The Chicks Are Down

Or at least one of them is. There are four. The magpie parents are very busy.

This week Anne has chosen the theme of Wildlife Close to Home for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge. Here is my contribution.

Let’s start with a couple of images of said magpie chick and his dad.

I am never one to let a snappy title get in the way of more wildlife photos. Here are another couple of bird shots from our local wetland.

And returning home, it’s the birthday girl – the wiley Ama. She threw up this morning, probably because of all that grassy hail she ate yesterday or perhaps to make room for birthday ice cream.

I hope you are all well, ladies and gentlemen. We’ve been getting a drenching in sunny Canberra (Australia), although not as much as a little further northwest where it is an absolute catastrophe.

Take care of yourselves and our world.

Kind Regards.
Tracy Rail.

Gardening SoS – 8/10/2022

I thought I might do some garden posts since, well, it cheers me up. Today I am making my second ever contribution to Six on Saturday, a weekly gardening get-together hosted by The Propagator. It has been a long time since my first post in May!

My new verge garden is looking a mess at the moment. Attractive features include rubble we dug out of the mud, mud splattered plants, and the bird cage and plastic containers protecting the vanilla lilies (Arthropodium milleflorum) from the marauding cockatoos. I understand that the tuber of the vanilla lily is a traditional bushtucker food. Aha! This got me thinking that perhaps I should go foraging for onion weed (Asphodelus fistulosus) which is another favourite of the cockatoos. They seem to know what is good eating. I discovered that yes, onion weed is edible. But I digress.


More pleasingly, the billy buttons (Craspedia variabilis) and the bulbine lilies (Bulbine glauca) are flowering ever so cheerily despite the spring rain.


Next we have the egg and bacon plant (Eutaxia obovata) and tucked in along side it is Craspedia variabilis once again. The former is a West Australian shrub but doing quite well in sunny (just joking) Canberra on the opposite side of the country. The colours are best described as garish but the insects like them.


I have also included hoary sunray (Leucochrysum albicans) seedlings in the verge plantings. All are recent plantings except for two that I nursed through winter trying not to OVER WATER them! They are water-wise plants and don’t like to be waterlogged. The hoary sunray is a threatened grassland species local to our area. They look spectacular en masse but even a single plant is enough to brighten your day. Aussies, do make sure you get seedlings from a reputable plant nursery. All native plants on public land in Canberra are protected.


Come with me while I nip into the backyard. Our Tumut grevillea (Grevillea wilkinsonii) is flowering. The Eastern spinebills have already been into it despite it being a tad mouldy. Apparently, the flowers smell like mice urine. The geographic distribution of this species is restricted to a few small populations near Tumut in the western foothills of the Snowy Mountains, and unsurprisingly, it too is an endangered species. It is now being cultivated commercially and it does well in Canberra which has a not too dissimilar climate to Tumut. Anyway, I thought it deserved a photo just in case it doesn’t survive this extended wet spell.


Finally, let’s take a brief stroll to the local park. Because it is normally much drier, we don’t often get to see common woodruff (Asperula conferta) spreading in such delightful abandon. A small area of ecological significance has been fenced off and we are excited to see what else might pop up in that area over time.


You have probably guessed that it has been wet, wet, wet here in Canberra, Australia. Are you thinking what I’m thinking? Yes, we need a song because it is just that sweet little mystery that makes us try, try, try, try. Sing it with me, ladies and gentlemen.


Happy gardening, everyone.

Kind Regards.
Tracy.

Lens-Artists – Opposites

I am busy, busy, busy but I want to stay calm, calm, calm, so I have elected busy and calm as my sub-theme for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Opposites.

Inspired by lens artists across the world, I have joined a botanical photography group. How weird (for me) is that? In order to kill two birds with one stone, so to speak, I have chosen photos that I have taken for that group to share with you.

Here are some busy little birds – firstly, a busy photo of a silvereye getting a dusting of wattle pollen, and secondly, a speckled warbler in a more serene green. We also have a front and back view as an added contrast.

