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.
IMG_0251
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

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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.

A Different World

December 2, 2011 at 9:09 pm | Posted in Gardens, Mental Health, Nature, Philosophy | 1 Comment
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I sit on the grass two-thirds the way up our yard and look down the slope of the land. Introspective.

The grass is longer than it should be, because I broke my toe on Sunday, and it will be a while before I push the lawn mower about again.

Dogs are barking in yards behind, below and beside me, but their territorial claims wash over me.

Cars pass below, but don’t impinge on my solitude.

A sunset-silvered jetliner sails high in the blue, and then is absorbed into shaving-cream clouds.

I look closer, down at the grass beside me.

A tiny spider – we used to call them money spiders when we were young – is busy creating a guy rope between my trouser-covered leg and a blade of grass.

Equally small, a spotted red ladybird clambers up another blade of grass.

A second one steps from a brittle leaf onto my leg, and I take it up carefully in my hand, but its wing cases open and it flies off almost immediately.

Amid the grass and weed stalks, midges flit about, searching for whatever midges search for. One has found something – the gap between trouser and boot – and I scratch at the itch absent-mindedly.

A green ant, larger and stockier than the little black ones, climbs the hill of my leg, and I give it the brush-off. I don’t want your bite, thanks!

I pick up dead leaves and bark shed from the moulting Spotted Gums. My fingers shred and shred and pick up more. When I realise I have a pile between my legs, I toss the bits around over a wider area.

I can no longer see the tiny spider or its fine, silken thread, but the ladybirds are still there.

I stand.

And wonder how many tiny creatures I have just crushed.

I wander about the lawn, a colossus above a whole different world of hidden life.

I think how, every day, our feet and machines, our chemicals and pollutants

Disturb and disrupt,

Despoil and destroy,

And we do not even notice, or think about it.

I see a small, pale grey feather and pick it up. It is fine but 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 feather falls first;

The Tawny’s feather floats 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.

I go back to my world.

 

© Linda Visman

Friday, 2nd December 2011

Author of Ben’s Challenge, a novel for readers from 10 years to 100. Click on the image above to see it on Amazon – printed book or Kindle edition.

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