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Lake Lovely

When I am feeling energetic (and, quite often, when I am not) I go walking after work.  I wish I could say I am diligent and do this every day, but I would be a liar.  I usually manage about three times a week, which is a bit pathetic, but it’s better than nothing.  This is what I tell myself anyway.

Some afternoons I go walking along the beach, which is lovely and scenic and blows the cobwebs of the workday away;  most days, however, I walk around the local lake, which is on my way home and provides me with a nice, easy, 3.5km route.

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Because I am generally quite lazy, it is good to have a circular route to walk – it means I just keep going until I get back to where I started.  I don’t have to think about it.  I don’t get tempted to turn around and head back either.  The lake also has multiple paths; some of them meander through the bush so you can jog a bit and no one can see you ha ha.  I don’t run in public unless I can be sure I don’t have witnesses.  No one needs to see that.

The lake is populated by LOTS of birdlife.  Swans, ducks, moorhen, and herons, as well as my favourite, the pelicans, and some long-necked tortoises, which I am yet to spot.

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As it is breeding season for many of the birds, there are cute, fluffy bundles of downy joy dotted around the lake, following their parents around and getting up to mischief.  There are plenty of reeds and other plant life to provide happy nesting spots and hideaways for the vulnerable babies.

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I am dying to see some cygnets.  I love the black swans – they are so majestic and beautiful.  There are a couple at the lake that have allowed me to get quite close – sometimes they waddle up to me of their own accord.  During breeding season, they can become a little bit aggressive and protective of their offspring, which is totally understandable.  It’s best to keep your distance at those times and give them their space.  Even if you do want to run headlong into those gorgeous, grey, fluffy cygnets and squeeze them in an adoring cuddle.  It’s not really recommended.

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There are also lots of cormorants.  I adore them.  Those funny webbed feet!  The fluffy, shaggy feathers on their plump bellies and chest!  The almost bat-like wings!  The way they dry themselves in the sun, holding up their wings like laundry!  The way they hiss at me when I get too close and annoy them with my photo-taking! 🙂

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The lone egret is a tricky individual to photograph.  He doesn’t like being bothered and you can’t get too close before he flies off.  It could also be because I have mistakenly been calling him a heron, and he’s not.  I have offended him and now he doesn’t want a bar of me, or my camera.  So all my shots of him are blurry (because I am far away and have zoomed my camera in).  It’s very inconsiderate of him, to be honest.

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Towards sunset, the lake takes on a magical quality.  I tend to keep stopping to take photos, which is not really making efficient use of my exercise time, but hey, the sky and water is so pretty at night!  It’s hard to take a bad photo, to be honest.

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I am always on the lookout for new places to walk ; it’s nice to have a change of scenery and some different landscapes/wildlife to look at.  The lake, for now, remains one of my favourites.  Easy to get to, easy parking, lots of people around (for safety’s sake) and lots of lovely birdies for me to photograph.  I am lucky to have these spaces to utilise and enjoy, and get that much-needed exercise.  That egret will just have to get used to me because I’m going to keep coming back 🙂

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Ellis Brook Reserve

I am unfit.  There is no denying this when you are struggling to ascend a set of roughly-constructed bush stairs and you’re wheezing so loudly you’re scaring the local wildlife.  Yes.  That is me.  Two sets of stairs in on a recent hike through Ellis Brook Reserve and I am starting to see stars and pass out.  But, to be fair, I am a little bit anaemic at the moment and I was trying to keep up with girls half my age as they whizzed up the hill on their skinny little legs.  I also did not warm up properly, nor was I actually expecting such a rough and steep climb.  Preparation – apparently not my thing.

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However, wheezing and near-death experiences aside, Ellis Brook Reserve is a very picturesque place to hike.  The terrain is a little rough and not really suitable for a gentle Sunday stroll.  My friend and I went with a new group and none of us had ever been before, so no one knew what to expect (you can read travel guides but unless you’re actually doing the walk yourself, it can be tricky to gauge how difficult it will be) but we all went at our own pace and everyone was very patient and considerate of the slower-climbing members (ie me – Miss Fat’n’Fainty).

