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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