Tawny Frogmouths in my Back Yard

November 28, 2013 at 12:21 pm | Posted in Australia, Gardens, Nature | 5 Comments
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The tawny frogmouths are back!

Mum and Dad and two little ones turned up in one of the trees in our back yard the other day. My husband has been taking photos of them.

Two adult tawnies, lower left; two baby tawnies, higher & farther right.

Two adult tawnies, lower left; two baby tawnies, higher & farther right.

There is something special about these birds. The tawny frogmouth (Podargus strigoides) is actually not an owl, though it is usually mistaken for one.
The forward facing eyes are very owl-like, and this is one of the reasons owls are a favourite with many people. We do tend to anthropomorphise animals at times.
The babies too are very appealing with their large eyes, fluffy feathers and inquisitive nature.

The young of most mammals - and birds, when they get their feathers - are very appealing.

The young of most mammals – and birds, when they get their feathers – are very appealing.

Tawnies have a defence mechanism against any predators that might relish one – they elongate their body and imitate a broken-off branch. That, and their natural camouflage, makes them almost invisible in their favourite trees.

Tawnies, making like branch stubs.

Tawnies, making like branch stubs.

I love having the tawnies around, especially in breeding season. They add to the wildlife, especially birds, that flourish in our back yard.


(c) Linda Visman

Dobell Park at Wangi, 9th March 2012

March 9, 2012 at 4:42 pm | Posted in Australia, Nature, Writing and Life | 2 Comments
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  The lake before me is a deep, rich blue that pales and changes to a soft gold where the water shoals over sand and pebbles near the shore. The sky’s lighter blue is daubed with fluffy white clouds that sail slowly up from the south. I see a couple of white sails in the distance – it is a perfect day to be out sailing.

The water lapping at shore has a different resonance today as it washes onto the pebbled beach. Instead of the usual shhh, there is a deeper sound; more like an eddy gurgling and echoing into a large drain, or a giant coffee percolator bubbling away.

A dainty black and white peewee saunters past my foot, and seagulls wait expectantly for morsels that I do not have. An Indian mynah hops about, picking up tidbits from the grass, whilst trying to keep balanced on its single leg.

From a nearby old eucalypt comes the tinkling call of an Eastern Rosella, almost drowned by the fractious squabbling of Noisy Miners.

I hear a rooster crow in the distance; something unusual in town these days. It brings back memories of the many years we kept fowls and relished the freshness of their eggs.

My piece of pumice

I go for a walk along the shore, looking for pieces of petrified wood. There was plenty of it around at one time I’ve been told, but collectors seem to have scavenged it all now. I do find a small piece of pumice though, extremely light and full of bubble holes; the lava must have cooled very quickly when it hit the water aeons ago.

I am constantly amazed and extremely grateful that I live in such a beautiful place. I hope that I will never take it all for granted.


Do you live in a place that you see as beautiful? Or is there some other place you would love to live? Do you think we too often take for granted the good things we have in our lives?

Pebbles on the lake shore

© Linda Visman, 9th March 2012

Photos: Linda Visman


For the Birds

February 10, 2012 at 10:58 am | Posted in Australia, Gardens, Nature, Writing and Life | 2 Comments
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On Our Verandah  

It is 9.30am, and I am sitting overlooking the front yard with my coffee, trying to do some work on my latest novel.

Crows are cawing in the distance, somewhere near the lake, and a magpie carols happily nearby. The drone of a chainsaw over the ridge competes with the their calls. I hope no more trees are being massacred over there.

In the bottlebrush tree that brushes against the verandah rail next to me, several Rainbow Lorikeets chitter and squawk as they milk nectar from a few late blossoms.                                                                  A Noisy Miner on a banksia blossom

 Noisy Miners dive-bomb any other bird they see, and the threatening clack of their sharp beaks is clearly audible over the background noise.

A flock of corellas flies over our little vale, probably off to find nuts or fruit or seeds on trees further inland.

I was pleased to see this morning that the two young Tawny Frogmouth owls are still roosting in the rough-barked tree by our back door. They seem to know they are safe there.

