Cockatoos, Christmas and Mount Taylor …..

Just before Christmas, we had an unexpected visitor. ..

A group of cockatoos were helping themselves to the flowers on our apricot tree, and when Paul chased them away he noticed that one of birds was walking, rather than flying away.

It seemed to be a young cockatoo, perhaps a male, with a very protective mother who walked along the path with him. (I wish I’d taken a photo of them)

 I hoped they would both fly away, and I returned to the house to get on with Christmas preparations.

Anxious relatives watching from the carport roof..

However, a few hours later, the cockatoo was still sitting under a tree in the garden. He has a mark on his head…..we wondered if he’d had a “crash landing” in the garden while the apricot raid was on..

...behind the cockatoo there are.. two metal statues of magpies

I decided to call WIRES (NSW Wildlife Information, Rescue, & Education service.) and I had a chat to a very helpful person called Lyn. She asked if the cockatoo had a tail, (which he didn’t have, compared with the other cockatoos) and this indicated he was definitely a Juvenile.

This photo was taken some time ago, and gives an example of the wing-span and tail of a healthy youngster..

Lyn then gave me an interesting, and amusing insight into the life of a young cockatoo. During the mating season, Sulphur Crested Cockatoos nest high in the hollow of gum (Eucalyptus) trees. The parents share the incubation of two to four eggs and feed nestlings for about 6 -8 weeks. Cockatoos may have as many as four young cockatoos in the hollow for a long time.!

Lyn said, ‘‘as you can imagine they are quite stunned and very reliant on their parents when they leave the hollow!”

These two photos were taken in Rushcutters’s Bay in Sydney last spring

Lyn said WIRES members, understandably do not take young birds if they are being fed by their parents. When the parents stop feeding the juvenile cockatoos starts to become independent and usually have developed well enough to fly.

The young mother on the left, looking after the juvenile cockatoo

The young cockatoo, settled into one of our Japanese Maple trees. He pulled himself up by his beak and claws, looking a little stunned, but always with his mother close by.

The mother of the young Cockatoo feeding him.

Fortunately our cockatoo family were very quiet (which is VERY unusual). His mother was completely devoted to him, she arrived about dawn every morning, fed him and often spent time preening him, and then she flew off, and came back in the evening to feed him again.. Paul and I sometimes wondered if he was going to be bigger than his mother..

Meanwhile Christmas was just a few days away, and our daughter, son-in-law and our two grandchildren were arriving any minute. They live in the inner city of Melbourne, and so they greeted the idea of a young cockatoo in the tree, with great interest.

Christmas day was a happy family time, fortunately the young cockatoo and his energetic mother had moved to a densely covered Bottlebrush at the bottom of the garden, and we made sure they had peace and quiet there. Our granddaughter made the cockatoo a nest out of paper plates, and thoughtfully left it under the plum tree.

The parents continued to watch over their youngster, and his mother spent time gently spreading out his wings …very poignant to watch.

The cockatoo family gradually moved to another very quiet garden, and we are not sure exactly what has happened to him now, but I hope he is learning to fly..

Once Christmas was over, presents had been opened, visitors had come and gone, there were a couple more things to do. Paul wanted to harvest his abundant bed of carrots, and had two willing helpers. They loved it, nothing like getting your hands in soil!

Once the carrots were harvested and cleaned, we had one more box to tick….we don’t have many traditions in Canberra, but almost everyone enjoys the outdoors.

We have lived on the slopes of Mount Taylor for many years. Our tradition is that when we get together, we make a bit of a trek along the path to the middle section of Mount Taylor .

The following photos have been taken over the span of many years …

When our daughters were young we walked up the path to look at the view, to see if we could spot our house, and to look for the kangaroos.

Lake Tuggeranong and surrounding suburbs
the kangaroos relaxing on Mt Taylor..

Paul, our son-in-law Anthony, and our grandson and granddaughter walked half way up Mt Taylor. They didn’t see many kangaroos, but they loved the climb, especially our grandson who is three and half years old. He couldn’t wait to tell his Mum ..

“I went to the mountain: and I loved it!”

the path leading home ….
Guess what they saw while they climbed the mountain…a cockatoo looking ahead..

