birds in garden, dogs

Watching the Birds …

Well, it’s Spring in Australia, and in the garden, Spring means lots of new things are coming along, both plants and creatures. One of the things I’ve been noticing much more than usual is young birds …

I’ve seen various birds doing their natural thing, courting, mating, nesting. And now I’m noticing the baby birds first, and now the adolescent birds. One bird species in particular has connected with me, and I was thrilled to see a pair of Willie Wagtails building a nest, and then obviously having laid eggs in the nest. The nest is only a couple of metres from where I park my car, and I’ve been thrilled to see the pair of birds taking turns at sitting on the nest.

About a fortnight ago, three baby Willie Wagtails could be seen in the nest, and then, a couple of days ago, they took flight! They didn’t fly very far, and they are still hanging around not too far from where that nest was that was their first home. These babies slowly  growing their tail feathers, practising their flying, and learning to wag their little tails!

I’m thrilled these little babes are living in and around our backyard, where I can see them and their parents whenever I go out of the backyard! I love seeing Nature so close to me, and I wish this family of lovely birds well! I don’t think there is anyone who doesn’t love these cheeky-seeming little birds!

Anyway, I have finally written a poem about these little new residents in the yard, and here it is, a little Haiku poem for the little baby birds:

Keeping watch
Willie Wagtail
babies all flown the nest –
parents still care …
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I will go on watching this family of birds, and I hope they keep on staying around. I am worried though that Missy, our dog, might decide to make a snack of one of the baby birds. They are getting better at flying though, so I hope they will be able to keep on flying high above Missy’s reach, so they can stay safe. Missy usually only goes outside if someone goes outside too, and that means we can keep watch. I hope that will be enough.
At the moment, Missy seems mostly interested in hunting for, I suppose snakes … She hunts around the fence line, where there is some grass, and sheets of fencing panels, where snakes could be hiding. I so hope she doesn’t ever catch a snake, I don’t want to lose our beautiful and silly hound. But she’s a hunter through and through, and she doesn’t listen to us when the hunt is on …
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multiple sclerosis

Household Habits, Outside and Inside

Well today was a day of potential danger, but of enjoyment too, if inwardly laughing at someone who is ridiculously (in your opinion) scared. Many things in and around our homes can be both dangerous and fun too.

deathpool

Swimming pools are a good example of this, and at the other end of the temperature scale you have fire. Fires are lovely things to see, with those gloriously flickering orange/yellow/red flames. I’m not so keen on the swimming pool we have in the backyard, but my husband is. I acknowledge of course that a swimming pool is excellent for rapidly cooling in the stinking hot summers we have in South Australia where I live.

Fires though, I love watching a fire burning under control. We had some dried wood lying around our place, that had been there in the sun,k drying out for some time, and today was the day to ‘deal with it’. So Graham dragged all of the bigger branches together, and set fire to them. Whoosh up they went. I love the fires like that, beautiful!

Graham started the fire, and a little later I got involved, adding smaller branches, trying to place them so they encouraged the fire. Today was lovely outside, and there was a gentle breeze, so the smoke was wafting all around, which was a little challenging at times. Sometimes I feel like I’m a smoke magnet, today every time I tried to get out of the smoke the breeze blew it after me, it seemed at times. Haha!

I’m not sure how long exactly I stayed outside with the fire, adding dead twigs and dried out weeds. Graham went back inside and I stayed out there with the fire, revelling in its glory. I know I have the power to put out that kind of fire, with just a few minutes with the garden hose, so it’s not that unsafe as long as I’m careful. So I stayed with it, as it slowly burnt itself almost out, with ash and almost burnt up branches left to smoulder for a while.

Then I come back inside, and judging by the way I was feeling, I realised I’d allowed myself to get too hot, and I’d been standing up for too long. I’m certainly feeling the effects of it all now, sitting down again inside where there is only a normal inside temperature instead of a fiercely burning fire. Multiple Sclerosis is like that. You can be feeling almost ‘normal’ doing things anyone else might be able to do, then you overheat, or get fatigued, and watch out! the MS has hit you again.

Cooling down and resting for a while are both helping me, and fortunately I feel fine now. It’s a good thing I’m feeling fine too, because not that long ago, after I’d been sitting on the sofa for a while, Graham said ‘Watch out, Spider!’