Sticking with the busy bird theme because it is spring in Australia, here is another busy photo, this time of a New Holland honeyeater. It was quick but I was quicker snapping its photo in this native mistletoe (probably Amyema miquelii, but I am no expert). Mr Magpie is always good for a photo. “Hope you’ve got my best side,” he says. It is a harmonious contrast, don’t you think?

Moving on to all things botanical, a beautiful sheoak (possibly Allocasuarina verticillata) caught and held my attention. The coppery flowers stood out in the fading light. Bucolic, eh? Contrast the woodland veiled in copper with a single stem of this nodding blue lily (Stypandra glauca) set in silver. Pure harmony in opposites.

That’s my lot for this week, ladies and gentlemen.

I’ll leave you with this quote by yours truly, “Stay calm, stay strong and negotiate.” That’s pretty good. Someone must have said that before.

Kind Regards.
Tracy.

PS. They are all my photos. I have to be a grown-up and take my own photos, rather than my True Love’s photos, to the photography group.

Little Eagles

The highlight of our week so far was seeing a pair of dark morph Little Eagles (Hieraaetus morphnoides). Little eagles are listed as vulnerable in Canberra.

We have only ever glimpsed them flying high above us. We were therefore particularly excited to see two (!!) together in a tree. They looked very cute and fluffy so we thought they must be fledglings but information online indicates they don’t start breeding until the end of August in our area. Perhaps then, the two are a breeding pair? It was hard to tell because it was another overcast day and once again the light was fading fast (story of our lives).

So with much Photoshop ado, here are the lovely pair.

They did not take their eyes off us. The first photo was taken by my True Love and the second by me. A truly excellent day for all its gloominess.

Kind Regards.
Tracy.

Lens-Artists: Planes, No Trains & Automobiles

Just in case you were wondering, I am still here. It is quite some time since I’ve been anywhere. I certainly haven’t been everywhere, man.

I didn’t go to the Temora air show. Coincidentally, I was doing something else in Temora at the time of the air show. However, my lads jumped at the chance to attend so we made a weekend of it. The three of us camped at the airfield which was a novel experience. My True Love snapped a photo of this leering Spitfire. There is another air show coming up in October ’22 for fans of old war planes. Temora is a two hour drive from Canberra.

Too scary. Let’s look at some cars instead. The photo below of some stunt driving at Movie World is courtesy of my eldest son. The Movie World excursion was part of his band tour. We could never afford to take the kids and dogs on holidays. Probably because we were paying for music lessons, school fees, vet bills, etc.

Movie World

My True Love and I eventually went road tripping and left the kids at home with the dogs. We took his and her cars. Only joking about the his and her cars. Now our boys are busy with their own careers so we are once again stuck at home with the dogs. I was envious of this pair that I saw travelling down the highway. Now that epitomises the spirit of adventure.

In 2019, we accidentally found ourselves at the Yass Classic Car Show. I understand that was the last classic car show organised by the founders of this popular event. A new classic car show under new management kicked off again this year. Anyhoo, my favourite car of the 2019 show was this steampunk makeover.

I will finish with one last fighter jet photo. Very much a DIY jobbie.

May the force be with you, ladies and gentlemen.

Kind Regards.
Tracy.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Planes, Trains and Automobiles

The Changing Seasons – June 2022

June in Canberra (the Australian Capital Territory) – Winter officially begins. It has been the coldest start to winter since 1964. Opening the house to the elements due to household Covid infections made June a particularly cold month. Life on the outside was better even if it was freezing. The sun came out occasionally and reminded us that winter days in Canberra can be glorious. Here are the highlights, largely courtesy of my True Love who took photos before and after his Covid infection. The poor man still seems very unwell to me but he takes beautiful photos nevertheless.

It snowed on the ranges in the period after my TL’s surgery and prior to his Covid infection. It was bleak but we were happy, happy, happy.*


The majesty.*


Then life got more complicated so I snatched a few moments in the garden.
My Eutaxia obovata (egg and bacon plant) that I planted last year clenched its leaves to conserve heat.