Happy New Year to everyone, and thank you for taking the time to read my blog post, during this busy time of the year.

In the words of David Attenborough:

It seems to me that the natural world is the greatest source of excitement, the greatest source of visual beauty, the greatest source of intellectual interest..it is the greatest source of so much in life that makes life worth living...

Copyright Geraldine Mackey: All Rights Reserved

Kangaroos, Koalas and the Brushed Tailed Rock Wallaby Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve

Yesterday Paul and I intended going out to Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve, until the weather took a turn for the worse, cold and windy and miserable. So, it was definitely a ”stay at home” kind of day.

However I had many photos from previous visits, quite often through winter, so I’ve used these photos and regular readers (over years) will recognise a few.

Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve is a much loved place, very close to Canberra, with walks and views of animals, all living in their natural habitat. The Reserve also has much needed threatened species breeding programs, and conservation of flora and fauna.

More than anything it gives us all the ability to connect in with nature and conservation.

Considering these photos were taken in winter the kangaroos and koalas are looking very healthy. The joey seems to be quite relaxed in his pouch.

The mother of this joey, instinctively protecting her joey before she continues to graze.

Brush-tailed Rock Wallaby amongst the burnt trees

In 2003 we had terrible fires in this region, and also in Canberra. The photo above was taken well after the fires, but still the remnants of the fire remain.

This photo was seen in many parts of the world at that time. Humans and animals desperately trying to survive during this exhausting and fearful time.

Lucky was the only koala to survive the 2003 fires in this region. Unfortunately the only photo of Lucky I could find was one taken just after he was rescued from the fire…all too dreadful to see, but he did survive and thrive until July 2008, and he died of old age.

For five years there were no koalas at Tidbinbilla. In 2013, some koalas were relocated from New South Wales to Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve. These koalas have been part of special breeding program and have thrived since this time.

Koalas eat a range of Eucalyptus leaves. .

The Rangers at Tidbinbilla created a special free-range enclosure which enabled adults and children to see the koalas eating, sleeping, and climbing branches without disturbing them.

This adult koala is tolerantly taking this almost fully grown youngster for a ride.

Brushed-tailed Rock Wallaby.

The brushed-tailed rock wallaby is another animal that survives well in Tidbinbilla. In the mid 1990s there were fewer than 40 southern brush-tailed rock wallabies in the wild and in this area.

In days well past, they were hunted for many years, then lost habitat to feral foxes and feral goats. Tidbinbilla joined the fight to save the brush-tailed wallaby. These days Tidbinbilla has about 70 per cent of the southern Brush-tailed Rock-Wallaby’s captive breeding population in Australia.

In the words of Brett McNamara, the Regional Manager ACT Parks and Conservation Service.(2019)

Next time you visit Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve, keep an eye out for the elusive shadow as it takes a giant leap forward, back from the edge of extinction.

Congratulation to all the Rangers and volunteers who work at Tidbinbilla, their dedication over the years has made Tidbinbilla a wonderful place to visit.

Best wishes to all readers and may your days be sunny and mild..

Copyright Geraldine Mackey: All Rights Reserved .

Canberra’s winter: birds, kangaroos and walking tracks..

Canberrans often complain about our winters, which are generally colder than coastal areas nearby. However, when I looked through my photos of winter in Canberra I decided to look on the bright side.

canoeing on Lake Burley Griffin

Canberra in late autumn, early winter can be beautiful, and for many people it is a time for rowing, cycling, running and walking and taking photos.

One of my favourite occupations is looking out the window into our back garden and taking photos of the birds we often see in winter.

Here are a family of King Parrots who fly in to drink melted water from the gutter of our cabin in the garden. I love watching these beautiful birds because they are very cautious and shy and we hardly ever see them during other seasons.

The male Australian King Parrot has a completely red head, and the females are similar to the males except that they have a completely green head and breast…easier to distinguish in the photo below.

In winter we often go to the Australian Botanic Gardens, there are always a few colourful native plants and an abundance of birds ….especially early in the morning.

Canberra is a planned city with many parks and bushland. We often go for winter walks along Coolaman Ridge Nature Track, which has a winding track around a mountain ridge. Quite often in winter the kangaroos are slow to start the day and you can see a little Joey still half asleep enjoying the warmth of the sunshine on the rocks.

