Allow me a Fotherington-Thomas moment: Hullo, sky. Hullo, clouds. Hullo, rain.
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Every now and then, I hear voices coming from the driveway. This is not all that unusual. Birdwatchers often wander along the road, looking for Wet Tropics endemics at the edge of the rainforest. Occasionally they’ll walk a few metres up the drive where they can get a good view of the big quandong. As long as they don’t come up to the house, that’s fine. Setting up camp and digging latrines are right out.
These voices are indistinct. Only when I listen closely do I make out what they are saying and so identify the source. Most visitors do not chant, ‘wom-poo, wom-poo’ or ‘wollack-a-woo’ from the tops of trees. (And when I say most, that’s what I mean. I know some odd people.) Wompoo fruit-doves, those over-sized and over-coloured rainforest pigeons, have a very human tone to their calls. The timbre is different from that of the emerald dove or the brown cuckoo-dove, which likes to ask ‘did you walk?’ but refuses to accept the answer. Topknots are reluctant to make much noise and the less said about peaceful doves in the build up to the Wet the better. (That’s an opinion formed from eleven years in Townsville, most of them without air-conditioning. I don’t like to talk about it.)
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The hot, dry weather — which seems to have passed — brought a range of birds to the terracotta dish that I like to refer to as a bird bath. Others refer to it as an utter disgrace and suggest I get something better. Anyway, the grey-headed robins love this dish. In the later afternoons, I have to fill it several times as the robins line up for a swish around in the shallow water. Depending on the temperature, some might ant as well. They pick up the insects from the patio. No one can say I don't provide a good service.
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A ruddy or desert treefrog (Litoria rubella) spends the nights patrolling the living room windows looking for small insects attracted by the lights. It has an unfortunate habit of squeezing into the frame, so I always check before opening or closing the window. I have stuck a Post It note to the handle to remind me. Anyone who has lived with treefrogs and/or geckos will know the problem. My house in Townsville had a motif of dried Hemidactylus geckos along the door jamb. I left them there as an aide memoire. Well, you know, waste not, want not.