birds, Uncategorized

My Aussie Backyard Bird Count

Because I am interested in, and care about, birds, I decided last month that I was going to do this Aussie Backyard Bird Count this year. This event is held every October, all around Australia, and is a great way for researchers to gather information about birds in the built up environment.

Or of course, some people live in a house with not much built up areas at all, and those statistics are also important too. The Aussie Bird Count requires those taking part to record the different bird seen, and the numbers of that bird seen. (I should have read up better, for my first count, I neglected to report how many of the different birds seen, so it was recorded as the basic 1 only.)

I’m going to do another bird count later on today, and I expect to see some of the birds not there for this first count. I really like this chance to get involved in something like this – helping the researchers who are working on a variety of different ways to help all of the wonderful birds we have in Australia!

Apparently thousands of Australians get involved in this event every year. It happens in October, which is the middle of Spring when many birds are out and about, for their breeding season.

muAH7rk(1)(not my photo, obtained online, creative commons)

The bird in the photo is actually one I commonly see at my place, but not today, for my first count. It is a New Holland Honeyeater, and I hope I see one or more when/if I do another count later on in the day. I did my first count at noon, but I know I will see different birds later on in the day. If I remember, and have time, I will go outside into the backyard again at around 5pm, I think I should see one or more of them then.

If you are Australian, why not take a look at the website of Birdlife Australia, and do your own bird counts! Birdlife Australia does good work in conservation, with a focus, not surprisingly on birds. But of course, birds need habitat, so the organisation uses these stats to view the state/health of the environment. If there is a healthy environment, there will be plenty of birds!

The seven different kinds of birds I saw today were Swallow, Sparrow, Willie Wagtail, Spotted Turtledove, Starling, Noisy Miner and Blackbird. As I said, I know there are other different birds around my place, and if you know what birds you have, I would love to hear about it – leave a message telling us, if you want to!

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weather

My Front Yard View

Today I’m in my best seat in the house, on the sofa, near the window, with curtains drawn and the sun shining. I can see part of the front lawn, a weird shrub thing that has been there forever, but I still don’t know what it actually is. I can also see some of the pots we have with plants in them, along the front of part of our front veranda.

I can see the road near our driveway, and so far the only thing I can see moving are the plants. There are clouds up above, in the blue sky, but I can’t really tell from here whether or not they’re moving, but I assume with the strongish wind we have at the momeny, they definitely are moving.

The only living things I can see outside are plants. I haven’t spotted any birds at all, in the bush, flying around, or on the ground. Maybe all of the birds are somewhere warmer … It’s quite a cool day, after all, winter really is well on the way, so we should prepare ourselves for the cooler, and then cold weather, in the southern hemisphere. For those in the northern hemisphere, summer is approaching and you’d better prepare yourself for the heat.

Ah, I just saw a car drive past, so I’m obviously not the only living creature around. My dog Missy is inside with me, in her own favoured position, on her own sofa, curled up and cosy. IMAG0306Missy looks most comfortable there, and I’m comfy too. I have to go out later today though, and looking out at the sky again, I can see I’d better put a warm jacket on. The sunshine and blue sky have disappeared, and obviously those clouds sure were moving. There still haven’t been many cars though, and I like that, living on a quiet country road, where not much happens …

I still haven’t seen a single bird, but here comes a bit more sunshine, and I hope I’m soon going to be inspired enough to actually get up and get myself some lunch. My tummy is hinting that it would be a good idea, and I know I have plenty of health giving walnuts available to mix with some other things and turn into a good lunch. Did you know walnuts were the healthiest nut? The BBC said so, and I’m certainly prepared to believe them! BBC means believability to me.

So I thnk that’s it for me, time to get up off the sofa and get my lunch and another cup of coffee, yum.

Do you ever just sit comfortably inside and look at what’s happening outside? What do YOU see? (I still haven’t spotted any birds at all out there)

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Uncategorized

Pool of Death

deathpool

It looks innocent enough, this pool, yes? A little untidy perhaps and in need of some work to vacuum the ‘floor’ of it. And perhaps that lawn could be gotten rid of. That chair over on the right could be stood up properly too maybe. But pool of death? Really?

This is a pool in a small township, the photo taken before the summer season starts, when the necessary work will be done more often, and the pool will be kept shiny blue, with no dirt left on the pool bottom. Yes it looks untidy and maybe a little unkempt, but just a few hours before this photo was taken, for dead bodies were removed from the pool water.

The day began as another ordinary day, sun came up, cool and pleasant breeze was blowing, and I was enjoying a little time wandering around on the back veranda enjoying it all. Then I looked over at the pool near the veranda and saw something dark floating on top of the pool. In the interests of tidiness I went and took a look, prepared to scoop up what I thought might be a cluster of leaves.

Closer inspection though, showed the awful truth of it. The ‘cluster of leaves’ was actually a dead starling floating on the water. I looked around for the leaf scoop device and noticed something dark in the pool’s skimmer box. I looked closer, there was another bird, dead, a sparrow this time. I leaned over and removed that bird, placing it at rest a little further away and on the other side of the fence. I came back to the pool and saw a frog, and then another. I removed all of these creatures from the skimmer box, placing the frogs also away from the pool.

Then I got the leaf scooper and reached for and caught the first poor dead bird. I placed this bird also on the other side of the fence. I looked around then, at the sky, and the trees, at our vegetables, herbs and flowers, all growing, alive and vibrant. I thought about it all, and came back inside. Thinking still. The thinking lead to me writing a Facebook post about feeling sad about the deaths. That then lead to the writing of two little poems, lamenting these careless deaths.

