Australia · birds · books · knowledge · Mount Warning · native Australian birds · photography · respect · Tweed Valley · University · winter

Kookaburras in the Mist

‘Twas another misty morning today. The mist wasn’t as thick as it has been recently, but it looked lovely all the same.

The mist sat in pretty pockets all through the valley, like a puffy layer of cotton wool blanketing the earth.

Another beautiful sight in the valley was a pair of kookaburras perched on a strong branch in a gum tree.

I completed a university assignment yesterday for the diploma course I started last year, the Diploma of Sustainable Living. I’ve been slotting a unit in here and there amid the Bachelor of Arts I started in second semester of 2017, and so far I’m coping okay. Units are often on offer during out-of-semester time slots, but this semester I’m studying one unit for the diploma and two for the BA, all at the same time.

The assignment I completed yesterday was for a unit I’m doing called Backyard Biodiversity. We were asked to choose one creature, be it birds, amphibian, mammal, or whatever else we may have seen in our yard, research the requirements for our chosen backyard buddy, then answer a series of questions for the assignment.

Any guesses on who I chose? 😉

The Laughing Kookaburra, (Dacelo novaeguineae) is a most interesting little character, which I already knew of course. But even I had a lot to learn about the habits of these gorgeous guys who visit my garden daily. I’ll add the information here straight from my assignment  –

“Discuss the biological needs of your selected species:

  • For food, this species requires: worms, insects, lizards, snails, grasshoppers, small snakes, and unfortunately, amphibians. Kookaburras are carnivores, and also eat small mammals, rats and mice. They occasionally eat crustaceans. When larger items of food are caught, a kookaburra will bash their meal against a tree branch or on the ground to kill, or “tenderise” the food before eating it.
  • For shelter, this species requires: large eucalyptus trees with strong branches and natural hollows to shelter in. Kookaburras are family orientated and choose favourite trees in which to sleep together for approximately twelve hours each night. They often begin and end the day with a collective raucous chorus of “laughter”. In cold or wet weather, kookaburras huddle together for warmth in their chosen tree for lengthy periods of time.
  • For water, this species requires: clean water for drinking, although similar to owls, most of a kookaburra’s water requirement is obtained through their food. Being the largest members of the Kingfisher family, however, they enjoy bathing in water, therefore need to have access to water for this purpose.
  • For space, this species requires: a large area with plenty of eucalyptus trees. Kookaburras live in large, sociable family groups, they mate for life, and the dominant breeding pair of the group keep their young with them after reaching maturity to help tend future clutches. Kookaburras also occupy forests and woodlands, ideally where open ground areas offer clear visibility for spotting food. Kookaburras are territorial and their territory can cover several hectares of space, but they are respectful of other kookaburra families and will not encroach on spaces already claimed.
  • Other things this species requires are: safe retreats from predators. A main enemy of the kookaburra is domestic animals. During September to January, which is their breeding season, kookaburras also require a safe hollow in a tree which is large enough for the mother to lay approximately one to four eggs. Elevated termite mounds can also be hollowed out to build their nests in.”

I’ve always suspected the twelve kookaburras who visit my garden were one family, and now I can relate that information to my lovely visitors – my original visitor, who I named Larry, always came into my garden alone. After a while he brought along a little lady friend who I named Shilo. Those two kookaburras have learned to trust me, and I can now hand-feed both of them. They still visit.

Meanwhile, the family has grown. I had always wondered if other kookaburras had joined my original family from elsewhere, but from what I have read, Larry and Shilo are the dominant breeding pair, making all the rest siblings who remain with their family.

I also read that kookaburras are usually the first birds you’ll hear in the morning and the last you’ll hear at night. Just after finishing my assignment, I went out into my garden, and what did I hear? A collective chorus of kookaburras, laughing, right down the bottom of my garden! They may have a favorite tree just beyond my yard, but the were close. With my new-found understanding of their habits, hearing the kookaburras last night, right on nightfall when there were no other bird-sounds to be heard, I felt privileged to know they were so close, and that they had chosen a “favourite” tree to rest in so close to my home.