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The scenery was beautiful, with amazing views down through the valley.  We snuck into the quarry, which is actually fenced off but some lovely soul had cut a hole in the wire so you could squeeze through.  Ah, vandalism, sometimes you can be helpful!  The colours in the rock and surrounding landscape were stunning, as were the bright blue flashes of the little native Splended Fairy Wren (wish I had been fast enough to get a photo – they are just gorgeous).

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Unfortunately, having to watch where we were treading/climbing, for fear of tripping or breaking an ankle, meant we weren’t able to stop and take in the sights as much as I would have liked.  But it was still lovely and made me feel good to be out in the fresh air and not being a slacker (ie staying home, rugged up in bed, on this cold and chilly morning).  The group we hiked with were really friendly and chatty, and made the morning very pleasant indeed.  Apparently, there are a number of trails you can follow and so maybe, next time, we will go on one of the longer ones, which may be less steep and treacherous.  I am very clumsy and have terrible balance, so someone else may find it very easy to hike this particular trail and wonder what the heck I am talking about.  I personally wouldn’t take dogs or kids on the trail we walked, but I did see some people bringing their pooches along with them.

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All in all, a beautiful spot to get some exercise and take in the natural beauty of our gorgeous state, without having to drive a million miles from suburbia.  Worth a look 🙂

Thank you for stopping by.  And a big thank you to all my new followers – your support is very much appreciated! x

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Mis-Beehaving

My Mum has a gorgeous garden.  She keeps it looking lovely, but also endeavours to make it as water-saving and bee/bird-friendly as possible.  She has lots of natives combined with more traditional, cottage garden plants.  It’s not easy having a nice garden in WA.  The Summers are so hot and even in the “wetter” months things can dry out. A couple of years ago, Mum got a landscaper in to help her design an eco-friendly (but still beautiful) garden that she could maintain herself and continue to work on.  She’s only a pensioner, my Mum, so it was all done on a strict budget, saving money where possible (the landscaper was brilliant).

What she ended up with is a low-maintenance garden that is pretty all year round and makes the most of every season.  It is also very welcoming to native birds and bees and the odd frog or two.  Mum’s been very keen on attracting the native Blue Banded Bee, a cute little species of bee that lives a solitary life, with the females building their nests in singular burrows, in mud or soft mortar (or you can build them a little house, like THESE).  They don’t create large stores of honey, so they are not suitable for honey production.  BBBs don’t mind having close neighbours, in fact they will often build their nests right next door to another bee, although they still do not behave in a “colony” kind of way.

They are excellent pollinators, using the “buzz” method, which means they grasp the flower and basically give it a good shake, by shivering their flight muscles, or banging their head on the flower (yes, really).  This releases the pollen, which is hidden in tiny capsules.  Many flowers require this type of pollination, so blue banded bees are very necessary to the continuation of several plant species.

While they do have a mild sting, BBBs are not very aggressive.  They move very quickly and can hover, unlike most other bees.  They are a total pain to photograph (ha ha) because they don’t stay still for long, and move at a much faster pace than regular bees, zipping around in a blur that causes the photographer (ie me) to swear a lot and dance around the garden, yelling “Keep still, dammit!”

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If you look VERY closely, you can just see the bee, hovering about, in the centre of the photo.

They are attracted primarily to white or blue flowers (possibly because it is better for camouflage) and are particularly good at pollinating tomatoes, eggplants and kiwifruit apparently.  So much so, there are plans to use them as greenhouse bees for large-scale tomato production.

BBBs are small critters, about 11mm in length, and have bands of iridescent pale blue-almost white on their abdomens.  When they fly, they look like a little flash of blue.
At night, the males cling to  plant stems, like tiny little chickens roosting for the night 🙂

Bees, in general, are so important to the well-being of the planet.  We should look after them and give them happy habitats and clean environments.   I personally love the little critters (probably because I have never been stung!) and enjoy watching them and their behaviour.  I find if you just let them get on with their business, they will stay out of yours.  Blue Banded Bees are really nice to watch and because they are not aggressive, you can get up close and personal with them, plus there is no risk of being attacked by a swarm!

