Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Wildlife Week

Now that warmer weather has arrived sun-loving creatures appear.

Living, as we do  in the country, or as Aussies say 'the bush' [though why I have no idea as this is a cropping/grazing area] wild creatures frequent not only the outdoors, but inside as well. 

Over the past week a series of creatures has invaded our daily lives; albeit creatures that are welcome to share our space.  They provide amusement and education.

Blue-tongue lizards, or known as bob-tail lizards by some, wander around outside as soon as the day warms up, often clambering over the mat, up a small step that is the sliding door, before exploring the house.  Strangely enough, while I do not like snakes or spiders, or ants or flies, these little fellows are amongst my favourites.

The lizards are always on the lookout for a tasty treat, be it a moth that struggles under continual bashing against the ground by the lizard as it seeks to render its next meal helpless, or a piece of tomato dropped to the floor 'accidently on purpose' as one of the five vegetable daily intake recommended by nutritionists.  The tomato proved almost as difficult to control as the struggling moth; unfortunately I had left the skin on!  Blue tongue crunched the tomato end finally softening it enough to swallow.

Another lizard, smaller and considerably shyer than the blue-tongue, appears to have a home under an old refrigerator.  Some days it sits on the concrete pathway, no doubt easing its limbs in the warmth.  That it sat still long enough for me to pick up the camera was almost a miracle.
Last but not least our tawny frog-mouth family that successfully [after much difficulty and drama] raised one chick have reason to be proud.  Sometime during last night the little one, who I have named Bambino [what else?!] fledged.  This morning on the first of the many daily inspections, Eggsitter and Bambino were no longer in the nest.  Twisting my neck to the left there in another low branch of the neighbouring gum tree the family perched, parents on either side of junior.

Another camera opportunity!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

'Tis the season

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: Ecclesiastes 3:1

Summer has arrived with all its attendant risks; namely bush fires.   While I may [mildly?] complain about raking leaves yesterday a vivid reminder of the reason why made itself obvious.

We went to the northern city on a minor shopping expedition, and is our normal procedure we headed up back roads where, one hopes, the lunatic driver would never consider spinning his tyres.  Significant Other has a two-way radio in the vehicle giving us a blow by blow account of major, or minor, incidents that occur on the highway.  Some of these conversations are amusing as 'comments' between drivers of the many road trains keep alive the obvious camaraderie between the converyors of our daily needs.  At one stage several drivers asked about a fire.  

It became obvious that a small grass fire, alongside the main highway, had not only been noticed, but was under control.  Many farmers have a 'fire appliance' as part of their plant ... this could be as simple as a water- tank on the back of a ute ... just in case of need.

We shopped; nothing exciting ... groceries etc and travelled home;  the temperatures warm [37°], blustery winds skating seed heads of wild radish across the highway like frightened rabbits. 

However, upon switching on the radio [to catch up with the latest news or 'perhaps news'] bush fire warnings were being broadcast regularly.  A bush fire, that began as a 'controlled burn' in the south/west of Western Australia had gotten out of control.  The fact that a controlled burn was undertaken at the end of winter, which is the normal time for a controlled burn; a time when a burn can be kept under control; had escaped and was causing havoc.  This morning we hear the dreaded news; at least 19 homes have been destroyed.

There are many questions being asked as to why the burn took place; there are folk living in the Margaret River area who do not know if their home will survive should the strong winds, forecast again for today, turn the fire their way.

I note that the strong winds here have distributed another carpet of leaves that need raking.  This is an ongoing task, one that is hard hot work on a day when the temperatures are in the high 30's.  There is a reason for raking, and the season is ... always.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Bush Fire Preparation

Spring is a season of variations; this spring is extremely variable.  Spring is also the time when householders should clear litter from around their homes as one precaution to avoid the devastion of a bush fire destroying property.
This time last year when returning from an outing we noticed more than usual vehicles on 'our' road, which is not the main highway.  In the distance a wisp of smoke curled upwards ... a bushfire!  We soon found out that the bushfire had blocked the main highway, hence the upsurge in vehicles on the secondary road.
Spring this year has been wet; compulsory fire-breaks along boundary lines are growing again making the risk of a fire in summer a greater risk.
While boundary fire-breaks are made with tractor and slasher or plough other precautions are essential.  My self appointed task is the raking of leaves; it is endless, and when flies are plentiful [one never reads in glossy tourism pamphlets the trials one experiences re flies and other creepy crawlies], and the sun shines from a blue, blue sky, and rivulets of perspiration drip from the raker's face and neck and clothes cling to the body like a suit of clothes three sizes too small, this task is simply a chore.
We have a lawn in winter, and with luck it only needs mowing four or five times a year; the rest of the year outdoors is a carpet of sand with a splattering of twigs and leaves that fall at the slightest zephyr of breeze onto the sand.  For one who has spent most of her life in green New Zealand the sand, flies, and never-ending fall of gum leaves can become rather depressing.  Raking those leaves helps ... I guess it could be on par with disposing of unwanted 'whatever' one dislikes the most!

On an average 'raking and barrowing' day I can remove a dozen or so wheelbarrow loads to the bonfire that can only be lit in winter, and then with a goodly supply of water on hand ... just in case it spreads to the surrounding paddock.

gum leaf litter
clothes line area cleared two weeks ago

leaves on bonfire
My life in Western Australia is a 1000 times removed from my previous existence in New Zealand, and there are days [when the flies are bad, the mosquitoes are biting, and snakes slither hither] when I close my eyes and imagine that safe greeness of New Zealand.  Then in an Australian winter when temperatures seldom fall below 12°, and family in New Zealand report snow and hail and ice, I am grateful for what I do have here. 

If only those leaves only fell in one season, not all the year around!