Autumn Window

Autumn Window.

Try saying this: cra-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ahhk. Not quite. Try it again. Hmm, not too bad. Now you know the mating call of the Maniacal Cackle Frog most often known as Peron’s Tree Frog. A sound of Autumn.

Our neighbour first noticed Mr. Peron when he climbed across her kitchen window one evening. From then on, or at least for the next month or so, she knew not to panic when she heard the sound.

Whether Ms Peron eventually came along or whether he gave up in despair, our neighbour does not know, only that he stopped and she’s never heard him again even though she sees him regularly when he walks around on the vertical outside wall and window after dark when he hunts for night flying insects.

We found where it lived during the day and were all set to give you a picture, then the weather changed and froggy decamped. Never mind. We will remember that it looked like a shiny sculptured ornament made from the inside of a Mars bar. If you are interested in finding out more about our not-too-common frog population, there is an excellent free booklet called Frogs Field Guide issued by North Central Catchment Management Authority. (See address details below.)

I sometimes regret living so close to the village centre when I hear about all the seasonal sightings from folk who live on the edge of Maldon or a little further out.

This week, nature-loving informants told me how they saw their first pair of Flame Robins a couple of weeks back. The Flame Robin usually arrives here already paired, late in March or early April. They come from the higher and wetter uplands to the south, some even coming from Tasmania. Also seen was the less common Blue-faced honeyeater, a large striking, active noisy and aggressive bird, most often seen in flocks of six to twelve, containing both mature and immature birds.

Our own tiny garden is only two years old, but our plants are maturing rapidly and beginning to attract a variety of native birds. Whilst we favour Australian plants, we add foreigners where they are a proven source of food for local birds. These include the prolific and showy Abutilon or Chinese Lantern – one orange and two dark red – and a couple of Salvias’. As I write this, we’ve just had a visit from a male Eastern Spinebill that spent some time hovering and feeding on the blue salvia flowers growing against the kitchen window. Spinebills too, are autumn visitors from the wetter south.

Other visitors – apart from our regular all-year-round, four-times-a-day six pack of Superb Fairy-wrens and the constant flow of the forever-grumpy New Holland honeyeaters – include a pair of Yellow-faced honeyeaters, and yes, you guessed it, probably also coming from the south.

We also lose visitors as the seasons change. The pair of Common Bronzwing’s who daily called in each hot summer evening to forage in the earth-cum-lawn-cum-weeds area between our garden and the road, have retired back into the safety of Mt Tarrangower, only a few minutes away. I’m pretty sure it is them I see on my daily walk.

Still calling in each morning are the twenty or more Galahs who arrive and leave silently just as the sun begins to warm the air. And then there is the family of Crested Pigeon, which seems to have made a nearby very large mature bottlebrush their permanent haunt. If they are not perched in it, they’re sitting on the ground beneath it. This bird has increased its range and numbers quite dramatically in recent years, purportedly following the 1982-83 drought. We gleaned this information from ChrisTzaros’s wonderful book, Wildlife of the Box-Ironbark Country.

So what news on the non-feathered front? Well, the aforementioned tiny garden now has a resident Blue-tongued Lizard. We part-buried a couple of old terracotta pots we’d had made as ‘wet pots’ during the drought, along with a hollow log, and this seems to have attracted its first tenant. It is quite young, so this could be its first home and we assume it will move on as nature calls it out to a wider world.

Following our expression of concern about the non-sighting of goannas in recent times, we are pleased to report that a very large one has been seen crossing the Bridgewater road and heading for Pigeon Hill. We would love to hear of other sightings.

Kangaroos are still coming off the mountain at night to enjoy the green grass on nature strips and in gardens and to get water from containers that people leave out for them.

So all we need do now is to get snug for the winter and keep a pair of binoculars near the window. There are many other beautiful birds that will pass through over the next couple of months. Watch out for the Golden Whistler and listen for its extraordinarily beautiful song in late winter. The same goes for the loveable Scarlet Robin whose numbers also increase during the winter as they move up from the more forested southern ranges.

If you are an internet user and a bird lover, you really should visit Geoff Parks website:

Geoff Park’s Nature Blog – Natural Newstead

Geoff lives in Newstead and much of what appears on his blog is relevant to readers of the Tarrangower Times. There is also wonderful coverage of the bird life on and around Cairn Curran along with that other neighbouring ecosystem, the Moolort Plain that stretches from Cairn Curran across to Carisbrook and also to the south. It is notable for its Raptors or birds of prey, being home to a variety of hawks, kites and eagles.

You can download the comprehensive North Central Waterwatch Frogs Field Guide here:

Frogs Field Guide (Northern Catchment Area) PDF

Country Notebook articles are written by Richard Lee for his monthly newspaper column of the same name.

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