9 August 2005


I live in the inner city. Yet the wildlife around here never ceases to amaze me.

We have a resident mudlark who arrives at the bedroom window every morning and proceeds to attack the glass with his beak. (If you happen to be elsewhere at the time and don't realise it's the bird, it sounds like someone is breaking in). We haven't worked out whether he thinks his reflection is another bird encroaching on his territory and he's attacking, or if he reckons it's a potential partner and he's trying to get to her and regale her with his best chat up lines. Maybe he's just thinking ohmigod it's cold out here and that room looks cosy.

More (brightly coloured) birds.
Our street has a central median strip along which gum trees are planted. Big beautiful gum trees that drop branches on our cars in gale force winds. At the other end of the street from our place is a park with children's playground etc, and lots more gum trees. As inner-city Melbourne is over-represented in European trees compared with other Australian cities (lots of oaks, elms, planes etc), our street is a haven for native birds. (This is a good thing on the whole, I hasten to add). We have the biggest, noisiest flock of lorikeets and ... they have taken up residence in the tree directly outside our house. They squawk and squabble all day long, to the point where if I'm on the phone and I venture outside, the person on the other end can't hear me. The lorikeets also like to swoop, en masse, squawking at the tops of their voices all the while, on their way up to the park, at approximately one foot above head-level.

Have I mentioned the bats?

The Botanic Gardens used to be the main residence for Melbourne's fruitbat/flying fox population. That is until they increased in such numbers that they began to severely decimate the trees. Beyond rejuvenation. So the gardeners began a campaign, which went on for a couple of years, to relocate these thousands of bats. They tried taking them to other locations but the bats kept returning. Then they began making lots of noise (the staff, this is) during the day when the bats were sleeping, in the hope that said creatures would find a quieter, more amenable place to live. So one would go to the Botanic Gardens with a picnic rug for a leisurely lunch/nap/read and find bands of staff roaming about bashing saucepans and metal dustbin lids, blowing horns and whistles. (I realise this sounds ridiculous, but it's true. Other Melbourne bloggers may like to back me up here ...)

Anyway eventually the bats were rehoused and they now live in several smaller, less damaging, colonies evenly dispersed around Melbourne. Yep. One of those colonies appears to be in the tree directly outside our house. The same tree as the lorikeets. So now, every evening when the bats wake up and begin to groom, fly about and do whatever it is bats do when night falls, they indulge in a huge screaming match with the lorikeets who are at this time, returning to 'their' tree to retire for the evening. The shenanigans go on for about an hour, EVERY NIGHT. My children moan and put their heads under their pillows, complaining they can't get to sleep.

... and possums.
The other night a possum, looking for a new place to make a nest, thought, hmmmm, that tree directly outside the Soup residence looks a mighty fine place for a nest.

Gentle readers, I cannot begin to describe to you the racket that ensued.

I think it's time to move to the country for some peace and quiet.


blackbird said...

here in Tuvalu we have a flock of wild parrots, those great big blue and yellow ones, that come through for a few days each october. they are so loud that we hear them for a full day before they settle in on an apple tree down the road from us.

Susie Sunshine said...

If someone relocated the bat colony outside my house which ended up taking residence somewhere WITHIN my house, they are going to locate my foot up their ass.

I am tired of wingy things and have been putting my head under my pillow too.

SueeeuS said...

I will complain much less about the constant sound of traffic that is experienced at my place.

p.s., Isn't a move to the country in order soon? :)

Bats eat mosquitos, don't they? (Just looking for a bright side!)

Jane said...

Thanks for writing such great words about hands. I remember reading how Vanessa Bell used to take off her rings deliberately and carefully before kneading dough and the image has stuck with me. I love hands (and have several framed photos of workers' hands) and, like, you, think they are overlooked, or too often over bejewelled and manicured

shellyC said...

from the photos of your porch...who wouldn't want to live near you. Maybe you and your family should start making lots of noise and the wildlife might move to the country themselves.

Alice said...

Mudlarks are notorious for flying at their own reflection in windows and shiny cars. Back when cars had shiny hubcaps that was another of their activities - jumping up at their reflections in the hubcap.

When I was at primary school there was a mudlark who visited every lunch time. Of course we fed it on crumbs, or whole sandwiches. My friend found a dead mudlark on her way to school one morning and we assumend it was our regular visitor. With great ceremony we dug a grave and buried it. We added little plants that we dug from the school garden and made a little cross. It was a very pretty grave indeed. Sure enough, at lunch time there was our friend as usual. We were pleased to see him, and hoped the 'stranger' enjoyed his funeral.

Only recently we heard about how the fruit bat problem was solved in Melbourne's Botanic Gardens. They'll soon need to do the same thing for Sydney Gardens.

Gina E. said...

LOL LOL LOL, Suse! I don't suppose you live in Eltham? Around the corner from me?? If you had a look at my blog about a month ago, you would find photos of lorikeets and possums - both of which my hubby and I encourage to visit! Yes, they are noisy, not to mention messy - bird s--t all over the front steps - but so cute. I would rather have them than doves, pigeons, sparrows, etc. The possums play footy on our flat roof most nights - jumping down from the gum trees overhead, you'd think they would kill themselves, but they get up and scamper off as if they were made of rubber! As for bats...well, I haven't seen any around here, but I am sure they would be somewhere, as the local wildlife Ranger conducts regular night walks through our parks to show people the bats.