Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Maggie, Billy Bob and "Junior"

I hadn't really thought about it much, but we haven't seen Maggie and Billy Bob here together for a while. Seperately, yes, but not together - and mostly it's been Billy Bob. The reason? Ah... breeding season. Yes, our magpies have a youngster - "Junior".

Junior is out of the nest now and able to fly quite well. He's sticking pretty close to his mum, loudly whining and begging for food. Here she is feeding him:

There's a certain behaviour I've seen them engaging in - it's really strange. Junior gets over next to his mum and then rolls over onto his back, wiggling his feet in the air and calling out. I finally got a couple of photos of this.  They're not the best quality (I was shooting from quite a distance) but you can see in this one (below) Maggie standing over Junior, who is on his back (the white you see is the underside of his tail).
(Doubleclick these photos to see larger images)

In this next photo (below), Maggie seems to be pecking and prodding at Junior. I'm not sure if she's trying to get him up, or if she's going after some kind of parasite (possibly a leech)?

Here she is standing over him, and rolling him onto his side (he wasn't cooperating, just flopped there like a sack, with her tugging at him).

Finally he's rolling back onto his feet, with Maggie apparently grabbing at his legs from the right hand side.

What are they actually doing? Your guess is as good as mine.

I've seen both parents nudging and pecking at Junior - sometimes one or the other, sometimes together. Maybe they are removing parasites, but it actually looks more like Junior is throwing some kind of temper-tantrum and they're just trying to get him to stop it.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Happy Birthday Vegemite!

Driving home this afternoon I heard on the radio that today is the 90th birthday of Vegemite! Hey! Let's celebrate!

Hm... how do you celebrate such an auspicious occasion? Birthday candles? Champers?  I'll have to give this serious thought.

When I got home, I jumped online to verify the occasion, and came across a radio interview Jamie Callister - grandson of the inventor of this fabulous food, and author of "The Man Who Invented Vegemite".  Here's a link to the webcast of the interview.  Hope you have a listen - and hope you have a jar of Vegemite handy.


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Burning Off

You may have heard about the horrific bush fires happening over the past few days in New South Wales. The heat and winds have stirred up a nightmare up there - and we watch the news with the understanding that it's only mid-spring - summer is yet to come.

It's time for people in our area to prepare for summer - and the bushfire season.  That means getting rid of any dead, dried material, the stuff the Country Fire Authority (CFA) refers to as "fuel".

An enormous amount of material falls from the trees here over the winter. Leaves, bark, branches and twigs litter the ground - so much that in places where the ground is sloping, it can be a little hazardous walking if the debris isn't raked aside. There's also a fair number of tree fern fronds which have dried up and broken off - all in all, our property is something of a mess by the time winter has come to an end.

It's been quite some time since burning off has been permitted this spring, but we just somehow never managed to get to it. On the days when it was convenient for us to do it, it would rain, or would have just rained recently, making the material we want to get rid of damp.  But last weekend it all came good.  It was nice on Friday and Saturday as well - the piles of branches and whatnot that Stephen had collected here and there around the yard were quite dry.  There was a little bit of wind, but not much, really, and so conditions were perfect.

We got up, had breakfast and headed out right away.  The weather bureau was predicting a high in the mid-20's, so we wanted to get as much done as possible when it was cool.

One of the problems with burning off is the smoke that is generated. But the material we were working with was so dry that it burned fast, hot and clean - very little smoke. Had you driven by our place it's unlikely you would have known what we were doing. Most of the time there was no smoke at all.

So we've made a start. There's still a lot yet to do, but we put a serious dent in it.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

What happens when I wear out...

It's very windy today - sunny, but windy.  It's warm enough to open the windows and let the wind blow much-needed fresh air into the house (which has been closed up since about April, so we really need the fresh air).

George and Laka are taking turns in the loungeroom screaming at the wind.  They've been screaming about every 5 seconds for the last hour or so - with Kenny (the talking koala toy) dutifully replaying each and every burst.

There's nothing to do about George and Laka - but Kenny?  Time to remove the batteries...

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

What happens when the batteries wear out...

Laka continues to enjoy long-winded conversations with "Kenny".  She's even allowing George to get in a word here and there (initially she would shout George down if he dared to play with "her toy"). All was happiness in the loungeroom until the batteries ran out of juice. Then?  Oh... my...  Lots of full-volume complaints.

Thank heavens for rechargeable batteries.  We now have a spare set - charge up one set while the other is in use.  Keeps peace in the house, don't you know...

(Laka-Laka-Laka, Becker-Becker-Becker, Gimme Kiss, Hello?....)

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Laka and "Kenny" the Talking Koala

Laka has to spend part of her day in a cage (she can't be allowed out unsupervised, not safe for her or the house...). Keeping her and George entertained is important to us.

Well... I think we've stumbled on the perfect macaw toy: