birds


I have a backyard, and I have a front yard, and I have other areas available to me, if I want to be outside, on my property. We live on one and three quarter acres, my husband and I, our four dogs and sometimes our son. It’s a good life, and I love the amount of wild life sharing our property with us. Except for the snakes, I don’t love them …BrownSnake_Australia

The dogs we have, three of them anyway, are keen hunters. They’re Pharaoh Hounds, which are very much like greyhounds in that they love to chase things, and eat them. Our Pharaoh Hounds will chase and catch birds and reptiles whenever they can. Yesterday, our youngest dog, Missy, caught a bird, a small one, I wasn’t there, but my husband saw the results, Missy chowing down on a feathered morsel. It’s natural to the dogs to do this, but I feel a little bit sad about it … I just hope it was an introduced bird, not a native bird.

Of course, all of the birds deserve to live, as do our dogs. It’s a tricky thing, trying to edge an ethical way around dogs and birds, and other creatures. Dogs do their doggy things, birds do their birdy things, and the reptiles do their own reptilian things too. We have those reptiles on our property at various warmer times, lizards of various sizes and kinds, and snakes of a potentially deadly kind. We’ve certainly faced potential death from a snake bite, and don’t ever want to go through that again.

It was Missy that time too, that caught and tried to kill a deadly snake, a brown snake. Missy bit the snake, but the snake bit Missy back. A worrying trip the vet, appropriate treatment and a sleep over at the clinic, and Missy was back with us, a little subdued, but soon looking for prey again … The Pharaoh Hounds are wired for chasing, and there’s not a lot we can or want to do about that – we just keep them safe inside in summer, keeping an eye out, and an ear out too, for that hound chase thing kicking in and looking for trouble …

There are lovely things going on in our garden too, of course. We have grass, tall trees, flowers, fruit and vegetables, all growing well and showing us a lovely green vision of cool beauty. We aim to keep things relatively hardy, and as organic as possible. There’s nothing better than eating a fresh strawberry, plucked from the bush just outside of our back door, red and plump and warmed by the sun – delicious!

We also have lettuce, capsicums, garlic and celery growing. The celery is a test, and is growing in the kitchen, in a little plastic container, with a little bit of water that we refresh daily. I read about this idea, and loved the thought that we could grow our own celery right there in the kitchen windowsill, so I tried it. And yes, the celery is growing from the leftover celery that would normally have gone into the compost bin. So in theory, we have grown new celery from old, but the growth rate is slow, and our need for celery is faster than the growth.capsicum

I’m thinking of transferring the celery outside and hope it will grown faster that way. Growing things inside doesn’t happen as often inside for us, going outside is enjoyable, and the dogs are always likely to steal anything growing inside! Speaking of inside, there is wild life inside at times too. We’ve had mice inside, and many others in our area have had them too. I feel sorry for every mouse that falls victim to the traps we have, but I also feel cross when I see evidence of mice in the kitchen – yuck!

Outside are lovelier things to see – I’m an amateur birdwatcher, and love to see the variety of birdlife that lives around us. From the usual sparrows and starlings, to the lovely honeyeaters, willie wagtails, and others, I like to sit on the veranda and watch them as they go about their business. Quiet and mindful fun for me – I do a kind of Nature Meditation and feel soooooo calm and Zen!

Living with wild life is a game of what you can put up with and what you can’t – sometimes Nature wins, most times, Mankind wins, but the balance is feeling pretty good for us. We have shelter, food, water, space – and we are more or less happy to share some of what we safely can, with Nature.

If you love the Nature around you, I’d love to read about it, feel free to leave a comment!

 

 

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I didn’t see the bird pictured, but often a look in the backyard will reveal one of these birds. It’s a New Holland Honeyeater.

After my mother left us today, I took a couple of the dogs outside and sat on the sofa on our back veranda to look at birds. I love looking at birds, I’m a bit of a sometime ‘Twitcher’ (Birdwatcher). I don’t seem to be able to just see a bird, my brain always looks and tells me, that’s a sparrow. Or swallow, or galah or whatever it is. And if I can’t immediately work out which kind of bird it is, I don’t like it.