The photo below shows the kangaroos in languish mode, along a track near Mount Taylor, near where we live. This photo was taken a while ago (in winter) and since then this area has become very popular as a walking track, and a place to take dogs for a walk. Fortunately there is a fence between the walking track and the kangaroos, who spend time on the other side of the mountain.

We saw these kangaroos at Weston park, and although they are watchful, they are used to people strolling by and taking photos occasionally.

As the winter sun sets, the view from our street is of the Brindabella Mountains…the colours change from hour to hour. The currawongs call is a familar sound in the evening, time to close the curtains, turn the heater up, and be very, very thankful we live in a peaceful part of the world.

Best wishes to everyone, and I hope you are enjoying your patch of sunshine where ever it may be…

Copyright Geraldine Mackey: All Rights Reserved.

Bathurst Spring Gardens: Welcome to old Mill Cottage

Spring has arrived in Australia, and for the first time in almost three long Covid years, we are able to visit open gardens all over the southern states.

Last weekend, the country town of Bathurst, New South Wales, held its Spring Festival.

We don’t live far from Bathurst and Paul and I met at College in Bathurst many years ago, so we have great affection and memories of this town.

Machattie Park in the centre of Bathurst.

There were many open gardens to visit, both in Bathurst, and around the district. We spent so long looking at some of the country properties and gardens that we will have to come back next year for the rest!

Mill Cottage in O’Connell

The owners of the gardens often provide ”a story” about their garden, and this is the beginning of the story of Mill Cottage, in O’Connell near Bathurst.

We bought Mill Cottage, also known as the Garden House, attracted by the historic house, the old garden, and orchard and the lovely setting beside the Fish River.

The original 100 acre farm was taken up by Daniel Roberts in about 1829. Daniel Roberts was born in Wales in 1800 and arrived in the colony in 1826. The 1828 census lists Daniel as being a free settler, a carpenter, aged 28.

Daniel met Catherine Spinks about 1828. She had arrived in the colony in 1820 when she was only 13 years old, with her convict mother, Anne. Daniel and Catherine were married in Parramatta in 1828. They left on horseback after their wedding and arrived in O’Connell, where they settled.

A very long way to travel by horseback…they were tough in those days!

The present owners know there was the stone and brick house here by 1837, called the Garden House. This assumes there was a notable garden from the beginning, maybe tended by the two convicts allocated to the Roberts family.

The orchard

Daniel built a water mill, located about 200 metres upstream from the house in 1833. He saw the need for a place to mill the wheat that the early settlers were busy growing. Local farmers brought their wheat, it was ground into flour, and a sack cost them one penny!

Daniel became a prosperous local businessman and over time the property was sold, and the land around was subdivided.

Here is the impressive rhubarb patch and many other vegetables, well mulched and fertilized.

The present owners have extended and expanded the garden over the previous ten years .

The garden has mainly cool climate plants, bulbs, roses, salvias, hellebores and many other perennials, with a wonderful shady Box elder (maple) tree in the centre of the garden near the house.

We were lucky to have a lovely sunny day to visit Bathurst and surrounds, however, like much of the Eastern states of Australia, Bathurst has experienced heavy rains this year, and the Fish river, (seen in the photo below) was rising.

All parts of the garden have attractive borders of plants, and this gave us a chance to wander through the garden and take time to look at all the flowering spring shrubs.

I didn’t get a chance to talk to the owners of the property, but I did wonder if kangaroos hopped over the fence/gate to eat the abundance of fruit, vegetables and flowers.

We had a wonderful time wandering through this garden and it was a delight to be out and about amongst fellow gardeners. Many thanks to the owners of the property, as it must take an enormous effort to get ready for an Open Garden weekend.

For those who are interested in learning more about the house, Lee Steele’s Volume Two of “Heritage Homes of Bathurst and District” describes this house in more detail.

I have photos for at least one or two more gardens, so I hope you can look out for them.

Copyright Geraldine Mackey: All Rights Reserved

Winter in Canberra: walks in Haig Park, birds, and a Book Barn when you need it..

