Archive for October, 2017

Birds & water

October 29, 2017

A quiet Sunday afternoon on duty at the bird hide at Edithvale-Seaford wetlands.

The entrance :

Upstairs viewing area :

All that lovely water :

And birds :

This little fella (a baby Chestnut Teal) strayed from Mum & Dad. A Purple Swamphen bore down on him. I was told it would attack and kill him. We held our breath. Mum intervened and all was well :

(My little camera does close-ups but not all that close)

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Sugar Glider release

October 22, 2017

Back in March I wrote this post about finding a little native Sugar Glider caught in the barbed wire on the top of one of the fences. I took him to our local wildlife carer and as the weeks went by and I heard nothing, I assumed the little glider hadn’t made it. I didn’t ring; I didn’t really want to know the worst.

Some weeks ago the carer contacted me to say the glider (it had tuned out to be a little female) was doing well and cavorting around the curtains in her living room. She said she’d be releasing her back into my property sometime soon.

I was rapt. Then I didn’t hear anything for a few weeks more, but she finally rang during the week and the release was fixed up for yesterday afternoon. Not only that, but she asked if she could release another two gliders as well. Who could say no?

So, promptly at 5.30, the carer turned up with a young lass who was going to be doing the tree climbing. The gliders were housed in nest boxes which were going to be attached to trees. Another girl turned up and then another carer who had been looking after the three gliders temporarily. My local carer went home; it was ‘feeding time’, she said (she can be looking after 30 or more small marsupials at once!).

For the next 2 hours, I hovered in the background, taking photos and watching these amazing people—all volunteers—at work.

Some time was spent looking for a suitable tree (not so much for the gliders, but suitable for attaching the box and safe to climb). The first box is in that white plastic bag :

Getting the ladder in place :

Getting into harness (the climber ropes herself to the tree trunk) :

Up the ladder :

Not my idea of fun. She’s right at the top of a 3 metre extension ladder. That’s 6 metres up the trunk  :

The box entrance is sealed and opened once it’s up the tree (I was told one of the males is a feisty little fellow who would escape if he could). I asked if I could see them in the box and take a photo before they went up. No problems, just raise the lid. My little female (who had been rescued here and was returning home), had acquired a boyfriend in the form of one of the other males—they were together in the first box to go up.  Not the best photo, I’m afraid and they were both sound asleep on a bed of wood shavings :

The box is hoisted up :

Much of the work involves getting the box fixed to the trunk. There are chains top and bottom, enclosed in hose to protect the tree from the chain :

And finally, it’s in place and the entrance hole is opened :

The process was repeated in another location for the second box, containing the single male. He was the feisty one and didn’t get on with the other male, it seems. Not surprisingly, as the female had not chosen him for her friend.

I didn’t take any photos of the second box going up and even though dusk was falling as the girls finished, I didn’t stay outside to watch the gliders exit and discover their new home. The whole process took 2 hours and it was already well past my dinner time and getting cold. I’ll go out for the next couple of evenings at dusk with the spotlight and see if there’s any activity. It’s possible they will eventually abandon the boxes and find one of the many natural tree hollows around the property more to their liking.

I remain full of admiration for these young volunteers who selflessly give up their time to look after our precious native animals and return them to the wild.

 

Asparagus from seed

October 4, 2017

Somewhere on this blog I wrote about growing asparagus from seed. I can’t find that post, so maybe it’s time to do it again.

Asparagus plants come in two sexes and the female plants eventually produce red berries containing black seeds :

I collected a handful of berries back in April and sowed them  (as is, i.e. not taking out the seeds) in a 150 cm pot of ordinary potting mix. I covered them with a layer of potting mix and left the pot out in the open all winter. I didn’t record the date when the first germination occurred, but this is what they look like at the moment :

Time to do some potting on :

I potted up 32 tubes. Fiddly job. I was sick of asparagus by the time I’d finished. In the end I was potting them up in groups of 3 and 4. I’ll enjoy them more when they’re in the ground and bearing. There were still plenty of tiddlers left growing—just a bit over a centimetre tall. I gathered them all together into one pot. If they grow a bit bigger, I might pot them on as well.

Those in the tubes will sit there for a year or so before planting out. Then, they’ll take a year or three to start producing spears of useable size and then I’ll be picking these (tonight’s dinner—from previous plantings) :

It’ll be worth the wait.