One of the exciting things about moving to a new area is getting to know the locals. We’ve already met and engaged with all our new neighbours and, as you frequently hear about Tasmanians, they are a most friendly and welcoming bunch of people. You’ll read more about these lovely people in later posts; they’ve already been so generous and helpful even though we have yet to move in good and proper.
But getting to know the locals – for me – is not just about new neighbours and the new community around where we’re living, but also very much about making myself familiar with the flora and fauna of a new environment. Since I came to Australia from England at the end of 1987 I (thankfully) have never lost that sense of child-like wonder at Australia’s natural environment. I spend a lot of time – some might say too much time – distracted by it, particularly entranced by the bird and animal life in this country.
Moving to Tasmania means our local wildlife is going to be quite different to that which we experience in Victoria and, already, the visitors to our garden and the co-residents on our Tasmanian block have been diverting my attention from some of the more tedious tasks that I should probably be concentrating on instead!
I’ve already spoken of the unfortunate demise of a white-lipped snake in the vegetable garden, and a couple of days after that incident one of his elders (an adult of around 50cms) turned up basking in the sun beside the water tank next to the house. While venomous, it’s reassuring to know that they’re the least venomous of Tasmania’s three snakes and the white-lipped is rather a timid creature too, so as soon as he sensed me moving nearby he moved off into some cover adjacent to the tank and I lost sight of him. But he was back the next day, into the same spot close to the house. After a couple more days of our frequent human activity in that location it looks like he has moved on to a new home in a quieter neighbourhood.
It’s easy to see why white-lipped snakes might be happy to reside in our garden; small lizards and skinks, one of the primary food sources of white-lippeds, are to be seen just about everywhere! Every convenient surface seems to have a skink stretched out in the warm sun, and the sight of them in the firewood pile brought to mind one of those Japanese capsule hotels, with literally layers of skinks stacked high, heads and bodies poking out of many of the crevices between logs.
It almost goes without saying in Tasmania, but the pademelons come as part of the package deal, thumping the ground as they emerge from our woodland at dusk to graze on the grass areas near the house. Often six, up to a dozen, of these rather rotund looking marsupials visiting each evening, but not enough of them to keep the grass well enough trimmed without intervention by a mower.
Echidnas have been regular visitors to our garden in Victoria, digging their way in under the side fence, or sometimes daring to cross the road to reach our supply of ants in the garden, but our Tasmanian home apparently plays host to a Platypus that moves through the small rivulet in the woodland area of our block and has been seen in our neighbour’s dam.
Birds too are refreshingly different. In Victoria our most common garden visitor has to be the chattering Crimson Rosellas, but in Tasmania we’re most frequently awoken to the gentler sounds of the Superb Fairy-Wrens on the large lily spikes outside the bedroom window. Herons, black cockatoos, a couple of varieties of robins, honeyeaters, the grey shrike thrush and wattle birds have so far visited our Tassie garden; the call of the bronzewings can be heard echoing up the valley, and I’ve also caught sight of the Tasmanian wedge-tail eagle just up the road.
I’ll miss some of our Victorian feathered friends when we make our final move, but the one bird I’ll be glad to leave behind is the villainous Indian Mynah, an introduced pest that has now overrun our eastern states.