Jack jumped over the candlestick

November 16

Today, while filming an experiment at a bowerbird’s bower, Jack jumped over the candlestick! By chance, our video captured a small swamp wallaby approach the bower, look right at the camera, and then hop right over the top. It was almost as if we had spent months training that wallaby to perform this trick for us. Very cool:-)

Went to town today for deploying some experiments at bowers in Coffs. While I was waiting I took a walk along the Coffs Creek Trail and ventured to an area that we thought we had seen a bowerbird at a month or more ago. As I was flip flopping along the path in my rainbow sandals, not exactly in bower hunting gear, I thought I heard the faint sounds of bowerbirdyness from a clump of shrubbery not too far away. I patiently waited a few minutes but the sounds evaporated leaving me to wonder if I was just imagining things. So I went a bit further on the trail. Ten minutes later as I was returning, again I thought that up ahead I heard the faint, sub audible rhythmic pulse of some aspect of the bowerbird song. It was almost as if my subconscious mind was telling me something for when I paused, I heard nothing. For those that have heard the distant drumming sound of the roughed grouse, you’ll understand that sometimes you hear a sound with your body and not your ears. Such was the case today, I just knew a bowerbird was out there displaying on the mat and that surely I could find it.

So off the trail I went in my flip flops, but it did not look too snaky. I followed my intuition regarding the kind of place a bowerbird would set up shop in and poked along in those directions. Within a couple minutes I was justly rewarded for there around the corner was a new bower, probably seldom seen by human eyes. I was actually surprised I had found it for the guiding evidence that I had was infinitesimally thin. But I guess I have become a well-tuned and oiled machine, driven with a purpose!

On the trail I met a member of the Coffs Creek Trail Association and she told me an amusing story that had to do with one of our favorite bowerbirds who has his bachelor pad not far away. This guy used to have his bower about 6′ from the path and never seemed to be concerned about people going by and gawking. He had been there quite a few years and had tons of blue plastic stuff, you’d call trash, but he’d call treasure if he could speak. Well, the Association had a trail side cleanup day and one of the volunteers got a bit carried away. He ventured past the area where everyone was told to work and stumbled upon Mr. Bowerbird. Well, being from the UK he had never heard of a bowerbird before and so when he saw all that blue plastic trash, he bagged it all up in his rubbish bag and toted it off, later bragging to the trail boss about how much trash he had found! Locals felt sorry for the bowerbird and began to leave out blue laundry pegs and the like. But soon thereafter, something flattened the bower, perhaps another bowerbird, and not long after Blackie was seen rebuilding his palace on the other side of the path, closer to the creek and a bit removed from human stupidity!

It is raining unbelievably hard and we sit in the car under a concrete parking garage, afraid that golf ball sized hail might strike here. It was reported down south just a few miles. The towering clouds were absolutely menacing and the bottoms of the clouds looked like upside down marshmallows. We are safe and dry but amused and slightly troubled by the fact that we didn’t close all the windows to our camper! It was bright and sunny when we left this morning, but how stupid can we be?

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