Stepping out side at night I hear the thumps and bounds of wallabies as they push away from my presence. In the gloaming they will twitch an ear, pause in chewing and watch me closely as I pick thyme and rosemary in the garden , empty the teapot of its leaves or pick a lemon .
The swamp wallaby is known to be a shy creature and it has taken many years for them to hold still with us around but something about the dark hours sends then scattering in all directions.
‘its only me’ I call out but they have moved deeper into the forest and will wait until I have returned inside to my lit castle. They are full of belly with babies and young ones frolicking with games played and my herb garden shorn closely to the ground.
Already the goannas have got out of bed after their big long winter sleep – a big fella some 2 metres long clambered up onto the kitchen verandah yesterday having a look around . John yelled out ‘is the door shut ? ’ . It was. We had one in the house one time and it was a devilish task getting it back out. We used one of the dogs bones to wave under its nose which it had pressed up against our glass windows in the living room moving its head back and forth trying to understanding this obstacle. You don’t want to get anywhere near their claws which are several inches of sharpness or their long tail that can whip about very quickly.
Researchers believe now that goannas do have oral venom glands and so a bite could be a nasty business. The good thing is that so far we are not on their list of prey. They are scavengers eating small mammals birds lizards snakes – they also clean up anything left dead in the forest and sometimes you may see a goanna on the roadside face buried into a roadkill. Eggs are a favourite which makes them hated by all birds in the forest who have a special goanna call and swoop them repeatedly pecking at their tough ole leathery skin.
This fella watched John detail the car yesterday from the safety of the trunk of its home tree – an angophora some 15 metres high in which it has a hollow apartment up near the top. Their long claws grasp the trunk and they can literally hang on for ages.They use their long forked tongue to sniff out the air and we have seen them wrestle food bigger than their mouths – apparently their lower jaw unhinges but it looks a bit like they toss their head around over and over until the food goes down. After some time watching the goanna gave a few harsh hissing sounds at which point John walked over to the trunk and hissed right back.
well that sorted something out I guess.
last night the boo book owl marked the night. Boo book is the call though some hear woo hoo or mo poke and it can make 20 calls in under a minute. Aahh we say the boo book is out and about tonight and a gladness steals thru our bones. This is one of the smallest owls in this country and its colour ranges the shades of brown with grey and white markings out of which startled yellow eyes peer. The night is its friend and with powerful silent wing beats it strikes – feasting on rats birds beetles moths spiders frogs bats .Like the goanna it too nests in a hollow high up more often than not in an angophora.
A top bar hive has moved into the garden standing proudly in front of a grevillea hedge . This year was named as the year of the hive by John and as we approached spring he realised he had to pull his finger out and make it happen. We have had hives here long past when children were small and energy was high – along with chooks geese and guniea pigs -along with pigs goats orchards and vines. Way back in the time of starry eyed plans of sustainable living. Nowadays we plunder the wire netting from the chook yard for other projects – the bee boxes are stacked up in the shed and/or we find other uses for them and the wattles have taken over the orchard.
Aaahhh but we all remember the taste of our honey and the waxy chewing gum.
This is a more bee friendly hive resembling the Kenyan model -lovingly and painstakingly built by John over many days and weeks- now it is waiting for the swarm that has been ordered.
Australia has about 1500 native bee species of which 10 are stingless and we do have a little 3-5mm black stingless bee living here. It too enjoys the hollows of our trees. I am looking to identify how many other species of native bee call this forest home.
Jess sang out – a dead silver eye lay on the verandah with not a mark on it. ‘It must have crashed into the window’ I said as I cradled it gently and reverently in my hands. Funny these hands are old and wrinkled now worn of long use and inlaid with black – dirt that does not wash out anymore. Once I scrubbed and scoured until the realisation came that I am returning to the Earth even as this little bird has done.
More formally their name is white eye because of a conspicuous circle of white around their pupil. Off setting the white circle is a ring of black against an olive green head and grey to buff underbelly. At only 11 -13mm they are eye catching and delightful flocks in the garden. Their nest is a teeny basket made of grass moss hair and woven with spider web suspended from a branch sometimes as high as five metres up. I see the nest when a wind brings it to the ground. They feed on insects berries fruit and nectar especially loving fig season – when the figs are big enough they are able to hop inside them and eat them out.
I hand the silver eye over to Kingston and he cries as he holds it . The learning of death comes hard to us all and this is a beginning of that journey for him. After a while he spots an empty pot on the steps of the verandah. Whatever plant was in it has long been wallaby eaten and now there is only a ceramic bunny rabbit with a red ribbon around its neck left. Gently he eases it in and calls on the bunny to take care of it until he next comes down to visit.
‘The eagle wont get it ’ he asks all bottom lip quivery and eyes shining tears.
I have looked and it is still there though collapsing further and further ..…
belonging means to be rightly placed – in the old English it means ‘at hand , together with’ and I feel like I belong here with silver eye and goanna with wallaby and angophora.
to practice belonging I watch I listen I breathe
and I follow