You can find out more info about the Blue Banded Bee HERE

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Finally – a perfect shot!  It took me probably an hour to get this little guy to stay still long enough for me to take his photo.  Look at those amazing antennae and perfect stripes!
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Bandy-Cute

Hello, everyone 🙂  I meant to post this a few weeks back but got sidetracked… My Mum turned 70 in November and she had several little get-togethers to celebrate.  On the Sunday afternoon, we met my brother and his family for afternoon tea at a large garden nursery, which also has a delightful cafe and children’s playground.  It’s a very popular spot and can get very busy so we were lucky to get a table for all of us in a nice sunny spot.

As we drank our tea and baby-cinos (obligatory for the four munchkins) and scoffed cake, we were joined by another guest – a Southern Brown Bandicoot  (or Quenda).  These little guys are normally quite shy and tend to come out at dusk, to forage.  Our visitor is was well known to nursery staff, apparently making guest appearances on a regular basis, in order to pick up any table scraps and crumbs left by lunching customers.

img_4257He (I’m going with “he” for now) was happy to wander around our table, under our feet and chairs, and wasn’t the least bit disturbed by the children or my attempts to take photos of him.  I even got to stroke him, which he didn’t seem to mind at all.

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He was wiry to the touch, and very solid (he eats well :)) and about the size of a small cat (with albeit shorter legs).  Bandicoots have long claws, used for digging out underground food items (they are omnivores and will eat insects, fruit, lizards, seeds, mice – pretty much anything they can get their paws on!) and are marsupials (meaning they have a pouch that they carry their babies in).  They live alone, rather than in social groups, and have a running style described as a “gallop” rather than a hop or a scurry.

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We were delighted to have his company and hope to see him again if we visit the nursery. It’s so nice to see wildlife, of any kind, and I’m always very grateful to be able to experience them close up and in a non-captive way.  I guess these little guys are learning to adapt to being part of our community and losing some of their shy ways.  Survival is survival, after all.  I just hope that this particular fellow is healthy and protected and doesn’t come to any harm, being around human beings so much.  He seemed happy enough though – very fat and not stressed at all.  He’s probably living the dream and wondering why other bandicoots are bothering to hunt for their own food in the bush.  As his “people” are solitary creatures, it’s unlikely he’s going to let anyone else in on the action.  This territory is his and his alone!

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Have you had any close encounters with a wild critter lately?  I’d love to hear about it 🙂

Thanks for stopping by x

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A Cockatoo or Two

Just a quickie post today…

I’m really going to miss South Perth.  The River, the gardens, the greenery – just the general feel of the place and the lifestyle it allows.  I’m also going to miss the local wildlife – all the lovely birds and the occasional dolphin – and the happy dogs playing in the park.  I’ll miss the cafe strip (located so close to my house I can practically order a chai latte by yelling out my bedroom window) and the quiet neighbourhood where I go for my walks.

Yesterday I dragged myself out of the house to get some exercise, spurred on by a.) the sight of my thighs, and b.) the realisation that I soon won’t be able to walk around the River every day or play wildlife photographer with the local cockatoo population.

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The two main types of “cocky” in my neighbourhood are the pink and grey Galahs and the Corella.  Corellas are noisy and destructive little buggers and many councils have resorted to culling them to reduce their numbers.  The do indeed make a racket when they are in large groups and even one solo bird is enough to send you a bit deaf.  They’re cheeky little chappies though – quite comical and clown-like in their antics.  The South Perth foreshore is often covered in large flocks of them, interspersed with a few galahs.  Corellas tend to dig up the lawn areas, looking for tasty roots or bulbs, leaving lots of holes everywhere. They also “trim” tree branches, causing damage and leaving the tree vulnerable to fungus and insect attack.  Many of these birds have been introduced to Western Australia from other states so they’re actually foreign interlopers!

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I was able to get quite close to the galahs – they seem to be the braver of the two species (probably as many of them are either escaped “tame” birds or the offspring of) whereas the corellas kept a safe distance.  The galahs seemed to even pose for me, stopping what they were doing for a few seconds while I snapped a shot or two.

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Hopefully, wherever I end up moving to, I will be able to find some nice parkland areas or other places where there is wildlife to discover.  Because I need all the incentive I can get when it comes to exercise.

