Archive for the ‘Wildlife’ Category

Wildlife carers

March 14, 2017

I have a wildlife carer living 5 minutes from me. Over the years I’ve taken ducks, baby birds and possums to her for attention. Today I took a little sugar glider that had become entangled in the barbed wire on the top of the fence (god knows why it was ever put on the fencing here……this isn’t farming country).

A neighbour helped to cut the wire while I held him tight. He was very feisty, yelling abuse at us and biting. I popped him, with the wire still attached, into a pillowcase and took him to the “nice lady down the road who will look after you.”

I’m always amazed at the dedication of wildlife carers. They’re on call 24/7. It’s nothing to have to get up in the wee small hours to feed tiny, furry creatures special wildlife ‘sustagen’ with an eyedropper.

Once, when I called in, she had an injured cormorant in the shower recess. She would open the door and throw it a fish. Another time there was a baby wombat in the spare bedroom. Most of the patients are outside though, in various cages and nest boxes.

Wildlife carers receive some government assistance. But most pay out of their own pockets for the huge quantities of special food and housing that they need. I always make sure when I take her an injured animal that I give her something towards its care. Even just donating unwanted bird cages or offering to make little ‘possum bags’ out of material scraps can be a help.

If you have a wildlife carer in your area, why not call in and see if you can offer any help. Some of them need volunteers to go and pick up injured wildlife, because they can’t often get away to do it themselves. They do a tremendous job, working quietly away in the background to help the tiny creatures that so often are the victims of thoughtless human activities.

I’m writing this because she’s just phoned me back to say the little glider went to the vet and was anaesthetised while he was disentangled from the wire and his injuries were stitched up. Now he’ll be on antibiotics for about 10 days. There’s a good chance he’ll make a full recovery and then I’ll go down and pick him up and release him back into his own home.

The carer tells me that we are gradually losing these species one by one, quietly, in the background and very few people are aware or care. It’s heart-breaking.

For bird lovers….

January 5, 2017

….. a selection of the ABC’s best bird pics of the week to scroll through.

And here’s my personal favourite, a King Parrot, who visits regularly for a meal of sunflower seeds.

IMG_3138

The Thin Green Line

December 24, 2016

Here’s a story from the Guardian about wildlife poaching in Africa.

Wildlife Rangers, whose job is to project wildlife, not just in Africa, but around the world, are being killed in action. If we want these iconic animals to survive into the future (what would the world be like without elephants), we need to support those who are trying to protect them and giving up their lives in the process.

Sean Willmore formed the Thin Green Line Foundation to assist and protect Rangers around the world and equally important, to help the families of those Rangers killed on the job. Check out their website at the link to read their story and see what they do.

I’m writing this because I have a connection of sorts to Sean. He’s an Aussie and back when we bought this bush block, Sean was Conservation Officer in the City of Frankston where I live.  He was also an assessor with the Land for Wildlife voluntary wildlife protection scheme which operates in the state of Victoria. We applied for LFW registration for our property and Sean was the one who came out and assessed it. A great guy—his talents were wasted at our local Council and I’m glad to see he’s moved on to greater things.

I’ve donated to the Thin Green Line in the past and will do so again. It’s a bit late now for this year, but it would make a great Christmas present for a friend or family member next year, to donate to the Foundation in their name, instead of spending money on a glitzy present, then giving them a card to say what you’ve done with the money you would have spent on their present. I know I’d much rather have someone do that than give me a present.

Here’s a short video of Sean being interviewed about the work of the Foundation :

Please consider donating to The Thin Green Line.

