An early morning walk...28th January 2013

on 05 Mar 2013 

It is 6am at Naree and a very full moon has been beaming brightly all night over a dry landscape. It is now low in the western sky and the eastern horizon is lighting up... almost sunrise. Slowly walking along the incoming track to the house with binoculars and camera I head towards the cattle yards. A large pig trap has been set up in the vicinity of the lagoon as pig damage is evident all around.  A baker’s dozen Glossy Ibis fly in, as they do every morning, to the lagoon. They feed among the reeds and grasses growing in the artesian water from the bore. There are about 200 Black-tailed Native-hen also feeding (in loose groups). The Glossy Ibis mingle with the hens, heads down and beaks probing the mud. What is their diet? Crickets maybe, or some other invertebrates. Each day for the past two months they have found enough food here to keep returning.

As I move on the distinct smell of decomposing pig carcasses hits me. A young pig is strolling towards the trap. I stay hidden behind a bush to watch its movements. As I watch with binoculars a large boar stands up in the trap, the door shut with no means of escape. The young pig moves around the trap, sniffing the ground and contents within. It eventually moves away as the trapped boar stands up, grunts and ‘asserts itself’. The boar settles down again, in a damp sandy hole it has made for itself. Suddenly a sleek brown fox appears on the scene, sniffing the contents within the trap. Prowling around, it seems to be sizing up the situation. I watch for awhile and take some photos. Being downwind of the fox, my presence is not given away.

Meandering back along the track towards the house I stop behind some shrubs and watch a flock of small birds perched in a dead shrub not far away. They take turns dropping to the water’s edge and having a splash. The beautiful dark plum-coloured crown of their head gives them away – Plum-headed Finch – about 30. I watch and take some photos before they fly off, chattering rapidly as they fly.

Introduced animals in Australia’s landscape are a dilemma – what to do with them. They cause untold damage to the natural environment, carry disease and displace many, many native animals. Pigs, goats, foxes and cats all survive here at Naree. Much work needs to be done.

Dianne Davies