Trapping, looking, and naming things today in the mildly burned section of the park. I caught a neat marsupial mammal, about the size of a mouse, called an Antechinus. Hopefully, the picture describes it better than I, but just in case you can’t figure it out, I’ll explain. The mom had eight babies, about the size of jellybeans, all attached to teats, hanging on the outside. Mom has a bit of a flap, but not a true or deep pouch and so the embryonic looking babies seemed woefully unprotected from the elements. After they mature a bit, I believe they eventually get dropped off in some sort of den or nest while the mom goes out to hunt. Way Australian!
After the morning session we did a bit of touring in the badly burned area of the bark, checking out the views and the regrowth of whatever plant life managed not to of gotten annihilated by the fierce flames. Some of the eucalyptus trees have evolved a neat strategy to deal with intensive fires. The outer bark, say up to half an inch or more, falls off and carpets the forest floor. The tree underneath is shiny smooth and almost white and if the tree is lucky, zillions of little sprouts pop from the trunks giving the trunks a lush bottle-brush sort of appearance. I guess overtime some of these might develop into new limbs.
The fire here last January basically swept through the park in one day covering many, many miles. People living in the downwind town of Coonabarabran had only a few hours to evacuate. Fortunately the winds swung around and the town was spared. We heard about some bad bush fires last year further south that spread up to 60 kilometers in an hour! Apparently, the eucalyptus give off oily vapors from their leaves which is one of the reasons why the Blue Mountains are called blue. The bluish haze in the air is a mixture of water vapor and this oily product. Anyway, the vapors are flammable and once a brush fire gets going, the gases burn from tree to tree, consuming the canopy along the way. It is all carried along in a rush by the mighty winds that are formed from the burn itself.
The night ended with closing up the bat nets as we walked around the forests in short sleeved shirts. Wind had changed and the weather was mild. Just as we were going to bed in our camper trailer, the winds increased to what felt like a small gale. I was buffeted to sleep by the swaying of the camper in the lost Australian night.