 

 

Wildlife surprises

December 15, 2016

Woke up to find this on the deck :

image

I heard the screams during the night and thought it was just the possums playing games.  I can’t believe it was a fox….surely he’d have taken the carcass off to eat elsewhere or store for later. Maybe a not-so-hungry, shouldn’t-be-roaming-at-night dog, just biting off the head for the fun of it and not caring about the rest. Thanks for leaving it on my deck, fella! However, I’m more inclined to think of a large owl and the only one we’ve had here big enough to fit the bill, was a Powerful Owl which appeared some years ago and very rare in this area it was, too. We even got our pictures in the local paper over that one, thanks to a friend who was the president of the local birdo group at the time and took a spectacular photo with a better camera than mine. Anyway, I left the rabbit remains down by a tree trunk at the rear of the property and they’d gone next day. I assume the fox picked it up there. Nice to find dinner just lying on the ground and not have to chase it. One rabbit less, which is a good thing.

The other wildlife surprise is this :

image

A Magpie Lark has picked the TV aerial to build her beautifully-formed mud nest. What a place to do it! Up there in all weathers in full view of predators! And surrounded by dozens of trees! What was wrong with them? Mr Mudlark has been keeping guard and taking his turn on the nest. I hope they’re successful in raising young, but I’m not hopeful.

Aussie Backyard Bird Count

November 29, 2016

I took part this year for the first time and will do it again next year. This is the email I received from them :

 

More than 61,000 people participated this year, submitting over 45,000 checklists and counting 1.4 million birds!

The Top 10 most counted bird species in Australia remained unchanged for the third year running, with the Rainbow Lorikeet once again claiming the number one spot. Even though scientists recently separated the NT Rainbow Lorikeet into a different species – the Red-collared Lorikeet – the Rainbow Lorikeet was still number one by a wide margin.

While the Top 10 species remained the same there was a bit of movement in the order, with House Sparrows dropping two places, reflecting the current worldwide trend of sparrows disappearing from urban areas. Is this the beginning of the decline of Australia’s House Sparrows? This will be one to watch in next year’s count.

To see the full results or to download the species list for Australia or your state click here. A HUGE thank you to everyone who took part in the #AussieBirdCount. It will be back again next year, from 23-29 October, we hope to have you on board and counting again!

 

bird-count-infographic2

Backyard Buddies

October 13, 2016

I was researching something for an upcoming post when I discovered a fantastic website called Backyard Buddies.

It’s an Australian site (sorry, overseas readers) and it’s all about the critters you can find in a typical Aussie garden, including insects, birds, mammals, frogs, reptiles and plants. There’s information about creating habitats for them and a list of wildlife care organisations in each State, should you need to help a Buddy in trouble. I’ve signed up to receive their regular monthly newsletter and will follow them on Facebook (they’re also on Twitter and Instagram).

Backyard Buddies is a free education program run by the Foundation for National Parks & Wildlife.

The article I’ve copied and pasted below is from the site. Go take a look. It’s great!

Leafhoppers

Leafhopper Photo John Tann

Hip Hippity Hoppity Leafhoppers

There’s a spot of yellowy-green, brown or red on your plants and it’s jumping from place to place? Or every time you come to take a closer look it quickly scuttles around to the other side of the leaf?

It could be a leafhopper! They love to bite through leaves, stems and bits of tree trunk to suck up the delicious and nutritious plant sap. Leafhoppers particularly love Eucalyptus trees.

Read more: Leafhoppers

 

Plague!

January 22, 2016

Not Bubonic, but Beetle.

Plague Beetles to be exact.

I had these in the garden a couple of years ago. A few days ago I noticed some on my beans :

image

I remembered what they were, but there didn’t seem to be many and they weren’t doing any harm, so I let them be. A day or two later and a friend and I were sitting in the living room having a cup of coffee when she noticed the Woolly Bush in the garden seemed to be drooping significantly (it’s normally an erect shrub) and there were lots of dark blobs in it :

image

We went out and had a look. OMG, the bush was full of them. Their weight was dragging the branches down :

image

We went back inside and grabbed for our iPads and Google. This CSIRO site seems to be the best for information. There’s a video. We watched in horror, the sight of millions of these things crawling on a tree trunk. We said “Oh, yuk!” Amazingly, they don’t seem to do any harm to plants. They spend their time sucking nectar from flowers and (to be a bit crude) bonking. No wonder they’re a plague!