I think it’s within the nature of humans to name things, but I’m not certain. I’d appreciate opinions on this from others. Anyway, today I counted eight different species of birds when I was sitting outside today after our Christmas lunch. I didn’t see anything particularly amazing or rare, but I still enjoyed sharing my time with these birds. These are the different birds I saw:

I saw Sparrows, Swallows, Starlings, Galahs, a Willie Wagtail, a Murray Magpie, a White Lined Honeyeater, two Crested Pigeons and a heard and then saw a Spotted Turtledove. This was over about twenty minutes. I saw the first two different bird species in the first minute of being outside, and I always do. We have many Sparrows in the bushes and trees in and around the backyard, and Swallows like to take quick dips in our swimming pool, which is next to the backyard.

If you like to watch and take note of the birds in and around where you live, I’d love to hear from you, we could compare bird notes!

At the moment, water is flooding the back yard. Our gutters are trying to give up entirely, and the ground seems to be chocka block full of water. with rain happening today, and more roan forecast for the coming week too. The dogs aren’t choosing to stay long when they go outside, much preferring the warm and dry conditions inside.

It’s night time now, and I’m happier with the dogs staying inside as well. With four dogs, there is a certain amount of outside work required to keep things ‘nice’ out on the back lawn, but that task is a cold and wet one tonight. I’m glad the dogs are only going out for a quick wee, not the other task …

Anyway in our garden at the moment, as well as the water, we have lovely flowers growing in the hanging baskets on the back veranda. We also still have cherry tomatoes growing on the two tomato plants that sre just a few metres from the back veranda. I have about six or so of the tomatoes ripening inside, and there are about the same number of tomatoes on the plants outside that are about ready to come inside. There are also quite a few new tomatoes that will be ready to go in another couple of weeks, I’d say.

In and near the other vegetable plot, we have a couple of new things happening. Graham recently bought some seedlings and planted them out the other day when I was out. It was lovely to see the plants he’d bought, and planted out. So we now have our own capsicum plants growing, as well as leeks. I love leeks! We still have kale growing too, and tonight it was my job to cook our evening meal.

I went for my old standby – spaghetti bolognaise, and for a change I decided to put some kale into it. I’ve never done that before, and I hoped it would work out OK. I cut the kale up into small pieces when I was cutting up the onions (which were actually shallots), and the garlic and capsicums too. The shallots made my eyes cry, but by the time we sat down to eat this meal, my tears were forgotten, and the fine taste made up for the onion tears!

My husband and I both make this meal various times, and we both produce quite different meals. I like to go via a long and slow path with this meal. I take a long time over the meal, and give it all several hours for the flavours to blend. There was red wine sloshed into it, and read wine always adds a lovely flavour to a meal. The tomatoes in the meal were real tomatoes, bought from the Adelaide Central Market by Graham a few days ago. They weren’t as flavourful as our cherry tomatoes, but were infinitely superior to supermarket tomatoes.

What else is there in the garden? Well, with the tomato plants, there are also ten garlic plants growing, from garlic bulbs planted several weeks ago. One of the plants is looking excellent, and the others all look OK. I’m looking forward to us being able to use our own home grown garlic again. Graham does almost all of the work in planting and looking after our garden, and he’s doing a fine job. I am the one who is more likely to pick things when they are ready.

I’m extremely happy the dogs didn’t realise the tomatoes are growing where they could have picked them off the bush and eaten them. They are grazers when they are out in the year, often chowing down on the lawn (and the occasional bird, moth or reptile visitor from time to time. It’s the Pharaoh Hounds who do this, our old Schnauzer isn’t a hunter how the other dogs are.

We also have a mandarin tree in the dog run out the back. At the moment, the little tree, which was planted a couple of years ago, seems to be getting ready to bloom. It did the same thing last year at about the same time. We have lots of lovely blossom, and some tiny little green fruit growing. But we had some hot days, and the fruit steadily dropped off of the tree, well before it turned orange in colour. I hope we have better luck with it this season. I love mandies!

