Monthly Archives: May 2017

Crimson rosellas, peppermint sage, and a guilty magpie

In our Canberra garden this beautiful Crimson Rosella is feeding on the nectar of the pretty Salvia elegans, or Pineapple Sage….the flower and the parrot are almost matching in colour.

The sweet pineapple-smelling leaves and bright red tubular flowers of this plant can be used for cooking and medicinal purposes. However, for us, the joy of having this plant in our garden is to see the birds feeding on it in autumn.

A few years ago I planted a little stick of Peppermint sage near the kitchen window, to protect it from severe frosts. I was surprised to see it survive the winter, and then to see it flowering so beautifully in late summer and all through the autumn.

This dainty honey eater is called an Eastern Spinebill, and with its long curved beak it feeds on tubular flowers such as correas and grevilleas as well as the peppermint sage.I wish we could measure the energy this little bird uses as it eats and keeps its wings in motion at the same time…no wonder it is often mistaken for a hummingbird.

(If you look carefully at the new five dollar note, you can see the head and beak of the Eastern Spinebill featured)

I have read that Pineapple Sage is irresistible to nectar feeding birds and butterflies including hummingbirds in New Mexico where this plant naturally occurs.

Sometimes the Crimson Rosella shares feeding time with the Eastern Spinebill,  and they both tolerate this pesky photographer hanging around but,…. if looks could kill…….

This is the Red Wattle bird, has arrived to share in the Peppermint Sage bounty…

The Fuchsia is also flowering long after its usual time….and the Red Wattle is stocking up on nectar all round..

This shy looking young King Parrot is not a regular visitor to the garden, and probably hasn’t got the memo yet that this Almond tree is primarily a Sulphur Crested Cockatoo restaurant.

 

The colourful Eastern Rosellas are very cautious, the closest I have ever seen one in the garden is on our Japanese Maple, about half way down the garden path..

…the birdbath by the back fence is another safe spot.

and here is the Magpie who potters around in my neighbour’s garden most days……

Today he has ventured into our front garden and is about to start digging around in our small bit of lawn for grubs….

…. well may he hang down his head..

”Oh no! I’ve been sprung!….and she’s got that camera again!”

I love the way young Magpies put their wings out and run away from trouble, why not fly??

Quick!…. back home to my garden…

I just have a feeling there are things going on in this garden that I don’t know about,,,

On this glorious autumn day there are still some almonds to eat…so all is well in this garden….

Copyright Geraldine Mackey: All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

Canberra’s autumn leaf collector ..do we all need one?

This is Tom Maloney, and his faithful horse Dobbin, whose job it was to collect leaves around the streets of Canberra. He and another man called ”Old Sox” worked for the Department of Interior on parks and gardens, also using a horse and dray. Maloney did this job until the early 1970s!

Younger members of the family remember that Tom even made time after work to take the local kids at Marymead School in O’Connor for a ride on the horse and cart.

How slow and innocent the times were…

American Elm trees in the inner city of Canberra

…can’t you just imagine old Tom and Dobbin clip clopping up this street?  It must have taken a long time to clear the leaves in one street.

When Old Parliament House was built, it was surrounded by dusty paddocks, used for grazing sheep…

Opening of Parliament House in 1927 : photo: library act.gov.au

Politicians of the day, were not happy about moving from the developed city of Melbourne to the windy plains of Canberra. However, in time, trees and shrubs were planted to build gardens around Old Parliament House and surrounding buildings.

Canberra now has a mixture of mature native and deciduous trees, and it gives the city a real sense of space and parkland.

Old Parliament House, now the Museum of Australian Democracy

On this lovely autumn Sunday we are taking a walk from Old Parliament House to the lake, to look at the autumn colour before it disappears.

Old Tom Maloney would have needed more than one horse and cart to gather leaves these days…

The Sulphur Crested Cockatoos love the oak trees, and spend the autumn days dedicated to eating….

…a very sensible idea with the coming cold Canberra winter..

The male and female Red-rumped parrots are blending into the grass and leaves, while a Galah is feeding around them. Galahs are one of Canberra’s most familiar cockatoos.

These young Australian King Parrots are well camouflaged in the grass, but once they reach adulthood they will be bright orange and green.

Down at the lake’s edge, autumn is the perfect time for a fishing competition….on this slow warm Sunday.

Lake Burley Griffin, the Carillon in the distance, and a Darter drying his wings

 

Lake Burley Griffin, Telstra Tower in the distance, and the Manchurian Pear trees along the lake

We finish our walk with a cup of coffee looking out on these beautiful Manchurian Pear trees along the edge of the lake…..I think they are my favourites…for today anyway.

Do you have a favourite tree in your garden, town or city?

Does your heart sink when you see those autumn leaves falling…do you need a leaf blower, or even Old Tom and a horse called Dobbin?

Copyright Geraldine Mackey: All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Snowy Mountains, Pygmy Possums and Bogong moths.

Canberra is not far away from the Snowy Mountains, and autumn is the perfect time to enjoy the mountain air, and do some walking.

Even the kangaroos have a slow start on these crisp mornings, and here are a few enjoying the morning sunshine on the Lake Crackenback golf course.

as we drive away a young kangaroo keeps an eye on us, as her joey is nearby..

In the morning we noticed a deer grazing nearby….this can only mean trouble….

We drove to Thredbo and took the chairlift up to the Kosciuszko walk, on a beautiful clear sunny morning.

Everywhere you look there are scattered rocks and sharp crags shaped by water and ice..

The lichen encrusted boulders give shelter to small mammals like the endangered Pygmy-possum.

This fascinating mouse-sized marsupial is capable of surviving for almost two weeks by  bringing their bodies down to low temperatures during times of extreme cold or heat.

Haley Bates has written an interesting article in The Conversation called:

Australian endangered species: Mountain Pygmy Possum

Conversation: Australian Endangered Species: Mountain Pygmy-possum by Hayley Bates

Bogong moths are also well known in this part of the world. During summer they fly from the heat of NSW and Queensland, to the cool mountain crevices.

photo from buzzle.com

Aboriginal people explored these mountains, and interpreted the landscape, and many of their beliefs and ceremonies were forged in these areas.

Many of the paths forged by Aboriginal people were in turn used by early European explorers such as the Polish explorer Paul Strzelecki who climbed the highest mountain, Mount Kosciuszko, and named it  after a Polish  patriot.

Over time the mountains and surrounds have become accessible to all, and explorers, graziers, scientists, surveyors, writers, and artists have all been captivated by the ”high country” as it is known.

I must admit, after many years of coming here with our family, the landscape of the high country draws me in too.

…but the path back to hot coffee is always welcome…

…and to think we packed our own lunch!

When we returned to Lake Crackenback we stumbled on a few wombat holes, unfortunately, not a wombat in sight…usually only seen at night…

but I have included a photo of a wombat in the snow….something I look forward to seeing one day…

NSW National Parks

I hope you are enjoying your place in the world, as much as I am enjoying mine!

Copyright: Geraldine Mackey All Rights Reserved.