I have also learned this week that kookaburras were seen by the early settlers in Australia, and were noted as a species of bird they had never seen before. In 1788, the kookaburra was identified as a “Giant brown Kingfisher”. I found this information in a book I just bought called Journals of the First Fleet, which is the journal entries of Captain Arthur Phillip and Lieutenant General Watkin Tench, who both arrived in Australia with the first fleet of convicts, brought here to settle on our shores. Many of these convicts, mainly from England and Ireland, are the ancestors of Australia’s current inhabitants.

1788 drawing of a kookaburra.

The drawing depicts details of the Great brown Kingfisher which we can easily identify as our Laughing Kookaburra. And here is the information accompanying the picture, and written in the 1788 journal …

Isn’t it strange to think we see the very same birds species today, even sounding the same, as they did back in 1788? Barbara spoke about this concept in her post The Continuation of Life. Since I read Barbara’s post, the thought has remained with me, and every now and then I try to drag past situations into the current age. I have also tried to “see” things from the point of view of people who lived 200 years ago. I don’t believe it is possible to understand what life was like for people living so many years ago, nor do I believe it is fair for us to place judgements on them based on the values we have today. Yet my contemplations have made people of the past seem more “real” somehow, although that’s another concept that is difficult to explain. Of course they are real! But it is difficult to imagine them as real because we didn’t know them.

I wonder if that is why lately people the world over are showing so little respect for people of the past? You know the people I mean, those who are trying to rewrite history books and smash statues that are there to honour the achievements and sacrifices people of the past made in an effort to forge a better world for future generations.

It is not for us to judge the decisions made by people who lived so long ago. No one can change the past, and as life continues, so different to the way it was 200 years ago, I find it comforting to realise that those early settlers heard and saw the same Laughing Kookaburras that I admire every day in my garden.

challenges · Changes · gardening · In My World · photography · respect

Words on Wednesday…

Alma

Have you ever found yourself living life on a roller-coaster, both emotionally and physically, when all you really wish for is peace? Managed to get conned into playing the lead roll in dramas, whist yearning for a quiet place back stage?

When your deepest desire is to yell out in your loudest voice, “Stop the world, I wanna get off”, you know it’s time to force yourself into a backseat position, where you can flick through the pages of your book unnoticed, hide in a quiet place in the corner of the garden to take photos of flowers and birds, switch off the phone (and/or take the phone off the hook!), batten down the hatches, take a few deep breaths of sea air (how long is it since I went down to the beach??) and get a hold of your thoughts and feelings.

azalea

When I visit Tess’s Azalea, shown above, I yearn for my quiet, loyal, well behaved old dog, wishing she could still be the pup in my life. She’s been gone now for eighteen months, yet a visit to her grave usually has me with tears in my eyes, remembering. Don’t for a minute imagine that I don’t love and adore my three grand-pups, Porter, Bella and Forrest….they just aren’t Tess, they don’t walk at my pace, they don’t see the world through my eyes. They are not my pets.

butchie

For the last three weeks, just Forrest has lived here, the other two have moved away, and I’ve been able to encourage the birds back into the garden. They fall for bribes of mince and mush every day, and now they are seeing a minimum amount of Dog-Danger about, they are timidly taking their chances and returning to the bird food table.

double decker

The kookaburras are the bravest birds, along with the maggies. Nothing scares them away for too long, not even the pooches! And Forest pup is very young, and trainable. She’s beginning to learn the meaning of the word “no”, which is said often, when I see that little cheeky glint in her eye and suspect she is about to chase a bird!

(Now if I could just train her to stay out of my garden beds!!! Who knows how many “well-matured” dog bones I will find during my future gardening adventures!)

full moon

For my birthday this year, husband gave me a fancy new camera, and when I have saved many, many dollars and cents, I will be in the market for a zoom lens. The lens the new camera came with is marvelous, and the close up photos I have been taking are as clear as a bell, which is very exciting! But when it comes to taking photos of the moon, nothing beats the zoom on my little Canon PowerShot.

gerberas 2

Last weekend I took a visit to our local garden centre to find some colourful flowers for the garden, and arrived back home with a car load. I planted a few, whilst weeding and mulching the new, long garden down beside the driveway, but ran out of daylight. Autumn and winter are wonderful seasons for gardening here, except for the shorter daylight hours!

