Tag Archives: cockatoo

Summer’s end in Canberra

Canberra’s summer has been hot and dry, and as a consolation, the sunsets have been stunning..

Hot Lips Salvias and Persian Ironwood Tree near the birdbath

A recent survey of birds in suburbia recorded that nearly 50% of households in the Canberra region provide water for birds in summer..

Birds in our garden have a choice of bird baths, and a sprinkler system occasionally which they can fly in and out of…(a five star bird friendly garden)

…..this provides us with daily amusement and joy.

Hot Lips Salvias (left) and Lavandula pedunculata hybrid (right)

Last week this tiny kookaburra appeared on the back wires…(a good place to check out the water situation in safety) I have never seen one so young in our area…..his Mum was not far behind..

Juvenile Kookaburra

All babies are beguiling, but this little kookaburra is at the top of my list for cuties…he hasn’t even got the Kookaburra crew cut hairdo yet!

Juvenile Kookaburra

In the nearby Eucalyptus tree is a juvenile Cockatoo….just waking up….look out…

When we came to Canberra, the house we bought  faced due west, which meant we got the punishing summer sun on all the living room windows. It was like living in an oven!

At that time we had a one year old daughter and another baby on the way! Fortunately we were young and just pleased to have our own home!

In those days no thought was given by planners or developers to siting houses to take account of the climate.

Over time we extended the house, and put insulation in the roof, and the walls. Eventually, we bought solar panels for the roof, and best of all, double glazing for all the windows.

What a difference all of that made!

In the meanwhile we built up shrubs and trees, especially in the front garden to give us shade and protection. We bought two water tanks for the garden, which helps, but is not enough during dry months.

We planted agapanthus because they are tough and drought resistant. I was once told they are the ”bully boys” of the garden, and when you look at their roots, this is certainly true. But they earned their stripes by surviving a drought and a nearby fire some years ago.

In the past couple of years we have had good spring rain, and this has set them up to flower very well this summer.

The garden is now shady and green, and the house is cool and quiet.

Having a simple, well functioning home give me a sense of wellbeing…it is a port in a storm.

I have mentioned the Chinese Tallow tree in previous posts, and this is our Chinese Tallow tree during summer, full of tassel like flowers which attract bees and butterflies by the millions (it seems)

I have read, in New South Wales, these trees are considered weeds because they sprout and grow prolifically. However, the up side is the bees are prolific here in summer. (we will get rid of new young trees appearing …one is plenty)

 

IN February we had about three days of extreme heat (41 degrees). At times like this the birds stay hidden in our thick bushes and trees, and come down to the bird baths in the late afternoon.

Now that we get more bees and insects in the garden, I noticed many of them coming for water too. In fact, after rescuing a bee swimming desperately in this small blue bird bath, I have put some small stones in the bird bath and reduced the level of water to give them solid places to land on when they need a drink.

The rest of the garden is now quite well established, and has held up well in the days of extreme heat.

Under the Chinese Tallow tree, daisies, a Grevillia ”Bonnie Prince Charlie” a blue Salvia (taking over the garden) and hidden behind the daisy is a Correa Bauerlenii

One advantage of heat is, the fruit is nice and soft to eat…

On Valentine’s day I heard these two galahs chatting away in the Eucalyptus tree. They are very sociable birds, and it looks like love is in the air on this summer’s evening…

I have so many photos of our lovely sunsets, so here is one more…..

May you enjoy your change of season, as we will be soon…autumn is my favourite season in Canberra and I look forward to hearing what yours is…

 

Copyright Geraldine Mackey: All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

Mount Taylor, a summer walk..

Summer is coming slowly to the Brindabella Mountains, a lovely blue and green tinge lingering from spring.

This is the view of the mountains from our street.

 

This region is Ngunnawal country, and it was an important meeting place and significant to many Aboriginal groups.

The mountains and hills were used as markers and were excellent vantage points for keeping an eye on enemy clans, and signalling friendly clans.

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This is a glimpse of Mt Taylor from our back garden….a backdrop behind our  almond and  plum trees.

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Mt Taylor is part of a green belt between the satellite cities of Woden and Tuggeranong. This was all part of Walter Burley Griffin’s plan for green spaces between town centres

Last month, the end of spring, we enjoyed an early morning walk, up Mt Taylor.

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It was still cool, and the kangaroos were waking up slowly…

Amongst the grasses there were some wild flowers.

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Golden Everlasting

 

 

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St John’s Wort

Today, we did this walk again…..the signs of summer are everywhere…

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The kangaroos are alert and looking for greener grasses..

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Some wild flowers are still blooming…the grasses are drying off..

The natural bush colours of summer; grey, yellow and brown are everywhere to be seen.

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This is a Noisy Friar bird. He looks a little pre-historic, but his beak is very useful for feeding off Eucalyptus trees and wild flowers

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What a joy to see these flowering Eucalyptus trees…the flowers and supple branches are often used in Christmas wreaths, and always remind me of summer holidays..

