On the subject of trains …

OK readers, hands up if you’ve ever seen an Echidna train. If you have then count yourself as fortunate indeed, as can one of our readers, David Tuck of Clydesdale.

Around Newstead now is the time when Echidnas emerge from their winter slumber and start looking for mates. Both males and females give off a strong, musky odour during the mating season, secreting a glossy liquid believed to be an aphrodisiac. During courtship the males locate and pursue females. Trains of up to 10 males, often with the youngest and smallest male at the end of the queue, may follow a single female in a courtship ritual that may last for up to four weeks; the duration of the courtship period varies with location. During this time, they forage for food together, and the train often changes composition, as some males leave and other join the pursuit (see Wikipedia for details).

I’ve once seen a train of seven individuals, and have heard of even larger congregations. It is a wondrous sight.

Echidnas1

Echidna train at Clydesdale, 25th August 2015. Photography by David Tuck.

Echidnas2

II

Echidnas3

III

Echidnas4

IV

And while we’re on the subject of trains (groan) I’ll take the liberty of reminding those who may be interested about the Grand Opening of the Newstead Community Arts Hub, formerly the Newstead Railway Station, now magnificently restored. It’s on this Saturday at 3pm – it would be great to see you there!

ArtsHubLaunch

7 responses to “On the subject of trains …

  1. Hi Geoff, I am putting my hand up. One morning in August 2003 I found three echidnas under my car in the carport when I went to go out. Presumably one was a female and the other two were male.Later in the day (still under the car) two of them appeared to be mating!

  2. Four echidnas in a conga line under and around our house in Green Gully today. Was great fun to watch, especially when the choughs tried joining in!

    • Well done David – that’s a great observation … forgot to ask, did you get a photo?
      Cheers, geoff

      • David Holmes

        There’s one grainy photo taken with a camera phone, but it’s not much to look at; they were only properly ‘in train’ while they were under the house so it wasn’t the best photographic opportunity Made for an amusing sillhoutte moving amongst the house stumps though.

  3. Geoff, what a wonderful introduction from afar (SA) to Natural Newstead! David’s charming Echidna train is a revelation. Your Transfixion post starring Eastern Yellow Robins also holds great appeal. I will continue to enjoy your contribution to my education! (Beth)

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