I’m concentrating my gardening efforts on the front yard right now, as the back yard is a construction zone. An area of the paving at the back of the house had sunk, so a new retaining wall is in progress, the paving (and there’s a lot of it!) will be lifted and replaced and we may even be adding a covering for the patio area, all being well. (It depends on that little matter of the dollars and cents again!!)

happy faces

My son and his lovely financĂ© will be married this September, right here in our garden! So everything around the house and garden must be just right by then….Adam has lived in this house his entire life, and his baby will have the same address on their birth certificate as their Daddy, when they are born in November.

Last Friday, I had brand new carpet laid in the room which is to be the baby’s nursery. It was Adam’s nursery once upon a time, and now he and Mary are preparing the room for their own tiny baby.

How long will the new family live here? I’m not sure right now. They need security, they are so very young, and with the love and support of both families they should have themselves sorted within the next year or two.

honeyeaters (2)

With so much movement within the house recently, every room ended up in a state of chaos! With my daughter and her two dogs leaving, I took the opportunity to have most of the carpet in the house cleaned, so rooms were emptied. Then rooms had to be rearranged and reorganised. And some rooms ended up with the remains of “items no longer required”, which I have mostly sorted through this past weekend. The sorting, tidying and cleaning has seemed to be a never-ending job!

misty day

My work room/office/sewing room is the last room to clean and tidy, although it isn’t in too bad a state. I spend a number of hours every day in this room, and I simply cannot function in a complete mess, so the room stays relatively tidy. Just a bit of a quick clean should see it as good as before.

We’ve had a lot of rain here during the last week, with the valley being invisible behind a huge cloud of mist some days. I love living on higher ground, where the clouds sometimes find you, and you can hide away from the rest of the world. The temperatures are cooler here than ten minutes drive down the hill too, so I can enjoy a tiny patch of winter….my favourite time of the year. 🙂

misty morning

I took the photo above at around 7 am one morning last week, when the low-lying mist sat on the floor of the valley, covering the sugar cane fields and looking as if the ocean had made its way slightly inland overnight. It’s a beautiful sight to see when this happens.

valley mist

I miss blogging. Actually I’m missing a lot of things that are usually an important part of my life. Husband and I try to have an afternoon cup of coffee together every day, just to chat, and to retain some normality in our lives, as some days it feels like everything is moving too fast and spiraling out of control. Even if we don’t agree on all family matters, it’s good to have an ally, a person around the same age, who views things in the light of people of our vintage. By that I mean as opposed to the younger generation who, as much as we love them and have taught them right from wrong, can at times be strongly influenced by significant people in their own lives, who were not raised with our values, yet they wish to try and enforce their ways onto our family.

moody blues

Recently, I’ve had to put my foot down, so to speak, on a number of issues, which goes against the grain for me! I rarely raise my voice, let alone yell, and a couple of family members have pushed my patience to the nth degree recently, seeing a side of me that is rarely shown to anyone. I don’t apologise for being slow to anger, I would hate to be a hot tempered person, and my family knows I’m serious when I do yell! And sometimes, unfortunately, yelling is called for, when a quiet voice is not being listened to.

Now that peace reigns supreme in the household again, I don’t ever want to be placed in an unpleasant situation like that again!

wet

My two cats have remained my constant, cuddly companions this year. My old Phoebe girl, who turned sixteen in February this year, has the most beautiful soft fur, she’s half Persian, half Tortoiseshell, which often blurs in a photo, but my new camera shows her cuddly coat in photos looking just as it does in “person”, so I’ve been taking more photos of her lately. My last photo shows Phoebe in one of her favourite positions, right in front of the window, where she sees the outside world, which she no longer ventures into, yet I’m sure she remembers.

Phoebe

 

Last Wednesday I posted a “Wordless Wednesday” photo, just to keep in touch. I can’t promise that I will return to regular blogging yet, what with all of the “happenings” in my world, but I will try to add a short photo post occasionally. “Silent Sunday” may be another option for me whilst the craziness continues.  My mind is a-buzz with the things that I want to do, yet many a day my body travels through the hours taking care of all the things I have to do!

Until next time, take good care of yourselves, be happy, and I hope events in your world are treating you kindly. xx

The-way-you-treat-yourself

Australia · photography · remembering · respect

Trial Bay Gaol.

