensland. They like to forage in clearings and are less common within the forest.
A couple of the red-necked pademelons that we saw (see the photos above and below) were chewing on sedges and fallen leaves.
Red-necked Pademelons can often be found in the same areas as their cousins Red-legged Pademelons (Thylogale stigmatica) but can be distinguished from them by the distinctive russet-red patch across their shoulders.
In fact red-legged pademelon colouring would seem to be the opposite of red-necks, since their faces, paws, legs and rumps, but not their shoulders, are reddish.
They also are found in slightly different habitats, with red-legged pademelons foraging more within dense forest.
We have red-necked pademelons in our yard at home, and often see them grazing on the lawn in the early morning, but they are too shy to hang around once they sense our presence.
I haven't ever seen a red-legged pademelon in our yard so it was a great thrill to come across one grooming itself, near the boardwalk at O'Reilly's, in Lamington National Park. It is the first time that I have had an opportunity to take decent photos of this species in the wild.
The two species are about the same size, but when you see photos of them both, next to each, other it is quite easy to distingush between them.
The dainty little red-leg that we came across was not overly afraid, and scratched and washed and groomed itself for five or more minutes, while we watched.
Perhaps, one day, we will discover that we, too, have red-legged pademelons in our yard. In the meantime, it is a great privilege to experience these brief encounters with the private lives of our native animals, in places like Lamington NP.