Winter arrived in Canberra on 1st June with snow falling on the Brindabella Mountains

The first day of Winter: Photo: Canberra Times

During autumn we had seemingly non-stop rain and so the occasional wintery, but sunny day was welcome. The storm water drains around the inner city were flowing steadily with water, hard to believe after so many years of drought, not so long ago.

We have taken to walking our daughter’s dog Charlie once a week, which is very good exercise and we visit parts of the city with good walking/cycling tracks.

One of my favourite walks is through Haig Park. This park reminds me of parks in Europe, perhaps as so many of the mature trees are European, and as in Europe, people stroll through the park all week and all through winter.

The park was planned and trees planted in about 1921, as a wind break shelter within the city. 7000 trees were planted, mostly exotic evergreen and deciduous trees.

Since that time the park has had times of neglect, but is now a wonderful addition to inner city living.

However, in contrast to European parks we have possums rather than squirrels and many different colourful birds..

Despite the regular walkers, and a very popular, busy market in the park on the weekend, there are plenty of birds to be seen everywhere.

Eastern Rosellas are very shy parrots, so I was happy to get a photo of these two Rosellas.

Needless to say the cockatoos are everywhere..

Last week we went to Sydney to visit Paul’s mother, and on the way home we stopped off at one of our favourite bookshops Berkelouw Book Barn.

This inviting Book Barn has a roaring fire in winter, and is a wonderful place to browse for books, (second-hand and new ones) at any season of the year. We always have coffee and sometimes cake, which provides the fuel needed to hunt out new books and second-hand books. We came away with an interesting pile of books, as always..

Berkelouw Book Barn Bookshop Photo: Trip Advisor.

Nowadays the Book Barn is also a restaurant and a wedding venue as well. However, these don’t start until midday, so the very best times to visit are the mornings and week days if possible.

Lastly, a flashback to autumn when we visited our family in Melbourne. We always stop about half way, at a small town in the Alpine region called Myrtleford. Next door to our Air BnB is a vacant block of land, which is used as a wildlife sanctuary.

This family of Kangaroos always come down cautiously to see us…no feeding required, .. they are just curious, or as the Aussie expression would have it, they are Sticky beaks!

Finally, my favourite photo of the year so far, a young kookaburra in our garden. Every winter about this time a family of kookaburras come to our garden. I’m sure the family love the fact that we have many birdbaths filled with water for them, and many worms in our vegetable garden..(Paul doesn’t love that side of things)

However, I like to think, and I’m sticking to my story, that they also come back to show us their latest very cute offspring.

Best wishes to everyone and thank you for taking the time to read my blog post.

We are living in a turbulent world these days, and during times like this I remember my mother, who concentrated always on the small, simple and pleasant parts of life, to help get through the difficult parts, and her favourite quote, as I have mentioned before:

When the world wearies and society does not satisfy…. there is always the garden.” by Minnie Aumonier

The garden, the birds and an occasional kangaroo….quiet distractions from a weary world.

Having featured the Sydney Opera House in my last post, this week the Opera House had displayed the colours of the Ukraine, appropriate for these times

With such turmoil in the world this week, it was a quiet distraction and a joy to take a photo of this lovely Gardenia….the creamy petals are just soaking up the rain amongst the dark green foliage. We have two Gardenias in our garden, and this one has never flowered until this summer. ….it has tried, but the flowers never quite made it.

This summer, according to the Bureau of Meteorology, in our region, we have had 200% more rain than our average summer rainfall. As Canberra is often in drought, there is something magical about rain, and everything is green and growing. However, it is possible to have too much of a good thing, and parts of Queensland and New South Wales are experiencing severe flooding. It is either a feast or famine in Australia.

Meanwhile, our garden is greener than normal, and the zucchinis threaten to take over, along with the borage… I’m looking up recipes which include zucchini whenever I can..

Canberra’s usual season for newborn birds is spring: September, October, November.

This very young magpie is a February baby, and is bravely learning to fly.

Perhaps the abundance of food this year has increased breeding time.

The cockatoos are having field day eating from all the fruit trees. In our immediate neighbourhood they are enjoying plums, apples and almonds..no wonder they look so healthy!

