Outing #13 – Day 4 – The bushfire burns

(Monday 3-November-2014)

THE SMACKY-EATER

@10:03am

Oh my we got some nice clear photos of the Possum last night. I had considered appending yesterday’s post, but the camera was too flat to wifi the photos over to the phone so I figured it’d just have to kick-off todays entry instead.

I have to note too that although I tried removing the red-eye with photoshop xpress, the result just made him look like some kind of unnatural, devil-spawn, zombie-possum so I just left them as they are: better to have red eyes, than dead eyes.

Smacky-eater sneaks in to claim his daily prize.

I really loathe having to use any flash on him though. Being a nocturnal creature his eyes are very sensitive to light and so just thinking about how irritating bright flashes are to our eyes, well; I can’t imagine how unpleasant an experience it would be for a Possum.

PSX_20141103_112851

What makes me feel even worse is how this time, he sat there and let me flash him over and over – photo after photo – about six times I would’ve zapped him with it and he just sat there munching on his pasta. He did bolt up a nearby tree at the end, but I have the feeling that was triggered by my moving to get comfortable; my leg was going to sleep at that point.

Is this the cutest photo in the history of ever?

Is this the cutest photo in the history of ever?

One thing I wish I could’ve captured is a video of him slowly approaching the tent; before I started taking pics. The only light I had on at that point was the red mode on the head-torch, which – dim as that light is – caused his super-reflective eyes to glow the whole time.

..and if you think about how loud a hungry dog eats, that's exactly how loud a hungry Brush-tail eats. Smacks his lips constantly.

..and if you think about how loud a hungry dog eats, that’s exactly how loud a hungry Brush-tail eats. Smacks his lips constantly.

But although his eyes were reflecting a luminous red the torch didn’t light the rest of him up; the light from the three-quarter moon did that. So I’ve got this Possum sneaking out of the shadows into dappled, shifting moonlight that lit his fur a dull grey-blue, with glowing red eyes at the front. Why, he looked just like a miniature panther slowly emerging from amoungst the shadows. Sadly the Moonlight was too subtle to photograph, and even if I had taken a snap that was clear it still would’ve lacked movement: The way the shadows from the moving trees made that moonlight move around on his fur, combined with the steady red glowing eyes moving closer.. closer. It gave the animal an eerie, ethereal quality. Everything around lit by that cool-blue moon, with hot-red eyes. Just an awesome sight. I’ve tried to explain it as best I can but unless you’ve seen an animal on a moonlit night with glowing red eyes walking towards you, it’s kind of hard to visualize, but for a few moments there he ceased looking like an ordinary Brush-tail Possum; transformed by lighting into a mythical creature.

"See ya tomorrow night muh Marsupial Chicklet!"

“See ya tomorrow night muh Marsupial Chicklet!”

I doubt I’ll get many more photos of him though,  because I just don’t like eye-raping him with the flash, but being a regular nightly visitor to my tent I figured I should at least get a couple of decently clear snaps of him just for the record. Maybe one more shoot with the flash set to red-eye mode, really though I think his eyes would be ‘fleccy no matter what configuration of light was used.

Every night, weather-be-dammed, this furry Marsupial has visited for his easy meal and although he seems to love the pasta I was surprised to see that last night he spend longer eating the dry rolled-oats I’d tossed around the ground for the birds. Maybe he’d prefer a nice simple porridge over pasta? Pity for him: I don’t like porridge much, so the closest he’ll come are dry oats. I’ll put some on his plastic bag tonight anyway.

I remember on the walk down from town on Friday, one of the people I stopped to talk for a while to – the old man – was talking about whatever when the topic turned to Possums. He told me how annoying they are, how they break into your tent at night and steal your food and generally make a damn nuisance of themselves and as he’s telling me this he’s nodding his head the whole time like he’s waiting for me to agree and start nodding along with him.

But how could I? My Possum is not a nuisance at all. My Possum, only ever comes to the front door of my tent and eats whatever I leave-out for him without complaint. He’s never shown any form of bad behavior at all – except perhaps the odd bit of guttural grunting here and there, but that’s a defensive sound I’m quite sure is directed at other Possums and animals in the area, not at me.

My Possum is so shy, that if I sit up quickly, or move in a way that causes the tent fabric to even make a swishing sound he runs away and won’t come back until I’m well and truly asleep.

None of the animals I’ve fed have ever stolen any food that wasn’t placed outside the tent for them and the animals I regularly feed have never so much as caused a puncture in my tent when I’m not here, which they could easily do.

I pondered my Possum and Lace Monitor for a moment, then the little Marsupial Mice that came before them, grimaced at the old man and shook my head, “Nup. Never had any problems with the animals, they’re pretty well-behaved”.

Come to think of it there was that rat that chewed a hole in my tent floor a few weeks ago, but he didn’t do it again once I’d given him a good feed. I spend four nights in town and upon arriving back here found not a single hole anywhere in the tent. So he was probably just hungry. He’s hardly a regular though. Possums are actually known to eat the occasional rat and we know Goannas will eat as many as they can get their mouth around so Rats aren’t common here: native or otherwise.

BUSHFIRE UPDATE: “BEING CONTROLLED”

"Fuck the valley let it burn, save peoples stuff first!"

“Fuck the valley let it burn, save peoples stuff first!”

@11:30am

Yet again today I can’t smell any smoke which suits me just fine, though yet again today upon opening the RFS website details for the fire near Cahills Lookout I am surprised to find they still haven’t extinguished the fire completely. Not only is it still burning, it’s gone from a fire covering 6 hectares to one spanning 17 hectares, yet they’ve marked it as “being controlled”.

Apparently 300 firefighters and 6 choppers have been dumping water on it for three days now, yet it’s still growing? Doesn’t sound possible, but what do I know: I’m not even up in town. I can’t even see the smoke from here. Certainly I can still hear the choppers though. All day for the past three days straight, they’ve been whumping around over there, back and forth.

Typically though, human-beings that they are prioritize shitty houses and pump all their resources into saving “property” while leaving the valley itself (with a million acres of combustible National Park and countless millions of animals) to just burn.

They didn’t even turn their attention to the Valley itself until they’d made sure everyone’s “stuff” was nice and safe.

MONITOR MATTERS

@12:05pm

No sign of the Broeski since I arrived back at camp this outing, though there’s still time today for him to pop ’round for his free feed and I wish he’d do that. This’ll be the fourth day in a row that raw beef mince has sat in its plastic bags in the tent here, and it’s already gunna smell just rancid when I finally have to open the bags and give it to him.

I’m tempted to just take it a hundred meters down-wind from the tent and tip it all out, but if I do that and he rocks-up the next day I’ll have missed-out on an excellent photo opportunity.

I most certainly don’t want to be dumping it out front of the tent without him being here ’cause the air would just be so thick with flies I’d be inhaling the little fuckers.

So Lizard Broeski, come get your stinky meat it’s going rotten on me!

@6:00pm

Dinner is done and Possum has a relative buffet waiting for him, of pasta, oats and one Kingston cream biscuit as well as a little water I put in the lid from the case for my little stove.

The helicopters have finally stopped for the day, though according to the NSW Fire Service site the fire has increased by another 2 hectares. Rain clouds are starting to drift slowly overhead, although no rain has dropped from them yet but hopefully later this evening it’ll cool off enough to open the proverbial flood-gates and douce-out the fire once and for all.

Todays sky just before dusk.

Todays sky just before dusk.

Outing #13 – Day 4 – The bushfire burns
Rate in Guidos

Jason
Animal-loving cleaner with a parrot.

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