Tooo Hot

The weather was tooo hot for me again today, 39 deg,C this afternoon and I’m not the only one who’s had more than enough. I noticed this possum when I was out watering the garden this evening and it was so heat stressed it even allowed me to wet it with the hose. I started by misting it but then progressed to a gentle shower, at first it licked the water trickling down the stems but then licked it off its fingers and fur.

wet-possum

Tomorrow is forecast to be another 39 deg. day!

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Maggie’s Mistake

For too many years we had neighbours from hell so when I started finding bits of wire on our driveway on an almost daily basis I secretly cursed them. Their old fence had been patched with all kinds of bits and pieces and I assumed the wire bits were from there. Eventually though I came to realize I only noticed the bits of wire in the winter when the Magpies and Wattlebirds were nesting. I decided they must pick up the bits thinking they’d be good to use in their nest only to realize they are too hard and unwieldy.

Wire pieces have been appearing on the driveway again over the last week or so but this morning I found the best bit ever. It was in our backyard, a complete, shiny, wire coathanger. I wish I could have seen the whole event.

Maggie's-Mistake

Heat Stress

Yesterday Adelaide was the hottest city on Earth! Now, let me say there would have been plenty of places hotter and much hotter but apparently not cities. The ironic thing is many, many of the people living in those other places across the world wouldn’t even have Air Conditioning but no mention of them on The News.

Last night when I went out to water my poor vegetable garden in 36deg heat at 7:30 I saw an obviously stressed possum in a tree. A couple of years ago I found a mother and baby dead where they’d just dropped out of a tree during a heat wave and I didn’t want that to happen again. I know many people, especially gardeners, would probably have thought, one less pest to eat my precious plants or to get in my roof but I think they’re gorgeous. I also believe we people are the ones invading their spaces rather than the other way around. I used a very fine spray to try and dampen the possum but wasn’t very successful. Eventually I decided on another tactic and sent a much stronger spray high in the tree so the water fell down like rain. The possum licked the water from its paws but still lay lethargically in the tree. About 45 mins later when I came back to give it another sprinkle it scampered off up the tree so I was happy to see it had revived. I hope it survives until the expected “cool change” ie drop of about 15 degs.

Heat Stressed Possum

Heat Stressed Possum

 

The Pecking Order

Yesterday I read one of Lisa’s posts here,  http://fifteenacres.com/2014/01/12/spurwinged-plover-or-masked-lapwing/ and it has inspired me to write about the birds I see around our house.

Anyone who has owned fowls knows that they can be quite vicious when they are establishing the pecking order of the flock. After we decided we couldn’t win against the foxes we gave up the idea of keeping chooks but we still see birds establishing their pecking order. I have a birdfeeder which I don’t keep permanently stocked because I don’t want the birds to rely on us for their sustenance. When I do put seed into it however it’s very interesting watching what birds come and go and why.

Around our home I’ve seen these birds:

Crested Pigeons, Magpies, Galahs, Rainbow Lorikeets, Eastern Rosellas, Adelaide Rosellas,  Restless Flycatchers, Grey Flycatchers, Eastern Spinebills, Spotted Pardalotes, Striated Pardelotes, 2 Yellow Crested Tits, Blue Wrens,  1 Misteltoe Bird, Weebills, Silvereyes, New Holland Honeyeaters, Red Wattle Birds, Kookaburras, Currawongs, Yellow-Tailed Black Cockatoos, Tawny Frogmouths and Boobook Owls. For obvious reasons only a few ever come to the Bird Feeder and there is a definite pecking order.

Believe it or not at the Feeder the biggest birds are not the most aggressive, that honour goes to probably the prettiest of all, The Rainbow Lorikeets. Seems to me it’s a bit like humans, beauty can get you more than your fair share. I’ve seen the Rainbow Lorikeets chase off Galahs, Magpies and any other bird mistakenly thinking the rule of “first come first served” applies. I’m not sure which bird would win the battle between a Magpie and a Galah though the Galah would certainly protest the loudest.

In the Lorikeet pecking order, under the Rainbow Lorikeet comes the Crimson Rosella, Adelaide Rosella, and lastly the Eastern Rosella. The Crested Pigeons seem to totally lack confidence and usually just  potter about picking up seeds from the ground. I guess they deserve their reputation for being peaceful creatures.

