The Rare Queensland Quacking Frog

I was sitting quietly, reading, when from somewhere nearby I heard what seemed to be a duck quacking in synchronised time with the frogs in the trees outside. At least, it sounded very like a duck. The call was so constant I figured it had to really be a frog. Besides, there are no ducks here. I was excited. This might be another new species for me.

It was very close by. I could tell. I grabbed a torch and a camera, just in case I spotted it, and went outside. Everywhere I searched, the sound seemed to come from somewhere else. But it never stopped. The little bugger wouldn’t shut up.

No matter where I looked the call always seemed to be coming from the other side of the caravan. Then I realised it was actually inside the caravan. This was exciting. I hurried back in to search for it.

Then I realised it was a duck. Coming from my iPad. I had set the alarm to remind me to take my evening antibiotic. The alarm sound was “duck”. I had forgotten.

My mind, once as sharp as a really, really sharp thingy, is definitely slowing down.

Stir Crazy

Monday, the first Monday of the month, should have been another meeting of HELP, the healthy eating and living program, my Really, Really Fat Persons Support Group. I missed the first two of the year, because they coincided both times with melanoma excisions.

This months would have also coincided, coincidentally , but I specifically ensured the excision appointment would be on a Tuesday, so I could attend. Since my exercising has dropped off as my mobility decreased, and especially since I could not swim, my weight has remained static since my birthday. I’m managing the kilojoules going in well enough, but just not burning them as much. I thought I needed some incentive.

So it was disappointing when Lockdown caused all such meetings to be postponed indefinitely. I stayed home again, drank a couple of cans of XXXX Gold, read, and napped. I’m glad I’m inAustralia, where off-licences are considered essential services.

I was wide awake again at midnight. By two in the morning I needed to move, so I took my walker and went for a promenade around the park. I tottered around for about thirty minutes, not counting the time I rested on the walker seat and looked at the moon setting slowly behind intermittent clouds. The night was filled with noises; rustles, croaks, chirps, squawks and grunts. I saw flitting shapes in the moonlight. There were bats, large and small, and at least one night-flying bird. There was movement in the bush, both on the ground and in the canopy.

At three I took a hot shower, and returned to bed, awakening refreshed before my alarm. A coffee and a good breakfast of sausage, egg and fried tomato with toast. I’m ready once again to battle the melanoma monster. I’m glad even of being sliced up with a scalpel if it gets me out of the camp. I had to ensure I ate a good breakfast first or I might just go crazy-buying in Woodford Woolworths. Never shop hungry. Especially if you are going stir-crazy.

Mistaken?

I don’t think it is an olive python. I was fooled by the colour and lack of distinct pattern. No olives have been reported in this area. Their range is much further north. The only python reported on Bribie is the carpet python, Morelia spilota. That was my first guess, but I found no pictures of juveniles of a plain olive colour. So I guessed again. Probably wrong.

I need an expert to ID it.

How Interesting.

Sunspots and Stranded Whales: A Bizarre Correlation

A collaboration between biologists and an astronomer sought to add evidence to the idea that whale migration is affected by solar weather.

www.nytimes.com/2020/02/25/science/whales-sunspots.html

I wonder if other migrating species have similar effects?

Rakali

I finally got a good look at the furtive nocturnal visitor I first spotted back in November. I have caught a glimpse of it a few times since, always late at night, but never clearly enough to identify. This time I had a good look in the light from across the way at about 04:30 this morning. The typical white tipped tail was the final clue. It is not a possum, a bettong or a potoroo. I was looking in the wrong checklists. It is not even marsupial, though it is native.

It’s a rakali. The Australian native water rat. Hydromys chrysogaster.

At dinner last night I had cut the skin and fat from my lamb steak and put it out for the goanna or turkey – whichever found it first.

The rustling I heard early this morning was neither the stealthy creep of a goanna nor the heedless blundering of a turkey, but the far more furtive and hesitant sound I associated with my so far unidentified friend. I rose quietly, grabbed a camera and limped carefully to the door. I peered out through the magnetised flyscreen. I could see the visitor quite clearly in the dim light, eating the rind of my evening meal. At first I thought it was a large ferret or a stoat but I could see webbed feet and a long white tip on the tail. I tried to quietly open the flyscreen curtain for a photo, but it rattled and the creature was gone.

The details I had seen, plus the fact it eats meat, helped me find it on line. Then I checked and found it is listed as commonly found on Bribie.

Another little mystery solved.

The Might of Chondroitin

I’ve just dropped David off at Brisbane Airport. Then I drove to the Apple store at Chermside. There my iPhone six, which has been playing up badly, was diagnosed in need of a new battery. I asked for it to be done. An eighty dollar battery is cheaper by far than a new iPhone. I had to wait a couple of hours until they could fix it, so I killed time by having a chicken and rocket wrap for brunch with a good coffee. Opposite the coffee kiosk was a discount pharmacy. 60% off selected stock.

