For several weeks I’ve been trying to track down what I thought might be a strange new frog in the garden. The discovery that the “frog like” sound was coming from a Bladder Cicada (charming name) has prompted me to re-post this lament from several years ago. The Bladder Cicada uses its large hollow abdomen as an echo-chamber to amplify its mating call – as if cicadas need amplification!
Below is my original post and nothing has changed, although I have heard a rumour that this year might be worse …
It’s not enough that I’ve discovered still more variations of cicada in the garden, now they’ve gone and organised themselves into shifts !!
First the Dawn Shift which starts at five am and continues until six. So just when you think “ Thank God they’ve stopped” you realise that it’s time to get up.
Then after one hour’s silence, the Day Shift starts. The Day Shift runs from seven am to six pm. This is when all the species of cicada not already rostered on the Dawn, Dusk or Graveyard shifts, compete with each other in an attempt to send you troppo with waves of their ear-piercing calls.
The Dusk Shift starts at six, just in time to drown out both the news and current affairs programmes on television. It stops suddenly at around eight, when the Graveyard Shift takes over for a few hours. The Graveyard Shift is the quietest of all, as dying cicadas crash into windows and lights, then fall to the ground on their backs and rotate like demented helicopters often uttering strange and un-nerving distress calls.
I’m all for a bit of biodiversity, but this is carrying it a bit too far …
From time to time I hear loud rustling noises in the garden. So far, the source has always turned out to be a Blue Tongued lizard, a Carpet Python or a Lace Monitor – but as their tails resemble that of several venomous snakes, I always freeze and wait until I am absolutely sure!
Several years ago, a large Lace Monitor posed obligingly for me in a tree …
The 2012 monitor
From then on, I assumed that I was seeing the same monitor, but today I realised that this was not the case. When I was sitting in the garden this morning, I realised that something was watching me … and there lounging in the sun nearby was a much smaller monitor with quite different markings.
There are, it seems, two distinctively marked variations of the east coast Lace Monitor, and when I compare my photographs from 2012, 2014 and 2016, I realise that in size and markings, they are all different.
This may explain some of the loud rustlings I hear at night, and now I wonder just how many Lace Monitors are out there ??
Local Peter Szaif says that it’s actually a Feathertail Glider … also known as the pygmy gliding possum, pygmy glider, and flying mouse, and it’s the world’s smallest gliding possum so named for its long feather-shaped tail which is just visible in the photograph.
A bit of trivia: the Feathertail Glider was featured on the Australian 1cent coin until it was withdrawn from circulation in 1991. I found a small stash of them in the garage when I moved in and I’m still hoarding them trying to think of a use for them. If the previous owners had handed them in, they would have been melted down for the Bronze Medals in the 2000 Sydney Olympics!
I wish I could say that this adorable little creature is “mine” but I can’t.
It turned up yesterday on the veranda of my friends Trish & Richard, looking a bit poorly. We think it might be an Eastern Pygmy Possum, a threatened species which weighs between 10 and 50 grams – that’s about the same as a normal chicken egg! You can see just how small it is when you compare it to the width of the decking in the photo below.
By the time we’d finished our coffee it was gone, hopefully safely back up a tree.
I’d love to think that they were sneaking around MY garden after dark.