Thursday, May 16, 2013

It's cold and wet outside again :)

But it is warm and dry inside, as of today.

I went for reverse cycle heating and cooling a couple of years ago, and though I do like the convenience of it, I don't like the expense OR the barren feeling that losing my wood stove left in the cottage in the winter.

Newly installed solar panels this past Summer allowed me to run the aircon throughout the summer and still get a credit on my power bill, which was a very welcome surprise and makes me feel better about my "carbon footprint (rightly or wrongly).

THIS is going to keep me warm literally and figuratively this winter.

When I fired it up for the first time it made the place feel like "home" again ..  it offers a place to read in the company of a friend.

That it is also so practical, is a joy.

Strangely, I LIKE doing all the "wood" jobs that having a wood-burning stove entails; that was my job as a child, from scavenging for kindling when very young, to chopping it when I was older.

My childhood on the Eyre Peninsula of SA always included several days through the autumn of "getting the wood in"; ie picking up stumps for the winter.

Now I know the significance of those stumps in the bush, but I confess that I still love going out "getting the wood" when it is necessary, and preferably from paddocks that have been worked up.

Here on my own bush block I do burn some of what is dead / fallen, despite knowing it probably should all be left to rot down; however the mid-calf depth of the ground cover (including fallen wood) I feel like I have some room to move on this.

Given my choice to burn wood at all, that doesn't seem to me to be worse than burning the tonnes of redgum that is delivered daily  to our local wood yard; some part of our bush (presumably along the Murray somewhere?)  must be being wiped out at a great rate.

I'm glad the new stove designs do a much better job of reducing pollution than those of my childhood.
In the meantime, I am enjoying it and the fact that it is Australian made.

(and today the installer comes back to put in the matching black flue, as ordered .

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Still Raining!

Another 7mm so far today ... and very little run-off.



The rain gauge says 28mm overnight.

All good (especially from inside and with a good book and a coffee)

The CFS says the fires in the Adelaide Hills are "contained".


Sunday, May 5, 2013

Blue Wrens; Assertive, yes, but Aggressive?

Until a few weeks ago I only knew Blue Wrens to be "assertive".

I had often seen them, or more accurately _heard_ their alarm calls as they became agitated.
Recently though, I have twice seen them do very much more than just "warn".
I have seen them actively threaten several different species of birds so vigorously that they retreated.

The first time was in early March at a water tray / bird bath, on a warm day.

 The new (to me) squawking* sound draw my attention from inside the house, though the windows were open, so that is not too surprising. 

More unusual and surprising was the obviously aggressive stance; head and tail down and feathers of the back raised, such that its profile was larger than usual.

The first incident began with five New Hollands bathing and squabbling among themselves and chasing other birds away. having all chased another away, just one returned alone, to find two wrens bathing.

 The female wren took off immediately but the male hopped onto the side of the dish and stood his ground.
The seemingly bemused New Holland Honey Eater, was hassled energetically enough by the Blue Wren to be driven it off.

I could almost see it thinking, "Please don't anyone see this ... it's supposed to be the other way around .. someone tell it! Oh the shame!"


The wren began from the opposite edge of the bowl,  then gradually shuffled closer and closer, squawking all the time, feathers fluffed out and beak wide open.

Once the Honey Eater had been driven off, the other blue wren returned and continued bathing while th aggressive one stood on the edge; after which it took the plunge.

The bigger group of New Hollands returned as a group as soon as these Wrens had left (entirely of their own accord).

At that stage I  thought it likely that the young Honey Eater was more readily frightened than a larger or more mature bird, however later I saw the wren (the same one?)  see off  a Yellow Faced Honey Eater .

Later again a White-fronted Treecreeper approached the birdbath by creeping up the trunk towards the bowl.
It is quite awkward and takes a while to "make it" to the rim.
Two wrens this time, both squawking loudly and fluffed up threateningly crowded it until it flew away.

I'll let the pictures tell the rest of this story.

All's Well :)

* the second, informal definition fits perfectly.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Trepidatious TreeCreeper

Treecreepers really DO creep up trees.

It's a speedy kind of creeping but that's what it is.

However yesterday I watched a male treecreeper working its way to a newly set up birdbath with what could only be called great trepidation.

