Wild Dogs and Wedge Tailed Eagles

Happy New Year!
Here on the farm without radio, television or newspapers the days blur into one another like the endless summer days of childhood, and we didn’t even realise that it was New Year’s Eve til mid-afternoon.  Not that it made much difference, we had decided not to go to the annual bash at Steve and Cherie’s with Benjamin in tow – too loud, too much booze, too tired, too happy just pottering on the farm . . . We had a bottle of Bolly in the fridge but didn’t open it – couldn’t be bothered, didn’t feel like drinking, I’m sure another opportunity for celebration will present itself . . . .
Australia very much grinds to a halt at this time of year – everyone is on holiday and businesses are closed for weeks so it really is time to slow down, relax and enjoy hearth, home and family.  It is so quiet here, although for some reason (maybe all the slashing both we and the neighbour are doing) we have recently become home to hordes of sulphur crested cockatoos, who are gorgeous in their flock but make a helluva racket with their cawing.
We had a dead wallaby on the other side so the wedgetailed eagle was in residence for about four days before Ged built a funeral pyre and cremated the wallaby’s remains before it got too potent . . . because we have had such a good extended spring and there is so much feed, there are an incredible number of wallabies (did you know that wallabies breed more in a good season?) and so there are also more wild or feral dogs.  Phee and I had a terrible scare on a run/walk the other day – as usual he was ahead of me and out of sight, and suddenly I heard him yelping and screamed his name and started running.  As I ran, first a wild small brown dog appeared to the right of a big clump of timber debris, then on the left appeared a dingo X.  The face, ears and colouring of a dingo, just smaller, and stockier than a purebred.  My heart stood still as I screamed Phoenix’s name again and again.  Thankfully he appeared, tail between his legs but unhurt as far as I can see.  Terrifying.  And he is so lucky.  Most wild dogs would have torn him apart , I don’t know how he survived (he must have nine lives!).  Needless to say he has been sticking close to his Mummy on our forays over on ‘the other side’ (we have to think of a name for each side of the property, clearly! – suggestions on a post card, please).  I don’t want to get the wild dog shooters onto Avalon if we can help it (normally the neighbours do so that keeps the population under control) but they seem to have become more adventurous and visible this year with the proliferation of wallabies on the pasture.
We often see the ‘wedgies’ free wheeling overhead – they are stunning birds.  And the one who ate the wallaby is often to be found in an old dead gum on ‘the other side’ at dusk when Phee and I go for our walk.  I always have him ‘heel’ when wedgie is around as I imagine the eagle looking at Phee and thinking ‘dinner’!  We also have a sea eagle who patrols both sides of the property – about the same size, just completely different colouring.  And I have recently discovered that not only do we have yellow tailed black cockatoos on the farm, but also red-tailed – gorgeous!

Wedge-tailed Eagle (Aquila audax)

The Wedge-tailed Eagle is a beautiful Australian eagle, and is also one of the largest eagles in the World. They are large creatures weighing an average of 4 kgs, with an average wing span of 2.5 metres. They are a dark brown/black feathered bird, however the young eagles are a lighter brown colour.

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