The poet Mary Oliver liked to go out walking early in the morning. Although her landscape in the USA is undoubtedly different to mine, her poem has universal appeal to all who go out early in the morning.
”Softest of mornings hello. And what will you do today, I wonder with my heart…”
The National Arboretum of Canberra is a wonderful place to see the sun rise on a soft autumn morning.
Autumn is a very busy time for us, and we are trying get as much planting and tidying done in our garden, before we go and visit other gardens.
So here are just a few photos of our autumn garden…. and of course, the birds that come to visit…
The tiny Eastern Spinebill is a regular visitor, feeding on the Pineapple Sage, which has almost taken over this part of the garden.
It is a most elusive little bird, but Paul just managed to get a photo of him with his phone.
Thank you for visiting Canberra’s Green Spaces today, and I hope your autumn or spring days are bright and sunny, where ever you are in the world.
The photos below seem like a dream to me now: this was our garden in November….late spring.
We had some rain, which made the garden look quite green. I looked at these photos at the end of summer and I had to double-check the date on my camera to make sure it was just a few short months ago.
Despite the fairly calm conditions in Canberra in spring, the hot dry winds, the drought in much of Australia, and the early and unusual fires in other parts of Australia, were the warning signs of the terrible summer to come.
During December fires had spread across the country, and the winds blew the thick smoke through Canberra… some days the air quality was the worst of any major city in the world.
The Gardenia flowered so gracefully on one of our hottest days…(40 degrees C) Incredible!
Our home is part of a group of suburbs not far from the Namadgi National Park, with views of the Brindabella Mountains…all mountain photos are taken from our garden or our street.
Inevitably the winds, and the searing hot temperatures spread the fires across the mountains.
Even more apocalyptic was the sight of the fires burning across the mountains at night.
During some of evenings, when our suburbs were on ”high alert” and it was hard to sleep, we shared meals and glasses of wine with neighbours…a memorable time. There was an acute sense of camaraderie and community during the fires.
Then came a sudden chance of rain, which became a freak hail storm…
Finally some nice, steady rain came! The whole garden looked as if it was having a bad hair day!
However, in many parts of Eastern Australia there were floods and road closures …
…even more trauma and heartbreak for people and particularly wildlife.
Finally, in February the cooler weather and rain enabled the ACT Emergency Services to gradually reduce the fires in the mountains.
Miraculously, everything started to look green again. Canberra, at the end of summer could do with more rain, but all normal weather patterns do not apply this year!
Cautiously at first, the birds are coming back to the garden..
The almond tree had endured hot dry winds, leaves stripped from the hail storm, and reduced water…
but it has flourished and has a bumper crop of almonds this year..who know why?
The cockatoos are back….noisily cracking almond nuts and gossiping in the trees…..life is back to normal.
During the last few months many animals have been moved out of Namadgi National Park for their safety. Amongst them, platypus, koalas, rock wallabies and even Northern Corrobboree Frogs. I hope to do a post on their return soon.
After seeing the plight of so many koalas this summer, here is a link to a video clip of an endearing young koala called Willow, and her first encounter with a butterfly.
We are back in one of our favourite places, Mystery Bay, visiting friends.
Canberrans are not very far from the pretty south coast of New South Wales, and it is a wonderful place to visit for short holidays and long weekends (and is usually warmer than Canberra in winter, and cooler in summer).
Regular readers of this blog may recognise the sharp-eyed Kookaburra and lovely Spotted Eucalyptus (Gum) trees from a previous visit to this garden…
The King Parrot, always a gentle and welcome visitor to a garden, looks as if he has been colour co-ordinated to fit with this birdbath..
On the first warm afternoon, we walked to Mystery Bay beach and watched the soft winter sky turn pink. On the way home we noticed Wattle shrubs beginning to blossom… a sure sign that spring is on the way.
Wattles are Australia’s National Flower, and, as I remember it, Wattle day used to be the 1st August, but now is 1st September….
During the weekend, we went with our friends to a music concert in the neighbouring town of Narooma. On the way home we saw this lovely flower, but I have no idea what it is…I’m sure someone will be able to help me out here.
The weather was taking a turn for the worst, but we still ventured a walk through the forest, to look at the Burrawang Cycads growing amongst the ghostly looking Spotted Gum trees.
The forest is part of the National Park, and provides a home for many birds and also smaller Australian animals like swamp wallabies.
We picked a wild and windy last day to go for a walk along 1080 beach…
No matter how windy the weather, the beach is still a good place for solving world problems..
However, the icy wind that day drove us back to the car….whose idea was this anyway?
Just as we left the car park we spotted this Eastern Yellow Robin, and he seemed to come down to greet us…
As we were driving back through the bush, we spotted this Swamp Wallaby munching on some Eucalyptus leaves….
