Friday, September 9, 2011

Hindsight is a good thing ...

Flying fox photo by Grahame McConnell
A barbed wire encounter
John, Briony and I were walking home after the monthly music jam session, when Bri spotted a flying fox entangled in the barbed wire of a fence. The poor thing had snagged its wing on the barbs and was flapping piteously. Not being one to leave an animal suffer (especially a native species and threatened one at that), Briony tried to untangle the wing from the barbs. The bat, sensing rescue, hung on to her, so John and I stepped in to help. Briony and I held the bat while John tried to free the wing. Understandably, that would have been painful for the bat, so all three of us received a few swift penetrating bites (all things considered I thought the bat showed reasonable restraint). Didn't hurt too much: I've had kittens inflict more damage. Soon the bat was free and it struggled off into the darkness. All G, as Tess would say: the flying fox otherwise would have suffered a slow and painful death. All three of us were glad we were able to rescue it and we ambled home.


The next mornings' internet research showed me that there are several nasty viruses that can be contracted by being bitten or scratched by a flying fox, most notably the Australian Bat Lyssavirus (ABL), which is a bit like rabies. A lot like rabies, in fact, and is treated in much the same way. So now the three of us have to have immunoglobulin injections into the bite sites (that will hurt more than the original bites, I'm sure!!) as well as a course of rabies shots the coming days and weeks.

Darn. As John said "Probably would have been better to have let the blighter hanging on the fence!". But then, as Briony said to the doctor after he informed her that the inoculations would give several years' immunity against ABL and rabies "Great, now I can get to play with bats!".

All in all another adventure in the Northern Rivers...

Monday, September 5, 2011

The sad demise of Captain Rainbow

Get your hankies out, folks: this ends badly.

Our Eastern Rosella couple (the male became known to us as Captain Rainbow because of his beautiful colours) had returned to claim the nesting box as theirs once again, having bravely fought off other bird couples vying for the use of the box. It was astonishing to see how Captain Rainbow and his Missus teamed up to defend their territory, with success but often leaving them puffed out, drooped on their perch with their heads together. But they prevailed and the nesting box was deemed theirs, and the Missus started laying ... Every morning and afternoon Captain Rainbow would call her with his characteristic 'peet-piree' and they would fly off together to feed, making happy chut-chut-chut sounds as they flew. During the day he'd perch nearby and every now and then a questioning tone would emanate from the box, and he would reply reassuringly, chut-chut-chut "I'm still here my darling"..

Then this last weekend, we decided to leave the back door open during the night, as the kids were camping in the backyard in a tent and there were some storms predicted. We wanted the kids to be able to get in quickly if the weather turned bad. Normally, of course, the house is closed at night, for we won't let the cats hunt  nocturnal wildlife...

(You can see it coming)...

In the morning I walked outside to check on the kids in the tent, and saw under the house brightly coloured feathers festooning the ground, and one of our cats sitting smugly with feathers around. I recognised the feathers immediately, so with a falling spirits I checked for our Eastern Rosella couple ....  And there was only one grieving bird calling calling calling for a mate.

The past few days has taught us that it's Captain Rainbow who met a feline fate, and his Missus is still grieving for him badly. Eastern Rosellas mate for life, so this is a tragedy for the young family. I really feel for her: life will be very difficult for her now, and I feel guilty about letting the cats out this one night.