If you have a garden with dogs in it, I’d love to hear about how your garden grows. Please leave a message here!

I saw a wedge tailed eagle earlier today. I had to think about the sighting for a bit before I could definitely say, yes it definitely was a wedge tail. The heavy dark strong look of it, so much heavier and more impressive than any other Australian bird of prey, definitely a wedge tailed eagle.

It wasn’t here, at home but even so, to see one flying across a road I drive on often was exciting. I was on my way to Salisbury from home, travelling along Port Wakefield road, and heading south, the bird was flying across the road, headed east, and approx. fifty metres above the traffic. Major roads are good places for carrion birds in some ways, but not in others.

I didn’t see any dead creatures on this journey, but I wasn’t looking, and I’ve certainly seen quite a few dead things along that road, over the years. It’s a sad fact that fast cars and animals don’t go together well, and the animals are usually the ones that end up dead.

The other day I was driving from my place to Gawler and saw a bearded dragon on the road. The slowed down as much as I could, the creature crouched down a little, and I think that one lived, this time. I wish they’d stay off the road, but who knows, the lizard may have been feasting on something smaller that had lost the battle with the cars.

Getting back to the wedge tailed eagle, from earlier today, if you’ve never seen one of these magnificent creatures, this is Wedge-tailed Eagle 06what they look like. Their wing span is over 2 metres, and the adult is usually quite dark overall. They are feathered almost all of the way down to their toes, and are a very strong and solid looking bird in flight, as they leisurely circle around high above, on the thermals over slow and hot summer’s days.

 

 

 

 

(image from http://rwsboa2011.blogspot.com.au/2012/04/saw-pair-of-wedge-tailed-eagles-today.html – A great site for seeing images of birds in the wild.)

I’ll never forget the day I saw one of these birds on my way home from Balaklava – it was on the ground next to the side of the road, and it appeared enormous. I suspect it had either killed or found something dead, and was settling in for a meal. I was on my way home, and thinking about a meal myself! This was quite a few years ago, and I can’t remember what I’d been doing. The sighting of the wedgie was the more exciting thing, for me.

My most recent poetry collection, that is coming out around the middle of the year has many poems about dead creatures and roads, and dogs that like to kill creatures and other creature-related matters. I was going to call this collection ‘Critters’, but my publisher didn’t like the name, so it’s now called ‘Delicious Tension’ which comes from the first poem. It’s certainly a more dignified title, but I still have a soft spot for all of the critters that make up the collection, and that make up for my life interest in Nature, and all of the animals, birds, insects and so on who share this world with us.

 

 

 

I was going to use this as an article for the front page of the Mallala Crossroad Chronicle. It was too long though, because if I was going to use it there, it would have to have photos, and it would have taken up at least one and a half pages. Instead of that, I’ve decided to put it on this blog instead. It’s part of who and what I am.

I live in rural South Australia, on a small property with the four dogs, and I watch the birds when I have spare time, and if feel like sitting aroung on the veranda, front or back. You see, in my spare time, I am a twitcher, or birdwatcher. I know there are twitchers who take this role far more seriously than I, but there you are, I’m perhaps a casual or spare-time only twitcher.

 

13 February 2015

A report on the avian activities for the afternoon. Birdwatching from the seat on the front verandah I’ve seen more native birds than non native ones and I find that to be a huge win for the session!

Non native birds seen – 2 sparrows one in our old bird bath, one flying from roof to pine trees on western edge of our place. I can hear a spotted turtle dove but haven’t seen it. Oh there were two of them a few metres in front of me. They’ve flown off now, but there’s one 15 metres away, and there’s still an unseen one I can hear,

Native birds – the first seen for this session was a crested pigeon. It seemed it was going to use our new bird bath, but only walked around it and near it before strolling off, head nodding, to have a drink from the old bird bath. Then it flew away, with that characteristic call, so beloved of small children, who delight in chasing them off, so they’ll do the call!

