Social isolation is making observation a new pastime.
At my home, on stilts with decking that overlooks a bush reserve, bird watching has become a daily pleasure. Though I have stopped feeding the two pairs of Butcher birds and a family of three Kookaburras, because cleaning their deposits was not a pleasant experience, too much of a chore, and I have always thought that birds are well able to look after themselves!
Of course I still hear their songs and the Butcher birds sometimes catch the feral bees whose hive is inside the walls of my weatherboard home. They have been happily buzzing away there for many years. Access to the honey would probably mean enough for the whole street, but as the hive is about 30 feet above the ground and at the back of my property, there it can stay.
In the evenings flocks of Sulphur Crested Cockatoos fly home to rest in the Moreton Bay Fig trees at the south side of the lake. A lady on the south of the oval, at the bottom of my hill feeds two Pink Galahs who arrive in the evening on her topiary – cut tree. I wonder if she is the one who also feeds the four Magpies nearby who keep demanding food from me as I walk by the clubhouse.
Three Ravens hang out in the mornings near my letterbox, wreaking havoc on overfilled rubbish bins (not mine!). A couple of times a year they hold group meetings of up to 12, which make an appalling rackuet – and that’s before they choose to descend on to my tin roof.
A street away to the right, Rainbow Lorikeets love the huge Plane Tree where they feast on the nectar from the red flowers. On a day when the sky is blue the flashes of feather colour – red, blue, yellow and green catch the eye as these intruders into Western Australia dart about.
On my daily walk are around the Lake Claremont area (currently quite dry) I can talk to Willy Wagtails, Magpies, Ducks, Honeyeaters, Waders, Herons and others who feel safe enough to let me get less than a metre away – in spite of about 100 people keeping physically distant, and at least 30 dogs who are not.
In season a flock of Carnaby’s Cockatoos turn up to great chatter, cracking macadamia nuts on the tree next door and dropping empty nut cases onto my decking and garden.
After about a month of removing a spider web from directly outside my kitchen window I gave up. He/she is now called Horace – mostly emerging at night to feed, and occasionally I have been able to glimpse my arachnid amigo.
The web is repaired on a daily basis after a meal of whatever has been caught in the web. Last night it was one bee and two flies – this morning they were gone! I’m hoping to see some mosquitoes.
Bobtail lizards lie about in the garden and sometimes fall into my pond. My last dog found them very interesting. She sniffed and they flashed wicked-looking tongues in a sort of stand-off. No harm was ever done to either of them.
A week ago I asked what looked like a family group to move off the path outside my home so I could pass. They were all looking up. The following day two of the group were back. This time, I asked what they were looking at.
They pointed to a young kookaburra which was clearly unwell, its attentive parent standing by. They left the bedraggled little bird on my fence, and bird food in my letterbox. After several failed attempts at feeding it, I had to give up. Feeling absolutely inept I rang a vet for advice. I was told to take it to Native Ark who look after distressed birds.
Next I had to find the two kind people who had left it with me. This took some time driving around the housing development over the road asking anyone I saw whether they knew where a family with two boys lived! Eventually I found them. This took up most of one day. The next day they emailed to say that the bird would be released back to the area where it was found and I look forward to seeing him again.
Amazing how time goes by when you have so much of it!