Canberra in spring, sunshine and flowers…. it is enough to make your heart sing.
Every day during winter the beautiful little Eastern Spinebill came to feed from the remains of the Peppermint Sage in our garden.
The Eastern Spinebill is a Honeyeater, and its long curved beak can reach nectar from native and non-native flowers. They are often mistaken for Hummingbirds, (including by me) as they can hover over a flower in the same way a hummingbird does, but generally they perch on branches like other Honeyeaters.
The moment spring arrived, so did the Red Wattlebird. This bird is amongst the largest of the Australian honeyeaters. Despite the Eastern Spinebill’s loud call, he didn’t stand a hope and soon disappeared, and the Wattlebird took possession of the flowering Grevilleas, Camellias, and indeed, the whole garden..
The Red Wattlebird is known to be very assertive, noisy, and tenacious. It is difficult to tell the male from female, but both are extremely territorial in spring.
This year’s Red Wattlebird chased the sweetly twittering Silver-Eyes out of the plum tree, and the Crimson Rosellas out of the apricot tree.
..and the Blackbird, minding his own business searching for worms by the veggie patch…
It’s not as if they are all searching for the same food. ..the Wattlebird mostly feeds on nectar, and occasionally eats insects, either in the foliage, or caught mid-air….but is not a dedicated worm eater like the Blackbird!
Our garden felt a bit like the Australian parliament last week, there was a sudden shift of power!
Yesterday, to Paul’s amazement, he saw the Red Wattlebird chasing a young Currawong…. David verse Goliath!
Currawongs are highly intelligent birds, with a distinctive and melodious call. They eat fruits and berries as well as small vertebrates, and in spring they sometimes attack nests for bird’s eggs.
No wonder the Wattlebird has turned into BraveHeart!
This spring we are choosing native plants to go into our newly cleared garden beds. Canberra had half our annual rainfall this year, and surrounding areas have been declared drought affected, so we are looking for frost resistant, and drought tolerant plants.
We would also like the plants to be bird-attracting (we can enjoy the birds and they are such good pollinators.)
Here are some we could choose:
(I took all these photos at our Australian National Botanic Gardens here in Canberra, a wonderful place to visit in spring.)
Grevilleas have been very successful in our garden so far…
Correas, are very easy to grow, and the bell-shaped flowers attract nectar feeding birds throughout the year.
The Bottlebrush is a hardy rewarding shrub, we have some in the garden already, but they are so reliable, we’ll add more.
We had a Cootamundra Wattle Tree, beautiful while it lasted, but fairly short lived. We will plant another one.
I have not succeeded in growing a Banksia in our garden despite their hardy ability to survive in drought, once established.
Who would not wish this lovely and unique flower in the garden, but I have only seen them thriving in the Australian Botanic Gardens, rather than gardens around Canberra. I’d love to know if anyone is growing them successfully in Canberra.
I hope you are enjoying your season, and your place in the world at this time of the year, and may the sun shine and the rain fall on all the drought affected areas, in Australia, and elsewhere.
Many thanks to the photographers at Birdlife Australia, who generously allowed me to use their photos for the Eastern Spinebill and the Pied Currawong. This is a great organisation to support.
Geraldine Mackey: Copyright, All Rights Reserved.