Monday, October 22, 2012

A Koala in my Garden (Part 2)

Last week I had a snake in my garden. This week I had another visitor. A much more cute and cuddly looking visitor. I finally saw the koala that has been visiting my back yard.

My husband, Phil, saw him first, just a shadow moving along the ground in the early light. When I arrived he had already started up the tree just outside our window, his furry body out of sight on the other side of the tree trunk. All we could see were his little claws clamped on either side of the trunk.

He climbed to a high branch and that sat there watching all around as we went outside and stared back at him. He was so cute. Koalas have round furry ears, and a surprisingly large flat black nose. Looking back at us he was teddy bear cute.

All day I kept checking on him. Apart from heading higher, he stayed in the same location and seemed to be dozing.

The next morning, I heard him growling, so I rushed out in my pyjamas. It took me ten minutes to find him just a few trees away, and then there was another surprise. A second lump on the tree, turned out to be another koala. This one was balanced on a slim branch out over the neighbour’s driveway.

As we watched, the first koala climbed cautiously down and then loped from tree to tree, down the garden, looking for the perfect spot.

Koalas are only active for a few minutes each day. They spend most of their day eating and snoozing. I feel particularly lucky to have seen this one moving.

The same day I also saw two kangaroos bouncing off into the bush and two amazing red spotted ladybugs. I often see tiny green tree frogs, and bumpy grey frogs. We have regular visits from birds of all kinds including the uniquely Australian kookaburras, cockatoos, galahs, and parrots of many hues.

Having a snake in the garden, is a small price to pay for the privilege of seeing all the other wildlife almost as close. I love it here

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

A Koala in my Garden

Last week there was a terrible racket in the garden. Something in the trees around our house was making itself heard and it sounded like a cross between a large growly dog and King Kong.

Luckily I was not alone at the time and it was easily explained by my Aussie husband.

It was a koala. A cute cuddly-looking, fluffy bear toy of a koala.

They are the sloths of the Australian bush and hardly move all day, but they sure can make a noise.

Woof, growl, grunt, growl, woof.

Tasmanian Koala
They are also masters of disguise. In three years in Australia, I have yet to see one in the wild. I have spoken to friends who have spotted one. I have been in a bush with a friend who saw one. I have missed one by minutes. But they have remained elusive so far.

Even though I know there is one in our trees, I have not been able to see that either.

Luckily, there are wildlife parks of all kinds here; including places where you can go to see koalas in trees close up.

I took the koala photo at a Tasmanian Wildlife Centre. They help koalas who can get hit on roads, stuck in swimming pools, and occasionally trapped in trees. And unhappily, that happens all too often.

Like many animals, the koala is in danger from modern civilisation. Australia has done a lot to try to protect the koala, but for an animal that is the epitome of Australian wildlife, it is sad to see it become so hard to find.

So, … I keep on looking up when I go outside.

Then yesterday, I got another surprise. I should have looked down.

As I was watering the garden snake appeared at the edge around the side of the house. Before I could deter him, he had slithered into the garden shed and made himself at home amongst the tools, the barbecue, and half a bag of mulch.

Phil is away so the neighbour was pressed into service to try and recover him.

He did his best, encouraging him onto a garden rake and then onto a sheet, but the snake was too fast and slipped away before we could contain him and move him back to the forest.

I did the only thing I could so, and that was to shut the snake in the shed until the morning when I could call someone.

The Snake in my Shed
Later I spoke to Phil, my source of all things Aussie. He is three thousand miles away at work this week and can only be moral support.

“He does his hunting at night. You need to let him out” he said

After a rather extended discussion, I put my tramping boots back on, went back downstairs with a torch, and nervously propped open the shed door.

So now, I may or may not have a snake in my garden as well as a koala. I kind of hope he slithered off back to the forest over the road. But there is a part of me that would love a tame snake in the garden; just as long as I know where he is. And unfortunately I don’t. He could be anywhere.

I scare myself by imagining him sliding in through the gap in the balcony ceiling. I soothe myself with the knowledge that he was probably in the garden all along and we have lived together peacefully so far.

I check the garden frequently for movement. I throw open the downstairs door when I go out in case he is hiding behind it. I have taken to wearing shoes just to go downstairs.

I am not really scared ... it's just that ... what is that noise in the ceiling?