The galahs were contemplative.


The sun popped out and so did my TL and Pimelea physodes.* Lucky for us.


The Eastern spinebill chimed its arrival and stopped to freshen up.*


The prodigal Golden Whistler returned.*


The sun called me and I was off. T-shirt weather, baby!
The brittle gums (E. mannifera) up the hill were celebrating too.


The Eucalyptus cinerea were covered in galls. Something should eat those.


By this time (3 hours later), I wished I had packed my jumper.


Finally, one last photo for my neighbour, J, who is home with Covid. You had visitors today. They seemed to be gnawing on your tree rather than eating the seeds.


Anyway, back to the Covid situation. Canberra seems to have the highest rate per 100,000 people than any other Australian state or territory (NY Times tracks this stuff but maybe their data is wrong). Perhaps the number of infections is only now catching up with the rest of the country? On the other hand, there are now 122 people with Covid in our public hospital. That’s 122 people with Covid in a public hospital system that has somewhere between 600 to 670 public hospital beds and a huge number of hospital staff off sick. At the same time, elective surgeries in the public hospital system have been cancelled again. By my rough calculation, 15-20% of our public hospital beds are being occupied by people with Covid, as they should be if those people need hospital care. These stresses on the system do not seem to merit a “business as usual” approach. Furthermore, several patients and staff in the cancer ward have also caught Covid on the ward. I understand that staff, patients and visitors are required to have a RAT test to enter those highly sensitive areas. If our experience with the uselessness of the RATs is anything to go by, then that does seem like a Covid breach waiting to happen. That’s my opinion.

Anyway, anyway, I send my best wishes to my neighbour, J, for a speedy recovery. Ditto, my friend, Martha, in the States. My TL is none too well and he is in his third week post onset of his infection. Who knows what July will bring? Hopefully, cake. And a few sunny days. And good health. Especially good health.

This is my response to The Changing Seasons photo challenge, jointly hosted by Ju-Lyn (Touring My Backyard) and Brian (Bushboys World). Click on the links provided to check out Ju-Lyn and Brian’s challenge and create some memories by joining in.

But enough of me, how was your June? I hope you found a space for things that make you happy and keep you sane.

Take care, everyone. Stay safe, be kind and be you.
Kind Regards.
Tracy.

*Photos preceded by an asterix were taken by my True Love.

Hidden In the Rushes

I am posting this again in memory of my mum’s dog, Ashie.  He died today from a serious illness.  There is only one line and photo in this poem-ish photo-essay that relates to him, but it sums up this beautiful dog so well, at least in my opinion.  Farewell, lovely boy.  You will be missed.

***

When our family ventures out to our beautiful natural areas, we go slowly, for it is only then that nature’s hidden treasures are revealed.  We take out, what we carry in.  We tread lightly and with care.  There may be no houses, but we are nevertheless going into someone else’s home.  This is what we taught our children from a very young age.

Let’s see who is home today – in the rushes.

moorhen2

The little family is well camouflaged.  It is a Dusky Moorhen with her chick.  

moorhenchick

The chick leaves the safety of its nest, but mum is not too far away.

swan2

The black swan and her signets weren’t expecting visitors.

swanb

But all is calm, so peace is soon restored.

Ashy

Come out of there, Ash, and leave those ducks alone.  Ash is a farm dog.  He knows to not hurt the wildlife.

No comments necessary.

First published in 2018

Ode to Ama – A Bush Ballad

I am reprising my poem about my little dog, Ama, for the NaPoWriMo prompt about dogs you have known, seen, or heard about.  It is the best poem I’ve ever written (if I do say so myself) so I can’t offer any better.  The poem is written in the style of bush poetry (ie. it’s long) and there’s a nod to Banjo Patterson’s iconic poem, The Man From Snowy River.  In that poem, “the Man” rides his mountain pony down a steep hill after a herd of brumbies (wild horses).  There is some controversy as to whether that poem was a true story.  Unlike Mr Patterson’s poem, I can vouch that Ode to Ama is completely true.  Enjoy. Read more