Archive for the ‘Wildlife’ Category

A little news and my baby bird saga

February 25, 2020

Well, I thought it was time to bring you up to date with the happenings at Milkenunny before we head off on our overseas adventure in just over a week.  So soon!!  After that I imagine I won’t be talking of anything else for a while.

 

Kim has struggled with a long run of bad health, numerous kidney stones and a cold and stomach wog all took their toll and made his chronic fatigue syndrome worse.  Lately he has begun to improve, but has to be very careful of himself to ensure he recovers properly.  Nevertheless, we have made some progress on his container shed.  A friend came over and helped Kim to mount the uprights of the hoist, and to raise the top beam up and bolt it in place (no mean feat!).

Then we waited for some warm dry weather and painted the floor with 2 coats of an epoxy paint which should seal it and protect the surface somewhat.  After that the tractor came out and we moved a bunch of gravel over to make a drivable ramp into the shed.  Now we can finally park cars in there again!  The hoist needs a fair bit more work running cables, attaching arms and motors and all sorts, but that can be done at a later date as it is out of the weather.  🙂

Earlier this month Willow, our first corgi, finally came on heat.  That meant a (very) early trip to the airport so she could fly off for a week to Queensland.  She had a successful mating with a handsome Pembroke corgi over there, and then came back home again.  We will not be able to tell if she is pregnant for about 4 weeks, but fingers are crossed!

Twinkles milk supply slowly reduced with my limited milking routine, and the calf is drinking it all now.  That will be one less thing for the family to have on their plate while Kim and I are away.  My hen also managed to hatch some chicks.  She lost a couple, but is doing well with the remaining 4.  We hope that one of them will be a nice natured rooster.

Then a few weeks ago I found a bird’s nest upside down on the path as I was doing my morning chores.  On a whim I picked it up and discovered two healthy and hungry chicks inside!

I phoned wildlife rescue, trying to find a carer for them, but was told instead that if I couldn’t find the parents I should take them to the vets to be put down.  I’m afraid that, foolish woman that I am, I couldn’t bring myself to do that and so I took on the role of momma bird instead.  We thought they must be wrens, as we have heaps of them here, and everything I read said that wrens would be out and about in just a few weeks and that they should be fairly readily accepted by the family groups in our yard.  Accordingly I researched feed mixes and had them on an interesting mix of egg, breadcrumbs, insectivore mix and grated cheese.  I supplemented that with maggots and chopped up meal worms.  Yum!  I also pulled out the heat pad that I used for the pygmy possums.  Anyway, they thrived!

After just a few days they looked a lot more like birds and wouldn’t stay in their nest anymore and didn’t need any extra heat.  Mind you we were keeping them in the lounge room of the caravan and annexe that Kim and I use for our sleeping accomodation.  I brought in some branches and they settled nicely into sitting on them.  The next stage was to get them to start to feed themselves, instead of needing me to feed them by hand.  I made some tiny feed bowls out of bottle caps and hung them in the bushes.  I also dug out an old cage so I could take them to my volunteering work with me.  I was very excited when they began to occasionally feed themselves, although they still wanted to be hand fed as well.

It was good to have the cage as I could sit it outside in a bush on a warm day to get them used to being outside a bit.  Just over a week after getting them they looked really sweet, and it was plainly obvious that they were not wrens at all, but Silvereyes.  We added honeyeater mix to their food blend.

They continued to grow and mature, developing better feathers and a greater activity level.  I ended up with the room getting rather messy and full of branches for the babies to fly to.  I would change them for fresh ones a couple of times a week, and they began to really enjoy fossicking through the leaves in search of goodness knows what.  I think their favourite was the gum tree, and they would find leaves stuck together by insects and pry them apart to see if there was anything good to eat in there.

Finally we decided that they were looking pretty mature, flying well and being generally quite active and that we should let them go.  They still would happily eat food off a spoon, but were also happy to eat from my hanging bowls.  I managed to find a wildlife carer not to far away who had looked after lots of birds, and he was helpful and encouraging and agreed that releasing them where they were was the best idea.

Since they had been living in the building with the window open to ensure they acclimatised to the outside temperature, releasing was as simple as taking the flyscreen off the window one warm and mellow afternoon.  I tied a small gum sapling to the hand rail outside to give them easy access, and hung some feeders in that as well.  They considered the idea for a while before taking the plunge, but then they ventured out into the big wide world.  We have a nice bushy Japonica close by that they quickly flew into, and then they could work their way to the big gums and wattles nearby via some other bushes.

It seemed quite strange that night to have no baby birds in the building.  I looked around at dusk to see if they had returned, but there was no sign of them.  However, the next day, as Kim was leaving the building, there they were, flying into the little gum and asking for breakfast!  They were hungry and very tired and I coaxed them back inside for a few hours sleep.  However they were recovered again by the afternoon and enjoyed flitting around the bushes nearby before retiring back into the building at dusk to sleep.

