Most of Australia seems to have had atypical summer weather. Here in the Red Centre of the country, we had turned mostly green from higher than normal rainfall. But now things are turning golden and brown again as we settle back into hot, dry summer weather. As with all climates, when the weather changes, the insects and animals modify their reproduction and their habits to accomodate. At the moment we are having a plague of tiny grasshoppers eating every non-indigenous leaf in sight. You’d think we would learn, but we want our European herbs and fruit trees so we ignore the obvious and persevere.
I did see a hopeful sign in the basil patch this week, this very well camouflaged Mantis.
The equally camouflaged caterpillar was not such a welcome sight, but I took this photo in the river bed on a weed, not at home, so I’m hoping he prefers indigenous plants, especially weeds!
Last year we got up one morning to this sight on our patio. If you spotted the ‘roo poo’ amongst the ravaged Ponytail Palm pieces, you will have guessed the culprit. There are a couple of plants in our garden which seem to regularly piss off the locals that frequent us and they let us know about it. Recently, I saw on a program called Kangaroo Dundee (filmed here, near Alice Springs by the BBC and shown around the world, apparently) that the Roos will sort of box and tear at plants to practice their fighting skills against the other males in the mob. We have also been told that sometimes they are digging at the irrigation system for water that they can smell. Since keeping the large water bowl for them, we have fewer episodes, but still the occasional misadventure.
I’m happy to report, the Ponytail Palm survived and looks like it will be a nice shape again…eventually. This photo was taken over a month ago after one of the rains.
This big ole fella was in bad shape the first time he lumbered through our breezeway. We are thinking we might need to rename it the roo-way because they use it so often and seem to think it was built just for them. He visits every so often and I see him taking long drinks at the water bowl and he relaxes in the shade. A couple of nights ago just on dark we noticed him reclining happily in the boundary area near the compost bins. It was too dark to photograph him but, the next morning as I surveyed the outer kingdom, I saw his ‘hip hole’.
I thought I’d try my hand at posting my first video because I want you to hear the beautiful song of a Pied Butcherbird, a type of Magpie. They are not a colourful specimen like the parrots, but they are handsome in their own way. They ‘carol’ (sing), from our patio and nearby trees, sometimes for half an hour at a time. This juvenile is sitting on the edge of the sink practicing its little heart out. It is one of three babies born to a mother earlier in the season and we hear them fairly often. I hasten to add, Butcherbirds (YouTube link so that you can see and hear the bird closer) are not named this for nothing. I have seen them stalk a pigeon which must have been weak, and kill it with their strong pointed beaks, and devour it until all that was left were some feathers on the grass. That is nature for you.
Finally, a couple of days ago I made my way down the dark hallway at 5.30am, turned on the office light, looked down, and there, inches from my foot was this little darling. In 16 years of living in this house I have never seen a frog inside. This is arid land, surrounded by plains and desert. Rarely do we even see them outside unless we have just had a huge rain. We have not had rain for weeks now and whether or not this little fella was confused or caught in a time warp, I have no idea. He was fine with having his portrait taken, but when it came to catching him he was quite a challenge. First of all he was barely an inch long and I was trying to be gentle so I didn’t harm him. And secondly, he PEED, all over my hand and the floor—TWICE. Eventually I managed to gently trap him in my hand and put him outside, where I hope a hungry Butcher Bird didn’t swoop down and gobble him up!