Hear My Voice – 1

A part of our small, grassy-woodland urban park is being allowed to regenerate. For the humans participating in the project, this mostly involves assiduous weeding and a small amount of replanting, but most of the hard work is being done by the land itself. The birds and other wild creatures (ie. two skinks and some butterflies) are embracing the changes.

I like my spear grasses straight off the plant.
From paddock to plate –
Fast food –
So fresh, so nutritious, so grand.

This is my place. This is my home.
From this watchtower, I behold you on your knees,
creating a space for us to live together and apart.
My retreat from mankind’s constant intrusions.

Peace and quiet, ladies and gentlemen, peace and quiet.

Kind Regards.
Tracy.

Sign Of The Times

After a busy break doing the usual stuff, my True Love and I headed off to the Australian National Botanic Gardens (ANBG) for a relaxing New Year’s Eve stroll. To be frank, I find NYE rather a trial due to the inevitable illegal fireworks and a small dog who is terrified of them. I imagine it is not only small dogs that are terrified. The birds and animals at the ANBG get to hear and see the official fireworks show. At least that show is time-limited, unlike the unofficial ones which seem to go off all night.

White-winged Chough (Corcorax melanorhamphos) at ANBG

New Holland Honeyeater (Phylidonyris novaehollandiae) at ANBG

Red-Browed Finch (Neochmia temporalis) at ANBG

This year I expected the firework shenanigans to be worse than usual because earlier pandemic restrictions seem to have caused more than the usual number of idiots to have slithered out of their holes. I asked my TL whether I should speak to those who had gone crackers but my TL suggested that would not be a good idea if I wanted to live til morning. So I didn’t. One friend in another city did tell her neighbours to fornicate with their illegal fireworks and lived to tell the tale. She may regret this next year when they let off even more.

As I keep saying over and over again, there are worse things than snakes, ladies and gentlemen.

By the way, after a two year break due to the pandemic, the ACT Herpetological Association in partnership with the ANBG, is again hosting Snakes Alive! from 9-15 January 2023. It is great fun for kids and adults alike. See here for details.

Eastern Bearded Dragon (Pogona barbata) at ANBG

Anyway, happy 2023, everyone. I hope it is a bloody good one.

Kind Regards.
Tracy.

About the Photos
The photos of the red-browed finch and the bearded dragon were taken by my True Love. All the other ones were snapped by me.

At Last

Philosophy by photos.

Sometimes you have to start small, very small.

Insect eggs on a blade of grass.

And sometimes things can get a little hairy.

Hairy Appleberry (Billardiera scandens)

Sometimes it is best to sway with the breeze.

Red Anther Wallaby Grass (Rytidosperma pallidum)

Every year is different, not yours to decide.

The blossom of the Olearia phlogopappa survives a small hailstorm, unlike the previous two years.

Stop for sustenance,

Crimson rosella eats the bluebells growing on my verge.

Speak, but also listen.

Currawong chicks

Your time will come to shine.

Daviesia mimosoides – my landcare group has planted two seedlings in the park.
Hopefully they will survive and grow as beautiful as this one.

This is my last chance to participate in the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge for 2022. This week’s theme is Last Chance and the brief is to publish for the first time some favourite photos taken during 2022. All but one of the photos was taken in my garden or my local park. Many thanks to the Lens-Artists hosts for their hard work and thoughfulness, and also to you, dear Readers, for joining me here.

Happy holiday, everyone, and see you next year.

Kind Regards.
Tracy.

Being Authentic Is Hard Work

It’s official, ladies and gentlemen, I am now a landcarer. I join over 100,000 volunteers across Australia working on landcare projects that are focused on sustainable land management practices and environmental conservation. I’m also a newbie Canberra nature mapper. Better late than never, I guess. Over the last six months, I’ve teamed up with some of my neighbours to form a registered group to look after our community park. It is lucky that we had our own resident ecologist because, with his assistance, we identified something that needed protection. Even our ecologist was surprised.

My family has known for years that areas of the park had some lovely native grass – spear grasses (Austrostipa sp.) and kangaroo grass (Themeda triandra) – as well as some native grassland plants, clinging to the edges, or under, trees. We also had an inkling that if the native grasses were allowed to grow rather than be mown, they might out compete some of the weedy, exotic grasses. But who would believe us? Nothing to see here, right?

When the drought broke, the resident ecologist discovered more and more native woodland and grassland plants at the park, and I started to incorporate these plants into my verge garden. My neighbour had also seen many interesting looking plants popping up down the park and she talked to me about starting a park care group. So our little adventure began and soon we were joined on this journey by some other enthusiastic neighbours. We embarked on months of self-initiated environmental assessments, community engagement and government liaison.

It is fair to say that not everyone is on the same page. Myths of snakes in long grass, experience of devastating bushfires and differences in aesthetics, beget many different reactions. I certainly get it because that was me. Of course, I am “passionate” about conservation, as was pointed out to me, but it is knowledge, not passion, that motivates me, ladies and gentlemen. As a team, we did our homework (ie. the biodiversity surveys, etc) and the park woodland did the rest.