…..and you can just throw the rest away, Paul and Gerrie will clean up the mess

These young Galahs look quite endearing, but when they are waiting to be fed they make a very insistent chanting call. I’m glad they are not in our garden!

One of the paths we walk almost every day.

Recently my neighbour went for an early morning walk, and as she past Ken’s garden, she saw a kangaroo grazing. Kangaroos sometimes come down from Mount Taylor to eat on the sweet and abundant grasses in the surrounding suburbs.

I rushed out with my camera, but the kangaroo had disappeared by the that time.

Red Hot Pokers, in Ken’s garden, and Mount Taylor in the distance..

However, I’ve added a photo of a kangaroo, because we do have many kangaroos living in the bushland between suburbs in Canberra. It is not unusual to see kangaroos on our morning walks. The photo below was taken on an early morning walk along Chapman Ridge.

Kangaroos waking up slowly on a winter’s morning on Mount Taylor.

When the rain finally stops, it is a joy to see the Brindabella Mountains again, especially as it was only two years since the devastating summer bushfires were burning on these mountains, how nature replenishes and repairs…

Many thanks for taking the time to read my blog, and best wishes to all those, especially children, trapped in the madness of war. Having taught many children from war-torn countries, what they taught me is to never give up hope.

Geraldine Mackey: All Rights Reserved.

Sydney and Canberra Lockdown walks, Reid’s Tiny Farm and spring is in the air…

My brother, Neil lives in Sydney and every morning, regardless of the weather, he walks with a small group of like-minded guys who are up early…usually a bit before dawn.

Sydney and Canberra are in Lockdown, and residents are allowed two hours of exercise (close to home) every day in both cities. Bondi beach, and the cliffs beyond make for ever changing views of the city and the beach, especially at dawn. How very lucky they are to have these views, at any time, but especially during a Lockdown period.

One of the walkers, Tim Read, regularly takes photos with various cameras, and has kindly allowed me to show these two. Many thanks Tim.

Bondi Beach and the Tidal Pool (Photos by Tim Read: All Rights Reserved)

Although Sydney is only a four hour drive away from Canberra, our climates are very different . I often envy my brother his walks as I sit shivering in my study in Canberra in winter and spring. However, our compensation is spring!

This year we had a long cold and rainy winter, and it was lovely to see the blossoms finally arrive on the plum tree..

and the almond tree..

The Wattle trees Paul planted a few years ago are enthusiastically flowering in the new garden.

We have become philosophical about the amount of blossoms lost to the birds…

In fact the King Parrot feeds on blossoms just above us, as we sit on the deck having coffee, blossoms raining down like confetti.

The Galahs look like Australian State Premiers trying to decide on a pathway out of this pandemic.

Canberra’s suburbs are surrounded by paths and bushland, and during these Lockdown periods many Canberrans have joined the Facebook Wildlife photography group, and are publishing a wide range of colourful parrots and birds.

A Crimson Rosella in a Eucalyptus tree

We live in one of the outer suburbs of Canberra, and McQuoids Hill, a nature park nearby, has become a very popular walking destination since Lockdown.

This landscape is very similar to the landscape of my childhood and that of my brothers, in Central Africa.

Paul in the distance walking down McQuoit Hill

We have only seen kangaroos on walks in this area, but people regularly take photos of Wallaroos (a cross between a wallaby and a kangaroo) so I’ll try to get a photos of them.

Kangaroos must be curious as to the increased human traffic on these paths.
Sulphur Crested Cockatoos are everywhere..

During winter we read an inspiring local story about Dimity May who has started a small business growing local organic seedlings tailored to our Canberra market. She called it Reid Tiny Farm. (Dimity was born and raised in Reid, a suburb of Canberra.)

Dimity May with some of her organic seedlings and vegetables..(Photo: Canberra Times)

Dimity had always been passionate about organic products, and has a Permaculture Design Certificate at Allsun Farm at Gundaroo. Later she completed a market gardener masterclass developed by a renowned farmer and regenerative agricultural advocate Jean Martin, based in Quebec. (an online course mainly for professional growers)

seedling -raising cocoon tunnel from Active Vista Tasmania (Photo Canberra Times)

She’s had a challenging start to her business, with baking hot days last year, followed by torrential rain this year. However she has moved her business to Pialligo’s Garden Lots, and now has a seedling-raising cocoon tunnel purchased from Active Vista in Tasmania. Dimity’s father built the frames for the seedlings. The whole family is involved in her business, and hopefully they can continue to help her during this Lockdown.

