Saturday, February 6, 2010

Treed Us A Possum

The forecast for today is 35 degrees. So far this week, the temperatures - 32, 34, have exceeded the forecast, so we await today's actuality with trepidation.

Fortunately, today's long walk is already done. For an NZ change, I did it on my own as Gay has blisters on her feet. This means she unfortunately missed something I saw for the first time ever - a live possum.

Possums are not natural to New Zealand, but the estimates of their numbers vary from 70 million to 100 million. They are a pst and New Zealanders hate them. They eat 20,000 tons of berries, fruit and foliage each night. They return night after night to the same trees and eat all the foliage, destroying the tree.

It is rare to drive for any distance without seeing dead possums on the road but, as nocturnal animals, it is unusual to see one. Today, as I walked the river path from Alexandra to Clyde, I caught up with two women who had stopped because their dogs had found something in the bushes. The "something" turned out to be two possums and I saw one of them climbing a tree to get away from the dogs, then sitting in a fork of the tree in broad daylight. I didn't have a camera with me, but the picture above is probably of a relative.

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