Luckily he wasn’t going anywhere until he had finished his lunch..
I wish I had been able to take a photo of his long tail…quite remarkable..
Sadly we had to leave all this wonderful wildlife, and the good company of our friends to return to Canberra…
As we drove over Brown Mountain, we noticed it had been snowing…not unusual in this part of the world, but a first for us.. (and I think this would be called a dusting of snow in the Northern Hemisphere!)
This is a picnic spot on the edge of a little town called Nimmitabel. it had been snowing since Saturday, and the children nearby were having fun with toboggans…
We chose to have our coffee in the warm new coffee shop at Nimmitabel on this day…
When we arrived home in Canberra, our regular King Parrots ( a pair) were having a much needed drink from the birdbath….
and, spring must be on its way because they had brought a baby King Parrot along to feed on the Japanese Maple..(I think this is a female as the male has an orange head)
The baby seems to be saying…….it is very cold for a first outing…
Such a cute baby! I felt very pleased that the King Parrots had trusted their youngster to our garden for her first glimpses of the world….
Thanks for visiting Canberra’s Green Spaces, and I hope you are enjoying your place in the world, whatever season it may be..
For anyone who missed my first post on Mystery Bay, and is interested in the area, here is the link….
Canberra has a crisp blue-sky beauty in winter…..and for those of us who live in leafy suburbs, it is all about the birds that visit our gardens, and brighten a cold day.
Winter is the time for King Parrots in our garden…. and this year they are searching, in particular, for fresh water. Almost every morning they check the gutters of our cabin for frosty water pools warmed by the morning sun.
Although King Parrots are relatively large, they are sweet, shy birds, always in pairs, and easily frightened away..
Once they have had a drink, they often fly to the Japanese Maple, right near the sunroom window…
Look at the beautiful red and dark green markings on the tail and underbelly of this bird, as David Attenborough says, the natural world is so full of beauty…
Our regular Sulphur Crested Cockatoos are also looking for water..
…and, rather like school inspectors, they investigate the garden thoroughly
and we are found wanting …….
Where are the bird baths?
What happened to all the almonds?
I have the feeling we are getting zero out of tenfor this old bird bath..
Hardly any water, shabby looking, almost toppling over..
The only reason we are here is because your neighbours are neglecting theirs…
The birds are great fun to watch while I am resting and waiting for my wrist to mend. Many thanks for all the well wishes, my wrist is now almost back to normal, and all is well.
Apart from watching birds from the sunroom window, I have been catching up on some reading,
This book, called ”The Good, the Bad, and the Unlikely” is a very short history of Australian Prime Ministers.
It is written by the irreverent and humorous journalist Mungo Maccallum.
Inspired by my reading, I wanted to take a photo of the statue of Edmund Barton, the first Prime Minister of Australia. His statue is appropriately in the suburb of Barton, and we decided to incorporate a walk around Commonwealth Park, near the centre of the city, before taking the photo.
Despite being a clear winter’s day, there was a biting cold wind, and all walkers and cyclists have long abandoned the Lake and are warming up in coffee shops all over Canberra.
The Captain James Cook Memorial is combination of the water jet, and a terrestrial globe, and commemorates the bicentenary of Captain Cook’s landing on the east coast of Australia in 1770. The three routes of Cook’s voyages, are inscribed on the surrounding handrail.
The stunning jet of water always attracts the eyes of tourists, especially children. Many years ago, as a young teacher in Canberra, I met up with friends and we hired a little boat, and rowed around the fountain.
We were thrilled to get thoroughly wet by the jet spray……they seem such innocent times now!
The above photo was taken in winter a few years ago…the photo below was July 2018, absolutely freezing…..even the resident pelican looked downcast.
However, a pair of Crimson Rosellas were steadily eating their way through some scattered seeds from overhanging trees.
Across the lake from Commonwealth Park there is a view of Old Parliament House (now the Museum of Democracy) and behind it, Parliament House today (under repair as the roof has been leaking).
Here is another, much closer, photo of Parliament House. Much clearer without the repair work tent over the roof!
And here is the handsome statue of Edmund Barton….
According to Mungo Maccallum, Australia’s first Prime Minister, Edmund Barton had one unique quality…he managed to unite a fractious group of politicians and colonies into creating a federation… in Mungo’s words..
Like most of their descendants, this motley bunch (the politicians at the time) were driven by a combination of idealism and self-interest, and getting them to agree on anything substantial was like herding a football team into a temperance meeting room.
Politicians all over Australia, agreed to become… as Barton says,
”a nation for a continent, and a continent for a nation
What a talent! I wonder how successful he would be if he tried that today!
Here is another sculpture of Edmund Barton, which is in The Prime Ministers’ Avenue, set in the magnificent Horse Chestnut Avenue of the Gardens in Ballarat. Well worth a visit, in every season.
