A few old trees make all the difference when you’re doing a bird survey.  The bare, newly planted paddocks on Carkella and Adnamira were limited to a few species, mainly parrots (galahs,red-rumps, rosellas) and a small family of magpies.

Red-rumped parrot photo by Leo from iNaturalist.org

Red-rumped parrot photo by Leo from iNaturalist.org

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A big attraction of setting up the “small bird stepping stone” plantations on Esdale this year (five 20m x 20m areas that link the Mullion Creek vegetation to the Murrumbidgee) was the promised monitoring of the plants and animals.  I’m really interested to see what the changes will be as the trees and shrubs grow.

It’s great to have an outsider do the official counts because I’m a lousy birdwatcher.  I let myself be discouraged at an early age because I was short-sighted and found it hard to pick out a swan at twenty paces.  Craig is better, especially with raptors and parrots, but we’re both unreliable with calls and identifying the little brown birds that all look so alike to the ignorant.

Somehow, they can tell themselves apart. Continue reading



We saw our first snake of the season a few days ago.  The dogs had been barking at the bottom of the steps near the laundry where there’s a drainage hole in the wall.

I saw a skinny black tail disappearing.

Uh oh.  Red bellied black.  It wasn’t a big one, probably around half a metre long, one of last year’s babies.   But even a little one could kill a small  Jack Russell Terrier as they’re born with a big starter set of venom.

This is the moment where the love of wild animals struggles with being the protector of a tame animal.   It doesn’t help that snakes raise an automatic shudder in me, something that has nothing at all to do with what I know about them.  I assume it’s just something I’ve inherited from distant ancestors who survived by not messing with them. Continue reading


Earthworms in compostI’ve discovered the secret life of worms.

After the wind and rain last week, I noticed lots of leaves lying around on the concrete outside my bedroom door.  Except that Calypso the puppy seemed unusually interested in eating them.  She eats anything her mouth can reach, but not usually leaves. Then I realized that the little curled up black things were dead worms.   Hundreds of them.

Calypso and the magpies were delighted to eat dried up worm carcases.

I’d known that worms tend to crawl to the surface when it rains.  In the US they call them “nightcrawlers” for that habit.  Every bait store near a fishing spot in America advertises them on amateurish hand-scrawled signs.   I’d assumed they were something specially American like chiggers, rattlesnakes, or armadillos, but no, just earthworms.

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