Saturday, December 27, 2008

A Gift on Boxing Day

I cannot tell you how many times I have gone out walking at different times of day (often dusk) and after more than six years, never seen a wombat. I've seen plenty of evidence - scratchings, droppings, holes under the fence - but apart from a distant sighting of a wombat scurrying up the side of a hill (and I didn't have my glasses on), it has been a whole lot of nothing.

But yesterday, I went for a walk and decided to head up the other side of the creek. This is a dry creek (has had running water in it once in six years) and I often don't bother to cross it. There is no west boundary fence so who knows where our property ends? However, this day I decided to walk that way for a change, and followed a fairly well-worn path made by animals. As I came down the side of the slope towards the creek, I scared a swamp wallaby down in the reed that took off away from me. I stopped to get some grass seeds out of my sock, and then headed back.

Another thump and scurry - swamp wallaby again? No. I froze and waited. (After a while, you realise that's the only way to see animals - stop and don't move.) And there, about 12 feet away, was a wombat. At two in the afternoon. In broad daylight. It froze too. I took some photos, in case it bolted, but they were mostly of a grey mass in the bracken. I edged around to get a better view, and froze again. There he/she was, facing me, sniffing the air.

Luckily, the breeze was blowing towards me. I edged around a little more and sat. The wombat waited. I waited. I took lots more photos. I wondered if it was a male or female. (How do you tell without tipping them upside down? As if that's going to be possible.) Then a small branch fell from a gum tree behind me and the wombat thundered away, down into its hole. The hole was actually only about a metre from where it was standing, so why it didn't head down there straight away was a mystery. Never mind. My six years of waiting and looking was finally rewarded. I am one very happy wombat watcher!


Denis Wilson said...

Hi Sherryl
Well congratulations. I share my block of land with invisible Wombats too. So, congratulations.

Actually I hear one occasionally, scratching itself against a metal bolt under my house - which just happens to resonate really loudly right under my bed. It is a metal bolt which is tensioned up to hold the house in place, so it really does "resonate". I stamp my foot and shout at it to "go away" (or words to that effect). But I refuse to go out at 4:00am in the morning, so I do not see it.

Anyway, I understand your satisfaction at getting a picture of your Wombat.



Sherryl said...

Thanks, Denis. Maybe it's a new species of wombat - the Phantom Wombat!
I'm afraid if it was me, I'd be up with a spotlight, 4am or not!

Snail said...

That is a lovely Boxing Day present!

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