Kookaburra Beats the Odds

May 3, 2014 at 10:17 pm | Posted in Australia, Gardens, Nature | 5 Comments
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Watcher!

 

We had a display of the natural world at work a week or two ago. I heard a lot of noisy miners (native birds) out in the back yard, and they were obviously upset about something. Then I heard what sounded like a muffled growl, so I went outside to see what was happening.

 

There, I saw a kookaburra hunched up against the garden terrace wall. It had something large in its beak, and the little miners were harassing it fiercely.

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Kooka with its prey, before flying into the trees.

 

I thought the kooka had a mouse and called for MOTH (the Man of the House) to bring his camera. It took a few minutes for him to find it, and I thought we’d lose our chance to catch the bird and its prey in pictures.

 

MOTH came out just as Kooka escaped the miners and flew up into the ironbark tree near the back door. However, with the bright light, and lots of branches in the way, it was hard to focus on the bird from where he was.

 

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A single noisy miner keeps up the harassment, to no avail.

I was up the slope on the lawn by then, and I could see it clearly. MOTH brought me the camera and I took several shots of it from there. What Kooka had in its beak was a dead miner bird.

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This kookaburra would like part of the spoils.

 

Three other kookas also hung around, as well as a magpie and a couple of currawongs. They were all probably hoping Kooka would drop its prey and they’d be able to snatch it away.

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Another kooka looks on with interest

 

However, the miners let up their mass attack, and Kooka flew up into the big bush mahogany tree. There, it proceeded to bash the miner bird’s body against the branch so it would be easier to devour.IMG_1502 (800x600)

 

I managed to get photos of all four of the kookaburras, but none of the currawongs, which kept their distance.

There isn't much left of the noisy miner here.

There isn’t much left of the noisy miner here.

 

 

© Linda Visman

 

Four More Small Stones

January 20, 2012 at 10:21 pm | Posted in Nature, Writing, Writing and Life | Leave a comment
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I would like to share with you another four of my “small stones”. I am finding it a really helpful exercise to have a focus for daily writing.

  Just Checking – small stone 13

I am cuddling a machine, while my soft and tender flesh is being compressed between two cold hard plates; first one side and then the other – twice each.

The brief pain each time is well worth it, to know that another intruder has not found its way in.

My Study – small stone 14

 My study is my library, my picture gallery, my writing and scrapbook area, and my work room.

Its large window provides a view of grass and trees, through which I see a road, parts of houses and the sky.

Perhaps though, if I had an attic room with a blank wall at the window, I would get more writing done.

Kookaburra – small stone 15

  Kookaburra pulls a worm from the damp earth. She flies up with it to a branch, where her youngster waits impatiently.

  Baby squawks and snatches desperately. Their large beaks tussle and clack. Chuckling insistently, Mother makes the young one break up the morsel before he swallows it.

  Meanwhile, father looks on from a nearby branch, assuring himself that his offspring is well protected and the lesson well learned.

 

  Blossom – small stone 16

  I don’t know what this flower is, but its vibrant red and beautiful shape stopped me in my tracks as I walked through the park.

  It stood out against the lush green grass, and obviously likes this year’s cooler-than-normal summer and extra rain.

If you would like to join in this mindful daily writing exercise, check it out here.

The current project goes for the month of January, but if you wish, you can write every day for as long as you like. Some people have been doing this daily exercise for five years!

You can also check out my novel, Ben’s Challenge, in print or kindle format, here.

Birds and Trees

October 31, 2011 at 3:56 pm | Posted in Gardens, Nature | 2 Comments
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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.

Rainbow lorikeets

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.

Eastern rosella

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. 

Kookaburra

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

Cicada Summer

January 3, 2011 at 6:37 am | Posted in Nature | 2 Comments
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Black Prince cicada on spotted gum

Empty cicada shell on tree
I heard a squawk, a bit like a chook being strangled, and looked up into the tree. An obviously young kookaburra hopped about on a branch, calling to its parent. Then I heard a familiar chuckle, coming from the next tree. The adult kooka had a large black cicada in its beak, but didn’t fly across to give it to the youngster. It chuckled again, and I realised it was calling for its baby to fly over for it.

The young one was the same size as its parent, and I marvelled at the speed that they grow. It hopped up and down a couple of times, getting up the courage to make the leap. The parent called again and the youngster took off. It flew a little unsteadily and landed right next to the adult, wobbling a little It then grabbed the live cicada, lifted its head and swallowed it whole. This was a really great incentive for the youngster to practice its flying. The kookas have done well this year; a veritable feast of cicadas has ensured many well-fed young.

The cicadas have all been Black Princes; no Greengrocers or Double Drummers among them. They have been plentiful and the noise they make is often so deafening that people have to almost shout to hear what someone is saying, even when standing beside them. It is the males that create this noise by vibrating their tymbals, drum-like organs found on their abdomens, to attract a female. That penetrating noise lets you know it really is summer, in light to heavily wooded parts of Australia – and we have plenty of trees where we live.

One day before Christmas, as I went out our back door, I saw something drop from the top of one of our large spotted gums. It was a cicada. When I looked more closely, I could see that the pale smooth new surface of the tree trunk was spotted all over with the black insects, gripping the bark with their claws. As I walked past, to get to the clothesline, some took off and flew all around and above me. I noticed quite a number on the ground, dead and dying. The ants had been at most of them, and only the hard shell of their heads, complete with popping eyes, and their brittle, clear, black-laced wings remained. They had mated and died; the final part of their life cycle completed.

It was only a few short weeks since they had emerged from the ground as nymphs in their original brown protective shells. The nymphs had lived for anything up to seven years underground, feeding on sap from tree roots. Then, something tells them it is time to emerge to mate. They clamber up a tree or post and shed their shell casings. These look like empty insect-shaped armoured tanks, clinging to tree trunks. They are no longer of use, and the cicadas that emerge take to the air for that last short, burst of life. 

(c)  Linda Visman

03 January 2011

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