By Vita Forest
Despite being nestled in suburbia, our school is home to a large number of creatures. Some of these are:
- Kookaburras sitting silently in trees, tilting their heads inquisitively, on the lookout for lizards or perhaps something tasty from a lunchbox. It’s no laughing matter.
- Sulphur-crested cockatoos with yellow quiffs and pigeon-toed claws, so smart they have learned to open school bags that are not zipped up properly. The bins in the playground have to be placed flush against poles as they have also learned how to grasp the lids and flip them open.
- Silky, velvet-soft, tan-coloured rabbits with white cotton-ball tails that appear when the playground is quiet. Witnessing one such visitor, Lucy remarked that we were “so lucky” at our school to have these little bunny friends. The principal may not agree.
- When it rains, there are ducks that enjoy the puddles and plovers that pick their way through the sodden grass, and worms that wriggle out of the dark, muddy earth and make kids shriek as they stretch across the asphalt and into their path. Some get picked up between index fingers and thumbs and curled inside small palms to be inspected before they are carried back to the safety of a garden bed.
- Worms too are plentiful in the compost bin, they flail and turn away from the shaft of light invading their home as I empty in the current day’s Fruit Break scraps.
- Technicolour Rainbow Lorrikeets with their whirring wings that like to move in packs and pick at any food left on the ground. We have a rule at eating time that we pick up three things and put them in the bin before going to play. We are trying to improve their diet. When its the right season, they can be found chirping and swaying off the scarlet bottlebrush blossoms.
- Deep in the dark recesses of my paint cupboard there is a plastic box housing creepy, crawly mealworms so the students can observe the various stages of their lifecycle.
- Unfortunately there are sometimes cockroaches too.
- Occasionally there are red-back spiders which cause the budding arachnologists to send alerts to the teachers or the office staff and hold back the crowds with much self-importance,until someone arrives with a spray or a thick heel to grind them under.
- And recently a new visitor, a brush turkey migrating down from the Tropics in these days of climate change. These large birds have picked their way south, scratching through the fingers of bush, across roads and into gardens, right into the middle of Sydney. The brush turkey struts about the playground, cocky as you like, that is until the bell rings and students stream out of the classrooms. Then it makes a dash for it, across the road, or out on the footpath, or across those thick white lines that mean “out of bounds”. Much to the amusement of the children.