My garden is becoming more and more of a haven for birds, despite the watchful stalking eye of Basil the Wannabe Big Bad Bird-Gobbler. (Cat Palace erection date: 8-9 April - stay tuned!)
With the perfect amount of spare time at my disposal these days, I recently indulged my inner hippie and made this bird feeder from found/recycled materials. The birds loved it, but anything heavier than a tiny firebrow finch (see Leon Peachey’s great pic below!) kept knocking the top plate over/off, so back to the drawing board I went, scrounged some chook wire from the vegie cage, and a few other bits and bobs, including cat-netting and garden rocks – and I made a scrotumish-looking thingy that has stabilised it beautifully! You can see it in the photo at the top of this post.
|Tiny firebrow finches (photo courtesy of Leon Peachey)|
The birds were a real treat for the big bad bikers who attended Disorgural 1.0 - the successor to the immensely fabulous Unaugurals that were hosted by BT Humble and Cass for 10 years. A very tiny crowd travelled the vast distances to the remote East Gippsland coast (everyone of them, apart from Tim, in a car!) – and found the wildlife and scenery well worth the trip. (Also the fabulous hosting by moi, ha ha ha.) Despite the size of the non-crowd, we had plenty of laughs and made nearly enough noise to annoy the neighbours! Thanks heaps for coming, folks, and celebrating the Mallacoota lifestyle with me.
|Disorg 'campfire' - a far cry from BT Humble's famous conflagrations!|
The other very exciting critter to be spending some time in Mallacoota at the moment - apart from birds and bikers - is the flying fox, or fruit bat. This critter, as a carrier of the Hendra virus and the Lyssa virus, gets a bit of a bad rap – but is actually an important part of the ecosystem, helping to keep native forests alive by transporting bazillions of seeds each night. What makes them dangerous is not their batness per se, but our encroachment and destruction of their habitats, so that they gather in places that are often inconvenient to humans - botanical gardens, city parks etc...
The 129,000 strong colony that spends summer in Mallacoota is nestled in the trees of a gully in Karbeethong. Every night these amazing flying mammals flap over my house to head to their feeding ground, then fly home to the gully afterwards. A sensible observer, I treat them with respect and caution. I give them distance, stay in the car when close to the colony, wash my hands after being in the garden etc etc etc. No drama. By day or by night, they’re magnificent – and apparently they’ll stay in Mallacoota for a few weeks yet, before heading to their next stopping-place.
|Fruit bats by day - Karbeethong colony. (photo courtesy Geoff Hansford)|
Last night, my mate Kat, her daughter Tash & I went to see them exiting their daytime sleeping place just before nightfall. Oh. My. God. What a sight! The air was THICK with them – one of the most incredible sights I’ve ever seen – and they’re quite BIG! Here's a pic (apologies for the low light, but you can at least get a vague idea of the sheer numbers. This weekend I'll head over again in better light and try for better pics.)
We also went to Betka Beach late in the afternoon, just to walk around and enjoy the rocks. The light was beautiful – look!
And look at the quirky things people do with the beach rocks - down at the far end of Betka it's almost a 'rock sculpture garden'!
So anyway, with my head chock-full of beautiful images of the natural world,I felt inspired to pen a few lines about the fruit bats, just to try and keep my English teacher skills up to scratch. Here, then, is
Doggerel for the Fruit Bats: a sonnet
Oh flying fox, oh mega bat, oh Fruity,
Like prehistoric parcels in the trees
You swing and chatter, flap and search for booty
And have a reputation for disease.
Some love you, many hate and fear your power
And those there are who'd see you all destroyed
Despite all this, each magic twilight hour
Deserves to be respectfully enjoyed.
For, like the spider, you have special talents
You transplant seeds and pollen where they're needed
On Mother Earth you help maintain a balance
By making sure our vegetation's seeded.
But best of all, magnificent in flight
You pour in waves above my house each night.
Till next time, this is Batty Betty signing off. Peace, all! (OMG, I really AM turning into a hippie! Are my 1970's roots showing???)
|Moon over Mallacoota - the inlet after dark. Why would I live anywhere else?|