Even as I’m sitting to write this post there’s a bump on the front window – it’s that Red Wattlebird again! For the past few days I’ve seen them scouring our windows and those of my neighbours, not for insects as I first thought, but spider’s webs. It’s nest building time! Try as I might I’ve not caught their activities with the camera as yet, but the Peewees (or mudlarks for those from further south and west from where I grew up) are another matter.
It took me a while to realise that they weren’t digging around our water chestnuts for insects or the corms. They wanted that muddy spent foliage for their nests. Peewees build the most beautiful mud nests, somewhat smaller than the large mud bowls built by Choughs. The Peewee’s mud bowl is built on a branch high enough and far out along the limb enough to make it hard for predators to get them. In the past I’ve seen these nest built out over creeks, or in the absence of a watercourse built over a busy road.
These birds are nesting in our neighbours tree, one of the few large trees still around us. I fear that the number of really tall and old trees that have been cut down in our area will be having a negative impact on the number of birds nesting in our suburbs. I’m pleased that in our own small way we are providing ‘garden services’ for those who are trying to raise their young.
PS Pardalote Palisades seems to be keeping the Currawongs and neighbourhood cats at bay. Fingers crossed.
The chickens are really enjoying their new free ranging activities in the garden and we are enjoying watching them digging around.
But while the girls are stretching their legs one oftheir avian cousins, a Pied Currawong (Strepera graculina), decided to check out the chicken’s accomodation through the door that was left open so the chickens could get to their water bowl.
Of course I did need to go and gently shoo it out as there is a possibility of disease transmission from wild to domestic birds.
Order was restored with the minimum of fuss and I don’t think the chickens even looked up from their scratching.
I know its really cold in the mornings and friend M has just told me the water bottles in her greenhouse have frozen, but I think we are starting to see some early signs of spring stirring.
My sense of hope is being raised by observations our local birdlife. Mapies flying across our yard with bills full of nesting materials; aerial battles between groups of currawongs, including one Grey Currawong, for the nest space in our neighbours gum tree; and the swans with cygnets we saw near Lake Tuggeranong last Friday.