Summer has arrived.
The neighbourhood creatures
are on the move …
… well … some are moving more than others …
Look at this koala:
that's exactly how I feel after a session of hydrotherapy!
This koala was snoozing in the tree just outside the pool window.
This is the time of year that koalas are on the move, looking for mates and territory. Like wombats, they can be set in their ways and if you place an obstacle in their way, they are likely to go over, under or straight through it!
We cross paths with koalas in our neighbourhood during December and January. They are usually most active from dusk until dawn.
One year, in broad daylight, we spotted a koala playing 'Frogger' to cross a six-lane highway– never mind the concrete barricades dividing the traffic. That koala must have done this crossing before too, as it knew to stop at each painted lane marking line and wait for the lunch-time traffic to pass before leaping across the next lane! I could not believe what I was seeing in my rear vision mirror. Thankfully it crossed the road successfully.
We have had koalas wander down the footpath of our street, including one year when a joey was in our street tree while mum was fossicking in the neighbour's shrubbery. It was a hot day so we left some water at the base of the tree for them but kept our distance.
They might appear cute and fluffy but the adults are formidable when you are face to face with a wild one. The males can be as big as a large dog and all koalas have prominent, sharp claws (all the better to climb trees with). You don't want to mess with them.
When I got home from the pool, I stepped out of my car to a loud rustling of dried leaves as another regular garden visitor dashed away from underfoot.
|Blue-tongue lizard in the leaf litter.|
It's regular haunts include:
- garden leaf litter
- afternoon sunbathing on the concrete path
- hiding under the concrete slab of one neighbour's shed
- keeping warm under the other neighbour's hot water service
- burrowing under my compost bin which has a thriving little ecosystem of its own, including geckos, woodlice, cockroaches and slugs–lots of food for lizards (not to mention sweet human foodscraps like greens, berries and other lizard delicacies).
Once it was a short distance from me, it played the "sit still and blend in with the scenery" defence which allowed me to take a lovely photograph for you. Both lizard and I sat very still to observe each other. After about 3–5 minutes, and a satisfactory risk assessment of me by the lizard, it nonchalantly moved off and climbed the small retaining wall to investigate the offerings of the neighbour's front garden.
My household has another daily wild visitor who seems to have adopted us (not the other way around): a cheeky magpie!
|Maggie in the doorway|
Here he is crossing the threshold to see what we are doing. "Do those humans have any food for me?"
He is so tame and brazen, he will come along and peer through our windows to see what we are doing.
One day, he sat on the side fence and followed me (watching through the windows) from the dining room to the kitchen!
I'm sure he knows where the food is kept.
It looks like 'our' magpie (which the children named "Maggie"–original, hey?) has been getting meals from humans before because he will let us hand-feed him.
Magpies' regular diets consist of beetles and grubs etc. which are high in protein. That is why many people think minced meat is a good food for magpies but mince alone will not provide a complete or balanced diet. If magpies fill up with minced meat, they will miss out on vital nutrients and get sick. We don't want that to happen to Maggie.
|Hand feeding 'Maggie' with|
lean minced meat blended with insectivore mix.
We don't feed him very much because we don't want him to become dependent on us or to forget how to hunt for his wild food. He is a wild bird after all (and he does a good service in my lawn and vegetable garden). It is such a privilege to know that a wild bird feels safe around us and freely chooses to visit.
I love the sound of magpies carolling and warbling around the house (and sometimes they mimic other birds and dogs barking). I hope that our little treats are extra incentive for them to drop by.
Even when we have no food to offer, he will often sit on the railing, outside the door, happily sitting with one leg tucked up underneath him.
He seems to like listening to music and watching our activities through the window. I wonder whether he likes the company too because he is often happy to sit on the railing right next to us if we are standing out there leaning on it. Perhaps he is just a hungry optimist with lots of patience!
|Magpie sunbaking on top of a stack of chairs in a sunny corner.|
This magpie has been 'casing' our garden for a couple of seasons together with his partner. They would tamely fossick for bugs around one end of the veggie patch while I would be busy working at the other, barely a metre and a half away.
Once they worked out that our garden was safe from predators, they began bringing their young to visit as well!
|Father magpie (right) on the fence|
after feeding baby magpie (left).
Our local magpie family introduced us to their youngest fledgling when it was barely weaned. We were fortunate to witness Maggie feeding his baby in our garden.
|Baby magpie's beak is wide open, flashing its red throat to its parent. |
Father magpie holds food in his beak at the ready.
Like other baby birds and animals, baby magpie will whine incessantly
until a parent drowns the noise by shoving the food in!
Tell me about your wildlife encounters!
Have you ever made friends with wild animals?
Have you ever made friends with wild animals?
Related Posts on Lupey Loops
"The Latest Visitor to my Garden!", 30 September 2014: https://lupeyloops.blogspot.com/2014/09/the-latest-visitor-to-my-garden.html
"Spring Stories & Spider Stitches", 22 November 2015: https://lupeyloops.blogspot.com/2015/11/spring-stories-spider-stitches.html
Adelaide Koala & Wildlife Hospital: http://www.akawhospital.org.au/
Australian Museum, "Common Blue-tongue Skink - Tiliqua scincoides", New South Wales Government, 2018: https://australianmuseum.net.au/eastern-blue-tongue-lizard
Australian Museum, "Koala", New South Wales Government, 2018: https://australianmuseum.net.au/koala
Birds SA, "Australian Magpie Gymnorhina tibicen": https://birdssa.asn.au/birddirectory/australian-magpie/
Good Living, "Your guide to the koalas found in South Australia", Department for Environment and Water, Government of South Australia, 2 November 2018: https://www.environment.sa.gov.au/goodliving/posts/2018/10/koala-differences
Hutchinson, M. & Williams, I., Key to the Skinks of South Australia, "Key to the South Australian Species of Tiliqua", page 48, South Australian Museum, Government of South Australia, 2018:
The Magpie Whisperer, "Australian Magpie 101", 2018: http://www.magpieaholic.com/magpie-info/
"…maggies actually just want to be our best friends."
Natural Resources Adelaide and Mt Lofty Ranges, "Reptiles", Government of South Australia, updated 9 Nov 2018: https://www.naturalresources.sa.gov.au/adelaidemtloftyranges/plants-and-animals/native-plants-animals-and-biodiversity/native-animals/reptiles
Royal, Simon, "Rare white leucistic magpie found in Adelaide Parklands", ABC News, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 22 July 2018: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-07-22/what-is-a-leucistic-magpie/10019352