Friday, November 12, 2010

Summer's Coming

No doubt as elsewhere in the world, north or south of the Equator, those maintaining a regular Backyard List notice changes throughout any given year and from year to year. Some changes are merely seasonal, others more diagnostic of something much graver afoot and not always of your own doing.

An in situ windrow, albeit less than 25% the size of the one removed to make space for the house

In creating a space for the house we had to clear an extensive patch of land [with additional space to satisfy insurance requirements]; the clearing included a rather large “windrow” [trees bulldozed over and pushed together into a logpile]. Great habitat for the small skulkers! However, we not only left most windrows in situ, in felling an area of wattle shrubs [and they really are a fire hazard with amazing powers of regeneration] we also created a replacement windrow just north of the one cleared, albeit smaller and looser. It has since been colonized by a family of Variegated Fairy-wren.

The drought, a fact of life for most of the first decade of the 21st century, had a more adverse effect. As the ground dried, the understorey gradually disappeared and with it the undergrowth skulkers: the White-browed Scrubwrens, the Speckled Warblers, a host of thornbills, etc.

Some of course may have been no more than transitory to begin with – there when Fay and I first started our Allen Road list but already scheduled for a periodic migration to pastures new, elsewhere in the region. The Yellow-faced Honeyeater springs to mind. Back in 2001 the property seemed inundated with them but their numbers steadily declined until today [2010] their appearance raises an eyebrow. On the other hand, the Blue-faced Honeyeater, once a rarity here, has become numerous to the point of complacency.

On our return from the U.K. [] we knew that summer was fast approaching. The Sacred Kingfisher was there ahead of us; only the other day we finally tracked down a nesting pair on the southern boundary of the property – obviously they’ve either abandoned their former nesting haunts or this is a new pair setting up home in an available hollow.

The Channel-billed Cuckoo can be up as early of 0300 hours, its raucous call piercing the night’s silence. Dollarbirds flit and roll around the skies. The Australian [Eastern] Koel competes with both the cuckoo and the Laughing Kookaburra in seeing which can first shatter the peaceful tranquillity of slumbering humans. No bronze-cuckoos as yet but it’s still early days.

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