It’s getting dark: time for a round of the grounds. To be honest I only live in a modest three bedroom house with an average-sized back garden. Fortunately it’s bushy and this helps my neighbours survive. My wildlife neighbours, that is, not the ones with the noisy teenage sons.
First I check the redback which lives next to the garage door. My wife isn’t too happy about this spider but even she is fascinated by the creature’s eating habits. Tonight there’s a cockroach and a tiny lizard, or skink, in the web. I know from experience that he’ll devour these over the next week or two.
It’s still too cold for lizards to be about; I assume the skink was fooled by the recent couple of warm days and so came out of his winter hiding place to stretch his legs – in the wrong direction, unfortunately.
A blue-tongued lizard lives in the drainpipe but I haven’t seen him for some time; I think he’s waiting for the spring before putting in an appearance.
An Australian raven is calling, a gargling ‘aargh’: a noise that suggests he’s being strangled. Four brightly coloured king parrots are in the coral tree whistling for food. I give them a few seeds; nothing much. I prefer not to let them rely on my handouts – it’s best to keep them wild.
The two water bowls have been topped up. These see constant use: sulphur-crested cockatoos, Australian magpies, noisy miners, crimson rosellas and rainbow lorikeets are the usual visitors at this time of the year.
My laughing kookaburras move around; they’re enjoying a last noisy laugh from two gardens away before they settle down for the night. Another bird with a laughing call is the grey butcherbird. Superficially similar to a magpie, the butcherbird with its happy chuckling will probably be the first bird I hear when I wake tomorrow.
Rainbow lorikeets arrive in the gum tree; their call is always to be heard in this area; one or two higher pitched calls tell me that some smaller musk lorikeets have arrived too. Maybe the gum tree is flowering: it provides an abundant source of food for these swift flying parrots.
Now that darkness has fallen I hear the chattering call of a ring-tailed possum and the monotonous drone of an owl-like bird: the tawny frogmouth. The possum eyes me through the foliage of a leafy green bush while the frogmouth sits staring hard at the ground, waiting for a juicy insect to appear.
Around the side of the house a brush-tailed possum is growling menacingly. It’s good to know he’s survived; a few weeks ago I heard a crash and discovered the possum picking himself up from beneath the palm tree from which he’d fallen. At least I assume it’s the same creature. Anyway, I like to think so.
Yes, my neighbours are all present. I needn’t worry; I can go to bed now.