Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Mister (Superb) Fairy-Wren, snapped through the window last spring as he defended his territory. Now the iridescent blue has faded and he has just the same dusky blue tail as his sons, and otherwise is as brown as his missus. A family of 6 hops through the garden at least twice a day, twittering over the lawn, scoffing tiny insects. It’s a nice change from a solitary blackbird which seemed to be on a mission to uproot each root of grass in the lawn – impossible, surely. Perhaps he has completely de-grubbed the soil; certainly he’s moved on. (It’s hard to be grateful to an exotic pest.) One spring I was enthralled to see a family of 6 Fairy-Wrens, hopping, seeking food. Mister was bright; Missus was frumpy-brown, as were her 2 daughters. What was entrancing was the behaviour: boys fighting (or practicing, anyhow) so Mister had to tell them off, again and again. Missus and girls? Eating quietly with no fuss. Gorgeous.
Clambering all over the hen run is a huge kiwi fruit vine which shades the jungle birds in summer and lets in some sunshine in winter. The fruit are hard to reach and a few are very ripe indeed; a magnet for king parrots of tangerine and dusty emerald. Why them? When the apples are turning alcoholic on the trees it’s the crimson rosellas that come.
Boobook and other owls will take up a favourite branch for weeks at a time but other visitors are more fleeting. Wood ducks call out as they swoop by the house, elegantly lining up for splash down on our dam. Come spring and they lead trails of ducklings to the dam each year but stay only a day before marching on; it works, they seem plentiful (one of the few water birds that still flourishes).  Perversely they congregate – when not breeding - on a neighbour’s large, neat lawn.
After 2 decades, the garden at Possum Creek has seen a new development in wildlife: a fat healthy antechinus (a brown mouse-like, carnivorous marsupial) is scurrying about the garden, digging, and even upsetting the hens. It’s a fraction of their size, but they have been squawking and flapping their dislike of the invasion. Maybe she is lonely? Antechinus are the famous (or infamous) animals for which, every year, all the males die after quite a lot of reproductive effort. Good on you, blokes! We’ve seen a sad, shivering male losing fur here once, but it’s hard not to think (wink, wink) that it was worth it. So our busy visitor is, I believe, a female; and hopefully pregnant (or with young in the pouch) to boot.

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