Monday, October 22, 2018

After the Storms

As I looked down the side of my drive I could see that the callistemon trees were in flower - and this in spite of it being barely a week since the big hail storm! I planted two kinds of  these trees - one with red flowers and one with creamy colored flowers. The red flowered kind looks much more spectacular but the flowering this year has been rather spasmodic up here. (For a really spectacular display of red flowers go and look at Diane's blog and her wonderful header photo.) Anyway the birds seemed to like the cream flowers this last week.  I even saw some Rainbow Lorikeets come down for a brief visit.
The cream flowers looked best up against the blue sky.

Most of the birds I saw on the flowers were Brown Honeyeaters. These birds are tiny. The book says they are 12-16cm and they seem to be able to reach any way they please to reach the flower they
want - all while hanging by a 'toe-nail'!
There were quite a few birds fluttering around and at first I thought they were all little Browns but then I saw a flash of yellow and realized there were also White-cheeked Honeyeaters. The book says they are a little larger16-19 cms but I could see little difference up in the trees.
Now a couple of days later and most of the flowers have fallen and there are few birds up there.

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Sunday, October 14, 2018

Real Summer Extremes

You know it is summer in Queensland when -----
First the gentle and non-threatening evidence! You draw the drapes and turn on the lights and there is an immediate pattering of insects on the window all sounding as if they are splattering their tiny bodies to approach your light. Modern buildings are all fully screened but the screen door into my family room must not be perfectly fitting any more. I have been finding quite large beetles caught between the screen and the inner glass door. I have simply opened the outer screen and brushed the beetle out on to the path. First the magpie found these additions to its breakfast but then blue-faced honeyeaters, 'leatherheads' and 'peewees' came along and some of them even stood outside the door and scolded me when they did not find a beetle to eat.
Temperatures have been variable with the BOM ( bureau of meteorology) predicting storms nearly every day,  But it did not happen until last Thursday, There was an article up on their web site explaining why summer storms were so hard to predict too early.  There was plenty of time for the warnings but no-one predicted how bad this one would be. This photo was taken out my back door - I  cracked it open a few inches and closed it again ASAP.  That hail was bouncing off the ground. I now see that lots of palm leaves were shredded - especially the leaves which are normally fan shaped.

Fortunately this hail did not last too long at my place and I missed the big winds but I was lucky! Water poured into the big shopping center food store just a few blocks away. I was told they worked all night to clean up and dry out . There are horror stories being reported from all around. The worst I have read is a young mother who was in a car - pulled off the road because the rain got too heavy and then the hail started and broke the back window - her baby daughter was in a car seat back there so she dived over the seat to cover the baby with her own body and ended up bloodied and bruised but protected her daughter.. Agricultural damage still has to be assessed but whole crops were wiped out. Houses have been damaged everywhere. My friends in Gympie think they are lucky because they just lost one window.
This kind of summer storm is not unheard of but I am glad they don't happen too often.

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Monday, September 17, 2018

Australian Magpie

Magpies are not uncommon in Aussies backyards but I have not had any in my yard since I moved up here nearly 15 years ago. However, not everyone likes these birds in their yard. They often become very aggressive during the breeding season and they are big birds with big strong beaks. This is the bird that has recently been visiting my yard - I think it is a male.

 More often it sees me coming with the camera and  takes off. I am hoping that it will get more used to me as time goes on.
 In my opinion these are some of the smartest birds around! I came to this opinion some years ago when living in New South Wales. My house was next door to my parent's house but about 300 meters down the hill. There were magpies nesting in a big tree behind their house. We found out later that some teens who lived close by had made a habit of throwing stones at the birds and their nest. I think this was what had initially made these birds so very aggressive. But not to Mum! She gardened close under their nest and when she saw the birds she talked softly to them.  They used to come to her back door and 'warble' to her until she came out with some crumbs. But not me!! I had only to open my door to walk up to her house and they would aggressively swoop down and threaten to  attack me. My solution was to borrow Mums floppy blue hat that she always wore out in the yard. It worked As long as I had her blue hat on my head those birds ignored me. Smart birds!!   Hopefully the one now visiting my yard will get as friendly as Mum's birds became.                             