At the start of 2020 Dimity began growing seedlings organically and has gradually developed her business. Now a subscriber can get a small or large box of seasonal seedlings four times a year.

We had subscribed to Dimity’s project during winter, and when she emailed to say our spring seedlings were ready, we were thrilled… it was just in time to start planting new seedlings and, chance to get out of the house!

Unfortunately it was teeming down with rain the morning we went to get our seedings, so I haven’t yet taken any photos of Dimity and her surroundings, or the polytunnel.

However, here is our bounty! We chose to buy a small box of seedlings (4 boxes a year, one for every season) and this spring the seedlings we have are; beetroot, radish, broccoli, cos lettuce, red butterhead lettuce, English spinach, cabbage and pak choi. (some we have given to neighbours.)

Our seedlings look very healthy and happy, and in between the seedlings we have some small plastic white butterflies to chase away real white cabbage moth/butterflies.

Dimity has, on her website, a quote by Martin Fortier (a farmer educator and award winning author) and this quote seems just right for Dimity’s business.

What we need is food grown with care by and for people who care.

reidtinyfarm.com.au

Thank you for visiting my blog today, and I hope everyone can enjoy a bit of sunshine and small pleasures during these uncertain times.

Copyright Geraldine Mackey: All Rights Reserved.

Australian bushfires..you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone…

The devastating bush fires burning across much of Australia has made this a long and sombre summer for most Australians.  The extent of the bush fires, and the ferocity of those fires is unprecedented.

Today’s  newspaper has a photo of an older man, former owner of a lovely home in a community he and his wife loved; he pointed to the charred rubble on the ground and said…

life was good, and then suddenly there was nothing.”

In December and January many holiday makers go to the pretty NSW South Coast of Australia, and this year we too, intended to meet up with our family there for Christmas.

We cancelled our holiday just before Christmas, and stayed at home. Luckily we did. We had a lovely time at home, and cleaning birdbaths and watering was a daily occurrence.

In early January the fires tore across the south coast, destroying homes, and communities, and with some loss of lives.

The Brindabella Mountains during a hot summer.

Canberra too, is in a fire prone area, and, in January, as the fires continued to burn in National Parks and along the coast, we had to prepare ourselves for the possibility of leaving our homes at short notice.

What do you take when you may be leaving your home for good?  

A suitcase of clothes, essential documents, water, a full tank of petrol in the car, photos, and sleeping bags (where did they go…given away years ago?) USBs, chargers, torches, batteries, candles, matches, the list goes on.

If there is no power, we are back to torches, matches and candles…. the real world!

We have lived in Canberra for over 30 years, and those of you who follow this blog know that one of the joys of living in Canberra is that almost every suburb is surrounded by bush, and the birds, the kangaroos, wallabies are part of every day living for us.

A young kangaroo watching us as we walk up Mount Taylor is spring. (before the drought)

A very important looking Cockatoo, on his/her way to Mount Taylor..

However, this comes at a price during droughts and bush fires season.

Two young Galahs who always stay in family groups, or in pairs.

Communications during bush fire threats are much better these days, it brings a chill to all Canberrans to remember how poor the communication was during the 2003 fires.

These days we have a helpful app called “Fires Near Me” which gives daily and hourly updates on fires in our region.

During the really hot days, everything is quiet,  and the smoke from the surrounding fires is thick in the air. A quality index reading above 200 is considered hazardous to health. On one particular day the reading in Canberra was 5,000, the highest level in the world for that day.

It is a great relief when a cool change comes,  the smoke haze improves (for a while), and the birds come back again.

As the weather clears, the cockatoos fill the skies with their screeching as they swing confidently into the garden to check the almond tree..(miraculously full of fruit).

This  gives us an endearing sense of normality.