Spring at last!

October 1, 2015

Well…the mornings are still colder than I’d like, but there have been some warm days and all the fruit trees and wattles are flowering and we have passed the equinox.

So what’s happening at the foodnstuff residence?

Asparagus. I’m eating about 3 meals a week. When there’s not enough for a meal on any particular day, I just stand whatever I’ve picked in a cup of water until there are enough. They will continue to grow (elongate) in the water but don’t seem to get any more woody at the bottom :

image

asparagus2

Raspberries. The raspberry bed is in its second year now. The original five plants have morphed into a random cluster of suckers, which, I’m hoping, will all flower and produce much more than the couple of cups I picked last year. The whole bed is permanently under a net now, because the rabbits love raspberry leaves (and of course the birds will love the berries) :

image

I’ve had to put a net over the rhubarb. The rabbits were eating all the leaves. I know I only eat the stalks, but no leaves…no photosynthesis…no stalks :

image

The lettuces in the milk bottle planters are thriving. I’m going to put up three more with alpine strawberries in them :

image

I love the lacy look of this purple mizuna. It’s in a wicking box with purple bok choy :

image

With all these fancy hybrids around now, veggie gardens are looking so attractive it’s a shame to have to pick the plants and eat them.

Here’s ordinary old green mizuna, direct-seeded into a wicking box. Too late in the year for it really…..it will flower before I get much from it, but the Girls will enjoy it :

image

Direct-seeded calendula. I’ll really have to make that calendula flower ointment this year :

image

Red-veined sorrel. It was looking rather tired. Amazing what a dollop of chook poo will do :

image

I’m trying carrots in a wicking box this year (there’s a self-sown lettuce trying to muscle its way in) :

image

Brillant red flowers on pineapple sage. I must plant more of this :

image

Tomato seedlings waiting for the real warm weather :

image

This is my new friend :

IMG_3138

A King Parrot. He’s been coming nearly every day recently, sometimes with his lady friend. He’s very tame….she’s a bit more reticent. When he can’t see me outside, he props on the laundry window ledge and whistles. When I come into the laundry and he sees me, he gives what I can only describe as a joyous shout. I go out and spread a handful of sunflower seeds on the deck railing. He’s no more than a foot away from me. So beautiful!

This quince tree (grown from seed) has become such an attractive specimen that I wouldn’t care if it didn’t produce any fruit. It did produce last year but something ate all but the few I managed to rescue. I hadn’t bothered about bagging the fruit because….well, who would eat a raw, unripe quince? Something was either very hungry or has no taste buds to speak of :

IMG_3141

My little cherry is out in flower. Support for a net is already in place as soon as fruits start forming :

IMG_3142

Pear blossom is beautiful :

IMG_3143

But apple blossom wins the prize every time :

IMG_3144

Last but not least, the Girls are still producing 8 or 9 eggs a week; even 4-year-old Molly is still doing her bit occasionally. Grated carrot and yoghurt goes down a treat :

image

I don’t mind sharing…

January 18, 2015

…with these beautiful creatures :

IMG_2929

The cherry tomato plant is in a tub on the deck. He sat there holding a green fruit in his claw. His mate was just around the corner enjoying a similar treat. An Australian King Parrot. Not common in our area, so a real delight to see.

Who needs tomatoes anyway?

 

In a wildlife garden…

November 17, 2014

… you need to be careful where you put your feet.

You’ve put down new mulch. You’ve carefully raked it out level, nice and neat and tidy.

Then you a see a slight mound in the mulch.

You touch it—gently—and it moves!

Well… hello Blue!

IMG_2793

(For overseas readers, ‘Blue’ is our native Blue-tongue Lizard. I think my Blue is the Blotched Blue-tongue.   Whatever species he is, I’m glad to have him in the garden, but I do have to watch where my feet go!)