We do enjoy watching the Musky Rat-kangaroos (Hypsiprimnodon moschatus) in our garden, and sometimes we tease them with a very tempting morsel:
Musky Rat-kangaroos are mainly fruit-eaters (although they were quite keen on a dead White-tailed Rat, and one musky actually managed to drag the cadaver off into the forest), and they absolutely love avocado.
The seed is big and slippery, of course, so they cannot grab it with their teeth. No matter, from which side it tries to grab the seed, it just cannot get a hold of it:
Recently a new female cassowary moved in, and she seems to have filled the vacancy left by “Missy”.
Her wattles have a distinctive shape, and we decided to call her “Socks”.
She still has a few brown tail feathers, but is already bigger than the resident male, “Dad”. Our guess is, that she is about 3-4 years old, and this might well be her first mating season.
He is definitely interested in her: initially, he frequently made soft contact calls (similar to a chimpanzee’s or gorilla’s grunting), while standing several meters away from her. She pretended not to be interested, having her back turned to him. As soon as she started to slowly approach him, he got scared and took off like a chased Brush Turkey, protesting loudly.
You can identify the male by his longer tail feathers. ‘Dad’s’ casque tilts to the right, whereas ‘Sock’s’ is straight and unblemished. You can also make out a dash of brown on her backside.
In this short movie, the female is strutting towards the male, who can be seen in the background:
(Unfortunately, my camera does not pick up his vocalizations well,the frequency is very low, just audible to humans.)
Nevertheless, he can’t stay away from her, and the whole scenario kept happening again and again. For a while, you had to be careful in the garden, as Dad might come crashing through the forest or across the lawn at high speed!
Now, after several weeks of travelling together (but at a safe distance from each other), she readily follows him, but he still gets spooked when she gets too close.
Here, she is feeding, and Dad is making his way past her , before they walk away together:
Probably hormone levels have to rise for mating behaviour to start.
Hopefully, we’ll have a new generation of cassowaries visiting later in the year!
This morning, while watching Musky Rat-Kangaroos in our garden, we heard Sulphur-crested Cockatoos (Cacatua galerita) screeching quite differently from their normal calls.
We discovered a group of 5 birds in the large Kuranda Quandong tree behind our house, harassing a Lace Monitor (Varanus varius), who had been minding her/his business, only trying to warm up in the early morning sun.
The cockatoos were quite brazen, getting very close to the lizard, even pulling on its tail, which the poor lizard then curled up in front of it.
The cockatoos started snipping off twigs and branches close by, fortunately the goanna was sitting on a very sturdy branch. It didn’t show any aggression towards the annoying cockatoos, unless it was provoked. The reaction then was an inflated throat and a gaping mouth.
After about half an hour, the cockatoos flew away, and the lizard could finally relax.
As you can see, the tail with its long, narrow tip is unscathed, but you often see lizards with the tip missing. Brush turkeys also relentlessly attack them when they are on the ground, often biting into their tails. They have reason to scare off the lizards: goannas often raid nests and the Brush turkeys’ breeding mounds.
We had some good rainfalls two weeks ago, but the recent cyclones didn’t affect us at all- we had sunny and very hot conditions again.
Sitting on our back veranda yesterday afternoon, I noticed a big lump high up in a tree, about 20 metres away. My binoculars revealed this Green Ringtail Possum (Pseudochirulus archeri):
Green Ringtail Possums spend the day curled up on a tree instead of in a tree-hollow, their greenish fur provides good camouflage.
This one was sitting on a very exposed branch, probably to catch the cooling breeze.
She repeatedly licked the bare underside of her tail and her hands/wrists, which might also help with cooling. It really was a very hot afternoon.
How do I know it was a female? For a brief period she turned and showed me her belly:
She has an admirable sense of balance: most of the time she only gripped her seat with the right foot, letting the left one dangle and using both hands to manipulate the tail.
I spent more than two hours watching this beautiful possum -it is so much easier from my deckchair during the day than trying to find and watch possums while spotlighting at night! She finally left when a thunderstorm approached.
Excuse the shaky last seconds, I was trying to get a photo before she disappeared.