Tags: Australia, conservation, Eastern rosella, environment, kookaburra, Lake Macquarie, native birds, native trees, natural environment, Newcastle NSW, Rainbow lorikeet
You may wonder what kind of birds those are at the top of my blog page. You may also be wondering what country of the world they, and I, live in.
Well, the birds are Rainbow Lorikeets (Trichoglossus haematodus), and the photo was taken on my verandah a few months ago. The birds are on our feeder, eating the seeds that we occasionally stock the feed-tray with. We don’t do it too often because they need to be able to forage for themselves.
At present – spring and summer – the lorikeets feed on nectar from the native plants around the district. The main blossoms they feed on now, mid spring, are bottlebrush trees (various varieties of Callistemon), and we have about half a dozen in our yard. Thus, we get to see lots of Rainbow Lorikeets.
And where in the world are we? We are in Australia; in the state of New South Wales; near the east coast, about forty-five km south of Newcastle and a hundred km north of the state capital, Sydney. We are on the western side of the largest coastal lake in the country, beautiful Lake Macquarie.
We love trees and birds, and so we make every effort to provide a habitat that is friendly to both. That means mostly native species of trees and bushes that will attract native birds. The lorikeets are not the only brightly coloured birds we have around here. We also have the much shyer Eastern Rosella (Platycercus eximius), a small parrot with a bright red head and breast and colourful wings and tail.
There are many song birds too, the main ones being the magpie (Cracticus tibicen) and the butcherbird (Cracticus torquatus), with their beautiful warbling songs.
It is the kookaburra (Dacelo novaeguineae) that tells us, by its raucous laughing call, that the sun is about to rise in the early morning, and it also farewells the sun each evening.
These are just a sample of the great variety of birdlife that abounds in our area. We love our trees and our birds, and will continue planting those trees and shrubs that bring the birdlife into our yard – for their benefit and for ours.
© Linda Visman
Tags: beach, environment, night, ocean, sounds
It could be a jetliner taking off in the distance, or the muted roar of a freeway, but it is neither. The sound is not constant in tone but surges and ebbs continuously, an underlying motif.
During the daytime, I hear many other sounds as people go about their lives: traffic passes, dogs bark; mowers, garden-edgers and saws whine; hammers resound across our gully. The underlying noise is pushed further into the background and often appears to have gone completely. But at night and in this winter season, it is clear, providing a deep-throated background to the occasional bark of a dog, or the passing of a vehicle on the road nearby.
When I lie in bed I can hear it, even though the bedroom window is closed against the cold. I would love to go and see the power that produces this constant roar, but, although it is only a dozen kilometres away, across the lake as the pelican flies, it is almost sixty by road. It would take three-quarters of an hour to drive there, and sleeping time is precious for insomniacs.
Perhaps we will drive there on the weekend. It is a place we love to visit anyway. The beach at Catherine Hill Bay is beautiful, whether it is bathed in summer sunlight or covered in misty autumn rain. But when it is pounded by south-easterly gale-driven waves, the roar of the surf is relentless and invigorating in its power.
For now, I will lie in bed and fade away into sleep, lulled by the distant, soothing bass.
© Linda Visman
Tags: beauty, environment, nature, trees, writing
I sit at my desk and look out of my window, at different times of the day, and marvel at the way the changing light creates different textures, shades and moods.
Right now, the light is fading on a wet winter evening. Behind rain-laden clouds, the sky is lilac, and yet trees, houses, the road, grass, and even the bright lemons, are overlaid by a soft, brown filter. Edges soften and meld, as in an old Dutch Master.
Just a few minutes later, darkness quickly overtakes the scene. Tree trunks become tall, black slashes against a darkening grey; leaves and grass have lost their various greens, and houses their solidity. Soon, I will not be able to see outside at all.
The view changes as the seasons pass. Still, sunny autumn days bring crispness and clarity to shapes and colours. Sometimes, there is a golden glow over everything, and the garden has a surreal, almost eerie atmosphere. The winter scene can be soft grey, blurred by rain, or coldly clear and stark, despite the evergreen eucalypts.
On summer mornings, when the sun rises in a dusty sky, the scene takes on an orange cast, promising a warm day. Later in the day, the light may be rich and vibrant, or, leached of colour by a heatwave. After a cleansing summer shower, light sparkles on spider-webs, on shining leaves and on crystal drops of water. There are more shades of green that you could imagine, and even dull greys and browns take on an unaccustomed brightness.