After the crested pigeon was a small group (5) of white-lined honeyeaters who all flew into the odd bush we have which is about 5 metres from my seat. They then left the bush and all drank from the old bird bath before splashing in it briefly before flying into one of the pine trees.

It was the other honeyeater species next new holland honeyeaters. A frolicking little flock of them went merrily from bush, to pine tree, to old bird bath. They briefly stopped on the edge of the bird bath before the six of them jumped into the water for a fun splash, fly off, return and splash again. None of them drank the water, they just splashed and bathed in it.

muAH7rk(1)New Holland honeyeater

A sparrow joined them at the old bird bath, but he only had a sensible sip and then he flew away. I was having fun watching them frolic, but they flew away from bird bath to bush, to pine tree and then gone. I thought that was it, but joy of joys, oh my is that? Yes it is! A crimson rosella landed in the old bird bath, then another and then another! Oh wow, how wonderful is that!?

crimson rosellacrimson rosella

These three gloriously red parrots bathed and then sipped and the bathed again. I stood up to go inside to tell my husband, hoping they wouldn’t disappear, so he’d be able to see them too. The three of them flew away from the old bird bath, but only flew the few metres to the pine trees, and they were still there when Graham and I were outside again. I’d brought my phone with me an took some snaps, but don’t know if the parrots will be visible. Finding out will be a task for tomorrow. As it turned out, the photos were no good, but this is a close up picture of what the bird looks like. I couldn’t get as close to the wild birds as this one is whoever is the person feeding it.

That’s probably the end of this bird watching session, except to mention the willie wagtail I both heard and then saw on the road just both of our driveway. I can hear a bird cheeping too, but that’s almost certainly a non-noteworthy sparrow. Ah though, speaking of sparrows, I did see more sparrows from time to time, mostly taking a few sips, then flying off and mostly male ones. There were a male and a female though who both bathed, and I saw some white lined honeyeaters do the same toward the end.

That’s all, it’s time to go inside with the other two humans and the four dogs!

 15 February 2015

Today galahs are the main thing with the birds. I was out on the front veranda chatting to a friend on my phone tonight, and was watching and listening to the galahs as I chatted. We have 6 tall pine trees along part of our front fence, and it seems the pine cones must have pine nuts in them. This season, flocks of galahs fly in and try to get at the pine nuts, knocking the pine cones off the tree, and trying to get at the nuts on the ground.

The galahs were there tonight, and they also took advantage of our two bird baths. I had an interesting show, and thought this would be a good further note to this blog post. And I took a photo, so I’m able to put up one of my own pics, as well as the others.

galahs drinking

this photo of galahs drinking at bird bath taken by Carolyn Cordon

two other bird photos from http://www.rgbstock.com/

Less than half an hour ago, I saw the most interesting thing. I’ve lived in this house, with dogs here too, for about twenty five years, and this is the first time I’ve seen this thing.

We’ve had Willie Wagtails here, always, as far as I can remember. But tonight was the first time I’ve seen this happen. I’d let all four dogs out into the back yard for a toilet break after they’d had tea. The Pharaoh Hound girls did their usual trick of racing toward the back fence to catch something.

The boy dog, Lah Dee squatted for a poo, and then a brave little Willie Wagtail swooped him over and over again, chattering its anger at the dog. The dog ignored the bird and wandered off when he’d finished. Then I did my pooper scopper lady thing, wondering if I’d be swooped too. I was safe from the bird, which had flown off over the fence and into a gum tree nearby.

Then the two girl Pharaoh Hounds went down that part of the yard and they were both swooped too. I was ready to get involved and convince the dogs to go away if they tried to catch the bird, but fortunately, they didn’t seem to notice the bird either. This really surprised me, because both of these girls have caught and eaten birds before. I don’t mond it so much it it’s a sparrow or starling involved, but I love these cheeky Willie Wagtails, always have and always will!

I know it’s nature that makes the dogs want to catch things and eat them, but dogs came to Australia, whereas the Willie Wagtails are native birds, and I figure this gives them right of way here. Does anyone else have thoughts about these things? I’d love to know whether or not you agree!