Tag: wildlife

Rosella rescue

It seems to be the season for wildlife rescues. The rescued green and gold frog is doing nicely and remains happily ensconced in his new bathtub home with his larger companion. We assume he must be much more relaxed and comfortable with life as he no longer jumps into the water the moment we walk by. All good there.

The latest rescue was an eastern rosella who made me jump when it crashed into my office window a few days ago. Birds have a habit of doing this, at certain times of the year especially, but I can’t ever remember a rosella doing so before. The windows weren’t even that clean! Plus most are adorned with discreet but rather attractive butterfly transfers – possibly placed there by previous owners as an optimistic deterrent to just this situation. If so it hasn’t worked too well!

Over the years several birds have either suicided flying into some of the windows in this house, or given themselves a very nasty headache before apparently recovering and flying off. The rosella was still alive, but undoubtedly suffering when I rushed out to check. He was on his back and very distressed even after I righted him. He was in no hurry to fly off either poor fellow but it was impossible to tell if he had injured himself internally.

I picked him up and sat outside on the deck with him perched on my knees while he panted and shook from shock and fright. Even so he was content to sit placidly and thankfully made no attempt to peck me with his small but powerful beak. It was rather a privilege to be so close to such a magnificently plumed bird and to study him quietly while he recovered. So light and so fragile and yet so graceful when in the air.

Thankfully Ross the rosella did eventually recover but it took the best part of 30 minutes during which time he did make rather a mess of my clothes. I took this as a good sign and that he was getting over the shock, and what the heck, they were due to be washed anyway.

He followed up by pooing in the water container I eventually brought out, thinking he might welcome a drink. He declined though, then declined any further contact with me. A good sign I thought and totally fine by me as it indicated he really was going to be OK. Sure enough he soon hopped to the edge of the deck and then half flew onto the driveway and then rather unsteadily into the magnolia tree.

I followed just to make sure he wasn’t still a bit wobbly, but no he had his confidence back and soon flew to another tree at the end of the driveway and then off. Hopefully he’s learned a lesson and won’t fly into windows again.

Roadkill madness

Have we reached a tipping point I wonder, in a realisation and an awareness – as well as hopefully a collective horror – about the staggering number of wildlife being exterminated on our roads?
It’s not like the issue of roadkill is new. Some of us have been urging drivers to slow down on Tasmania’s roads for years, especially between the hours of dusk and dawn when our mostly nocturnal wildlife is active. There have been multiple letters to editors over the years, from both locals and tourists, appalled at the number of roadkilled bodies lining the roadsides. There have been multiple pleas from wildlife champion Greg Irons from Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary, begging people to please show caution, and to slow down, especially when driving at night or early in the morning.

It seems that people are finally waking up and finding their voices. Certainly I hope so. Suddenly there seems to be an explosion of community groups forming around the state determined to halt the carnage. Primarily in their own locality, but also more widely. Facebook pages have been established. Tamar Valley Wildlife Roadkill Initiative and Friends of Summerleas Wildlife are just two of them. Posts are being shared. The ‘likes’ are increasing. While the graphic photos being posted can be confronting, (they’re meant to be) they are also having some success in mobilising people to be more aware. And to encourage them how to be involved.

Letters to editors are good, and Council road signs reminding drivers to ‘slow down for wildlife’ are also good, but a relatively new and effective strategy being promoted by a southern Tasmanian group is posters. They have a range of different ones to choose from and they’re popping up on fences and gates across the island. Thanks to a committed team of volunteers and wildlife carers these posters are being ferried around the state. They all have a photograph of a pademelon, a wallaby, a wombat, a masked owl, a Tasmanian devil etc and a simple message that asks drivers to slow down because everyone deserves to arrive home safe and sound at night. And the cost is modest at only $16 each. Order from Friends of Summerleas Wildlife

It’s a fantastic initiative and already there are three along our road. It’s certainly not the only strategy to help protect our vulnerable wildlife, and I cannot say in truth that it’s proved 100 per cent effective yet in my area, but it’s a start and will hopefully prompt more people to be alert to our furred and feathered friends when they’re driving along regional and rural roads, because as the posters remind us: we all deserve to arrive home safely.

Remember the wildlife

For all the bounty harvested from the garden at the moment, summer can be a distressing time of the year. Hot dry summers mean plenty of time spent watering the plants of course, but they also signal a rise in animal fatalities on our roads. It’s also the time of year that our local farmer separates the youthful steers from their mums. And unsurprisingly the mums are upset. They aren’t afraid to vocalise their distress either, keeping up the lowing and keening pretty much non-stop for three days. And nights. The mother-son bond is strong, but the bond can also be strong for wildlife. I was reminded of this the other day after finding a native hen on the roadside that must have been whacked by a car. This was an adult bird, and probably one of the parents of a family we’ve seen several times lately crossing the road from the paddock to the riverbank. Mum, dad and four chicks – now almost fully grown.

While pairing up isn’t necessarily a lifetime bond for native hens, there still does seem to be a closeness if the behaviour of one of the birds I spotted this morning is anything to go by. A bird I strongly suspect was the partner of the one that was killed was obviously searching for something other than food. I guessed it was probably his/her mate. These family groups of native hens hang around together and they do tend to throw caution to the winds when it’s time for the parents to show the kids around the neighbourhood. Out our way this can often involve crossing the road so it’s unsurprising a few of them don’t make it. Usually though, it’s one of the inexperienced chicks. 

But it’s not only native hens that come to grief as the young ones grow up. In the last week I’ve also found a dead magpie, an eastern rosella, a young rabbit, and a copperhead snake. As well as on one memorable morning of carnage, three wallabies. It prompted me to write a letter to our local community newsletter, urging people to slow down when driving, and to consider our wildlife. I can only hope it will make a difference:

“Another plea to everyone in our community to please, please, PLEASE slow down when driving along our roads, and to be aware of our precious wildlife. Recently I was obliged to remove no less than three roadkilled bennetts wallabies – all male.

One was found while walking our dog, then two more when on my way to an appointment in town. All were killed along our road. Two had been very recently killed as they were still warm, and the oozing blood was still wet.

At this time of year when vegetation is drying out and wildlife are more likely to be checking out the grass along the verges, and seeking a bit of moisture, they are also more likely to be active outside the traditional dusk to dawn timeline. All the development in our area is slowly displacing our wildlife, and reducing their decreasing habitat even further.

Please consider that this area is their home too. And it was their home long before all of us arrived. We are incredibly fortunate to have wildlife living so close. Most of us, I’m sure, value, appreciate and enjoy their proximity. So please do your bit to help protect and maintain it. It’s worth remembering too that vehicle damage from colliding with a bennetts in particular – can be significant. And expensive. Thank you.”

It’s beyond distressing to find carcasses on the roadside so to any and all who stumble across this post, please take note. And remember we do indeed share this planet with other creatures, many of whom are now living on the edge due in large part to human activity, and a rapidly changing climate.