By Alan Hewett
Living with nature can be both a pleasure and a challenge. At the moment in the very early hours we are waking up to the loud, repetitive and mournful cries of an Eastern Koel. This bird is a cuckoo from S.E. Asia that visits our shores to breed and deposit an egg in an unsuspecting nest, often that of a Wattle bird.
After the Koel has moved on we then have the plaintive cries of a young Magpie begging to be fed. This goes on most of the day as the birds march around the garden. We are also visited by King Parrots, usually when we are outside eating. Obviously someone is hand feeding them so they perch on the back of chairs eyeing us with pleading looks.
We previously lived on a property in the Indigo Valley. The house was inundated with sparrows. I tried everything (humanely) to get rid of them to no avail. The previous owner had complained of rats in the attic and had left baits there. I removed them fearing raptors would eat the rats and be poisoned themselves.
We did hear the occasional scratching but felt we could live with it. After a period of time we realised the sparrows had disappeared. All was revealed when we saw a ‘rat’ drinking from a bird bath. It was an Antechinus, a marsupial mouse, and had been responsible for predating on the sparrows.
We had several bird baths placed around the house. We were visited by Kangaroos every evening. One of the more enterprising ones decided it was too far to go down to the dam and started drinking out of them. Soon they all thought this was a good idea, so we had to put wire fences around so the birds could get a drink.
On another occasion I thought there was a feral cat roaming around. I baited a steel cage and waited. Imagine my surprise when I went to check it and inside was an Echidna. I went to release the cage door but couldn’t budge it. I finally managed to prise it open and the Echidna trotted off unharmed. The bottom of the cage however had been completely wrecked by the Echidna’s powerful claws.
Oh yes, then there are the snake stories…