By Melvyn Tuckey; Greenfields resident, committee member of Peel Preservation Group Inc. and avid nature lover. Early in 2017, Melvyn noticed a new creature visiting his backyard, and so begins the “Story of Bandi”…
It was around midnight sometime in late January that I first sighted an unusual creature in my backyard. On this particular night I was carrying out one of my routine activities, attaching a stick of parrot seed to a nail in the fork of our red-flowering gum tree, which regularly attracts red-capped and twenty-eight parrots, who arrive at dawn to compete for breakfast. I was then surprised and astonished to find a quokka sized animal rummaging around the base of the tree and eating some of the discarded bird seed and vegetable scraps that had been left in the garden. I was able to get quite close to this animal, who may have been stunned by my torchlight, until he suddenly ran off in to the nearby shrubbery.
Next day I did a Google search and came to the conclusion that my night visitor must be a local southern brown bandicoot or quenda. In my 27 years of living at my current property I had never seen a bandicoot before, and was quite surprised because I live in a well established suburban area which is less than 500 metres from a major shopping centre. I pondered as to why this animal had made its way to my property, then remembered that there was a recent clearing of bushland in an area down the road about half a kilometre away.
I thought perhaps this quenda was only passing through, on the lookout for another patch of bushland, but over the next few nights I found him or her at the same time and same place, fossicking around the base of the gum tree. On successive nights I discovered him exploring the undergrowth in my backyard and then thought that he may have taken up temporary residence on my property, which compared to neighbouring backyards has a lot more trees, shrubs, undergrowth and leaf litter. As he became an on-going guest I decided to call him “Bandi”, and looked forward to an almost nightly encounter.
After a few weeks Bandi seemed to get used to my nocturnal encounters with him, while I was very careful not to shine my torch directly in his face. On several occasions when I was locking my side gate at midnight he appeared out of the nearby fernery and ambled up very close to see what I was doing. One time he casually walked up to have a sniff of both of my feet in turn (wouldn’t have been pleasant!) before ambling off.
Often in the morning I would notice a few conical shaped holes in the lawn, which I am certain were the result of Bandi’s nocturnal feeding. Only on three occasions did I see him in the daytime, these all being early in the morning before 8:30 am, but this did allow me a wonderful photographic opportunity to capture him in action exploring my back patio and nearby undergrowth.
We enjoyed watching Bandi make himself at home in our yard.
Bandi was a resident at my place for just over two months, and during this period I saw him almost every night. But sadly one Saturday morning our neighbour came to tell me that he had found a dead marsupial on the side of the road which had obviously been hit by a car. It was definitely Bandi, who was confirmed as a male quenda. Bandi was then given back in to my care and buried at the base of the red-flowering gum tree where I had first encountered him two months earlier.
All-in-all, and as a keen nature lover, I felt privileged that Bandi had come to make his home at my home. In retrospect it may been valuable to capture Bandi and release him in the wild, but maybe that’s just the wisdom of hindsight.