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Here are two Wattle birds…like many Australian wild birds…quite bossy!

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The magpie calls a friendly hello from his feeding spot in the grasses and wildflowers

This cockatoo has landed with a deafening screech on a tree near us, and climbed to the top spot…

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The Corellas (cousins of the Cockatoos) are all feeding on some wattle bushes near the road…

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I wonder if that magnificent yellow crest increases self esteem for Cockatoos?

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As we walk back home I can’t help taking photos of two lovely flowers, one growing almost wild in a corner of someone’s garden. I’m not sure of its name, but one of the Protea family I think.

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Protea: Rocket pincushion

and the other, a striking Bottle brush, flowering quietly in the shade along the back track. (officially known as the Fire trail)

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And back home to our garden. Paul has spent a few heavy lifting days putting mulch down all over the garden, to keep the plants cool for summer.

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Here in the front garden we are planting for birds and bees…salvias, daisies, Grevilleas, and the lovely Chinese Tallow tree.

May you enjoy your green spaces, where ever you are in the world, and if you are in the depth of a northern hemisphere winter, then I hope you are planning for your spring!

Copyright Geraldine Mackey All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reflection on last summer’s garden….sometimes you just get lucky…

July is a very dreary winter month in Canberra, and it seems a perfect time to look back at photos of the garden over the spring and summer months of 2015/2016. This might give some inspiration for the coming spring…

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In Canberra sweet peas need to be planted around my birthday, mid-March. My father-in-law was an enthusiastic gardener and he always reminded me to plant them.

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Sweet peas also remind me of my Mum who loved all flowers and growing things, but sweet peas were one of her favourites.

I think of them both in a companionable way when I am in the garden…

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During the summer I read a little book called ”Six Square Metres” by Margaret Simons. Margaret is a journalist and gardening enthusiast, and some years ago, she wrote a thoughtful, often humorous, gardening column in The Australian newspaper.

One of her quotes sums up a season of gardening….(and our year of gardening)

Sometimes you reap what you sow.

We certainly did that last summer, this pea crop went on for months, above and beyond the call of duty…

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Sometimes you reap what other people sowed..

We bought this tomato as a sapling at the markets in spring. It is called ”Mortgage Lifter” and the tomatoes grow to an enormous size. Every few weeks Paul and I would put more stakes in for reinforcement as the plant grew bigger and the tomatoes grew wider. The beauty of this tomato is that it is very juicy, with a wonderfully rich flavour. I made tomato puree with the left over tomatoes in February, and now we add them to soups and stews. A taste from our own summer garden in winter.

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Sometimes you haven’t got a clue what you are sowing.

….at the markets in spring I thought I was buying a new kind of chard with lovely purple stalks…and it was beetroot! I can’t believe I’m admitting to this….

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and sometimes you just get lucky.

….this Gardenia really does not like the Canberra climate, especially the cold weather. This year we nursed it through the winter and then gave it plenty of fertilizer in spring and summer, and now some beautiful, perfectly formed scented flowers…

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We were very lucky to have an abundance of tomatoes, and the best garlic in three years of trying to get it right..

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or unlucky….

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Much as I love the cockatoos, they sometimes just come by to pick the top off a rose stem, very very annoying…….. ”Who me?”

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All these things are true of life, as of gardening…

I hope this year has been a lucky one for you and your garden…

 

 

 

Autumn.. and I’ve got the empty bird bath blues

As soon as spring arrives, our garden becomes a playground for families of birds.IMG_8097 (1024x650)On this cold spring day the Cockatoos have perhaps given up on flying lessons for this big family……far too cold ….

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But on a brighter day, the babies are growing up…….. parents of all persuasions  are a pretty tolerant bunch.

This sweet looking Crimson Rosella, no doubt a parent, is watching on from the Japanese Maple, while the young ones enjoy the birdbath, and even better……..

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………a sprinkler shower as well!

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This little one is a Juvenile Crimson Rosella, and she is moulting and changing from green to red. At the moment she has nice red pantaloons, but is looking a bit awkward…just as most teenagers feel at times..

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This one is also changing colour, but she is a real water baby and spends all her time happily in the birdbath..

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The young Wattlebird is as hyperactive as her parents, and the mere thought of the water is sending her into a spin!

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Kookaburras are not that common in our area, but this young one has, perhaps, come down from Mt Taylor in search of water.

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She turned her head to give me her best side as if to say……”‘you’ll catch me soon @kooka.burra’

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Galahs are always found in family groups, but this little one has found his way here to our Bottlebrush bush on a very hot day…but waiting politely for his turn in the birdbath..

These young Eastern Rosellas are blending in nicely to the Japanese Maple

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Lovely to see these colours on a hot day..

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But the regulars in our garden are the Magpies, and this year a pair arrived with these three babies. Very soon it is obvious there are two fast learners…..

