Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Winter wildlife

I'm not sure if it's down to the cold weather, but the wildlife has been acting very strangely lately. Yesterday, a spotted catbird flew into the house and started inspecting the kitchen. That's the sort of behaviour I expect from Macleay's honeyeaters, but catbirds — big and bolshie as they are around other birds — do not usually get too close to people.

That incident was followed closely by a female Victoria's riflebird mugging a little shrike-thrush for the frog the latter had just uncovered. The riflebird flew away with the still struggling frog in its beak. The shrike-thrush looked as pissed off as an animal with no eyebrows or lips can look.

Later, I almost trod on an adult coppery brushtail possum that had decided not only to forage by day, but also to do it around my door step.

And last night, every possum in the rainforest was running across the roof and up and down the ladder and then doing bunyip impersonations under my bedroom window at three in the morning. Fortunately, I can sleep through a putative bunyip attack, so it wasn't too much of a problem.

Anyway, today was quieter. But the possums continued behaving oddly. This young fellow was wandering around at lunchtime.

He may have regretted his daring when he realised that he was on Candid Camera.

Possum paws are equipped with very sharp claws that are useful for climbing. (A few months ago, one of the adult possums managed to get a purchase on an aluminium frame and almost scrambled into the living room.)

Their hind paws exhibit syndactyly (fused toes), like those of kangaroos and many other marsupials. One of the adults (probably the fellow in the first pic) likes to climb up the yard broom that's leaning by the back door, hold on tight by his hind paws and reach across to the door handle. Because it's a sliding door, he can't quite get it open. But every night, he gives ir a go. (And I let him. This will end badly, I'm sure.)

So I left the young possum to doze among the azaleas. He didn't last very long because the bridled honeyeaters took exception to his presence and did their own bunyip impersonation on a branch above him.

The last I saw of him, he was toddling off into the forest to find a quieter spot.


mick said...

Haha - who would have believed that living in a rainforest could be quite so exciting. What will you do if the possum moves right in with you?

Snail said...

That's not far off! The coppery adult lives in the space between the eaves and the patio roof. I'm sure he's got a little drill and is cutting out a doorway into the house.

Sherrie Y said...

And once the doorway is cut, he's bringing in an entire team of remodelers. Jacuzzi in the kitchen, golf course in the sitting room.

forestwalk/laura k said...

ha! it may be a little bit of a nuisance...but it's just so much FUN (to read about anyway!) ALL the little critters...feeling right at home...IN your home!

Magda said...

Gosh Snail, if Nature's Creature's are behaving oddly your way, how much colder is it going to get for Queensland this Winter... the air in Gympie already feels as if it is made of invisible ice.

I love the way a Possum's eyes have that glazed not quite with it look when happen to be awake during the day.

I have a Reddish Coloured Male Possum, who during Summer, is often late getting back and ends up snoozing in the Trees... once discovered by the Birds and my 2 Hens, the ruckus that ensues is quite deafening. He's hounded by their noise until he gives-in and groggily moves on. Which he has to do quite a few times for the remainder of the day.

At night, even now, I have a Brush-tailed Possum who wanders about the yard, treks across the roof and if certain windows are not shut in Summer ends up inside.

Does that Bunyip sound reach the core of you? I still find I stop still when I hear it... am sure the Possums do it on purpose, just to see how spooked they can make you feel.

Wonderful photos Snail, they are as beautiful as they are educational.

Love the rapport you and the Wildlife share.

Heaps of good wishes from Magda in Australia

Snail said...

A matter of time, Sherrie. Just a matter of time. If only they'd do a bit of tidying up while they were at it.

Snail said...

Laura, it's only a very little bit of a nuisance, really. Some nights the possums are hyperactive --- probably trying to keep warm! --- but they are mostly well behaved.

Snail said...

Magda, I love your possum stories. Brushtails are real characters!

The bunyip noises don't really bother me. Between the mischevious possums and the scrubfowl (oh, boy, do they make a racket!) I'd never get to sleep if I couldn't ignore them. People noise and domestic animals drive me crazy, though. I can't ignore those.

Mind you, having said that the wildlife doesn't really affect me, there have been times when I've gone outside and told off the possums for running up and down the roof. They keep doing it, of course, but I feel as if I've said my piece.

forestwalk/laura k said...

i'm really kind of jealous! i'd love to have that wildlife racket going on!! :)

biobabbler said...

That is so terribly cute, one of those pics is the best "deer-caught-in-the-headlights" shots I've ever seen. All that odd behavior has me a little worried and in agreement with you re: the animals are just HUNGRY and COLD and trying not to perish. When researching skunks, read a statistic that 90% die in their first winter. Yikes!!

What a charming creature you have nearby. =) Thank you for the edification.

Snail said...

Laura, the possums have a lot of character. And are very heavy on their feet!

Snail said...

That little possum does look a bit surprised by the whole process. I don't think he was expecting to be sprung.

He's making regular appearances now. I saw him a few moments ago as he peered in through the kitchen window, obviously drawn by the scent of cooking. I had to shut the door quickly or I would have had an unexpected guest for dinner.

forestwalk/laura k said...

"I had to shut the door quickly or I would have had an unexpected guest for dinner."

like 'possum stew?

(you know i'm JUST KIDDING!)

Snail said...

The little one may well end up like that! I'm having to possum-proof the carport, because he's been knocking things over left, right and centre.