And the result? A small patch of the park has now been officially recognised as critically endangered box-gum grassy woodland. This is both horrifying and exciting. It is horrifying because there is so little box-gum grassy woodland left in eastern Australia due to urban development and unsympathetic agricultural practices. It is exciting because we now have the chance to work together – both government and local landcare volunteers – to ensure that this precious ecological community is cared for appropriately. Well, that’s my view anyway. I can’t speak for the government or the broader community.

So we’ve planted a few plants, not many, to shelter the small birds. We have also been weeding, weeding, weeding. It’s been wet so there are many weeds. Weeding has been a learning exercise in itself because we are no experts on what is and isn’t a weed. Thankfully there are a lot of resources, including the resident ecologist, to help us make those distinctions.

I haven’t had time to swan around taking photos. I tried to combine my photography and land care interests at one point but I ended up leaving my camera in the grass when I got distracted by some weeds. Don’t worry, it was still there when I realised my error. I do, however, encourage swanning around with a camera because images (plus the expert narrative that goes along with them) tell a story and the story can lead to understanding, and understanding can lead to action. So I haven’t completely given up.

Because the conservation patch is a grassy woodland, it has delivered, once left unmown, an outpouring of beautiful native grasses the likes of which I have never seen in our park. Let me show you.

Like the rest of Australia, Canberra has a growing multicultural population. Although my ancestors arrived here in 18th century, I include myself in that multicultural group. This multiculturalism extends to our weeds, gardens and pastures. Our nature reserves, and the indigenous species that depend on them, cannot withstand the onslaught of these “threatening processes” unless we do nature differently.

Exotic wild oats, St John’s Wort and Yorkshire Fog grass in Kama Nature Reserve

I’ve got lots of ideas about “ecologically sustainable development” and probably not very original ones. Improved community education about environmental conservation needs to reflect where we are as a community, so tailoring nature “education” to Australia’s increasingly multicultural population, through programs and materials in languages other than English, could be really helpful. I would also love to see even more community and government initiatives to re-wild and connect our urban green spaces. Canberrans, the latter is already happening and you can join in now. Contact Landcare or the ACT government to find out how you can get involved. The work is intellectual; it is physical; it is communal and I love it. Don’t wait until you are over 50, like me, before you get your A into G. There’s a job that suits all abilities.

In closing, I offer my best wishes to all who celebrate the coming festive season and to those of you who do not. My hope for the new year is that you too may have access to a resident ecologist and/or team up with likeminded friends to turn your dreams into reality.

Take care, everyone. Don’t be too naughty. Maybe I’ll stop for photos.

Kind Regards.
Tracy

Macro Monday

A photo and a poem about grass. Somehow it got a bit dark but it’s no metaphor.

En Garde
If I drive my finger onto your thorns,
would I fall asleep,
supine forevermore?
Or would I draw bonded blood in awe?
Nurse my pain in living thrall, paying my
dues to your magnificence.

Possibly the spectacular Lomandra longifolia, but I’m only guessing.

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 – Motion

I just happened to have a couple of motion shots that I haven’t published and one that I have. Only three photos, so I thought I would slip in a poem or three. Enjoy.

Strong is mother’s instinct to provide.
Strong is the instinct to survive.
Run along, hungry bird.
Run to mummy.

Showers came in repeated waves
in front of frigid wind.
On the pinnacle, leaves jostled
for attention, but no one saw or heard.

The air shimmers with your power.
The future is green energy.
It won’t hurt you.

Patti, who is back from her holiday, is hosting the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge this week. The theme for the challenge is Motion. Click on the link here to view Patti’s wonderfully creative photos and to discover how other Lens Artists have interpreted this theme.

Take care, everyone.

Kind Regards.
Tracy.

Quick question. Is it acceptable to mix my tenses as I did in that second poem? Okay, I fixed it because it bothered me but it lacks something now. It will do.

Lens-Artists: Summer Vibes

It’s July so you know what that means. July is when the dedicated, hard-working hosts of the incredibly popular Lens-Artists Photo Challenge take a well earned break from their hosting duties and co-opt five guest hosts to take on this important responsibility. This week, Andre from My Blog – solaner is hosting the challenge and he has invited us to feel the summer vibe. It’s winter here in the Southern Hemisphere but I will try.

Read more

The Stories They Tell

Welcome to my regular Friday song/tune day, ladies and gentlemen, where I pick a piece of music that reflects my mood or the times, to share with you.

It’s already Saturday here and I haven’t published my Friday Song yet. Better late than never, eh? This week I could tell you about all the stupid spending that went on under the last government, and that we now have nothing “nation building” to show for it. I could also tell you how this has left the new national government in a pretty pickle having to cancel important programs that ensure people sick with Covid don’t have to go into work in order to keep a roof over their heads. Yeah, tricky. It is especially tricky when you have inherited a huge budget deficit due to a lot of expenditure that hasn’t exactly been the best value for money for the country, and now have a huge budget deficit/ big credit card bill, at the same time as interest rates are going through the roof (lotta roofs in this thought bubble). And if you are not collecting enough taxes to pay that debt down because everybody, including the rich people, must have a tax cut – and in order for prospective governing parties to win an election – then those debt levels are only going to increase, adding to the burden on existing and future taxpayers, those few that are still remaining that is (including those casual but essential workers sick with Covid), and I’m not talking about the rich people here. I could tell you about all of that, but I won’t.

Read more