Once upon a time, yellow box and red gum grassy woodlands stretched from Toowoomba to Victoria (Australia), providing a continuous wildlife corridor 100-150 kilometres in width and 1,500 km in length.  Since colonisation, vast swathes of grassy woodland have been cleared for agriculture.  Now there may be as little as 1-5 percent remaining. most of which has been modified in some way by grazing.  Many birds and animals have become trapped in isolated communities, reducing valuable genetic diversity and leaving them vulnerable to threats of local habitat loss.  It is not surprising then, that yellow box and red gum grassy woodlands have been declared a critically endangered ecological community.


In Canberra we are fortunate enough to have a number of these woodlands that provide habitat for a wide variety of birds, plants and animals, including a number of rare and endangered species.  My love and I recently took a walk in one of these woodland reserves.  The place was teeming with birds.  The reserve contains many dead trees and fallen timbers ideal for nesting, plus abundant open grasslands favoured by raptors.

Summer migrants, the dusky woodswallows, were in attendance in quantity.  Almost every dead tree had a family on board.

Dusky woodswallowdws&chickdws&chicksdwschick2

There were also quite a few parrots and thornbills.  These darted ahead of us taking cover in the long grass, so no photos.  My kestrel and dollar bird photos also left a lot to be desired, so I will leave those for another time.  Still, we managed a couple of fairly ordinary photos of the grey fantail.  There is such a thing as too much bokeh in my opinion.  My camera doesn’t seem to do it well (or maybe it is operator error).

grey fantailgrey fantail2

The shot of the day was of a little varied sitella rocking a punk hairstyle.  They don’t normally have tufted heads, but they do vary quite a lot, hence the name.  I suspect it is a chick.  Isn’t it sweet?

varied sitella

Have I told you the story of the Unexploded Ordinance?  No?  Stay calm.  That’s a story for another day.  I’ll leave you with one last tree photo to help you relax.


Kind Regards

Response to the Lens-Artists Photo ChallengeNature.  Thank you, Patti.  Click on the link to check out other contributions and to find out how to participate.



52 thoughts on “Animal Farm

  1. I have been privileged to see some parts of the Canberra bushland on my many visits in the past but not this part (yet). I grieve the loss of corridors, it is the same here, though some work is being done in the south to repair some of it. The Mallee Fowl group have succeeded in getting some protection of corridors.

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    1. We seem to be always trying to fix problems, Paul, rather than preventing them in the first place. I’m glad the Mallee Fowl group has had some success. Many are working to re-establish the Box gum grassy woodlands but it is unlikely we will ever see a continuous corridor again.

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  2. We have the same problems here. Over the past couple of decades huge swaths of the the American prairie have been set aside as native grass preserves. I honestly don’t know how they got the good grasses to win over the seeds that had been transported in cattle dung or bird seed, but it seems they did. Out there, trees are a non-issue. Pretty much the only ones that MIGHT grow are cottonwoods and willow, but only by streams. It’s funny how we “don’t know what [we’ve] lost til it’s gone.” I love the punked out chick. He’s amazing.

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      1. And the mentality of the prairie destroyers lasted over 100 years and they weren’t malicious, poor guys, not that that really matters. “My” bison live on a ranch. I should take pictures. When I first saw it, I didn’t see the bison and I wondered, “Why does that guy have a fence made out of telephone poles around his house?” but once I saw the buffalo I understood. They’re so big and so powerful.

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  3. Great information Tracy. I was doing stuff with the Yellow Box Red Gum grassy woodlands many many years ago. Pity only a few landowners got on board. If you think that you have too much bokeh in a photo, just crop down to what you like and the subject is in the right spot. I also increase the black and drop the lightness using highlights to enhance the subject.

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    1. Thank you, Brian. Some people get so stubborn about “being told what to do”, and I think they object on principle. Plus, they don’t want to know. It was worth trying though. Do you get many dusky woodswallows in your area? I read that they were listed as vulnerable in NSW.

      Also thanks for the photography tips. I’m slowly learning the work arounds.

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  4. Isolated pockets of wildlife are a complex issues in Canada. Recent research has shown that the territorys for many of the larger predators such as grizzly bears and cougars are too small which sometimes bring them face-to-face with hikers and joggers. Some of these encounters have proven to be fatal to animals and to humans. Recently a man fought with his bare hands and killed a cougar. One does not want to have a surprise meeting with a sow and her cubs. Part of the solution has been to set up large national parks which are not always contiguous hence the potential animal/human encounters. Fabulous photographs Tracy, but my fear of snakes would have me observing from from the safety of a vehicle. LOL

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    1. Wow, Sid. Man versus cougar. The stuff of legends. But seriously scary. I feel the same way about your large predators.

      Have to be careful of snakes in the long grass, but if they hear you coming, they normally slide away. There were mown paths. Did we stick to them? No. I insist my son takes a EPIRB when he hikes and some compression bandage, and wears gaitors. Did I have any of those things? Nup. I was a bit nervous in the longer grass.


      1. I admire your caution. We have rattle snakes that give a warning before they strike. Their venom is slow acting and painful but will respond to immediate medical attention. The mother bear sends her cubs up a tree and at that point one must also be up a tree or in the worst case scenario be good at playing dead.

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