Roo Confusion

The trouble with identifying kangaroos around here is mostly that whenever I see one, I’m so surprised that I forget to figure out what species it is. You’d think it would be obvious, like one is big and red (right, the big red kind, Macropus rufus) and one is little and gray (Macropus robustus), but some of the big red ones are just small because they’re young, and some of the wallaroos, also known as Euros, are actually sort of reddish and can get to a decent size.

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(This is a big red)

As far as I can tell, in photos where I don’t get a lot of scale and can’t necessarily recall the roo’s relative size to my own (reds get 6 feet tall and up to 200 lbs, while common wallaroos only get 5 feet tall and 150 lbs maximum), I can separate the two by bulk (reds seem to have larger, more muscular arms relative to their bodies, but also generally heftier bodies compared to their heads) and comparative ear size (though that’s just conjecture, since ear size might have more to do with age or individual variation*).

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(This is a Euro. I think.)

Kangaroos tend to live in larger “mobs,” somewhere around ten usually but in poor conditions can gang up into the hundreds. Wallaroos are mostly solitary, according to the internets. This information is not really supported by my own observations, but let’s be real- I mostly see these guys while either I’m running or they’re running, so I can’t say that any of my surveying has been at all scientific.

Mostly I’d say the main difference between a kangaroo and a wallaroo is that turning a corner and finding myself too close to a wallaroo is adorable, and doing the same with a kangaroo is just a little bit terrifying. Imagine a rabbit the size of your dad, and then give it muscley arms (the rabbit, not your dad).

…Have fun with that one. Here’s a reminder that macropods can also be really cute:

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Sleep with dreams of fuzzy baby ‘roos and try to get that image of your rabbit-dad out of your head. Oh, too late. Sorry.

*Did you know that human ears and noses keep growing forever? Like through your whole life (I’m assuming if you’re reading this you’re human, but to any intelligent dolphins or aliens reading this: um hi please email me) your ears will get bigger and bigger. If you could live forever maybe you could learn to fly Dumbo-style. Or at least swim like a manta ray. It’s all cartilage, right?

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Did You Know

that if you don’t know how to use shutterspeed priority mode on your still-new-ish camera that you’ve had on manual mode the whole time, and then you put it on Tv (Canon’s code for shutterspeed priority) and get really close to kangaroos in twilight, and your ISO is set to 100, your photos come out pretty wonky?

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I’m pretty sure this is a big red kangaroo, as opposed to the smaller Euros, or wallaroos that we more often see around here. It (he) was drinking off of a leaky pipe on top of a nearby hill- now that I’ve figured out my camera just a little bit more, I’ll check back in there and see if I can replicate this shot… but with an actual decent exposure this time.

Painterly

I went for a run today, so I couldn’t bring my SLR. Well, I guess I could have, but it would have been a literal pain in the neck, so I didn’t. It’s the eternal conflict I face in my evenings here- run, get muscles working and music pumping, cover ground and get back in time for dinner, (make my daddy proud of me,) or take my time, collect leaves and feathers, try to sneak up on wildlife, and carry a big lens. So far, I will admit, the walks have taken precedence. Golden hour calls to me, and I take photo after photo of ethereal flowers all backlit and glowing in the settling dust. But running has its benefits too: some of the higher hills nearby are reachable before twilight only at a faster pace, and the views from the top are so much sweeter with the clarity that comes from blood pumping and eyes re-focused from computer screens to the distant sunset.

I took photos today on my phone, and the painterly quality that comes from the low light and crappy digital zoom well-represents the haze of a mid-uphill-sprint emu encounter.

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It’s less detail and more scope, like my runs versus my walks. It’s the sweeping views of the rolling hills and gravel roads, spinifex and shrubs blending into gold and green until the ocean takes over, deep blue to the dusty denim sky. It’s kangaroos that crouch by the side of the road till I’ve jogged by, and only then reveal their presence with a noise or a movement, disappearing back into the bush as I catch a glimpse out of the corner of my eye.

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I’ve always been fond of impressionism.

Good Signs

The weather this week looks lovely! But that’s not really why I made this awful joke title. Road signs in Australia are really fun- I’m used to deer crossings and on a really good day in New Hampshire, a moose crossing, but for the most part road signs in my area just blend in to the background unless I’m looking for directions or speed limits. Here, though:IMG_1787

Knobble-kneed emus, kangaroos poised to leap in front of cars, blue signs indicating “tourist ways” and “coral viewing.”

I’m sure they aren’t interesting to the people who live here, but I love me a goofy animal silhouette.

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They’re not kidding, though- emus and kangaroos are all over the road en route to our launch sites at Tantabiddi and Bundegi boat ramps. Even better than the signs are the mirrored looks of surprise on the faces of car drivers and passengers and the animals they come across.