He didn’t shriek, but I looked and immediately got up – he said I’d better get rid of the spider or he’d kill it. I knew he meant it too, because he really, really, really doesn’t like spiders. I looked where he pointed, and there was a huntsman (I guess), not the biggest I’ve ever seen, but not the smallest either. The spider was on the sofa I was sitting on, on the back part, where Graham’s head would have been, if he’d sat down like he was going to before he saw the unwanted visitor.

along came a spider

(This is a spider I’d rescued on another day, before Graham saw it and killed it)

I told him to get me the dustpan and brush and I’d take it outside. He went to the kitchen and I got up to take the dustpan and take the spider outside. I’ve done this lots of times. I don’t mind those big spiders, but Graham hates them, so I know the best thing for me to do if I ever see one inside is to take it out and release it to the ‘wild’ outside somewhere, away from the doors, hoping it will stay outside where Graham won’t kill it …

Those poor spiders, but poor Graham too, of course. He has been able to get over a huge phobia that he had when we first moved out to the country. He feared spiders as much as I feared snakes, before I was able to get over my fear. My fear was a more realistic one of course – the snakes we see at our place could kill, if I was bitten by one, but a huntsman spider is harmless to a human. Ah well, Graham is big and brave and lovely in many ways, and he’s allowed to have his quirks, I may have a quirk or two myself!

Living in the country brings in so many fearful, feisty and fun things. Fire, dangerous creatures, scary ones, and beautiful things too – fire again, and the lovely birds that fly around us here, I wouldn’t move back the to the suburbs if you paid me to! I think country living is far superior – what do others think? I’d love to know, leave a message here!

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dogs, Uncategorized

Please, Not a Snake!

I let our dog, Missy out into the backyard today, and saw she quickly turned into hunter mode, ears forward and tail up and wagging slowly, the way it does when she’s thinking about ‘getting’ something. Missy is a hound, and hounds are hunting dogs; Missy knows this well, it’s in her DNA.

I didn’t know what what Missy was so keen about, but I feared it may have been a snake, a brown snake. Missy and brown snakes have a past – the one in the photo was a victim of Missy’s hunting instinct. She caught it, and it bit her. Missy lived, but did enough damage to the snake, that meant it was too slow to get away, and we killed it, before it killed anyone.

BrownSnake_Australia

Missy collapsed and we quickly rushed her to the vet, ringing them as we drove there, so they would be ready. This was two years ago, and I’m so glad that the vets did a great job, and after the antivenom treatment, and an overnight stay, Missy was well again and ready to try to find another snake. DNA is DNA and she will probably never learn not to try to kill snakes …

But I was pleased to discover the reptile that had attracted Missy’s attention had four legs, and though it could have bitten her, if she’d got too close, its bite would be painful, but not fatal. Missy came away from it when I called her, and I’m glad the lizard appears to have left out garden, or at least hidden itself away somewhere else …

I was glad when Missy came back inside with me, where she got back on her sofa to recover from the excitement. missy slightly bemused

Reptiles and dogs, at least dogs like Missy, who is a Pharaoh Hound, they will probably not be friends the way that cats and dogs can become friends, under the right circumstances. But lizards or snakes and hunting dogs, I don’t think so. If anyone actually know about a dog who’s became pals with a reptile, I’d love to hear about it, please leave a message telling us about it!

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birds in garden, dogs, Uncategorized

Missy in the Backyard with Me

There is something about a dog in the backyard that always brings some joy to my heart. It brings the pooper scooper into action too, at times, but the overwhelming joy a dog seems to get from being outside with Nature, also brings me some of that joy too. This morning was another one of those joyful times.

I was acting on instructions from Graham, to water particular parts of our garden. He told me or was that asked me? anyway, I was to water the hanging pots and the bonsai trees. We have some rain-free days coming today and the next few days, and we certainly don’t want our trees and plants to die. Looking at this trees and plants, remembering the processes of getting them to their various stages, these are good to remember. And if it brings memories of other plants and trees that didn’t make it through to this stage, well that’s still a good thing to think on, even if it isn’t a joyful thing.

Missy prefers to stay on and around the back lawn, sniffing around the shrubs, searching for things I certainly don’t want her to find, like snakes, I suspect. She didn’t find anything like that this time, which is a good and joyful thing! What she did find was a spot of lawn that was in the sunshine and was ready to be rolled on! Missy loves to roll on the lawn, and I love to watch Missy doing it. A dog enjoying a back massage by rolling over and over on the lawn, that’s an extremely joyful thing for them to do and a joyful thing to see!

