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  • Writer's pictureIan

Jack, Jill, Joey and winter friends

Updated: Feb 13, 2022

The winter came and went. Not too cold. Only a few frosts and they were light only getting down to around 0C. So different to last year but still a few frosty mornings.

Our winters are our driest months and this year was no exception, but more like a normal year. There has been a little rain. Enough to keep some moisture in the ground and the streams flowing, although only a trickle now.

There have been a few small fires, lit as hazard reductions, but no major fires. Everyone is still on edge over fires after last year. Although the fires last year were called the 'black summer' we have not forgotten that our fires started in July and didn't stop until December. A bit longer than a summer.

A pair of magpies are harassing the goannas that are now emerging on a regular basis after their winter snooze. We haven’t found their nest but we are sure it is somewhere nearby. They haven't swooped us fortunately but some of our chooks get a bit of a fright occasionally.

Our favoured duck, Mr Anderson, is here most days. He still has his a limp but it doesn't seem to be a problem. The other ducks still chase him away but he gets special attention from us and will turn up with the chooks and eat with them.

Plumed Whistling Duck (Dendrocygna eytoni)
Mr Anderson - known for his broken web (left foot)

Our wallabies ('garu' in the local Bunjalung) have become much closer over the winter. We now have names for all the regulars. Four females have joeys, poking their little heads out of the pouch.

The group of wallabies frequenting here is different to those at a neighbours place just a few kilometres away. We think that they are like a clan, especially the females (Jills) who seem to know each other and often behave like warring siblings, the elders pushing away the younger ones.

Red-necked wallabies (Macropus rufogriseus), also called scrub wallabies which I think I prefer, are not usually very social but they have little trouble in a group when feeding , apart from the odd bit of growling. Growling seems to be their main vocalisation. Although it seems to us like they are angry I think this is just their vocalisation. If we feed them they will growl when we give them food. Hopefully it is them being polite and thanking us! They aren’t saying go away, that’s for sure.

The big males (known as a Jack) are impressive animals. Standing well over a metre tall they are solid muscle and they need to be if they want their pick of the females. We are getting to know the individuals now. The alpha male we named Caesar. He is a big older male. The next down the list (at this time) was a male we hadn’t noticed before. He had a series of nicks in his ear.

We were amazed to witness these two top males fight right on our front area.

Red-necked wallaby after fighting with another male.
Caesar with scratches and bruises from fighting

The fight went on for some time. We were frightened they might run into the glass doors at times. Eventually one made a break for it and they both raced into the bush.

The following day Caesar turned up looked worse for wear with scratches on his face and lots of bruising.

The other big male turned up and Caesar left being chased away. We decided to call the new male Brutus. He is easily as big as Caesar and clearly won the battle. We steered clear of this big boy. We didn’t want him to think we were an adversary.

The females are dominated by Mos, our long time regular. She seems to be the oldest and takes damn all from the other females and even the other males. Mos has got a new joey.

Red-necked wallaby (Macropus rufogriseus) with joey
Mos and joey

Notice how Mos has a pug nose. She showed up last year with a damaged nose and very snotty. She has managed and now seems to have coped well with a broken nose. We have no idea how she got injured. Maybe she ran into something or a branch fell on her. We’ll never know.

Macropus rufogriseus joey
Youngest joey

The littlest wallaby is cute beyond belief. She is small but has the most advanced joey of the group right now. We have named her Sweetpea. Her joey has just started spending a little time out of the pouch.

Macropus rufogriseus joey
Red-necked wallaby joey

One of the females has a number of nicks in her ear. We don't know where she got them but wonder if she too has been fighting. We called her Nicki. Nicki’s joey has left the pouch completely but we still see the joey taking some milk from her. We see the joey around here often but it won’t come near us or the other wallabies.

Macropus rufogriseus joey
Nicki with her older joey. She probably has another joey already.

Nicki and her friends are quite fond of the leaves of our star jasmine. They feed on them as they would the geebung.

Macropus rufogriseus feeding on star jasmine
Wallabies are browsers and enjoy a range of plants including this star jasmine.

Mary has a small hole through her ear. She is the most friendly of all and has no problem with the odd pat and scratch on the chest. We wonder if she had been handled by humans before, perhaps a rescued wallaby released in the area. It is the most amazing thing to have such close contact with a wild animal.

These four wallabies are here regularly but there is one other that we see often but stays away from the others. We called her Alice. We think she is the same wallaby we saw last year looking extremely poor. She had fur missing with a look of mange. It had trouble hopping and fell over from time to time. We tried to feed it but it was very shy. When we noticed Alice here a few months ago she still had a mange look but just on her left shoulder. She continued to improve and will turn up separately to the others.

A big delight is seeing a koala. We have had several more sightings of these extraordinary animals. They love the red gums that line the streams and can move through the tree tops. We spend a lot more time looking up into the trees hoping to see one.

Koala (Phascolarctos cinereus)

The ground orchids have been flowering over the last couple of months. The nodding greenhoods have appeared in record numbers forming large colonies with dozens of blooms.

The grass trees are blooming, hundreds are with a flowering stem. We haven't seen a flowering like this for many years, not since our fire here in 2012 which stimulated a flowering event. This year there was no fire (thankfully) but a large number are flowering here and at our neighbours. We think this might be from the stress of the drought last year and or from the bushfire smoke that filled the air for many months.

Photos by Terry


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