  The other day, as we ate lunch on the verandah, a pair of Rainbow Lorikeets came to see if there was seed in the feeder that hangs under the eaves. There was none, so they asked for some, politely at first, bobbing their heads and bodies at us from the rail a couple of feet away. We told them we would get some after we’d eaten. That is when they became demanding, screeching at us impatiently.

As soon as my husband approached the seed can that we keep on the verandah – after we had finished eating, of course – they could hardly contain their excitement. They hovered next to the feeder as the seed went in, and then chittered their thanks as they tucked into their own lunch. 

© Linda Visman 10th Feb. 2012

If you enjoyed this, you may also be interested in these other posts:

Birds and TreesCicada SummerTreesParramatta Park.

Four more of my Writing Stones

January 8, 2012 at 9:15 pm | Posted in Australia, Nature, Writing and Life | Leave a comment
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An evening sky, lightly painted in pale pastels – soft blues and pinks, with a touch of lemon.

But then the setting sun comes along, an artist with a heavier hand and a richer palette, and splashes the sky in flaming orange-red and gold, against a rich teal background.

As the sun disappears, the colours fade, washed to silver-grey in the fading light.

Gradually, the dark of night strips all colour away, but there will be another sunrise in the morning.


 Paper Wasp Nest 

An old paper-wasp nest, made from tiny scrapings of wood, and saliva to bind them together, has been dislodged by the wind from under the tree branch that sheltered it.

 So beautifully constructed, so light. Each cell forms a womb for the developing young, which feed on caterpillars supplied by the adults.

 With this home now lost, the female adult must create a new one, perhaps just a few cells at first. In these, she will lay her eggs, to begin a new generation.

 And so the cycle continues. Despite adversity, Nature finds a way to carry on.



 Misty rain from a pale grey sky

warm and gentle on my skin

brings to my mind the soft fragility

of my unborn grandchild –

so full of promise.


Two Feathers

 I see a small, grey feather in the back yard and pick it up. It is sturdy and dense – probably from a Noisy Miner.

There is another small feather in almost the same spot. This one is ultra-fine, downy; unbelievably soft and wispy; speckled brown and white – from a young Tawny Frogmouth owl.

I hold them high between finger and thumb, one in each hand. When I let go, the breeze carries them away.

The Noisy Miner’s heavier feather falls first;

The Tawny’s feather floats high on a soft current of air, and lands lightly further up the slope.

I leave them where they land;

The elements will take them back to themselves.

(c) Linda Visman 2012

Writing a River of Stones

January 3, 2012 at 3:30 pm | Posted in Nature, Writing and Life | Leave a comment
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    This January, I am helping to create a River of Stones on Writing Our Way Home.

Small stones are short pieces of writing that result from opening our eyes to the small things around us, to nature, to the wonders of our world.

So far, I have submitted four small stones, and I am including them here as well….

Small Stone 1: A Waving Hand

As I drive home from the shopping centre, movement in the back window of the bus just ahead of me catches my attention.

A small, blond-haired boy is waving. I smile and wave back. He waves more vigorously in response, and then there is more movement. Two more arms are also waving. I wave again.

As the bus’s course and mine diverge, we all wave goodbye.

Twenty seconds of interaction lead to many hours of joyful memory.

Small Stone 2:  Calling Cards

Streaks of brown, white and grey on the bed sheet and towel that have been drying on the line; they need re-washing, but I do not mind.

They are indications of the numbers and variety of bird life we have around our home.

The birds have every right to the space and to leave their ‘calling cards’ for me; so natural, so welcome.

Small Stone 3: Tawny Frogmouth Owls

The owls have returned, briefly, to the tree by our back door.

Three soft, fluffed-up shapes that only slightly break the outline of the branches.

Speckled grey plumage fits so well with the bark that it takes a sharp eye to see them.

Mother, and two almost-grown young; father not yet found, but probably in a nearby tree.

Soon, the young ones will be sent on their way, to make their own lives and create their own territory elsewhere.

We will miss them.

Small Stone 4: Empty Cicada Shell

Sharp claws on six brittle legs,

attached to a dried out shell casing,

cling tenaciously to rough tree bark.

Light brown on dark, discarded,

having served its protective purpose.

It remains there, still and silent,

while its owner, in brighter array,

sings to the summer.

(c) Linda Visman

 If you would like to contribute to the River of Stones, go here  to set up your page.

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