Swimming pools are about fun and living for us humans, but things go quite differently for others. The birds like to drink from the pool, flying down low and scooping up the water in their beak. And the frogs of course love water, but the chlorine in the pool isn’t good for them and they die if they stay there for too long …

Anyway, I thought about these things, and this is the poem I wrote about it:

 

The Pool of Death …

 

Final flight

Birds, birds, please keep on flying

Birds, please oh please stop your dying

Seeing them in the water, still

There for a sip, but took more than their fill

Young birds, practicing joys of flight

Taking risks, not getting it right?

I don’t know how this ended up

I just know these two took their final sup …

 

 

The two that croaked it …

I realise why it tempts them, of course

Frogs and water, a perfect match

But chlorination and filter aren’t safe

for frogs and sadly, that’s the catch …

they jump in, it’s fine, swimming around

diving down deep, then up for a breath

but something is wrong, they’re pulled along

filtration system causes their death …

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dogs

Dogs & Gardens

If you have a dog, and you have a garden, you probably have two of the best things in the world! A dog or two really make a garden, and having dogs gives you reasons to be out in that garden with them. From the fun to the dreary and mundane, and everything in between, dogs and gardens are great things to have.

Dogs help by doing some pruning, at the moment, one of our three dogs has been increasing her fibre intake by trimming the grass that is slightly long … They get rid of pests at times too, which can be somewhat scary, when the pest is a venomous snake, BrownSnake_Australiawhich has happened in the past. It’s still too cold for snakes at the moment, but we’ll be keeping an eye out as things warm up in Springtime …

Dogs also keep themselves fit by chasing birds. I’m glad that most of the time, the birds are quick enough to fly away in time. Sometimes they aren’t and it’s especially this Springtime/mating season when the birds can get ‘distracted’ and it’s the dogs and not the birds that get lucky … That’s the way of Nature, carnivores eat flesh …

Our garden provides us humans with food too. At the moment we have garlic and herbs growing, and we have tomatoes at the growing leaves and flowers stage, so tomatoes should follow. We also have almond trees with lots of blossom, so if we get organised and put up some netting, we can beat the cockatoos and have almonds later in the year. We also have two large Old Man Saltbush trees as well as I think three smaller ones. We don’t use these much for food, but the option is there if we want to.

We have had lettuces recently, and there are some small baby spinach plants outside. On our back patio we have two hanging baskets with strawberry plants in them. There’s one strawberry that has reddened up nicely, and we may be eating that one very soon. There are a few other strawberries coming along there too, even though it isn’t really strawberry time quite yet. I hope for lots more strawberries a little later on.

Our dogs would probably like to eat all of these things, but they either can’t get into where these goodies are, or they’re up too high for the dogs. Our dogs are fed well, and they won’t starve because we don’t let them eat our home grown goodies! I love the idea of us feeding ourselves, and I sure appreciate all muAH7rk(1)of the work my husband does to keep the produce plants going so well!

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birds, birds in garden

My Christmas Bird Count

muAH7rk(1)

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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!

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Cooking

Water Brings the Garden to Life!

After some hard work by one family member to keep the back lawn alive and well during our recent heat wave (many thanks to my husband Graham), we’ve now had an absolute deluge compliments of Nature. Our back lawn is looking lovely and green, and our trees, shrubs and flowers are looking wonderful! This free rain is always a welcome surprise, until it becomes a flood.

At the moment, we’re certainly not needing to worry about flooding. So far, our house has always been fine, water-wise. The front driveway may be an upclose water feature, but the liquid is reamining outside, with none coming in with us! The birds have a large variety of places to go for water at the moment, from the two bird baths we have, the dog’s water bowls outside, the driveway lake and the swimming pool.

We have lorikeets in our flowering gum trees at the moment too, which is always exciting (yes, I’m one of those ‘twitchers’ – bird lovers). I spent several days during the heat wave out on our back veranda, trying to work out which kind of lorikeets they were in the trees. But I couldn’t get close enough for a positive ident, because I didn’t want to get overheated from the scorching sun.

But then the weather changed, the cooler weather and then rain meant I could get much closer, and could work out from their markings that we had Musk Lorikeets in our flowering gums. There may be another, smaller type of lorikeet there too, but other things have got my attention now. Later on I may check. The weather is still lovely and cool, and it would be a bit of a shame if I don’t do my ‘Twitcher’ task with the seriousness it deserves!

I have muffins planned though. Banana muffins. With Walnuts, and other Yummy things! I’ve taken the black bananas out of the freezer where they’ve been hiding, and when they’ve defrosted, I’ll turn them, along with the things I’ve already got out, plus a few other things, into yummy muffins! Yay, I love bananas that have been cooked! These bananas are Lady Finger bananas that were left too long, and ripened to much, so that nobody wanted to eat them.

I grabbed them though, and put them in the freezer, always intending them to reach their utmost glory days, as the main ingredient for Banana Muffins! Another banana delicacy I’ve been thinking about lately is banana pancakes, in particular ones with maple syrup and a side of bacon, at the Java Hut in Gawler. The bacon added to this dish makes it totally awesome, and I hope, hope, hope it will happen on Monday!

Does anyone else have thoughts on cooking with bananas? I’d love to hear about it if you do! Now I have to go and turn the oven on, Banana Muffins want to be made!

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birds, dogs

An Interesting Thing in the Garden

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!

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