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  • Ian

A week in the bush

Updated: Feb 14, 2022

​It has been a busy week in the bush.

We had a visit from the plumed whistling ducks (dendrocygna eytoni) again but this time two adults we shepherding 13 ducklings. So wonderful. They hung around the pond and gave the little fluff balls their first swim. Later in the day they brought them up onto our front lawn seemingly on display to us.

The following day they made their way up the hill away from the water and disappeared into the bush. We have had plumed whistling ducklings here before and they did exactly the same thing, only staying for a day and night. Hopefully we'll see them as adults in the future.

A couple of days later Terry pointed out a nest in the angophora just above the shade house. It was the olive backed oriole (Oriolus sagittatus). We see them here often. Terry had noticed that some food had fallen from the tree. The adults were busy feeding chicks. Fantastic! The willie wagtails had also built a nest in a banksia under the larger angophora and were sitting on the nest built precariously on the end of a small branch. Two active nests right next to the house.

Later in the day Terry heard a commotion and called me outside this time pointing to the nest where orioles were. The orioles and the willie wagtails were frantically screeching and swooping on a goanna making its way along the branch towards the nest.

As it moved closer we first thought that the nest, being way out on the end of the branch, was too far for the goanna but this was one of the young goannas. It wasn't long before it reached the nest and took the first chick. After a while the orioles went quiet. Life is tough. The wagtails have survived this time, the orioles will have to start another nest.

Goannas are very smart.

The day was hot, really hot. We got to 40.9°. They predicted storms but when it finally came we didn't get that much rain. It did bring down the temperature though.

In the heat of the day Terry called me over to the chook pen. We keep our hens and a couple of roosters in a secure pen at night. The chooks come and go during the day.

There laying right outside the door was an enormous carpet python.

Carpet python waiting patiently at the door of the chook pen.

We have seen this one before. It would be nearly 2m long. A big old wise fella. I'm sure he was just waiting for a silly chook to get too close. Or maybe it hadn't worked out how to get in as we have a special chook door to keep out such creatures. Since the chooks weren't that happy going into the chook pen we prodded it away back towards the wetland. It casually left.

Terry has uncanny hearing where he can tell if the chooks are upset. Hearing a commotion early the next morning Terry set off in sarong and thongs to the chook pen. He was right, there was a carpet python in there! It was only a small one. He let it out. There was no bulge so the chooks were safe but we have to find the hole where the snake got in.

The day warmed up quickly and Jac, our three legged goanna, appeared on her bench as the sun started to warm the day. She likes it there but Terry had put out glass bowls on her bench to catch the rain for our batteries so we laughed over breakfast as she had somewhat muddied the water.

Jac, our 3 legged goanna wondering what all the bowls are for on her bench.

No battery water this time. Thanks Jac.

After the overnight security breach in the chook pen, finding the hole was first on the agenda after letting the chooks out for the day.

Concentrating on looking for gaps in the wire Terry didn't notice the small and well camouflaged snake curled up on the ground. Fortunately I did and quietly got him to move away. I didn't want him or the snake to panic. It was the Clarence river snake, also called the rough scaled snake (tropidechis carinatus). We had found it in the chook pen once before. It is only small but quite venomous.

We used very long sticks to nudge it in the right direction. Now this is a delicate operation as you might expect. At one point the snake went through a wire mesh only to get caught about halfway. There was a small bulge where the snake was caught. So it did get some dinner last night, probably a mouse. A chook even our fairly grown chicks are too big for this small snake but it does like mice. Eventually the snake decided forward was not an option so actually reversed out. Amazing to watch. It found its way out of the chook pen and headed off into the bush. We think we found the small opening the python got in and sealed it.

The next day Terry heard night noises from the chook pen again but couldn't find anything this time. Over breakfast we noticed a familiar call from the swamphens. They make a particular sound when herding goannas or snakes. Yes they actually do this. Fascinating to watch. This time it was a very large carpet python with a very large bulge laying flat out across a path near the chook pen.

Monty, the carpet python, has had a duck of a feed.
Monty with that contented look.

The bulge meant a larger animal. The close up photos show some feathers which we think was a plumed whistling duck.

We have decided to call this snake Monty, thanks to Dr. Bruce. It was the same snake taking a nap outside the chook pen and I'm sure we'll see it again.

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