Cockatoos feeding in a nearby garden.  Paul says the cockatoos have an App called “Food Near Me”

Needless to say, they and all animals and birds are welcome to any food we can give them.

We live near Mt Taylor, home to many kangaroos, wallabies, birds, butterflies, lizards, insects, indeed, a smorgasbord of animal and insect life. Now, in the early morning and the late evening some kangaroos, one with a joey, come down our street to drink from the birdbaths, and buckets of water we leave out for them.

A group of volunteers called Water our Wildlife put stations of water in the same place daily so that the animals know where to go for predictable water supplies.

 As I write there are no active fires in or very near Canberra, however, we have been in a state of alert since the beginning of  January.  So much has been written about the fires, and so much sadness,  that I decided to just show some photos of our two most loved holiday destinations, both of which are also on high alert..

Kosciusko National Park ..(some contained fires in the higher regions)

This is an area rich in flora and fauna……

A sign near this beautiful Snow Gum (Eucalyptus trees) says “these grandfather trees are two and three hundred years old. Aboriginal tradition says that the spirit of ancestral travellers live in these warraganj (old snow gums)

During all the fires, there is the devastating loss of wildlife, flora and fauna, and loss of habitat for those who survive.

However, this little Pygmy Possum (a mouse sized marsupial) is capable of surviving for almost two weeks by bringing its body down to the low temperatures during times of extreme cold or heat. The biggest threat to this little possum is clearance of the land…another story.

Our second frequent and much loved holiday destination is:

The NSW South Coast ..also on alert..

We have spent many happy days with friends  walking along these pretty beaches solving world problems .

The bird life in this part of the world is amazing, and to see the birds fly between these beautiful spotted Eucalyptus trees, with jet pilot  precision,  is both stunning and a privilege.

The Rainbow Lorikeets are very noisy in spring when they feed off the flowers from the Spotted Eucalyptus  trees…and then reverse into the bird bath for drinks…ever cautious..

 

A walk through a wooded area near the sea..

I hope this young Swamp Wallaby, and others, have found safety..

Firefighters are often fighting for long days with extreme temperatures…no wonder they are sleeping on the ground.

Amongst all that is lost, and fear of what may be lost, is the absolute admiration and out pouring of gratitude for the fire-fighters.

They are the first port of call for wildlife too

this firefighter nearly missed the birth of his son.

The son of fallen volunteer fire-fighter Geoffrey Keaton receives a posthumous award on his behalf, from RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons. Photo NSW RFS

Some firefighters have been killed, most with young families. These families have to grow up without a father, which is a life long sentence.

There is so much more to say about the generosity and kindness of ordinary Australians, the leadership and calmness of RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons, and the heartfelt worldwide response, but I will leave that for another post.

Jessica, (blog:  Rusty Duck) will have seen that Kangaroo Island has suffered badly in every way from the fires, and has lost most of its Ligurian honey bees, believed to be the last remaining pure stock of bees found anywhere in the world.

Many thanks to all of you who have sent good wishes, it is lovely to have a blogging community across many worlds.

PS I will write about the gardens in New Zealand in February.

Copyright Geraldine Mackey: All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mother’s day for Aussie wildlife..

It has been a busy month and I’ve missed writing a post for Mother’s Day.

Looking through my photos, I thought I’d highlight some of the many mothers and parents amongst the wildlife in our garden, and around Canberra.

Of course I have to start with the biggest personalities in Canberra, the Sulphur Crested Cockatoos.

Despite their screechy and bossy ways,  it was lovely to be able to capture this very patient mother having her yellow crested feathers examined by one of her youngsters….

One morning Paul and I wondered if a world war was breaking out in the garden, only to discover that the baby cockatoo (almost as big as its mother) was having a mighty tantrum about being fed..”I want it right now!”

Kookaburras are not very common in our garden, but Kooka parents will bring a baby to the birdbaths on hot days….while the parent/sibling waits patiently on the garden bench.

and here is an even younger Kookaburra in the photo below. It looks as if it is having a first flight from the nest  with the safety of wires to land on, and parent close by…

Even in winter, there are late babies, and the King Parrots like to fly into the garden for a drink….and then feed on the buds of the Japanese Maple…

As I took a photo of them, I noticed their baby waiting patiently in the tree…the first winter, wow it is cold out here!

