Monday, 29 August 2016

Nature Notes - wattle, black cockatoos and other encounters


We have three nature walks we do regularly. Two of them are just down the road, while the other is about a ten minute drive away. We save this one for when my daughter-in-law has a free space in her physio work schedule and sends us a message to say she's taking the dog for a walk and would we like to join her. We did that this afternoon and I was reminded of something that Tammy Glasser wrote on Why We walk the Same Trail Every Week. All three places are quite familiar to us and they give us the opportunity to observe the changing seasons and notice new things. I agree with Tammy, that walking the same trail regularly isn't boring. Last week we saw this beauty below, sitting quietly,  and what we thought might be a fairy-wren. I later found out it was a 'male eclipse of a Superb Fairy-wren, which I'd never heard of before. And in our garden last week we had a very short visit from an echidna - by the time I'd grabbed the camera, he was gone.


Crimson rosella Platycercus elegans - common to our area



One day, just after we'd moved into this area, we heard a 'thump, thump' on the skylight in our family room. It kept happening so I went out to see what was causing it and saw a couple of huge black parrots up in an overhanging banksia tree. The thumping was caused by the birds pecking at the 'banksia bombs' as my children called them, and dropping them onto our roof. They stayed for about ten minutes and then flew off, wailing with their mournful cries. The yellow-tailed black cockatoos (Calyptorhynchus funereus) have returned on a number of occasions and each time we've heard them in the distance before they arrive. And each time, they heralded rain. I was wondering about this as it happened again the other day, and so I was excited to find this poem!

 
Rain is Coming

High up, along the clear blue sky,
Black cockatoos come sweeping by,
Calling and crying as they go—
To tell us it will rain, you know.

There's not a wee cloud anywhere,
All bright and shining is the air;
The sky is iust one great blue plain —
But now I know there will be rain!

The paddocks all are brown as sand,
You see long cracks along the land;
We long for rain to make things
And it is coming now, I know.

The creek that danced among the
fern.
With racing ripples at each turn.
Has changed into a stony track;
I'm glad the rain is coming back.

The run is parched and bare and dry.
The hungry sheep move restlessly;
I wonder if they know the rain
Is coming to make grass again?

The thirsty cattle and the flowers
Will soon be all refreshed by showers,
Out from the bush sweet scents will
swing,
The creeks will rise, and dance and
sing.

Although it's hot and dried up yet,
The land will soon be green and wet,
For rain is coming fast, I know!
Black cockatoos have told me so!
 
Veronica Mason, ?1907


 We've never been able to take a decent photograph so here is one from wikipedia:


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yellow-tailed_black_cockatoo


The first of September is Wattle Day, at least it has been since 1992, but we usually find some wattle in flower throughout the year. We did a search of the local area to find out which varieties were in flower and then entered the findings in our nature notebooks. So - what do you know about wattles?


Sydney Golden Wattle, Acacia longifolia

 
The bush was grey
A week to-day
(Olive-green and brown and grey);
But now the spring has come this way,
With blossoms for the wattle.

It seems to be   
A fairy tree;
It dances to a melody,
And sings a little song to me
(The graceful, swaying wattle).

See how it weaves
Its feathery sheaves!
Before the wind a maze it weaves,
A misty whirl of powdery leaves—
(The dainty, curtseying wattle)!

Its boughs uplift
An elfin gift;
A spray of yellow, downy drift,
Through which the sunbeams shower and
sift
Their gold-dust o'er the wattle.

The bush was grey
A week to-day
(Olive-green and brown and grey);
But now its sunny all the way,
For, oh! the spring has come to stay,
With blossom for the wattle!



Sally Wattle, Acacia floribunda



Wattle & Weather


Sally Wattle
















Sunset




8 comments:

  1. Interesting! Where I am from, New England coastal states, the saying is "Red sky at night, sailor's delight; red sky at morn, sailors take warn." I wonder where else in the world this saying has been adapted to the region.

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    1. Yes, I had to double check I had it right for this part of the world!

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  2. These are lovely photos! All I ever knew about Australian birds was from the Kookaburra song. The birds are beautiful.

    I love birds. Here in East Texas we have blue birds, lots of Mockingbirds, sparrows, but my favorite is the Cardinal. It's always a treat when one perches outside my window.

    I have never read Veronica Mason. Thanks for sharing the poems.

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    1. My dh is from NZ & he reckons Australian birds are often beautifully coloured & spectacular but they sound terrible! NZ birds are more ordinary but sound much sweeter...I'd love to see your hummingbirds.

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  3. We have returned from a favourite walk at Wangi Wangi and have seen so many wildflowers even some Greenhood orchids. The king parrots were swooping about and some variety of flycatcher I am yet to identify.
    Your photos are beautiful!
    Now I need a nanna nap!
    Margaret.

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    1. I just looked up Wangi Wangi on the map...might plan a little field trip :)

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  4. Our wattle here is only in bloom for a couple months of spring. It's so cheerful and much anticipated by us all! And your birds are so striking. Ours are rather drab in comparison. ;) Thanks for linking up!

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    1. I take it your wattle has been introduced?? I looked it up and Wikipedia said: 'It is present in California as a garden escapee, but is not considered to be naturalised there.' Our convict past raising its head...

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