Tag Archives: brushtail possums

Brougham Park on a Winter’s Afternoon

7 Jun

Dear Reader:

It is late in the afternoon and a bit on the chilly side. Grey skies and showers have alternated all day with patches of blue and occasional bursts of sunshine through the clouds. My car is parked in O’Connell Street where I am meeting friends in an hour for a bite to eat then a movie at the art deco Piccadilly Theatre. Typically, and despite the weather, I have arrived a tad early with camera in hand, hoping that I might encounter a little urban wildlife.

O'Connell street has a woderful collectionof cafes and restaurants

O’Connell street has a woderful collectionof cafes and restaurants

 

At the end of O’Connell St the road curves down into the city through a little patch of parkland. Asphalt paths cross this little green oasis which is dotted with tall eucalypts, pines and several large Moreton Bay Figs. I can hear parrots calling in the tree tops and eventually I spot a rainbow lorikeet shuffling along a branch high in the crown of one of them. With a flourish of feathers, a second bird appears and the parrots start to preen and gently peck at each other. They seem to be a mating pair settling in for the night. Nearby a lone eastern rosella appears to be looking on with a touch of sad envy…anthropomorphic, I know.

Just dropped in to say Hi

Just dropped in to say Hi

A lone eastern rosella sillhouetted against the late afternoon sky

A lone eastern rosella sillhouetted against the late afternoon sky

 

I sit and watch the birds for a few minutes while scanning the rest of the tree with my telephoto lens when I notice the furry coat of a possum wedged in a hollow. I toss a couple of pebbles against the branch. The brown patch moves and a tail appears for a second as the owner moves further into the tree; definitely a possum, probably a brush tail as they are far more common than their ring tail cousins.

Daytime view of a brushtail possum

Daytime view of a brushtail possum

Parkland possums forage at night

Parkland possums forage at night

 

On the eastern side of the park the imposing facade of the Brougham Place Uniting Church is framed by the massive leaves of an old fig tree. There are birds flitting though the foliage but in the afternoon shadows it is impossible to identify, let alone photograph them.

Brougham Place Uniting Church across park

Brougham Place Uniting Church across park

 

Before heading back up to my parked car I walk further down Brougham Place alongside a red brick wall that cordons off one of the area’s classic old mansions. A tangle of olive tree branches straddle the top of the wall and deep in their shadows a pair of crested pigeons are finding a sheltered place to roost.

Classic homes and businesses surround the park

Classic homes and businesses surround the park

Crested pigeons in olive tree

Crested pigeons in olive tree

Even on a cloudy winter’s afternoon, Adelaide has yet again delivered a memorable wildlife experience; a fascinating and ever-changing urban ecosystem available to anyone who takes a few moments out of their busy day to stop and look.

 

Thanks for reading my work

Cheers

Baz

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Mad March Possums

5 Apr

Dear reader

Each season in our southern state has its own natural highlights, For many March in Adelaide is a very special month; one where culture and wildlife seem to interconnect in rather unusual ways.

The city of Adelaide is separated from the outer suburbs by over 760 hectares of parklands. They consist of playing fields, open woodland, creeks and gardens. Most of the year, the parklands are frequented by joggers, cyclists and picnicking families. However, each March the serenity of the eastern parklands is replaced by the roar of V8 motors, the rhythms of international music and a surreal feast of various performing artists.

A Open woodland environment of the Adelaide parklands

A Open woodland environment of the Adelaide parklands

Now, you would think that such an onslaught of humanity; its sounds, lights and smells would frighten the daylights out of the parklands’ resident wildlife. Admittedly, the local birds do seem a little more nervous and the resident bat population somewhat more erratic in their coming and goings. On the other hand, the possum population seems to relish the activity. Although they are not obvious to the casual observer, when the troubadours, drivers and musicians retire for the night these masters of the nocturnal world emerge to search for the spoils of the day.

Fruit Bats or Grey- headed Flying -foxes are found in the Botanic Gardens which are situated within  the Parklands

Fruit bats or grey- headed flying -foxes are found in the Botanic Gardens which are situated within the Parklands

Over the last few years I have enjoyed the city’s March festivities and often wandered down the east end to take in a concert, play or watch the ‘V8 Supercars’ burn up the track. This year, I decided to walk home after a late night performance and was more than surprised to see a couple of common brushtail possums foraging near an overflowing trash can. Normally solitary, these cat sizes marsupials seemed indifferent to each other as they sought out some apple and banana leftovers, a welcome change to their usual diet of leaves, buds and native fruits. I was aware that possum numbers had generally declined throughout the state due to habitat changes and predation by feral animals, most notably cats. I watched them for a while thinking to myself that if a little party food on the side bolstered their survival chances who was I to take the purist stand on natural diets for our indigenous species.

Brush Tail Possums use their delicate paws and sharp claws for feeding, climbing and grooming

Brush tail possums use their delicate paws and sharp claws for feeding, climbing and grooming

Unfortunately, I was not carrying a camera and decided to return the next evening at the unearthly hour of 4 am armed with my DSLR and long lens, in the hope of capturing a few shots. I was not disappointed. One particular animal that was sitting by the side of a trash can taking stock of the menu decided to climb up into a nearby tree as I approached. Staring defiantly at me as I adjusted the flash setting to suit the telephoto, it conveniently struck a number of typically possum-like poses then promptly disappeared into the upper branches once the modelling session had finished.

A possum's yellow fur shows where its pouch is situated

The yellowish fur on a female possum’s fur shows where its pouch is situated

I crossed to the other side of the road and scanned some native pine trees with a high powered flashlight. The stand of trees was situated just inside the perimeter fence of the aptly named ‘Garden of Unearthly Delights’, one of the festivals most notorious attractions. I was hoping to flush out a ringtail possum, a smaller less frequently seen species. Unfortunately there were none to be found but I did manage to find a brushtail climbing the trunk of a large pine using its prehensile tail to hold on while testing the capability of a smaller branch to bear its weight.

Brushtail Possum foraging in a native pine tree

Brushtail possum using its prehensile tail while foraging in a native pine tree

On the whole it was a successful night though I would dearly have liked to see a ringtail. Perhaps another night when sleep eludes me and the lure of the city’s indigenous nightlife beckons I’ll capture that image.

Cheers

Baz

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