17 December 2006

Willie Wagtail update

My how the babies have grown!
In a week they've gone from featherless scrawny creatures to almost fully fledged birds. Another week and they'll have flown away.

A couple of years ago we watched babies grow, surviving snakes, weather, foxes etc only to see them be devoured by kookaburras on the day they learnt to fly and left their nest for little flight forays.

So, so sad. I can't look at Kookaburras in quite the same way as I once did. Posted by Picasa

The Vanishing Tractor

This is a sad tale - "The Mystery of the Vanishing Tractor Mower".

The lawn needed mowing so Frank went to the shed where we house our sturdy brand new Cox. It's a bit rough and ready but it does the job - the shed I mean.

Disturbingly the shed was bare - no tractor in sight.

At first our thoughts turned to having left it out on the road verge or up the paddock the last time we had it out. A few years ago we wouldn't even have thought such a thing, but with the advancing years sometimes you do have spells of forgetfulness. You wouldn't think you could forget to put a mower away but it has been done in the past.

This time though we retraced steps, thought long and hard, considered the possibility the mower had been stolen - and eventually Frank said "When nothing seems possible then consider the impossible". He decided that the mower had to be at the bottom of the dam.

"How on earth could a heavy mower disappear to the middle of the dam?" I argued. "There is only the slightest of slopes and spongy grass so it couldn't roll that far. Besides Frank don't you always put on the handbrake?"

Well you can probably guess that the handbrake wasn't on and we had a very wild storm which did loads of damage to property and trees one evening. Iit must have been that night the wind roared through our ramshackle shed and had taken the mower for swim.

Over $1,000 and some weeks later we have our mower back.

The photos prove it really happened. Posted by Picasa

16 December 2006

Willie Wagtail babies

We're grandparents!

Four little babies are snuggled into this nest. The nest is so close to the ground that foxes or other creatures about that size could easily take the babies. It has no protection from the elements and we have had storm after storm the last couple of nights.

The parents are very protective and look and act quite fierce when we walk past. I don't think they could fight off something which really wanted baby bird for dinner though. Posted by Picasa

3 December 2006

Water lily dam

We had a big, loud thunderstorm last night. This meant that Mum and Dad had to hermetically seal themselves in their flat with all curtains closed and windows tightly shut. Pity because they missed a lightning performance with wonderful booming sound effects.

Ruby, out great dane, has never been bothered by storms until she started spending time with her grandparents on a regular basis. Now I have a huge soppy dog cowering as well. Learned behaviour? - I think so!

However, after the welcome 32 mls of rain last night Frank took this lovely photo of the water lily dam in today's cool and cloudy conditions. The soft light really does help show up colours. Posted by Picasa


These beautiful birds are regular visitors to our garden along with King Parrots, Eastern Rosellas, Crimson Rosellas and occasionally Rainbow Lorikeets.

We don't put out food on a regular basis because we don't want to encourage them away from natural food sources. When we do put seed in the feeder it amazes me how quickly they all converge on our garden and then begin quarrelling over who is going to eat first. The King Parrots generally take precedence but the galahs were here first today.

It is very difficult to take photos of birds. If you've tried you would know. I have many blurry attempts so I am particularly pleased with this shot.

The only thing more difficult are butterflies. We have many butterfly visitors to the garden but I can't capture them with my camera. Moths are a little easier because they seek the light at night and land on the windows.
Info on galahs Posted by Picasa

2 December 2006


Yesterday was a very odd day weatherwise. It had been exceptionally hot the day before and I was away from home. Returning in the evening I was greeted by the deafening noise of frogs. The waterlily dam was a loud croaking mass which I was pleased to hear. It's a lovely home-coming, the sound of frogs.

Next morning' s stillness promised a scorcher of a day. The frogs were quiescent but another sound had taken their place - a kind of a loud eerie hum. A glance out the window showed a haze hanging over the valley. It was either an unseasonal fog, or smoke, and my hunch was smoke. A quick sniff of the air to try to guess the direction. West is the worst, but wherever the smell is coming from the threat of bushfire is ever present - and that is a frightening prospect.

So up and outside, before it became too hot, to check on the chickens and make sure the plants I had left alone for a couple of days had survived without my ministrations, which they had. As soon as the outside door was opened the strange hum increased a notch in intensity. A dull threatening heat, smoke, and a noisy strumming in the ears.

Next stop, vegie patch where I saw hundreds of holes dotting the ground. I knew instantly the cicadas were hatching and beginning to call. We've had a few lonely cicada free summers recently. The last really busy one was the summer of 2001 when cicadas were able to drown out speech whenever we went outside. It was fun to stand in the bush and give a yell. In a good cicada year they yell back. The crescendo of noise which follows your yell hurts the ears. Believe me that is loud.

Listen to cicadas

The photo shows just a few of the shells left behind when the cicadas leave childhood behind and begin the busy period of finding a mate. The photo is of the vegie patch, hence the shrouds over my plants - protection. Shells were everywhere, hanging from plants and hanging on the netting seen in the background. I had to lift the nets to release the poor cicadas imprisoned there. I bet they wondered what on earth had happened, released from the earth but somehow not yet free.

Information here

Posted by Picasa

and here

1 December 2006

Painting with Trees

I am playing with colour in this combination, using very tough trees which will probably end up on "Australia's most un-wanted Weeds" list because they are so tough and easy to grow. But I plead innocence your honour. I need tough trees in my rock hard clay.

The yellowish tree in the background is Robinia pseudoacacia 'Frisia'. It seems reasonably well behaved so far, taking about ten years to reach a height where it shades our kitchen all summer long.

The reddish tree in the middle ground is Gleditsia triacanthos 'Ruby Lace' and she is very beautiful too, but not nearly so genteel as the other. She sadly sends up little suckers all over the place, and the suckers are vicious, spiny little root stock trying to take over the garden. So, though we love Ruby Lace for her gorgeous colour we may be sorry for years to come that we invited her home.

The orange in the foreground is Campsis. It is better known by various common names, the one most heard around here is Trumpet Vine, and the honeyeaters adore it. It is visited all day long from now until late autumn. It grows very easily and is very attractive but, and it is a big but, it too tends to send up suckers everywhere, even in the deep shade under the verandah, and they are tenacious little devils indeed.

I do love the colours together though. Underneath Ruby Lace I have planted Cliveas grown from seed I collected from a rather gorgeous deep orange Clivea. It remains to be seen whether they come true to colour or not but I reckon I have at least 3 years to go before I see any flowers.

In the meantime I wait. Posted by Picasa