24 April 2020

68. Wagtails in the Wilderness





I’d been walking near the house, but needed to go further away. Three weeks of staying home meant I had a bit of cabin fever.

My daughter Sarah had been in the kitchen all morning. I figured she was baking me a birthday cake, but there was a lot more than that going on. My husband Bruce rushed about too, wrapping up bottles in newspaper, packing them in an Esky.


He asked me to put on jeans, hiking boots and a hat. Once I did we went off our property then off-road in the Can-am, navigating old bush tracks. 

It was rough going over hills and through forests overrun with native vegetation. Plants enveloped the 4 x 4; now and then it was like travelling through a green tunnel. Stopping at a shady clearing by a creek, the water was so clear it mirrored the trees. 
While my husband unloaded everything, I hopped over the stepping stones.
With home isolation in place, police stop people to ask their reason for travelling. Bruce, Sarah and I didn’t have that problem, we were the only ones around for miles. 


There was one little guy dressed up neatly in black and white though. First name Willie, surname Wagtail. More aggressive than most police, this flycatcher was defending the area where it fed and bred. We’d trespassed on its territory. Used to having the wilderness to itself, it began scolding us.

‘Tchicka-tricha-tchicka-tricka-chick.’

I could tell it was cranky by the hissing sound and its massive eyebrows. A fantail normally has small dots for brows. This Willie Wagtail had long, white, old-man eyebrows.


After lots of reprimands, tail wagging and wings flashing out, the bird flew off. 

My daughter produced individual Quiche Lorraines still warm from our oven.
We popped little bottles of Pink Moscato and a butterfly flew in for a short visit.


Dessert was moist raspberry and white chocolate muffins. We had only begun eating when ants and other insects gathered in lines beneath our feet to pick up the crumbs we’d dropped.

There were strawberry macaron treats as well. Light and crunchy, we munched them while listening to bullfrogs sing, still trying to attract a mate in the last half of Autumn.

After lunch, I sat by a small waterfall before wandering along the creek. The sound of splashing water was tranquil; I couldnt remember the last time I sat next to clear running water and relaxed that way. 


Willie Wagtails returned, four of them including juveniles; they must have been the local family. 


At first the Wagtails were shy, one is hiding at the left of the gum tree behind leaves.


After half an hour, these pretty fantails realised we weren’t much of a threat to them.


Another bird tilted its head back and sang, serenading us as we packed up the picnic.


Though we were still glared at occasionally by the first Willie Wagtail we saw.


The whole afternoon was bliss. 

In a place without buildings or rubbish, we were surrounded by the best of nature. 



Shrubs, trees, rocks, water, lush greenery and a rock face that dwarfed us beneath it. 


A cool eucalypt forest to sit and chat in when we left our phones behind us to go bush.


We slipped back into a time before the global pandemic. It was good to be so distracted by the landscape and wonderful food, we forgot about coronavirus for a few hours.  
 

So glad the Wagtail family allowed us to share their beautiful home on my birthday.

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