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You may recall a post I wrote in September of last year. It’s an easy story to remember if you visited around that time, as I showed you photos of a pair of adult kangaroos, hopping around behind the bars of the entry to the disused Trial Bay Gaol, along with their joey.

It might be an idea to take a moment to look back at these beautiful animals, to either jog your memory, or take a first look, so here’s the link ~

Can you spot the kangaroos?
Can you spot the kangaroos?

If you look very carefully at the photo above, up towards the building on the right hand side patch of grass, you will see how I first saw this adorable family. They eyed me for a moment or two before approaching, although little joey wasn’t too keen on coming face to face with a fur-less, two-legged creature holding a black box that made clicking sounds, and quickly scurried into its mama’s pouch! I did manage to take a few photos of him though, before he disappeared into her pouch, head first!

Way back, in the days of the open gaol.
Way back, in the days of the open gaol.

Work began on the building of the gaol in 1876, although it wasn’t completed until 1886, due to “difficulties in working the hard stone, inconsistent funding and contractual problems”. A southern wing was added to the gaol in 1900, yet three years later the building was closed.

Barred, yet beautiful.
Barred, yet beautiful.

I prefer to see the gaol as a lovely, historic building. Even though I realise there is a need for prisons, as not all folk in society deserve to be integrated in our day to day life due to their own bad judgement in their actions, it bothers me to think of the way men were treated in the early days of Australia. Many men, and women as well, were judged as criminals for the slightest misdemeanor. I can imagine the number of tormented souls who continue to walk the halls of this ruin. It’s not a part of history that Australia should be proud of. But I suppose all countries have parts of their history that they wish to be not spoken of.

What a view!
What a view!

In an article I read, Trial Bay Gaol is described as “an experiment with humane prison reform”, so I would take that as a positive sign that the powers that be of the time were questioning the old ways of treating prisoners. On the other hand though, the gaol only remained in use for twenty-six years ~ perhaps the experiment wasn’t a success!

The view from the building is amazing though, looking out across the ocean from the top of a hill, from what is now regarded as a “Heritage Listed Building”.

Trial Bay Gaol is located at South West Rocks, and while I was visiting the area with my son Adam last year, he guided the way to a lighthouse there that he knew of, telling me that I would love taking photos of the area. He wasn’t wrong. And I will show you those photos next time. 🙂

A Sense of Spirit · remembering · respect

Intuition ~ Taking Our Own Advice

Children - Innocent and Intuitive

We all have that little voice inside our heads, urging us to take the path in our lives which “feels right”.

But do we always listen? And if we do listen to our inner voice, do we always, if ever, follow that voice’s advice?

During the years of my childhood I always took my own advice. But as the years progressed I learned to listen to the advice of “others”. You know who the “others” are, they are the adults of the world, people with experience, those who have been around longer than you have, so know what’s “best” for you.

Do they really know what’s best? Or are they simply passing on to the children of the world the advice which they were given as youngsters and they were expected to follow, so they expect you to follow also?

Do they feel it is it their time to receive the respect that they were expected to show to their elders?

Perhaps so, and I’m all for showing respect.

But don’t you think that children are just as entitled to respect as the adults are?

I believe they are.

And just because a child is “young” does not mean that they don’t know what’s going on, or what is right for them. Children have intuition too. In fact, I would go so far as to say that in most cases, a child’s intuition is far superior to an adult’s intuition!

As a child myself, I spent a lot of time “remembering”. I remembered my grandmother, who had died some twenty-five years before my birth, and I remember missing her and longing to see her again.

I remember believing that anything was possible. I could do anything I wanted to do, have anything I wanted to have. All I had to do was go after it!

Those were the days before adult logic told me everything that I couldn’t do. The days when I was asked how I could miss my grandmother, when we had never even met.

The days when my young mind began to be clouded over by “worldly logic”.

But back then, I knew otherwise.

Over time, the adults achieved their goal of making me “sensible”. Teachers in particular and other kids at school would be the first to ridicule anyone with an alternative opinion, back in those days.

As time advanced further, however, my old, familiar friend, “Intuition”, again took a hold of me, guiding me through the greatest moments of my life!

Are you following your own intuition? Or does harsh, cold reality guide your life?

Everyone should do the right thing for their own lives. Just make sure it really is the right thing for you, whatever the situation.