If I were one of these birds I’d like to think I’d be one of the doves. I certainly wouldn’t be a Rainbow Lorikeet, I don’t have beauty to get me what I want and I’m not exactly muscled up so I doubt I’d be a Magpie or Galah. But now, I’ve just remembered another bird I’ve seen around here. It doesn’t come to the Bird Feeder, prefers to be in its own space, not interested in confrontation and definitely not trying to establish itself at the top of any pecking order. In bird books it’s described as having a rather drab colour though I think it’s a nice soft grey. It has a middling build, not svelt like the Flycatchers and not rotund like the Galahs and I feel an affinity with it. It’s the Grey Shrike Thrush but unlike me it has a lovely singing voice.

You can see most of the birds in the photos below. The tiny birds never seem to stay still for a second and are often very high in the trees so I haven’t managed any decent photo of a Weebill or Yellow-crested Tit and the Spotted Pardalote photo is only included to show the colours.

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Learning to Live Together

Today I enjoyed reading posts on http://fifteenacres.com, it‘s written by a fellow Australian and is about wildlife. The blogger talks about the aggressiveness of Magpies and it reminded me of a negative response to Magpies in one of my blogs so I decided I should write about my experiences.

In 1985 we moved to our new home in a nice hilly, bushy suburb but when we put our sedate, plains-reared, suburban chooks out in their yard they were terrorized by the Magpies every time they stuck their beaks out of the Chookhouse door. We took to scaring the Maggies off with a slingshot – it worked even though we never hit anything other than a tree branch! When nesting time came we were swooped on as we walked up our driveway to collect the morning paper.

I don’t know when things changed but remember one day sitting out the front of our house enjoying a nice snack when a Magpie swooped down, sat on a chair back and looked at us expectantly, someone had been feeding it and it recognised the signs. I don’t believe in feeding animals the unhealthy food we eat but think for Magpies, dog food contains the nourishment they need. Our dogs have the mini dried food so that’s what the Magpies are offered if they visit us at the outdoor table.

We don’t get swooped on anymore though I was swooped a few years ago when I was extricating a shrieking baby Magpie from a wire netting fence. On another occasion we were working in the garden and a Magpie family came down to investigate then the parents took off leaving the baby with us. Another day we were at the outdoor table and the same thing happened. The baby just sat on the back of a chair and chatted away to us but the parents were gone so long we did wonder if they were ever going to come back for their youngster.

I named one particular Magpie, “Mr Chatty” because so often he would just appear and repeatedly run through his amazing repertoire of sounds which included a cat and a Kookaburra. The only time I managed to record him the sound of the wind ruined the video. I think the Magpie in this video might be one of his offspring. http://youtu.be/qv45yrbVZ08

Over the last 29 years we’ve gone from wishing the aggressive Magpies that attacked us would just move somewhere else to admiring their skills and thoroughly enjoying their company. I guess all it took was a willingness to “chill out” and accept there was room for all of us. Now if only the ripple effect would come into play.

Are Koalas the Ultimate Pacifists?

This morning I’ve had a horrible experience. We live in a bushy environment on a very large suburban block without houses right beside us. For days we’ve had a Koala sitting in trees in our yard, last night he was lying back against a branch, legs outstretched like an old man in his favourite armchair. About half an hour ago my dogs were going ballistic and when I went out the neighbours’ dog had the Koala and was intent on killing it. The koala had come down from the tree and gone over the 6’ high fence into the dog’s yard. Eventually I managed to get the neighbour’s attention and he was able to get the dog away from the Koala.

What I just don’t understand is WHY Koalas don’t recognise danger and WHY they don’t use their claws to protect themselves. I can accept that fear of people and all the threats associated with them is just not inherent in Koalas but other creatures manage to learn over generations. Here in Australia In a relatively short time Crows have learned to flip over introduced Cane Toads so that they can eat them without ingesting the poison which lies in a gland on their backs. WHY haven’t Koalas learned in all the years since people came to this land that barking dogs represent a threat and WHY haven’t they learned to use their long, strong, sharp claws????

A Koala looking so laidback.

A Koala looking so laidback.