Light changes the world, or at least our perception of it. I love to watch those changes, and see how many beautiful pictures nature can provide me in one simple, window-framed view.
© Linda Visman
Tags: Australia, beauty, bush, environment, eucalypt, ghost gum, jacaranda, nature, river gum, trees
I love trees. In particular, I love Australian trees.
I love the bold, majestic river red gums of the Murray. The eerie white ghost gums, the desert oaks and the stunted mulga of central Australia delight me. The cypress pine forests of Central West NSW and the sighing river oaks of the east coast are bewitching. I love to look out over miles and miles of blue-green eucalypt forest, or follow a winding watercourse across a wide plain, dark with trees against the yellow of cropped or grazed paddocks. I haven’t seen the towering jarrah or karri of Western Australia, or the mighty swamp gums of Tasmania, one of which has been declared the tallest hardwood in the world – but I have plenty of trees around me to look at.
Trees needn’t be enormous to possess character and distinction. The straight smooth grey trunks of the spotted gums in my yard are beautiful, as is the coarse, dark brown stringy-bark at my back door. If not for the bottlebrush and banksias and all our other trees, we wouldn’t have the number of birds we have in our garden. However, there are some individuals that really catch the eye.
Along the Awaba road, there is a distinctive eucalypt that has a spiral trunk, rough dark brown and smooth light grey bark alternating like a candy stick. There are trees along busy city and suburban roads, where branches on the roadside form a cut-away square, their growth constantly trimmed to shape by passing trucks and buses. And who can ignore the aerial roots of the thick-trunked figs of central Newcastle and Brisbane?
There is a great Moreton Bay fig on the south side of Wollongong city – there used to be two. The little settlement nearby took its name from those trees. I rode my motor scooter through Figtree on my way to Teachers College in the 1960s, and was always intrigued that a village could be named thus. The remaining tree now stands in the middle of the industrial sites, retail businesses and relentless traffic that have grown up around it. I hope it can withstand the growing urban pressure.
Illawarra Flame trees were abundant where I grew up. Their brilliant red flowers provided a splash of colour among the eucalypts along the escarpment. Then there are jacarandas. I know jacarandas aren’t Australian, but they might as well be. They have been widely adopted here, and in spring, their purple canopies grace many a garden and suburban street. Mum planted a jacaranda in our front yard when I was young. As the tree grew, its display of purple blossoms brought the promise of summer to our home. Then, when the carpet of fallen blossoms was gone, we welcomed its leafy shade. In our sixtieth year, my husband and I planted a young jacaranda in our yard. I look forward to the time when we can enjoy its show and its shade. But I must return to our natives.
Recently, we drove along the Old Putty Road. It isn’t as narrow and winding as it used to be, but you can still see and feel and hear the natural bush as you pass through. We stopped here and there to look at sandstone formations, flowers and trees. There had been a fire through a large area of bush, probably last summer. The trees were blackened, many of the saplings had died and the grasses were only just emerging from the charcoal-littered sandy soil. But the majority of the trees, having lost their foliage in the conflagration, were well on their way back to life. Green leafy twigs sprouted from trunks and branches everywhere, fed by winter rains and the spring surge of life-giving sap.
One tree stood out among all the others. It caught and held my attention. We didn’t stop, but even now, I can see that stark, blackened shape, clear among the smaller trees. A huge eucalypt, it had been shorn of foliage. Not a single secondary branch was left. They had been burned off, not just this time, but in many other fires over perhaps two hundred years. Only the trunk and thickest branches remained. If you wanted to draw the bare outline of a tree, it would be your perfect model. And yet, it was not dead, for from each black branch sprouted a veritable forest of small leafy twigs, giving it a lacy, shimmering green coat.
I will probably never see that tree again. I didn’t get a photo of it either. But in a way, I’m glad. To have it on camera would not have captured its magnificence. Instead, it would have been taken from its proper context, reduced to an isolated image, a trite phoenix-from-the-ashes cliché. And that’s not what it was – at least not entirely. In those brief moments, that blackened tree, bursting with new life, gave me a vision of nature’s spirit, a sense of life’s tenacity, and a glow of wonder and inspiration that remains with me.
(c) Linda Visman 2010