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and one High Maintenance Baby

 

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It was a long spring and summer with HM following Mum around plaintively calling for food, every morning and every evening. Mum seems young and anxious, and she gives in every time…

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One day, just for a little break, the whole family left HM up on the carport roof (plenty of grubs and fruit up there)

”I know you are down there!” she is calling

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Mum is just enjoying some peace and quiet in the veggie patch

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Dad’s having a bath…he’s had enough, he wants this baby off the payroll..

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As we drive away for our summer break, I wonder if HM is going to make it…she has to learn to feed herself…as Garrison Keiller says about difficult kids ”Just send money and pray”

 

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When we return from our summer holiday, the Magpies have gone…..in fact all the young birds have grown up and flown away…it’s very quiet here …I realise I’ve got the empty bird bath blues..

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Then, just as I write this, the three young Magpies come back for a visit….they poke around the lawn looking  for some worms, have a drink in the birdbath, and stay a while as we do some gardening..

HM Baby is turning her head to show she is listening for beetles, worms and grubs in the ground…she can feed herself!

IMG_1556 (1024x882)Just look at them!  So confident, these city slickers in their sharp Armani suits…all grown up and ready to go….when did that happen?

 

May they have a happy autumn and winter before their hectic turn at parenting begins..

Copyright Geraldine  Mackey. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

Summertime with the birds

Here comes trouble…

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I wonder how long it would take me to undo that?

IMG_3281 (909x1024)       Just waiting for my buddies…

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Time to crack open a few almonds sitting on the carport roof……

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and he said and she said…

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Meanwhile, early morning in the garden on a very hot day, all the birdbaths are ready…

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magpies always wait their turn….

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Wattle birds are in and out like a flash, drying off on the camellias…

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Softly, softly, with parrots, much too shy to come out if the cockatoos are around

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and for the sheer joy of living, here is our baby magpie enjoying the sprinkler…

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Oh the sheer anticipation of that sprinkler…here I go….

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..adrenaline rush…..Quick back up on the pot to do it all again..

Where would we be without them?

 

 

 

Stepping out at the Arboretum

When I began this blog I wrote a post about the Arboretum in Canberra  (Arboretum, 100 trees… in 100 forests)..here is a photo from that post showing this beautiful place in the early morning.

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Amongst the  newly growing forests in the Arboretum is one of the best kept secrets, a regional botanic garden called STEP (Southern Tablelands Ecosystems Park)

IMG_6455 (1024x648)This area has been designed to represent the native plants and trees typical to the Southern Highlands. These areas have forests, woodlands, grasslands, and wetlands.

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Unlike all the other forests in the Arboretum, this forest has an understory of shrubs, herbs, grasses and ferns. As we walked down the path from the highest area to the wetlands I’ve concentrated on the flowering understory for photos, but just occasionally there is a lovely spring flowering Eucalypt..

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…. this one is called Eucalyptus dalrympleana (Mountain Gum)

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and a flowering Wee Jasper Grevillea ..

….. further down the path the open woodland area is being developed, the clumps of grass are called Poa sieberiana

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Early the following morning I went back to take more photos, and I was reminded of my childhood in Africa ….. walking along paths lined by soft green grasses, and watching birds skimming through  them…but in this botanical garden there are street lights in the distance to remind me that we are very near a carpark, and the expressway to the city is not too far away.

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The only bird happy to have his photo taken is this cockatoo, who was very busy eating the tips of the grasses.IMG_6312 (1024x768)

Here are some of the colourful spring flowering native plants and shrubs

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Solanum linearifolium Kangaroo apple

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Ranunculus lappaceus

 

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Chrysocephalum apiculatum

 

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Xerochrysum bracteatum

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Ammobium alalum

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Bulbine bulbosa

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Derwentia perfoliata

 

 

 

 

 

 

and my all time favourite is this tiny flower, perfect in every way!

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Dianella revoluta

The frosty hollow area has species that need frost and cold air ..a favourite tree of mine is the snow gum (Eucalypt)

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There is a small wetland for the plants suitable for this type of habitat.

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This attractive rock amphitheatre has been constructed to use as an educational space. Over time the plan is to have regular groups of students to learn about the plants native to this area.

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The Arboretum provides water tanks for STEP, and these are used to irrigate the fledging trees and shrubs.

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Here is one of the dedicated volunteers watering the plants, the netting over his hat is a most efficient way of keeping the annoying flies away from his face (a sure sign summer is on the way).

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The volunteers working on the STEP program are an inspiration. They are full of enthusiasm and very knowledgeable about all the plants that they see growing and developing every week.

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When we arrived they were just packing up after a shared morning tea under the gum trees. What better way to spend a lovely warm spring day, being productive and useful and sharing that with like-minded people.

 

STEP is having an open afternoon with volunteers to show visitors around STEP and answer any questions about growing native plants in Canberra on Sunday 29th November between 12.30 – 3.00.

www.STEP.asn.au