Of course, there are birds to see and hear when we’re in the backyard too. Missy and I both like birds, but not for the same reasons. I love to see them flying free and mobile, zooming high above us, or past us, or diving down to sip some water from the pool, and then way up high again. That’s usually the swallows who do that, and they’re particularly active at this in the early evening, when there will be many swallows dive down and then away again, circle around and do it again, or disappear off somewhere else. I love to see them doing this. Missy would probably love to catch and eat one of them.

cape honeysucklethis is one of the bushes Missy likes to snuffle around the base of. Sometimes she’s found baby birds there, yum (for her anyway)

 

Because of course, Missy is a dog, a hound, and what dogs in general, and hounds in particular, like to do, is to hunt. When these bushes (Cape honeysuckle proper name Tecoma capensis) are flowering, as they are in the photo, that’s when the birds take a particular interest in them, getting nectar from the blooms. I love watching the honeyeaters in them, betting a good feed of nectar. We get two kinds of honeyeaters around our place. There are always New Holland honeyeaters around the place, and sometimes we get White Lined honeyeaters. I don’t like it if Missy catches and eats any of these lovely honeyeaters, but Missy doesn’t care what I think about that.

muAH7rk(1)  a New Holland Honeyeater

 

Watching the birds around our place brings me joy, I love to see them, both the ordinary ones, sparrows, starlings, turtledoves, but the native ones in particular, such as those honeyeaters mentioned above, and the crested pigeons, lorikeets sometimes, and often there will be willie wagtails too, I love these jaunty and songful birds! Sometimes I will spot a bird of prey circling high above, which always interests me, as I work to figure out what kind of bird it is. I’m a keen birdwatcher, and new birds to our place certainly brings me joy – I love to be able to add a new bird species to my list of birds around our place. At the moment, there are I think 43 different birds on my list.

It’s not a competition, but I’d love to hear about the different birds you can see from where you live – please leave a comment here are let us know. I live in Rural South Australia, in the lower Mid North region, I’m sure people in other areas have some very different kinds of birds, please tell!

 

 

 

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dogs, Uncategorized

Summer Means Snakes …

We had a snake incident at our place a couple of days ago. It could have been a terrible time, but it was only and exciting time for our dog, Missy, and a worrying time for me. I’d let Missy out for a comfort break in the backyard, and she almost immediately sniffed out a snake that was by the fence to our pool area, in a bit of dying grass.

cute puppy pic
When Missy was a baby pup, many years ago

I saw a familiar slithering form heading off through the fence and away from the backyard and from possible death. Missy wanted that snake, she knew what to do, and who knows, maybe this time she may have actually killed it, without getting bitten and almost killed herself.  But the pool fence is too high for Missy to jump, and the snake disappeared, into the back part of our place, well away from us, and from our avid hound …

Life in the country is lovely, and I’m so glad we are country people now, and have been for almost thirty years. We have fitted in well to life on our part of the Adelaide Plains. In summer, Graham and Jake both play lawn bowls, and if they’re playing at home I watch them. They both do Lions related things with the Mallala Lions group, they both swin in our swimming pool, Graham tends to the garden, and Missy and I laze around most of the time, with the occasional bit of greater activity.

missy slightly bemused

Missy relaxing

But in Summer, for Missy, that greater activity can mean chasing prey, as is natural for sight hounds, and it could end up with death, if we’re not there to keep her safely away from trouble, or getting her to the vet for (expensive) treatment, if trouble in the form of a poisonous snake bites back … I love Missy, our sole remaining dog. This has been a terrible year for us, losing Missy’s mother, her brother, and then more recently, our very old schnauzer.

Life is like that, we’re born, we live, we die, human, canine, snakes too, the circle of life goes on and on for all living creatures. I watch ants outside sometimes, and ponder about whether they may also think on these things. They tramp and tramp, soldiers out to collect provisions for home camp, finding them and carrying huge items back for their community … The things they carry back are the things that die during the night, moths and insects drawn by the lights on at night, and dying, to give life to other creatures …

In Summer, I’m outside on the back veranda more, and see these things happening, and yes, those snakes will come visiting too, and yes again, if Missy sees the snake, Missy will chase the snake and try to kill it. She’s such a sweet dog, our Missy, but I do worry about her, please may we have many more years together, well at least another four years would be good …

deathpool

our pool, in need of cleaning!
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weather

Summer Start Cool & Rainy

This year, Summer has started in a way our garden certainly seems to be appreciating. We’ve had a bit of rain, keeping the front and back lawns as well as most of our potted plants and trees watered naturally, and topping up the bird baths too. It’s also creating yet another mini lake on our front driveway. Perfect for nature, great for us!

deathpool

For the final week of Spring, we had horrible hot and humid weather with a small amount of rain, but I certainly saw a few birds perched on various fences who looked like they wanted more rain. On the last day of Spring, I saw something in our pool, which turned out to be a lizard, floating on/in the pool. I carefully got closer to see if it was alive. It was, Yay.

