OF TOOTH AND CLAW
Today’s offering is a video which I managed to capture by sheer good luck. But, first of all, let me place it within the context of my life here on the mid-north coast.
I’m fascinated by the natural world – and living in a wildlife reserve grants me the privilege of witnessing the life cycles of many creatures: kangaroos, birds, and reptiles.
Most of my observations are charming:
a furry little face buried in a doe’s pouch;
the gorgeous plumage of lorikeets,
and tiny lizards, perfect replicas of their parents, scampering across the ground.
Geckos chirrup in the rafters of my veranda and occasionally invade the house,
and the resident python suns itself in the garden, reluctant to move whilst digesting his meal.
Summertime sees the return of Mr and Mrs Lace Monitor who, only last year, raised their very own Mini Me.
At the back of my block near the creek, scrub turkeys have erected a massive mound in which to lay and incubate their eggs. The male tends it daily, ensuring the temperature remains constant, adding and removing leaves and twigs as required. The incubation period is around 60 days, so hatching is not far off.
All appears harmonious and my street, Paradise Court, appears to be well named.
But there is a darker side, as we are all aware. Nature is ‘red in tooth and claw’, as Tennyson reminded us, and I observed a battle for survival in my personal Garden of Eden, just this afternoon.
I wandered out to add food scraps to the compost bin and noticed that the male turkey seemed agitated. Before long, I learnt the reason why. The huge lace monitor was burrowing into the mound in search of eggs.
I ran back into the house to fetch my phone and videoed their interaction.
As you’ll see, the turkey pecked at the reptile’s tale and received a blow for his pains. Undeterred, the turkey kept pecking, and the monitor hid itself completely within the mound. Eventually it emerged and the fight was on.
Apparently, only one in two hundred eggs will hatch and the chick survive until adulthood.
This is all part of the natural order – often heartbreaking, but fascinating to observe – and I’ll be watching to see whether the monitor returns, or whether he’s decamped to find a nest with less enthusiastic guardians.