Early in the morning as the sun is beginning to rise above the gravel road and trees in the valley below the kookaburras begin to announce that this is their land. They don’t sing alone but answer each other laughing across the horizon. In this video you can hear them laughing with the cicadas singing in the background.
Every morning three butcher birds and one magpie come for breakfast. The bravest one I’ve named Fred. He is extra friendly and will take a bit of food from my hand. Wal thinks he is so friendly because he captured him when he had a tick attached next to his eye and removed the tick. In this video he is the highest bird on the railing and they are singing together. It took me a month to capture them singing”
Wal saved this cicada from a spider’s web. At first, the cicada couldn’t move then he flew away. They don’t just hum in the evening, rather their sound comes in waves. During the Queensland summer, it rises in a crescendo and then diminishes into the silence of the bush. In the summer their music can be almost painful as in reverberates in one’s ears. As summer turned into fall their vibrations disappeared and I heard the birds more clearly. The cicadas sounded like static in my ears:
One day Wal called me on the phone very excited. “Get your phone and come down to the horse barn right now.”
“Ok” I said as I grabbed my phone and threw on my shoes. I raced slipping and sliding through the wet grass down to the stable. There with his head facing down on the rails was the most beautiful snake I’d ever seen.
I stopped short. “Is it poisonous?” I asked.
“No, not at all. It’s a carpet snake. They’re very helpful they eat rats and mice. He often lives here in the stable.” Wal reassured me.
I looked closely at the snake. He was wrapped gracefully, around the railings. His head was facing down ready to strike.
“He’s positioned so he can strike at anything that comes to eat out of the water trough.
Wal pulled him up with a stick so I could see him better. The snake didn’t like it but he put up with it, he just made his way up to the ceiling to get away from being pushed around.
“The only problem is I don’t have any rats or mice here. He’ll probably try to eat a duck, and not be able to do it. He’ll just kill it and spit it out, the bastard.” Wal said.
I shook my head. I just couldn’t believe this beautiful skinny snake would be so stupid as to try and eat a duck, but the next morning Wal called me from the stable again.
“He’s done it, just like I said.”
“He rolls around trying to eat it. He’s choked it off, so it’s dead. It’s just a waste of life. He’ll never be able to swallow it.” Wal said.
I just stood there watching, fascinated hoping that somehow he’d be able to swallow it and not waste the duck. I hate to see food wasted, and things killed without reason. I know people do that, but I always thought wild things knew better.
The next morning Wal called me again, and I had to admit that snake was pretty stupid, almost as stupid as humans.
Wal took the dead duck to the bush to be eaten by insects or some smarter animal.
The ducks do live happily at Long Timber down in the dam. I walked down to see them, but they didn’t let me get very close. I’m not as quiet and sneaky as the snake, so they stayed far away. These ducks are little diver ducks and they dived down into the water if I got near. They are probably extra cautious after losing one of there own.
Although there are a few koalas and wallabies nearby I did not see any. I went down to the creek early one morning hoping to see platypus that live there, but he didn’t come out.
One rainy day I walked up into the bush, and there in the field, I saw a little brown ball walking along. It was an echidna. The echidna has spines like a porcupine, a beak like a bird, a pouch like a kangaroo and lays eggs like a reptile. Although he moved slow and I got rather close I couldn’t get a good picture because he made his body into a protective ball of spines.
There are lots more birds that sing in the bush, but they’ moved too quickly for my iPhone. I still hope to see a platypus while I’m here. I will try another day.