The Blackbird & the Possum

To: "Canberrabirds" <>
Subject: The Blackbird & the Possum
From: "John Layton" <>
Date: Tue, 23 Sep 2008 21:12:09 +1000
Late yesterday afternoon I sat in the backyard just on dusk comfortably insulated against the chill doing nothing more than taking in the smell of wet grass and eucalyptus trees when I was regaled by a male Common Blackbird in full song. He perched on power cables 5m above me and was no tyro when it came vocalisations –  a seasoned old trooper indeed. Bit of a jazz man too as what seemed like clever riffs and improvisations floated down but I couldn't detect any impersonations.
Then, as dusk thickened, a second entertainer arrived on the scene but it was no vocalist, I've heard its "song" before, rather it was more le bateleur – a brush tail possum came scampering along a data cable strung 2m beneath the power lines, its tail swishing like a fluffy metronome as it maintained equilibrium.
The blackbird quit its song and swooped continually at possum chittering angrily as possum  lost balance and in a flash was  upside down paws clinging to cable and end of prehensile brush wrapped around it. It remained motionless for a moment as if contemplating the world from its inverted perspective while the bird pressed home its aggression. Then possum got moving again remaining inverted but scurried along as quickly as before with tail looped loosely around the cable and the bird shadowing it. Soon the two were swallowed up by the gloaming and the bird's scolding faded. It returned to the power cable some 3 minutes later and sang sporadically as darkness descended and a noisy minor hollered, "Chow's up! Come and get it." – crepuscular repose shattered.
John Layton
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