Recent Wildlife Sightings

Wildlife gets out there and has to hustle for a living come rain or shine.  Birds, having a high metabolic rate have to do it every day.  Snakes, being cold-blooded can endure weeks of bad weather before hunger drives them to action.  Humans for the most part have divorced themselves from any effect of the weather and now more than 50% of humanity lives in cities and can go from garage to underground car-park in sealed pods we call cars without having to put up with inconveniences of inclement weather.  Those people greatly affected by the weather have dwindled to less than 2% of the population in Australia and are increasingly elderly, but manage to totter about to provide everything we eat and add significant export revenues as well.  We call them farmers.  Somehow, we have entirely taken them for granted and lavish riches on sports stars and IT entrepreneurs catering to our whims.  Actually, I think eating is far more important.

Tree roo

Oh dear, I have already gone off-track.  Try again.  In the last week, guests at Blackbean Cottage had a window seat of a tree kangaroo contentedly feeding for 3 hours.  For most of the party it was their first view of a tree roo in the wild.  They could not believe how clumsy it was getting about in the trees.  I’ve seen goats that were more nimble at climbing trees in Africa.  They have got a way to go before fitting the “adapted to environment” paradigm espoused by Darwin.  

 

 

 

 

2m red-bellied black snake

In a few recent days of sunshine (two to be precise), after a long wet spell, the snakes were about.  Black snakes, probably red-bellied but I didn’t trouble them for identification, were everywhere.  Only the world’s 14th most venomous snake, they are close to harmless.  They are so passive as to be no threat.  The Zen Buddhists of the snake world.  I have stood on them half a dozen times without reprisal.  They do flatten their fore-body though to warn off assailants.  Thank you Mick for this recent pic

I look after my grandchildren for a couple of days a week and Henry the elder at nearly 5 likes me to go along the track hacking back fallen vegetation with my machete that I boast about in my last blog.  So though I didn’t think there was urgent need, I gave in to his demands to clear the track.  He also advises me when the road drains need attention.  Can’t say I have ever come across another kid with an eye for drains. I am hacking away at obstructive plants when he hangs out of the car and says “cassowary”.  He has never seen one but relates to story books I read from the local library.  I turn around and just three paces behind me is a cassowary.  We regard each other for a while before it turns and slowly paces around the car. 

I only intended a quick hack so I had left the engine running.  I turn it off and talk to the kids about cassowaries and how they can be dangerous and have strong legs and big claws.  It continues to circle the car just a few meters away, so I put the kids in the back tray of the duel cab for a better look but out of the way in case the bird is having a bad hair day.  It crosses the road again and we can see its robust legs and long claws even bigger than I remember.  I point out the brilliant colours of its head and neck and the glistening iridescent of the feathers to try and key their memories.  It was at least 5 minutes circling the car when I heard traffic.  Guests arriving and we were just around a blind corner so I walked past the bird to slow down the new arrivals.  The cassowary decided that was too much company and disappeared so they didn’t get to see it, but they didn’t think I was having them on as the driver pointed out some droppings on the road.  A fresh turd bigger than a cow pat with seeds the size of walnuts was sitting in the road.  Many trees with large seeds rely entirely on the cassowary for seed dispersal. 

tree roo and joey

About a week ago I was on the veranda hard at work with the Times cryptic crossword when a tree kangaroo hopped around the wood stack on the patio in its usual halting leisurely way before climbing the fig tree right next to the veranda.  I knew the guests at Blackbean Cottage were interested in wildlife so I went down to invite them to see it.  We got back there a few minutes later and I was embarrassed to find it had gone as I examined the small 4m high tree.  But the guests looked harder and saw its tail hanging down and then the whole animal.  I knew where it was and just a few meters away but I was unable to see it until I got in just the right spot.  A couple of hours later when it was satisfied it wasn’t being watched, it clambered down onto the veranda and looked around for a while bewildered by it’s new and barren surroundings before hopping down the stairs and off into the forest.  I have an affinity for these strange, clumsy, intellectually challenged animals.  

Recent possum pic. thanks Jim

I think there is the possibility that my grand kids might be the last generation to see any remnants of an intact ecosystem.  It seems that the complete dominance and subjugation of the environment for human needs is imminent and inevitable.  I won’t be around for the end game there, but it seems to be the way it is going.  It won’t end well.

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