I was walking through a small stand of trees I planted about 15 years ago (Sydney Blue Gums and Shining gums) when I saw this neat ball of strips of bark draped over a low branch. I wasn’t sure at first what to make of it, but the consistency of the material, similarly sized strips of bark, suggested it was something that had been made, not just thrown together by the wind, for example.
So, what was it and where did it come from? Well, it must have come from above, as it was quite neatly draped over that branch, so I looked up. After a bit of searching I saw similar material caught up in the loose bark of the Shining Gum, about 5 m up the tree. Shining Gum shed their bark in long ribbons, a little like our local Manna Gums, but the bark on this tree accumulated around the lateral branches, and it seems the bundle of bark had dislodged and fallen from where it had been ‘stashed’ in the tangled ribbon bark on the trunk of the Shining Gum.
And what exactly was this shredded bark structure? I suspect it was the nest, or drey, of a Common Ringtail Possum (Pseudocheirus peregrinus), perhaps dislodged by strong wind, or maybe the ribbon bark that held it finally gave way.
And, not far away, in the top of a Sydney Blue Gum of similar height, I spotted a spherical ball of leaves and twigs that’s most likely also a Ringtail Possum nest, perhaps even a replacement nest for the one that fell out of the tree next door. It might not look much, but our possum will be cosy and warm in its home in the tree tops.