Tag Archives: choughs

Golden Wattle and Blue Skies

wattle in bloom

Wattle in bloom

The first sign of spring at SeventySevenAcres comes with the gentle buzz of bees, and blue, blue skies, as the wattle bursts into bloom, tree by tree.

There is something really special about stealing a couple of minutes in the middle of the afternoon to find a sheltered position in the sun on the lawn, to close your eyes and listen to the sound of the bees as they industriously buzz around the little pom pom flowers, and breathe in the heady, fresh-linen scent that fills the air from the glorious bright yellow blooms.

Don’t be fooled, though. Once the sun drops over the hills to the west, we know well and truly that it is still winter.

This winter has been particularly chilly, and we have burnt our way through all our reserves of firewood just to stay warm. This year saw several snowfalls at SeventySevenAcres, one deep enough to hang around for a couple of days (I know this is nothing in some parts of the world, but for us it was pretty exciting), but mostly we have had thick frosts and biting winds off the Australian Alps.

Many an afternoon has been spent wrapped up in front of the fireplace, with a good book and a warm cuppa, rather than braving the great outdoors.

Our veggie beds look like a mass of weeds, and will need quite some work before spring proper comes and we want to start planting out. I can see some very busy times ahead.

I’m also going to have to grow some resolve and get walking again. It has been too easy to decide it is too cold or too windy to go out regularly, so apart from some brief forays to collect kindling and admire how full the dam is at present, I haven’t really been out and about, and I can tell from how inflexible and unfit I feel!

Lyrebird by dam

a lyrebird beside the dam

A few good hikes up the mountain should fix that, but I’ve got to psyche myself into it first! And, of course, I’m so easily distracted by all the beautiful sights and sounds around the property. It doesn’t take much for me to stop and watch while some birds flit through the trees, or an echidna waddles by (like the one on the track this afternoon as I was driving home from work… sadly, by the time I had pulled my phone out to take a pic, he had waddled off into the bush and I didn’t feel inclined to chase him!)

Echidna

An echidna visiting our garden

Talking of our amazing wildlife, the wombat… sorry, The Wombat has taken up residence again in the wombat hole by the back gate. We are trying to give him lots of space at the moment so he doesn’t feel invaded, but have succumbed to leaving a few old carrots around near the entrance to let him know he is welcome. We will doubtless regret this later, but it is so exciting to feel that after, what, four years (!), he has finally decided we are acceptable-ish.

Of course, our girls (the ‘roo family) have been turning up regularly, but we are yet to see any sign of this year’s babies. That is always a moment of great delight, when we catch a glimpse of a tiny nose poking out of the pouch, or, amusingly, an awkwardly posed leg.

kangaroo and joey

One of our ‘girls’ last year with baby on board

The most common visitors at the moment, though, are the birds that regularly turn up for breakfast. Dusty, the Burrawang, will follow me from room to room, peering with curiosity through the windows, until I take out some left-overs from the night before’s dinner, and will rapidly be joined by an ever increasing array of feathered friends. The magpies are generally second in the queue, along with a family of crimson rosellas, and recently the kookaburra has been joining them on the grass, although the funniest thing I have seen of late was when he dived in and stole food right out of the beak of one of the magpies, without even pausing mid-flight!

We have had a little thrush (still to be properly identified) hopping around, too, along with the whole tribe of blue-wrens.

Later on the choughs and ravens arrive… quite a noisy bunch… and sometimes we’ll get a galah or two, or one of the big sulphur crested cockatoos.

I can never get enough of watching the antics through the kitchen window, and still wonder at our great fortune in being a part of this amazing place.

Don’t get me wrong, though, there are many things that interrupt this view of paradise… pumps that fail, our leaky house-water water tank that will need to be replaced soon, a driveway that is increasingly resembling a goat track, feral goats and pigs (and foxes), some expensive maintenance that is going to be quite tricky to get done… spiders, snakes and biting flies… and the ever present summer threat of bushfire.

All part of taking on a bush property.

But for now, I’ll take the promise of a pleasant afternoon scented with wattle, and the humming of the bees going about their business, with the sun on my face and a not-too-chilly breeze in my hair.

A beautiful moment in time.

wattle in flower

No quotes this time, but I did find a poem that included wattle… however, as it was about where a dying stockman wanted to be buried I decided against using it!

…away with the birds

Every day brings something new at Seventy Seven Acres.  This morning brought us some unexpected visitors to the garden.  Two.  Well three, really.  A pair of gang-gang cockatoos and a king-parrot.

... the gang-gangs, so close that I could have reached out and touched them

… the gang-gangs, so close that I could have reached out and touched them.

I had already supplemented my favourite burrawangs’ breakfast with a handful of meat scraps from last night’s dinner, and was standing at the kitchen window watching them squabble with a magpie family over who got what.  This is a daily ritual with varying results.  Sometimes Dusty (one of the burrawangs –  a story all unto himself) outwits the magpies, and sometimes the magpies win.  Occasionally the choughs arrive, outnumbering the burrawangs and magpies alike with the sheer size of their large and noisy family.  And even more occasionally a large crow or two will shoulder in on the action.

Not today, though.

Dusty had tricked the magpies into thinking there was a tasty treat in the mulch pile (which there probably was – wood-roaches, caterpillars and centipedes abound) and was filling up with enough of our last night’s leftovers to take back to the nest.

I was watching, as I said, at the kitchen window, when a small grey shadow flew over garden and alighted in a large black wattle just by our back gate.  This small grey shadow was soon joined by another, this one with a brightly plumed red head.

The gang-gangs had arrived.

It didn’t take long to fetch my camera, and I was soon sneaking warily across the back garden hoping to get a good shot without frightening them away.  They were watching me as I focused the camera, zooming in a little, and I was watching them.  Which is why I nearly jumped out of my skin when something flashed right past me at head height, missing me by a hair’s breadth!  Not, as I first assumed, one of the magpies, upset by having breakfast disturbed, but by a cheeky king-parrot who settled on our pergola and blithely cleaned his beak at me as I hastily tried to get a picture of him.

Then I turned back to the project in hand, only to discover the gang-gangs had gone.

Darn.

Except… they were now in the tree right beside me, and I had to un-zoom (a highly technical photographic term) in order to take their picture.

Not to be outdone, the king-parrot turned up on an even closer branch, demanding attention.

I don’t know if they thought I was going to feed them or something, but the two sets of visitors seemed to be vying with each other. I snapped a few quick shots, wondering just how close they would actually get!

With the photo shoot over I slipped away guiltily, wondering what I had in my pantry that might provide a prize for their friendly behaviour.  I’m hoping that the slivers of over-ripe banana that I tossed out for them were what they had in mind.

…the male gang-gang, keeping an eye on what I’m doing

Both gang-gangs and king-parrots are usually seed eaters, and I’m pretty certain that this is what the gang-gangs had been doing in the wattle tree before I turned up on the scene with my camera.  They are gorgeous looking birds,  smaller than the familiar white cockatoo, but with a croaky call a bit like a rusty hinge which is much quieter than their well-know cousin!

Of course, the king parrot is somewhat showier, and quite large in comparison to the gang-gangs.  My field guide tells me that they are generally shy and easily put to flight.  I don’t think this one had read the book.

...the cheeky king-parrot.  I wasn't sure he wasn't actually going to land on me!

…the cheeky king-parrot. I wasn’t sure he wasn’t actually going to land on me!