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I plan on planting lots of natives in my new garden-which-isn’t-a-garden-yet so that I can attract the local birds.  I will be getting myself some cats (it will be my reward for all the crap I have gone through with the purchasing process to finally have some moggies) but they will be indoor felines – no hunting for them.  Part of the reason I wanted a two-storey house was so they would have stairs to run up and down.  I might join them – we shall have buns of steel together! 🙂

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Hope you are having a happy day – enjoy some time outside, if you can x

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A Visitor at Last!

Quite some time ago I got a couple of bird baths to hang in my garden.  I have a lot of birdlife in my neighbourhood and, with the Summers being so hot, I wanted them to have access to water.  I thought I would have lots of happy birdies availing themselves of the amenities I provided.  But no.  Not a one.  I figured maybe they just chose to turn up when I was out or at work or whatever.  As the months went by I came to the conclusion the local bird population was snubbing my water station and frequenting some other location for their hydration needs.

I didn’t take the bird baths away, but I did forget to refill them regularly (possibly the reason the birds chose to stay away).  Wally, my garden Wattlebird (cranky guardian of my grevilleas) sits near them every day and watches me eat my breakfast through the window (I mean he watches through the window…I’m not eating my breakfast through a window – that would be strange).  I’ve never seen him partake of any water though – even on the hottest days.  He is a quite large bird though, so perhaps doesn’t feel safe perching on the swinging bird bath.  He’s also quite territorial so it’s possible he has been warning all the other birds away.

My little Willy Wagtail, whose melodic song means Spring is only a few short weeks away, also likes to hang out NEAR the bird baths but I haven’t seen him actually perch on them or take a drink.  I think they’re just mocking me now – my water isn’t up to their standards apparently.

But, hallelujah!  This morning as I ate my very late breakfast ( I slept in – it was glorious, but now I have wasting-the-day guilts) I saw, out of the corner of my eye, a bird DRINKING OUT OF THE BIRD BATH!!!  A bird I had never seen before in my garden, was happily having a long drink out of my bird bath, swinging away in the breeze and enjoying a spot of sunshine (it’s been raining heavily all morning – hence the bird bath actually having water in it!).  I managed to get a couple of sneaky photos of him before he noticed me, peering out of the window and doing a silent happy dance.

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I think he is a Grey Butcherbird. I have seen them before, mostly down by the foreshore, but never in my garden before.  I was so happy to see him!  But then a bit sad because I will be moving soon and will have to start the whole wooing-birds-into-my-garden process all over again.  I don’t really even HAVE a garden in my new place (if I ever actually get to settlement) so will have to put in lots of natives to attract the local bird population.  A garden with no birdies is so sad!

I didn’t know a lot about Butcherbirds, so did a bit of research.  I found that they have a lovely, warbling song, a bit like a magpie (listen HERE) and that they can be quite aggressive during nesting season.  I also read that they “..prey on small animals, including birds, lizards and insects, as well as some fruits and seeds. Uneaten food may be stored in the fork or a branch or impaled. Grey Butcherbirds sit on an open perch searching for prey which, once sighted, they pounce on. Most mobile prey is caught on the ground, though small birds and insects may be caught in flight. Feeding normally takes place alone, in pairs or in small family groups…” (Thanks, Birdlife Australia)

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He’s a handsome fellow and I’m glad he stopped by.  I’m hoping he feels safe enough to come again and maybe bring a friend.  Maybe sing a song or two (now that I know what I’m listening for!).

Thank YOU for dropping by, too.  My blog is a little lack-lustre these days due to being in the midst of packing boxes and house-buying dramas and just being in a general state of disarray.  Please bear with me while I muddle through my messy life.

🙂

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Houses for Birdies

Houses for Birdies

Just a quick post to show you the bird houses my brother has been making.  He’s been using old wooden pallets – great idea for recycling!  He has added bits of fallen branches and painted the houses in rustic colours or left them plain and unpainted.  They’re more decorative than functional, but maybe some little birdies will be looking for just such a house to hide in or raise some babies.

I love these, and my brother 🙂

PS  I have been fiddling about with my blog’s theme/appearance as you may have noticed if you’re a regular reader… I haven’t settled on one that I really like yet, so please bear with me while I chop and change, and hopefully I will get it right soon! x

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