The Coming Colony/Appendix H

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The Coming Colony by Philip Mennell
Appendix H

APPENDIX H.


NATIVE ANIMALS, BIRDS, Etc.

The principal native animals are of the kangaroo species, of which, in addition to the ordinary kangaroo of the plains, several varieties are common—the brush rock and red kangaroo, the wallaby, the tammar and the kangaroo rat, the last a small marsupial, not so large as an ordinary rat, being found in the Gascoyne District. Kangaroo skins have been very largely exported of late years; consequently they are getting very scarce in the Southern Districts.

Opossums are very numerous, and their skins make exceedingly handsome and durable rugs.

The native dog, or "dingo," is still common; though on account of its sheep-stealing proclivities, every effort is being made to exterminate it. A small species of porcupine, and the flying fox, are found in the Northern Districts.

The principal birds of the colony are the emu, the wild turkey (a species of bustard), the gnou or leipoa (a species of pheasant), which has a peculiar method of nesting—a number of females using one common nest, which consists of a hole scooped out of the ground to a depth of several feet and filled with dead leaves, &c.; then, as the eggs are laid, they are piled up in a conical heap, covered with leaves and rubbish, and left to be hatched by the heat of the sun; cockatoos (black with white tail, and black with red tail, and two kinds of white), leadbeater's cockatoo, cockateels or cockatoo paro­quets, roseate cockatoos, parrots, and paroquets of various kinds, bronze-wing pigeons of several varieties, different kinds of doves, quails, magpies, squeakers, wattle-birds, laughing jackasses, crows, eagles, ospreys, and various hawks, shrikes, owls, &c.; also numerous small species of birds of the finch family, those in the east Kimberley District being especially distinguished by the brilliancy of their plumage.

There are no native song-birds, although in some varieties—such as the wattle-bird, the wagtail, and the magpie—the note is very sweet and melodious.

The chief water-birds are black swans, from which the colony took its original name of "Swan River Settlement," and which are still to be found in large numbers on the numerous estuaries in the south­-west; ducks of several kinds, such as grey, whitewing, black, wood, mountain, whistling, spoonbill, and the musk duck, or "steamer," also teal and grebe. Wild geese are found on the islands along the south coast east of Albany. Pelicans, cormorants or shags, and numerous varieties of cranes, gallinules, coots, and waders are com­mon on all the rivers. Sea-birds of various kinds are very nun1erous along the coast, especially on the islands to the northward, where large deposits of guano have been discovered.

Amongst the representatives of the reptile world are found turtle on the islands off the north-west coast; alligators in the rivers in the Kimberley District; snakes, both land and water (poisonous and constrictors); iguanas and lizards, and frogs of all kinds.

As regards insects, flies, ants, mosquitoes, and "silver fish" are the principal pests at certain seasons.