Being a Bowerbird …

Here’s what you do when your town goes into a soft-lockdown and you have a list of home maintenance jobs that you really don’t want to do. Find an excuse to do something else …

I challenged myself to make a Bower Box using only treasures found in my garden, and not to buy anything specifically for the project, although I admit to one cheat, the wooden jewellery box which I had already purchased for another project. The idea came from a wooden gift box of gourmet goodies sent to me by my neighbours as a thank-you. I just couldn’t bear to throw it away. The blue paint came from a left over can in the garage and the lichen came from trees in the garden.

Inspiration came from one of my favourite books, Sibella Court’s “Bowerbird”.
(bowerbird –noun informalmainly Australian a person who collects miscellaneous objects – that’s me!)

I’ve never understood why it’s so hard to find a dead cicada on the ground when thousands of them hatch each year.  Surely they can’t all be eaten by birds? Anyway, after much scratching around over several cicada seasons, I’ve managed to find and identify five species.  Maybe this year will bring me a Greengrocer to complete the collection.  I’m almost looking forward to Cicada Season.  Maybe not?

The pigeon skull came from a brown cuckoo-dove which flew into a window and was thankfully killed instantly.  The rat perished after becoming stuck in a wall cavity.  Both were buried in my compost bin, where the worms and bugs went to work.  They didn’t quite finish the job, so I had to complete the gruesome task.

I wanted to include two nests in my display. One of the nests fell out of a tree on a windy day, the other is a fake.  Can you tell which one?

We will be under lockdown for another week, so I’m looking for another excuse NOT to clean my windows.

A bit too much biodiversity …

For several weeks I’ve been trying to track down what I thought might be a strange new frog in the garden. The discovery that the “frog like” sound was coming from a Bladder Cicada (charming name) has prompted me to re-post this lament from several years ago. The Bladder Cicada uses its large hollow abdomen as an echo-chamber to amplify its mating call – as if cicadas need amplification!

Bladder Cicada

Below is my original post and nothing has changed, although I have heard a rumour that this year might be worse …

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Yellow Monday


It’s not enough that I’ve discovered still more variations of cicada in the garden, now they’ve gone and organised themselves into shifts !!

First the Dawn Shift which starts at five am and continues until six.  So just when you think “ Thank God they’ve stopped” you realise that it’s time to get up.

Then after one hour’s silence, the Day Shift starts.  The Day Shift runs from seven am to six pm.  This is when all the species of cicada not already rostered on the Dawn, Dusk or Graveyard shifts, compete with each other in an attempt to send you troppo with waves of their ear-piercing calls.

The Dusk Shift starts at six, just in time to drown out both the news and current affairs programmes on television.  It stops suddenly at around eight, when the Graveyard Shift takes over for a few hours.  The Graveyard Shift is the quietest of all, as dying cicadas crash into windows and lights, then fall to the ground on their backs and rotate like demented helicopters often uttering strange and un-nerving distress calls.

I’m all for a bit of biodiversity, but this is carrying it a bit too far …

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Black Prince? (with beautiful gold spots)

Lounging with Lace Monitors …

From time to time I hear loud rustling noises in the garden.  So far, the source has always turned out to be a Blue Tongued lizard, a Carpet Python or a Lace Monitor – but as their tails resemble that of several venomous snakes, I always freeze and wait until I am absolutely sure!

Several years ago, a large Lace Monitor posed obligingly for me in a tree …

From then on, I assumed that I was seeing the same monitor, but today I realised that this was not the case.  When I was sitting in the garden this morning, I realised that something was watching me … and there lounging in the sun nearby was a much smaller monitor with quite different markings.

There are, it seems, two distinctively marked variations of the east coast Lace Monitor, and when I compare my photographs from 2012, 2014 and 2016, I realise that in size and markings, they are all different.

This may explain some of the loud rustlings I hear at night, and now I wonder just how many Lace Monitors are out there ??

It’s not a Pygmy Possum …

We’ve had an ID on the possum mentioned in my previous post.

Local Peter Szaif says that it’s actually a Feathertail Glider … also known as the pygmy gliding possum, pygmy glider, and flying mouse, and it’s the world’s smallest gliding possum so named for its long feather-shaped tail which is just visible in the photograph.

A bit of trivia: the Feathertail Glider was featured on the Australian 1cent coin until it was withdrawn from circulation in 1991.  I found a small stash of them in the garage when I moved in and I’m still hoarding them trying to think of a use for them.  If the previous owners had handed them in, they would have been melted down for the Bronze Medals in the 2000 Sydney Olympics!