I hope you are enjoying your green spaces, where ever you live in the world….each season has a beauty of its own.
Sulphur Crested Cockatoos living in Canberra have an abundance of food, and very few enemies. So there is plenty of recreational time.
…During the dreary winter days why not practice undoing knots, and a tennis net is just the thing….
Parrot experts say that the parrot family are the smartest of all bird families, they continue to learn as they grow, rather than relying on instinct.
Luckily humans leave tempting problems like street lamps and tennis nets, and almonds wedged in the roof of carports..
The Little Corella is a cousin of the cockatoo, and has become a frequent visitor to the Canberra region in recent years….judging by the amount of lamp post covers swinging in the wind.
Members of the Canberra Ornithologist Group have noticed Corellas teasing rows of Crested Pigeons perched on power lines by pushing them off balance..(obviously the Little Corella has no problem with balance)
There is something very sweet about these Crested Pigeons, who manage to keep their fine hairdos in place regardless of the weather…(or teasing going on)
In June, the beginning of winter, we usually have cold crisp days, with blue skies…
Food is still in abundance…
Then comes the grey, cold July days, and life becomes a bit tougher..
On cold winter mornings these King Parrots perch on the guttering of our cabin in the garden. There they drink the melted icy water after a frosty night.
We have a Japanese Maple growing between the cabin in the garden and our house. This year the King Parrots have come to feed on the dried seed pods…
.. giving us a perfect chance for photos as we sit in the sunroom having coffee..
The male King Parrot spends a lot of time rearranging his tail so that he can eat in comfort.
This magnificent Yellow-Tailed Black Cockatoo flew into my neighbour’s garden last winter, and used the Silver Birch tree as a viewing platform in the hunt for food..
(Despite their regal appearance, I read recently that their cousins the Orange-tailed Black Cockatoo in Western Australia have suffered injuries from Raven attacks.)
And now, in mid-August, there is warmth in the air, and the skies are occasionally blue again.
We saw this Magpie on our walk this morning, and he began warbling…… a very familiar and much loved Australia Magpie call.
My Scottish father used to say the bagpipes brought ”a stirring” to his heart and I think a Magpie’s warbling brings a stirring to most Australian hearts.
and back home, here is another important member of our garden bird family ….one very noisy Cockatoo!
… it is true, spring is almost here!
Paul and I are also waiting for a very special event in our lives, my daughter and her husband are soon to have a baby, our first grandchild!
With the early morning light increasing, I have been getting up early (hard to sleep in when waiting for baby) and reading and enjoying many blogs …a lovely distraction.
May you enjoy your season, and green spaces, where ever you live in the world…
Can the centre of government be fifteen minutes walk away from this bay?
I often think our grandchildren will hardly be able to comprehend this innocent time when Parliament House is surrounded by quiet suburbs like Yarralumla, where people walk dogs, ride bikes, and play golf.
Yarralumla is named after the Indigenous people’s term for the area, and means ”echo”.
Yarralumla has lovely walking tracks with views of the Governor General’s residence.
This is a working property where heads of state, and royalty visit, and many events are hosted during the year.
Despite the grandeur, one of the challenges of the Governor General’s House and garden is the ongoing problem of the resident cockatoos and kangaroos….
These kangaroos are having a charmed life near the entrance to the Governor General’s House with all the lush greenery around …meanwhile a strange sounding hooter is attempting to frighten away the cockatoos from the main gardens….although I imagine it would take more than a hooter to frighten a determined cockatoo.
Walter Burley Griffin, the talented architect from Chicago who designed this garden city, could not have imagined that kangaroos and cockatoos could be such a problem in the future!
Along the walking track at Yarralumla is the Royal Golf Club. A few years ago, this photo below made headlines in many parts of the world……
Australian Open Interrupted by Kangaroos
In 2013 golfer Karrie Webb waits for the kangaroos to clear the fairway during the Australian Open….
I believe someone kindly lifted some fencing for this mob to jump out of the limelight!
Meanwhile on this spring day in Yarralumla…
Amongst the great variety of trees we saw many birds feeding..
The young Australian King Parrots almost disappearing into the oak leaves…
The adults are watching over them from above….
Crimson rosellas feasting on spring flowers..
We pass the Heritage Nursery…this is a place where plants just leap out to be bought, but today I’m going to show restraint with plants (and chocolate!)
…..and to end a lovely day’s walk.. here is a view of Telstra Tower on Black Mountain..
This tower is disliked by many, but for me…and I know for others, when we are travelling back to Canberra after a long car trip…the sight of the Telstra Tower silhouetted against the sky means we are nearly home..
and there is no place like home….
I hope this is true for you too.
Enjoy your home and green spaces where ever you are in the world…