Yesterday morning they headed out again and disappeared for a few hours, before returning for more food out of the bowls in the gum, and hanging around the bushes again.  I was out a lot today but had to refill their bowl a couple of times and did see one of them feeding in the afternoon, before taking off back to the gum trees.  They have a good startle reflex, but are otherwise fearless of Kim and myself and will happily eat while we are walking past on the ramp.  It is nice to think that they can learn to live outside and hunt, but still have the support of the feeders when they need it. Hopefully in just a little while they will become completely independent.  Some Silvereyes in Tasmania migrate to the mainland in Winter, but if ours don’t hook up with a flock that go, they may be some of those who stay here instead.

 

Kim has enjoyed being able to get nice and close to take pictures of some birds that are usually too high up in the trees and too quick moving to easily photograph on our property.

And that is enough news for now!  Best wishes to you all

Platypus video

June 5, 2017

Platypus video taken at our visit to Platypus House in Beauty Point, Tasmania.

Pygmy Possum

February 21, 2017
Josiah rescued a baby “little pygmy possum” from the bath yesterday.  (Our bathroom is off the open verandah so it is not surprising to find tiny lizards and stray birds in there – we have even had a brush tail possum and a spotted tail quoll before!).  The baby was cold and tired and rather desperate for food.  It had been seen for a couple of days around the place and we had assumed it was a baby mouse, but when we looked at it up close it had a different face and it curled its tail into a coil.
Tasmanian pygmy possum (Cercartetus lepidus)
For the first night we fed it some glucose water and fruit and set it up in an aquarium with a heat lamp and some fresh banksia flowers that I hunted up.
Tasmanian pygmy possum (Cercartetus lepidus)
After that we did some research and provided a diet which includes special honeyeater and insectivore mixture, fresh plants to climb and flowers to investigate along with bugs found in the wood stacks, bits of rotting wood to dig into and some meal worms too.
Tasmanian pygmy possum (Cercartetus lepidus)
It is so cute and so tiny!  It weighs a minuscule 3.5gm and likes nothing better than to wrap itself around Josiah’s finger and fall asleep – I guess it would have been used to holding on to it’s mums back like that.
Tasmanian pygmy possum (Cercartetus lepidus)
Addendum 17/3/17
After another couple of days we found yet another little one stranded in the bath.  A third one, noticeably smaller than these two, was found running in circles on the bathroom floor – but sadly that one died soon after we found it.
Our best guess is that they were all in a nest waiting for Mum to bring them food, too big at this stage to be in the pouch or holding on to Mum’s back wherever she went.  Then perhaps Mum fell prey to a kookaburra, butcher bird or snake and after a while they had to to venture out to look for food on their own.  Being too young they were not doing well, and some exceptionally cold nights made them slow and hungry.
Tasmanian pygmy possum (Cercartetus lepidus)
They pretty quickly learned to lap their food and are now self feeding and their instincts are getting pretty good so we are trying not to handle them much anymore.
Tasmanian pygmy possum (Cercartetus lepidus)
We set up a large 4ft long reptile aquarium as a natural environment and they have been thriving so far and are very active at dusk and early evening.  I have received advice from some carers through the department of wildlife and hope to release them into the back yard soon.  At the time of writing they have increased their weight to 9gm.
Tasmanian pygmy possum (Cercartetus lepidus)
I am trying to get them solely on natural food now and have made a nesting box which they sleep in, curled up in a beanie.  I have to replace the beanie with natural bedding too!  That box will be mounted on a tree when they are released so that they can explore their new area whilst still having a familiar and safe place to return to.  I hope that will give them a better chance of survival in the dangerous outside world.
Tasmanian pygmy possum (Cercartetus lepidus)
Addendum 28/3/17
Well, the pygmy possums reached the required weight of 12gm on 23rd March.  I took the small nesting box they had been sleeping in and mounted it onto a tree trunk behind the house.  I thought it would be good if they could spend a few days at least with a familiar home base to come and go from, plus I could leave some meal worms or other food around nearby for the first week or so.  I chose a spot that had some bushes around it so that there would be plenty of sticks to climb and different bush types for them to explore.  I faced the box away from the prevailing winds and made sure the door was close to the trunk and some small twigs to make it easy for them to get in and out unnoticed.
SONY DSC
I released them into the house just before dusk and left them to it – and I haven’t seen them since.  I checked the box but they have not returned to it at all, and they have not eaten any of the food I left out.  With all the predators around – kookaburras, tawny frogmouths, butcher birds, snakes etc – I guess it is very likely that they quickly became a juicy meal for something.  However, on the other hand, I had never seen any pygmy possums around before these little guys so it is just possible that they are still out there meeting up with some others of their species and finding nesting places of their own.  It was hard to let them go, knowing they were safe and sound with us, but it is illegal to keep them – and we did want them to find mates and breed up in the wild.  We believe that they were both females so maybe one day one will return to bring up some joeys of her own in the box.  I’ll leave it there just in case.