The photo below shows a young Currawong in our garden…the first, and only time we have seen one so young. ..unfortunately I didn’t get a photo of the parent  who would undoubtedly be somewhere close by. Currawongs are the bain of our lives, as they chase small birds, and generally frighten everything out of the garden. However, this little guy with his crew cut, is cute!

This is a great photo of an adult pied Currawong, and thanks to Harry Charalambous  Birdlife Australia.

Pied Currawong c Harry Charalambous www.birdlife.org.au

Kangaroos at the Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve Photo Geraldine Mackey All Rights Reserved

A kangaroo has an extra responsibility, she carries her Joey around in her pouch for some time..

She is putting her paws protectively over her Joey, perhaps to warn him that I am nearby with a camera, or that he is about to fall out of the pouch!

Here is a baby Koala, almost too big for a ride with Mum..

This adult Koala carried her baby for a while…

..and then it all got too much and she sat down……haven’t you felt just like that in a supermarket with a toddler?

It was lovely to share these, mostly accidentally photos, I have taken of motherhood and parenthood in full swing with birds and animals.

I was lucky enough to have a mother who believed that the small details of life were important, and that people, nature and animals should be central to a life well lived. She noticed the tiny details; the spider web in the morning light, the lizard in the sun, a new flower blossoming, a bird call…she got great joy from it all.

A toast to her, and to all mothers!

 

Copyright Geraldine Mackey: All Rights Reserved

 

 

 

 

 

The Snowy Mountains, a walk amongst the wild flowers and snowgums..

Canberra, the capital of Australia, was created to appease the established cities of Melbourne and Sydney…..both of whom thought they should be the capital!

UK Net Guide photo

As a result Canberrans are lucky enough to live in a small manageable size city….. not too far away from big cities…and with two other holiday choices, the pretty South Coast beaches, and the Snowy Mountains, which is the highest Alpine Region in Australia.

In the summer time, Paul and I often come to Lake Crackenback, which is just outside Kosciuszko National Park, to enjoy the cooler mountain air, and to do some walking and see the alpine flowers.

self designated umpire looking for players

Lake Crackenback has a Lodge and some self-contained apartments, and nearby the kangaroos are frequent visitors.

These kangaroos easily hop over fences to graze on the lawns, but will also hop away if you come too close.

We drove from Crackenback up to Charlotte’s Pass amidst flower-covered borders along the road….for me this is reminiscent of Scotland (where my father was born)

We took the walk  from Charlotte’s Pass down to the head waters of the Snowy River seen below….Paul had ideas of walking up the path on the other side which goes to the Blue Lake…..but I thought we should quit while we were ahead!

These Alpine plants cope with harsh conditions during the winter….

and then create this patchwork of colour during summer..

The yellow flowers, Billy Buttons. 

Australia is the only country in the world where a single genus of tree, Eucalypt (commonly called gum trees), occurs from the desert to the mountains, to the sea.

The Snow-gum trees are very imposing, often looking dramatically twisted and stunted, and able to repair themselves from wind and snow damage.

The Silver Snow Daisy makes a lovely carpet of flowers beneath the Snow gums.

It is impossible to go past one of these trees without touching the silk-smooth trunk and branches.

The sign nearby says  ”these grandfather trees are two or three hundred years old. Aboriginal tradition says that the spirits of the ancestral travellers live in these warraganj (old snow-gums)”

The water here is cool and clear…a lovely place to stop and take some photos..

Australia is such a dry country, water is always a delight to see..

Time to turn back….unfortunately what comes down……must go up….

However, the scenery along the way is worth it..

Meanwhile, at Lake Crackenback, the kangaroos are snoozing on the edge of the golf course…..amazing really..

and near our self-contained accomodation…we’ve interrupted a bit of grazing on the grass

”where have you been?”

Just as well we walked that day, the next morning the Scottish weather had rolled in… dramatic and beautiful in its own way…

Many thanks for dropping by to read about my place in the world, and I hope you are enjoying your own green spaces, city or country,  where ever that may be….

 

Copyright: Geraldine Mackey: All Rights Reserved