David had told me about Chondroitin and the benefits he had derived from it. He also cited some fairly scientific sounding backup data. It sounded as if it might be beneficial to one in my situation. David is a practical person. A real Taurean, though we Capricorns don’t believe in that rubbish. In any case, I’ve never had bad advice from Dave, and in many cases, including this week, his thoughtful and insightful way of looking at things has given me new inspiration and determination. So I bought some Chondroitin and glucosamine tablets. Enough for a few months. That should be a good trial period.

Aside from the delight and pleasure of Dave’s company, and the practical things that he helped me with – and there was a good deal of that – last week did not go entirely well. We got the Bimini on the boat and sorted out everything to make her shipshape and Bristol shanky. We took her out on a maiden voyage with no disasters. I had some concerns about how I would manage handling her alone, mainly at the launching and retrieving stages. I shall have to work on that. I may have to go out with a companion if I can’t improve my mobility. Some things are just too hard. Fortunately there is no shortage of offers from my fellow inmates. I already have two. I’m not giving up.

Night trips were not even to be considered until I knew my way around the passage better, and in any case, the weather crapped out, all rain storms and wind. Finally, on the last day before Dave had to go home the sea seemed calm enough despite the rain squalls. We took her out from Banksia Beach, and fished off White Patch. Of course it poured with rain. But we didn’t get sunburnt. The Bimini was up.

I threw in a whiting rig. I used squid for bait. Within minutes I caught my first fish. It was a Yellowfin Tripodfish, Tripodichthys angustifrons (Hollard 1854). I’d never seen one before. It was not on my fish identification chart. I had to look it up when I got home.

It did not look very palatable, and it was not so big, so I threw it back.

Then, to my surprise and delight, I caught a snapper (Pagrus auratus). A fish I know well from New Zealand. The first I have caught in over thirty years of trying. It looked perfect for pan frying. However, David, ever practical, pointed out it could be undersized. Not knowing for sure what the size limit is, we concluded that too should be released.

Both Dave and I caught another tripodfish, which we released. After that we thought we’d change location. No more fish. But a good day on the water.

The boat and outboard performed well. The weakest link is me. I need to work on getting in and out of it, and on the logistics of doing some tasks alone. But it is not yet time to despair and sell it.

By yesterday, my knees and legs were burning pain. As I limped and waddled up to the ablution block last night one of my neighbours came out, saw my condition, and told me I needed a walker. He brought one out, one of several he had collected, and gave it to me. It has a seat for when I can’t go on. It really does help. Better than the trolleys I lean so heavily on when I’m shopping. At first I was mortified I had progressed from walking stick to walker so soon in my life, but the advantage is undeniable. Once again a random act of kindness just as I needed it. It almost makes one superstitious.

Life and Death in the Shower

There’s nothing I like more than being visited in the shower. Tonight, after a long telephone conversation with a friend in WA, I limped down to the ablution block for a midnight shower. I like late night showers. I have the place to my self and there’s always the chance of some interesting times watching the geckos hunting moths around the fluorescent lights.

I was really lucky . Not only did I see my favourite geckos doing their famous ceiling leaps, but I shared my shower stall with another gecko and the tiniest green tree frog I have yet met.

At first, I was not sure if they were hunting each other, in which case “aaaw, ain’t that cute”. Or had teamed up to get a moth, I watched as I soaped up and rinsed off under a cold shower. (Hot water is available, I just prefer cold).

The frog could have sat on my thumbnail. The gecko was five times bigger. They circled each other like Sumo wrestlers on the shower stall wall. It become quite apparent each thought the other was prey. It was also quite apparent the brave little frog was going to try and bite off more than he could chew.

When it comes to life and death in the jungle, I know that I should allow nature to take its course. But here were two little creatures I really like in a mismatched duel to the death. I had no illusions about who would lose. Had he been bigger I’d probably have watched the frog swallow that gecko just as I watched my frogs in my pond in Katanning eat their own relatives. Or vice versa, even. Fair is fair.

But this little blighter was totally outgunned, though he was not going to admit it. I am a sucker for supporting the underfrog. So I snatched him from the ravenous jaws of death and put him in my toilet bag. There were plenty of moths left for the gecko, as I most reasonably pointed out to him. He didn’t seem to mind, anyway.

After my shower I towelled off and put on my shorts. I carried my new charge with me when I headed home. On the way back to my caravan I explained the facts of life to my little green ward. I told him he needed to bulk up a bit before he took on something that size again. In the meantime he should practice on moths and flies, and perhaps, as a favour to me, he could do something about the ants that are constantly scurrying around my caravan.

I dropped him off in my herb garden. Tomorrow, when the ants come out, I’ll know whether the little bugger is grateful to me for saving his tiny green life.

The photos below are not the protagonists of this little story, just some previous encounters.