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Monday, September 3, 2018

Australian Wood Ducks

The other day because I was expecting friends to visit, I opened the front gate and left it open. When they arrived they drove  straight around to the back.  Sarah jumped out of the car and asked me if I knew there were ducks and ducklings just outside.  I hurried inside and grabbed my camera then followed her quickly outside my yard. I wasn't  expecting anything to wait long so left the camera set on automatic. Big mistake!!  I needed to change both the speed and the depth of focus. By the time I realized that, it was too late to worry about it - so I just took multiple photos and  hoped some would be usable.
Both adult ducks were resting on the grass. The male had the ducklings around him but the female was by herself a few paces away and was stretched out with her head and neck  close to the ground,
Then they were off! The male is one the right and the female on the left.
 BTW I have done some checking now and reminded myself where to find the right buttons and dials!

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Tuesday, August 28, 2018

More Queensland Winter Weather

After showing some frosty photos last time I decided I should show more of what I like to think is more typical winter weather. Although we do occasionally get some frosts we also have lovely sunny blue days. The temps this week are all up in the mid twenties C. I got in the car and drove around to Tin Can Bay amd started at Norman point. Most visitors start here.
Next stop was Crab Creek. There are a lot of boats at permanent anchor just down the bay from here so there are also numbers of small boats along the shore which are used to get out to the larger boats.
As well this is a popular place to launch "tinnies" for fishing for a few hours. I saw a fellow using a small kayak to get out fishing and another fellow take these two little pets out to his boat. They looked pleased to be there!
Mullens was my final stop.  This is where I most often started my kayaking trips.  This morning there were several boats at anchor - which would end up sitting the sand as the tide went out.
One of my favorite views from here. There is a shorebird roost on the other side of the mangroves and I always feel rather frustrated when I am not on the water going over to watch whatever birds may be there.
I could hear lots of small birds up in the trees and there were a number of trees in blossom.
The only bird that came down and sat still for long enogh to get a photo was this Wecome Swallow.

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Tuesday, August 21, 2018

A proper winter?

Usually when I wake up feeling cold it just means I have kicked off too many blankets while sleeping.  This morning it was still very cold in the family room and when I opened the drapes this is what I saw.
I get very few frosts where I live. After all this is the sub-tropics and I am close to the sea. Since I have lived  here I have only had one frost that damaged leaves of shrubs and trees. This morning was not nearly that severe so my banksia rose was still flowering - even more flowers out since last week. I have a friend that calls this my 'demon rose' because it is so hard to keep it from growing up onto the roof of the house. When that happens ants use the plant as a highway into the house and then I have real problems. The rose has been pruned extra hard this year and I wonder if that has contributed to its extra strong flowering.

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Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Winter in Queensland

I think I have been reading too many posts about gardens and flowers and fresh veges up in the northern hemisphere. I do wish that my garden looked lovely and tidy again but I am NOT  a dedicated gardener - and when energy levels are low it is way down on my list of important things to do. So things kind of get along by themselves and because this is SE Queensland they just grow a little bit slower in the winter, The climate here is very nice except when it gets a bit cold at night and then I have a whinge about it!!
I planted two banksia roses outside my kitchen window and they are just now starting to flower. The yellow one has fewer flowers but they are bright and beautiful. With buds like these the white flowering one should look good soon. A whole flock of sparrows came and twittered and fluttered in there close to the window but as soon as I moved to get the camera they were gone. I am not having too much luck with bird photos recently.
I planted a number of "bottle-brush" trees along the sides at the back of the yard and they always look good when they flower. Also the birds love them but unfortunately those birds are usually LBJ's (little brown jobs) that do not sit still to have photos taken.
Now this is one plant I haven't seen in those northern hemisphere gardens! In this climate when I buy a nice fresh pineapple I cut the top off it and just put it in the soil. As long as it is not disturbed it eventually grows - even when the whole patch of ground gets covered with weeds.  This pineapple is not ready yet but will eventually get a nice golden color and will smell nice and sweet! Then it is time to cut it and enjoy it.

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