As I wander around our little block of mallee scrub near our home I often come across scratchings in the leaf litter or in the dirt. Sometimes these scratchings have been produced by the family of White-Winged Choughs that visit every day or so. Other scratchings are produced by the White-Browed Babblers who also visit frequently. Recently I have observed rabbit scratchings and that is of a little concern as we’ve been free of this introduced pest for many years.
Mulch in the orchard
Last spring I spent many hours weeding and then mulching our many fruit trees in our little orchard. I spread thick layers of pea-straw under and around each tree. This is necessary due to our intensely hot summers. It is an attempt to conserve the moisture in the soil.
This mulch is an ideal breeding ground for worms, beetles, slaters and other little critters. Recently we noticed that some of the mulch had been disturbed.
Blame the Common Blackbirds. They are always lurking around in the orchard or in the nearby Hakea bushes. They are always scratching around in the mulch and leaf litter. Yes, blame the blackbirds.
A few days ago I noticed a single Grey Currawong sneaking into the orchard. I watched from about 40 metres distance as he sauntered casually up to the mulch under an apricot tree. He grabbed a clump of the pea-straw mulch – about 10cm in diameter – in his beak and threw it aside! Ha har! Here is the real culprit. Not once but three or four times he repeated the action, each removed clump revealing a patch of dirt containing plenty of tasty morsels for him to gobble down.