I got the skimmer box lid, and used it to make the lizard float closer, then scooped up the lizard, and put in down next to the pool. It wasn’t happy at me and showed me its blue tongue in a kind of a snarl. I put down the skimmer box lid and got pool something or other with a long handle and carefully ‘encouraged’ the lizard to move further away from the pool.

Fortunately, it moved away as I wanted it too, and it has stayed away! Lizards, especially Blue Tongue Lizards are relatively common around where we live. We’ve had a few that fell victim to our dogs over the years. I’m glad this one was in the pool area, not the backyard. The dog doesn’t go in the pool area, so lizards are safe, if not really wanted. Snakes have been in our pool too, over the years. I certainly don’t work to save their lives though. The snakes we get here are poisonous ones, and in fact our dog was bitten by a Brown Snake a few years ago, and could have died if we hadn’t whizzed her off to the vet for treatment.

There’s a story that says if you have lizards you won’t have snakes, but I don’t know whether or not that’s true. I just make sure I keep an eye out for reptiles and deal with them as appropriate, keeping Missy the dog well away from any reptile action. I don’t ever want her to be bitten like that again. We love Missy, and we certainly don’t want to pay that much money again. Saving a dog bitten by a poisonous snake is expensive! It doesn’t always work either. We have excellent vets at the clinic we use.

blue flowers

My husband and son are due to play their weekly summer sport today, Lawn Bowls. My husband and I are watching the bit of rain we’re having at the moment, and hoping it doesn’t stop the game from starting, or ending it before the game is over. If the bowling club rinks get too wet, the game will be cancelled. And if they get a little bit wet, it tends to slow the bowls down as they journey to the other end of the rinks, when one of the bowlers have their turn. Fun times, hoping for the best for husband and son with their games today, and I know I will be there later on in the afternoon, unless the rain cancels play.

It will be interesting to see how this goes with the rest of Summer, a bit rainy instead of stinking hot is great for the garden and great for me too! My husband and son both like swimming though, so they both like the hotter weather. I’m happy to keep cool by staying inside, where the air conditioner does its work very well, or even sometimes a little too well for me. I like to be a little bit warm, but my husband likes to be a little bit cool … I can always put on another layer of clothes though, so I’m content to go with the temperature he likes the best …

The dog, Missy, likes to be inside on her sofa most of the time, and doesn’t seem to mind what the temperature is inside … A clever dog, this one! Do you have your own weather preferences? I’d love to hear about it if you do, feel free to leave a comment here!

 

 

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dogs

What Comes Naturally

When our dogs are in hunter mode, I try to look away, but I couldn’t ignore our youngest, Missy, when she was victorious and pranced around with her prey today. Was it a native bird or just a sparrow?

I couldn’t tell which, but from her chomping into it, it must have been tasty, to her at least. I’m ameat-eater too, and I know, with the pharaoh hounds especially, hunting is in their bones. They go outside, they look for things to chase and eat. I can’t stop that instinct – they’re certainly fed enough that they don’t need to catch their own.

If I ever actually became a vegetarian, I still wouldn’t try to stop them from eating birds and other creatures, no matter how much I wished they wouldn’t do it. The dogs are limited to just the back yard, and the dog run. This is only a small part of what we have …

It’s a small thing, knowing the other creatures have places to go, still on our property, but away from the dogs. I know that, the dogs know that, but the creatures don’t realise it. One day, when I’m old, perhaps we’ll only have small dogs, ones that don’t have overwhelming desires to catch and kill.

I like the pharaoh hounds though. They’re quite different from the schnauzer, the breed I’ve been involved in for nearly thirty years. A schnauzer can kill creatures too, but they’re not as intent on doing it, the way the hounds are. The two breeds were both created to do different things.

The schnauzer was bred as a general farm dog, helping farmers around the place, herding, guarding and so on. The pharaoh hound has been a helper for farmers too, but their role was to keep down the rabbit numbers. So sitting around and chasing and killing rabbits has been their role for many hundreds of years.

Our dogs can’t get at the rabbits around the place, the creatures don’t come over the dog’s side of the fence. So the birds, lizards and snakes, if they come too close, are chased and caught, and eaten, or at least attacked, sometimes. The snakes frighten me. They’re brown snakes, and yes, our dogs have tussled with them.

Most recently, one of our dogs, Missy, was bitten by one of these killer snakes. She was seen in time, and my son and I raced her to the vet, where her life was saved. It was expensive, but I’m glad she’s back with us, still racing around looking for things to catch, whenever she goes outside. It was expensive, but with her being our youngest dog, I’m glad she’s still with us.

Do you have dogs? Do they have any habits that you’d rather they didn’t have?

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