A year in the life of a wildlife tragic
500 Words: One Moment, This Year
I am a wildlife tragic. You probably already knew that from some of my past stories. I love animals and birds and drive my family mad with my ooohing and aaaaahing when I sight some wonderful creature, or two. Of course, wedge-tailed eagles are my all-time fave and my loved ones now let me know immediately when one of these majestic creatures is riding the thermals overhead. I have trained my nearest and dearest well!Over the past year, I haven’t had to travel very far from home to enjoy many wonderful moments with nature. Some of my more fantastic encounters have included:Echidnas down at our bus stop, not waiting for the school bus but waiting for us to leave so they could retract their claws that held them anchored to the earth and go on their way – without us trying to get a better look at them! The wombat down at our creek, his hindquarters defensively sticking out of his burrow. Flying foxes at dusk, their furry brown bodies silhouetted against the darkening sky. Bogong moths slamming into our kitchen window at night. Frogs so loud I remember when my mother first visited us from the city and complained they had kept her awake – this from a woman who lived in Sydney on a bus route with trains close by and the airport a few suburbs away! A cattle egret poised as still as a statue next to our outside tap, watching for the movement of small prey in the clumpy grass.Boobook owls and their distinctive ‘mopoke’ call.The barking owl screeching like a woman being murdered and scaring the wits out of our visitors and sometimes, us!Red-bellied black snakes sunning themselves on the bend in our road.Kangaroos, kangaroos and more kangaroos – grazing on our property, hopping down our road and jumping into the path of our car (twice)!Noisy sulphur-crested cockatoos.Low flying yellow-tailed blacks.Stout willy wagtails chastising me through my kitchen window.Gang gangs muttering as they nibble on the crab-apple tree beside the back fence.A white-faced crane flying lazily over our house.Various lizards, skinks and insects enjoying the sunshine. Dragon flies performing helicopter manoeuvres over the dam.Blue tongues, both babies and adults, which became family pets before being released near the woodpile.Busy bush flies – annoying, persistent and unrelenting.The first blowfly of summer – the first of many, unfortunately. Our first sightings of large glossy brown Christmas beetles as they herald the festive season.The deafening annual summer chorus of cicadas, and hunting for their discarded shells on the trunks of trees.The magnificent goanna who stayed with us for about five days and brought us so many moments of joy.But perhaps my most exhilarating wildlife moment happened on a very ordinary day a few months ago, as I walked out to the clothesline, basket of washing perched on my hip. It was a sunny day with clear skies. I was deep in thought, looking at the ground as I made my way around the side of the house. Suddenly, in front of me on the grass was a moving shadow, in the shape of a large bird with wings outstretched. I did a double take, what was this? In the split second it took to try to work out what was happening, I stopped dead and looked up in time to see a glorious wedge-tailed eagle gliding a couple of metres above me. I could make out its huge broad wings and long wedge shaped tail. Its colouring and markings were exquisite! I couldn’t believe how lucky I was to have witnessed such a close encounter with such a majestic creature. The memory of this unexpected and totally breathtaking moment will live with me always!