• Ian

Wildlife Magic

Updated: Feb 13

One of the many magic things about living in the bush is the wildlife. It is a privilege to have them so close and living their life in front of us.

We have our regular friends who have lived here for decades in some cases, like our three legged goanna, Jac. She has been with us for over twenty years, her missing leg easily identifying her.

There are the swamp hens, regularly around the house, with the swamp (we prefer wetland) at the bottom of the hill. We watch as they romance, fight and feed right in front of us. We call them 'border force' due to their alert sounds when snakes are hiding or goannas need herding. They are bold and will help themselves to the chook food. They know us. We have watched a number of sets of chicks hatched as tiny fluff balls, then like gangly teenagers gradually getting their adult plumage, finally taking their adult proportions and the beautiful deep blue and black feathers and bright white tail.

Our local wallaby, we call her Mos, has been visiting since the house was built but was here many years before hand. She will come around for a snack or just browse on whatever takes her fancy at that time, taking little notice of us.

She has raised many joeys some successfully and at least a couple of time losing the joey, probably while fleeing a wild dog or dingo. Individual animals relate differently as while some keep their distance Mos was much more bold and an early joey took a fancy to our sunflower seeds and both joey and mother eventually came right up to us. Eventually the joey grew up to be a strong young male and we haven't seen him return but Mos is still here and her female joeys are happy to ignore us mostly.

Pacific Black Ducks

This summer we were introduced to two beautiful ducklings, Pacific Black ducklings (Anas superciliosa). A dog attack took their mother and these two ducklings were saved. We brought them here to grow up and be released.

At first we kept them in a cage with access to swim in our pond, inside the cage. Later they took up a corner of our chook pen which included a 44 gallon drum cut in half acting as a pond.

To be able to watch these beautiful birds grow up is a special experience. We didn't handle them as we didn't want to get too close to them but they became familiar with us as they grew.

As ducklings their wings are tiny but grow and gradually develop their flying wings. You can see the birds stretching their wings and exercising. Soon it was time to release them.

We took them to the wetland and set up some food for them then opened the door. Out they came and straight into the wetland completely ignoring the food. It was a moving experience, like a parent sending the kids off to the wide world. They swam and bobbed under water. They gradually moved away from where we were and disappeared into the reeds. It was wonderful.

Our usual routine is to let the chooks out in the morning for a day of foraging. About four days after the release we headed over to the chook pen as usual. To our astonishment there were the two ducks just sitting outside. They mixed with the chooks then walked down to the pond (our little house dam). Soon they were on our front lawn eating the chook food and then demonstrating their flying skills as they flew down the hill to the pond.

Gradually their flights got stronger and stronger, eventually taking off from the pond and doing circuits of the house only to make, sometime not so perfect, landings back on the pond. One duck was bigger and stronger and mastered flying faster than the other. I assume the larger one was a male.

One day there was only one duck, the smaller one. We assume that the larger one flew off or moved to the wetland. The smaller duck stayed for some days and then it too disappeared.

The story doesn't finish there though. This last duck turns up regularly now. We have named her (we think) Duckie.

PS

Sad news as Mos recently turned up at the house w