Tag Archives: magpies

…we all know frogs go…

I’m constantly amazed and delighted by the variety of wildlife with which we share our home.  If I tried to name all the types of birds, for instance, that come by our garden (let alone the rest of the property), I’m sure that I could fill a page easily and still miss some out.

I love listening to the bird calls, starting with the kookaburras in the early morning, right through to our boobook owls well into the night – although I was a little less enamoured of a male common koel that spent last spring singing most of his way through a full octave then stopping, leaving me waiting for the last note, before repeating his call incessantly – all night!  It took a couple of sleepless nights before I got used to that call and slept through his noisy courting.

On the other hand, I never tire of the song of our magpies, nor the cheeky chirping of the blue wrens or silvereyes.

Another sound I love is the chorus of frog calls that serenade us through the evenings during spring and summer.  One of my favourite memories of our first year here at Seventy Seven Acres was the night we decided to go up to the little dam (probably better called the reed pond) by torchlight to see what we could find.  All through the reeds were little clumps of frog spawn, while adult frogs clambered up the thin stalks or nuzzled into the soft dirt beside the water.  Wherever we walked, silence would fall, but the calls from all around the rest of the dam echoed back and forth, a bit like a tennis match.  I was particularly struck by the sound the pobblebonk frogs made – it really does sound like “pobble-bonk”!

Just recently we’ve had a few frogs come visiting us, like a little brown tree frog that moved into the breezeway where we had just installed a couple of Dicksonia Antarctica plants and were watering them every evening with a fine haze of dam water for a couple of hours to help them settle in.

Little brown tree frog... enjoying the mister during a recent hot spell

The little brown tree frog… enjoying the mister during a recent hot spell.  The actual frog was only about the size of a twenty cent coin.

An even smaller tree frog came a-hunting on our bathroom window a couple of nights ago, too.  It was fascinating to see him from underneath, as he reached up onto the glass, chasing minute insects.  Alas, he was gone before I could fetch a camera, but he provided a few moments of enthralling entertainment before he slunk off into the darkness.

I suspect we won’t be seeing – or hearing –  too many more this season, as our evenings are starting to cool down, and our mornings are definitely feeling a little chilly.  I don’t know a lot about frogs – despite a childhood obsession with tadpoling – but I think they sleep the winter away, tucked up cosy somewhere until the growing warmth of spring wakes them up and gets them on the move.

Hmm.  Something else I’ll have to learn about.  I wonder if there is a handy, pocket sized field guide for the frogs of our region…

…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!