The Myth, the Mystery, the Marsupial

Having seen, since I got here, several road-killed kangaroos and several packages of kangaroo steaks, I decided it was about time I saw a live kangaroo. Armed with the knowledge that they come out around sundown, I slipped on my shoes, grabbed my camera, and headed for the nearest scrubby area.


As the sun went down I walked out between the low eucalyptus and yellow grasses. It’s winter here, edging perhaps into spring, and many of the plants are in bloom before the heat comes back (as I’m here it will only get warmer, from temperate weather now up into the 90s probably).IMG_0598

I spotted a few birds the other day and finally got a photo today- they’re crested pigeons (Ocyphaps lophotes), commonly seen across mainland Australia except for the very tropical regions. Are they actually more colorful than their northern hemisphere cousins, or am I just used to the other ones?

Crested pigeon

Crested pigeon

I don’t think bougainvillea is native here, but along with plumeria and palm trees it makes up the majority of landscaping in the area. At one edge of the scrub I was wandering through, the pink leaves and tiny flowers were visited by what I thought might be a hummingbird, but turned out in fact to be a hummingbird-shaped moth with a plump little body, dark eyes, stubby antennae, and a blur of wings.

Hawk moth at a bougainvillea

Hawk moth at a bougainvillea

By then, the sun had set and I had still seen no ‘roos. The myth, the mystery, the marsupial: they remain elusive to me though I’m not worried. I’ve got three months to find myself some live ones and try not to hit them with cars. Perhaps tomorrow will be my lucky day, as we’ll be headed out across the cape to Tantabiddi and will have to drive back with the boat around sunset.

I snagged a eucalyptus leaf on my way back in. They’re actually native here, but have engrained themselves into the California landscape so ubiquitously that I associate giant striped-bark trunks and the spicy smell of their oil with home. If you’re at home, gentle readers, take a deep breath. Non-native trees may be ecologically questionable in California, but I’m grateful for the familiarity now.

Eucalypts are endemic to Australia... except that they appear to grow very well in California

Eucalypts are endemic to Australia… except that they appear to grow very well in California