On wednesday night 1 June 2016 I went out looking for Rakali (formerly known as a Water Rat – a native rodent Hydromys chrysogaster). On the west coast they tend to be harder to see than on the east coast and are more nocturnal. They can get over 1kg & 30cm long and are semi-aquatic with webbed feet. They are larger than the introduced black & brown rat, paler on the underneath and have a distinct white tip on their tail. Indications of their presence can be found; webbed footprints and feeding middens (they often will feed on the same platform and the shells, etc build up over time. All this I know only from research – I am still yet to see one and this night was a chance. It was a pretty cold, clear evening in early June at about 8pm – perhaps not the best conditions.
I had been given advice from citizen science surveys that one of the most frequent sightings of Rakali are made on the Canning River near Doric St, Shelley, Perth (follow the link for the report).
I walked up and down the river – using my headtorch to look in the reeds, out into the water and on the little beaches. I heard plenty of noises but I think they were just birds playing with me. I heard some rustles in the reeds and splashing but couldn’t determine they weren’t fish.
I looked for about 2 and half hours with no luck this time – to use a bird twitching term – dip! I will just have to keep at it. I saw a couple of birds roosting in the trees and saw a few roosting in shallow sections of the river.