Well it's the last day of Spring, but it has been more like mid-summer this past week. Having said the babies were mostly feeding independently now, this week they have been very vocal, chirping to be fed. Not sure if it's the heat, the lack of plentiful food now that the big callistemons are finished flowering (or have been eaten up), or that they are moulting and not as aerodynamic. In any case they are hungry and the adult male has been very occupied in chasing away other birds, even in 40 degree temps. He met his match the other day, though, when he picked on a Red-browed Finch and its cries of alarm brought the rest of the group to its defence. They relentlessly mobbed the LW until he gave up and flew away.
This baby LW seems to have got the hang of Kangaroo Paw feeding.
It was the melodious bird song that drew attention. The actual birds were harder to spot (until LW pointed them out by swooping them). Very tricky to get pics so far away and behind twigs, but these were good enough for Holly at Birds in Backyards to identify the pair as juvenile male Rufous Whistlers.
It's been relentlessly hot all week - too hot for the camera, mostly, but there's little to report. The babies are just about all grown up - once in a while they chirp for food, but for the most part it's hard to distinguish who's who now as they fly around. There may be little to report over summer - here's a blue sky in anticipation.
Five sweltering days followed by two days of lovely rain - nearly 3 inches in total, although much of it fell almost sideways yesterday in the wind gusts.
Uploaded 50 insect pics here for identification, including this one: (I think it's a mozzie).
Lone cuckoo has ceased calling - think the breeding season is over now. The kookaburras are around, though not especially in the manna gum. They're certainly not made to feel welcome - if they settle on the gum trees east of the house, wattle birds, both little and red, swoop in from all directions to harass them. Kookaburras aren't easily intimidated, but after a while they get tired of the barrage and leave.
One really lovely thing happened yesterday in the midst of the wind roar and driving rain - a fledgling magpie sheltered under an acacia shrub in front of the verandah and quietly practised its carolling. It did some beautiful rises and falls, melody - and occasionally sounded a wrong note, a duck quack noise, a cat meow, so delightful - put a smile on my face on an otherwise grey day.
Day four of this spring heatwave and when I walk across the verandah a thousand blowflies, amassed underneath the house, rise in a brief wing roar. The LW is annoyed by the pair of ringnecks entrenched in his pink gum. He has called, warned and beak-snapped to no avail as they chortle in the complex, conversational and pleasing way they do. The LW babies are quiet and the only other birds to be seen or heard are magpies and even they are mostly grounded, venturing from the shade only to feed. At night the heat spawns hyperbolic swarms of winged insects and they dance around a fluorescent moon. The blue wrens will visit in the morning to collect any stragglers.
And while I might not have a high speed lens, I do have fairies instead...
Well it's creeping toward 36 degrees under the shade of front verandah roof this afternoon on day two of a projected mini-heatwave. The babies woke from their siesta quite insistently hungry, while the male LW had been busy the whole time, mainly with some persistent parrots. He'd ousted the Ringnecks but some Crimson Rosellas were deep in centre of the she-oak. The LWs don't need to protect the babies so much now - although the currawongs still alarm them - but they do need to guard the nectar supply. Even the third 'helper' LW is no longer welcome (though she keeps trying). The LWs territory many nectar producing plants though and there are flowers for most of the year. The babies have just about cleaned up this banksia - the one right in front of their nest tree.
...but the tree a few metres away has plenty of flowers still
Apart from competing for food the parrots, Crimson Rosellas in particular, can be quite damaging to young shrubs and trees because of their habit of snipping off entire flowering branches and then eating them on the ground (holding them like lollipops).
I think the babies are moulting - this one looks a bit bedraggled do you think?
The young LW's are flying further and feeding themselves more now as they move toward independence. Adults protecting the food supply rather than the babies I believe - male still has zero tolerance of any other birds - apart from the blue wrens, which don't compete. The 'helper' bird is also being driven away now, services no longer required I suppose. Currawongs, on the other hand, are not so easily moved and alarm calls start when they visit. There is a pair of currawongs - not sure if they are breeding though as they seem fairly casual. Magnificent birds methinks.
There's much pleasure in the first flower of the season of one's favourite species and in seeing tiny tubestock plants grow and produce their first flowers - although this honey myrtle (Melaleuca thymifolia) ( melaleuca cotton candy) has taken six years to do it. Here are some more firsts - and maybe an answer to the mystery plant question...
The fat moon begins her descent behind dense cloud and sometimes there's just enough light for the magpies to carol, albeit without much enthusiasm. There's a possum breaking branches as it feeds and growling every now and then, but no fighting tonight. A boobook calls and is answered from far away and then a koala starts his bellowing close by, probably in the stand of tall gums to the west. This photo from Nov two years ago.
In the, still cloudy, day a strange flower has appeared - I did not plant it and don't know what it is - any ideas?
Finally, and completely irrelevant but it amused me, this strawberry seems keen to escape. One for the birds - looks like it's been tasted already.