Treecreeper at bottom left of trunk

On arriving at the bird bath it been harassed by a pair of blue wrens and retreated immediately.


 It stayed for a minute or so at the base then gradually worked its way up towards the bowl of water not knowing that the wrens had departed.


Once at the top,  the treecreeper worked its way around the bowl's edge, and one of the wrens returned but the demeanour of the two was very different this time and the wren skedaddled.

Alone again, the treecreeper took its time.


The water was still and the bird appeared to be noting its reflection, touching its beak to the surface of the water several times.

It then took several steps into the bowl and settled down into the water very gently.

It splashed a little twice and then it flew away!

The blue wrens didn't return until another bird came for its bath ... but that's another story.

White Throated Treecreeper: Cormobates leucophaea

Monday, April 15, 2013

Zippy Zosterops ...

... better known as Silvereyes.


 These exuberant little birds come here and leave periodically, but while they are here, they certainly make their presence felt.

 During the hottest days just a few weeks ago, they'd dive-bomb (the only word) into the bowl of water put there for birds in general, but THEY made it clear whose they thought it was.

 Even the normally assertive New Holland Honeyeaters would wait for the Silvereyes to leave, though with some evident impatience from the wings (sorry).

 Now that it is cooler they are zipping through the bush in a small flock of about a dozen.
This straggly un-named plant, which is close to the house and NOT in the "bush", is a current favourite.


Sometimes they fly, with wings audibly whirring,  in front of a hanging bud, much as a hummingbird is often shown to do. While there they can be heard snipping their beaks at the tiny bugs which cover the buds and the backs of the leaves.

At the moment they ignore the flowers, despite being nectar (and fruit) feeders ... they have certainly benefited from the urban landscape and I understand can be quite serious pests in orchards.

So far I've only been able to catch them in portrait type poses, but one day I WILL catch one on the wing.

 Links: Providing water for birds.
Silvereyes:  and

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Bird Census Time

It is time I made a start on recording the birds seen on this block, as I have with the plants (with professional help).

 Although I am not fond of "staged" bird photos such as those I have taken at the water trays, it helps with focusing and also enables me to see some of the shy ones and so to have them identified.

 I've been watching Snail's list on her blog here:
I might ask for some coaching to set up a similar list.

 For the moment though, here is a pair of the resident Bronzewing Pigeons. IMG_1336 "The Common Bronzewing (Phaps chalcoptera) is a species of medium-sized, heavily built pigeon.
Native to Australia and one of the country's most common pigeons, the Common Bronzewing is able to live in almost any habitat, with the possible exception of very barren areas and dense rainforests.
From Wikipedia

Monday, April 1, 2013

Arachnids on an Arachnid?

One Huntsman Spider and Many Mites ...and not just mites, according to one source, but mite larvae. IMG_1296 I had a couple of the dead trees that were still standing near the house cut down (and then cut up) for firewood.

 When stacking the resulting logs, I found this Huntsman Spider complete with what appeared to be drops of resin so often seen dripping from injuries on gum trees.

 Closer inspection revealed what I first thought were ticks. I posted the photos on my flickr page and as so often happens, someone more knowledgeable than I did recognise them as mite larvae.
 "Larval forms of these mites are parasitic on various other arthropods, for example harvestmen, but the adults are free-living predators. ... The larvae bite a hole into the cuticula of the host and use a stylostome, which acts like a drinking straw, to drink body fluids dissolved tissues."

 The Huntsman I understand to be a Sparassidae species (formerly Heteropodidae).

 The mites, according to Wikipedia are Erythraeidae, a family of mites belonging to the Trombidiformes and are entirely new to me. He's (she's?) watching closely. IMG_1297

Two days after placing the log with the spider still on it in a sheltered place UNDER the house, I found it entering the back door



So far as I know it is now comfortably set up, inside here somewhere.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

So close ...

and yet so far.
I have had a most frustrating time trying to access this, my old blog.

Long ago I began another for my grandchildren and was quite unable to disable the automatic logging in to that one in order to get to this one.
However; the fact that this week I have received the final papers to sign for gaining Heritage Bushland protected status for this block,set me trying again.

In the end I had to delete the other blog before I was able to log in to this one .. so be it.
Now I need to start again .