Aussie Backyard Bird Count Begins

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We were up and counting before breakfast and I’m certain just the intention behind looking for bird activity produced some rather interesting discoveries. Click here for further info.

In the twenty minute slot we sighted 10 different species and 41 birds altogether including a raptor which is uncommon (but not unusual) but hey, if you’re going to make a visit, do it during a Bird Count!

 

 

Captured Observations

Some observations I really wanted to put down in writing today, before it becomes tomorrow…

There are more cicadas calling now. It makes me happy to hear them. The big, green crickets have started calling too. I’m sorry, but BIG, GREEN CRICKET is about as scientifically-speechified as I can be at the moment. I’ll update this when I find a suitable name for them. It will not be Charlie Cricket, I promise.

Instant Update: Thanks to Esperance Fauna for the info – Elephantodeta nobilis – Noble Bush Katydid. Gives a tropical sound to the back garden.

Diamondback Moths are wide-spread and in big numbers.

The Tamarillo is flowering. I have taken cuttings and will report their success or failure when either occurs.

The Tagasaste seedlings are thriving. I have not sprouted any further seed. Just making a gap in time. Now and then some disappear or have the tops chewed off them. I am not sure what creature of the night is doing this, but this creature needs to sleep. So good luck to them. I’ll battle on with safety in numbers as my chief battle plan strategy.

Neighbours. Bless their organic cotton socks, were out in numbers also today – mowing lawns and tending to little pockets of garden here and there. I did a walk around the block this afternoon to exercise Master J and I was delighted to see that quite a few houses have vegetables growing amongst their gardens. I saw a couple of square feet of garlic growing. Some mini-raised garden beds being lovingly tended. The odd fruit tree netted to keep the fruit safe.

Down at Lake Seppings this morning there were 3 young Musk Duck. Further out in the depths an adult male was calling and courting.

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The Vine Moths are visiting our grape vine on the deck and no doubt laying their eggs already. The grape flowers are still developing and most of the leaves are still young and tender.

During our afternoon walk I saw some Black-faced Cuckoo-Shrike. I got the feeling that they have been nesting. I have seen them nest in different trees over the years. Usually the same type of tree.

Now that it is dark outside, I can hear bats circling around. It was quite a hot day today. Fine. Humid. Hazy. There is probably a flurry of insect life in the night air tonight.

A bushfire burns in the distance. I watched a great billowing cloud of unusually white smoke rising into the sky after dinner tonight. Catching the last bit of sunlight as the sun went down in the west.

 

 

Zones in a Nutshell – Permaculture Zones : Part Two

This post follows from the first one found here.

So with my reassessment of the permaculture zones whilst planning our new house and garden, here is an over-view of what you might find in each zone.

ZONE 0 — The house structure. Here permaculture principles would be applied in terms of aiming to reduce energy and water needs, harnessing natural resources such as sunlight (pv panels and water heating) and water (water tanks/greywater recycling), and generally creating a harmonious, healthy, environmentally friendly space in which to live, work and relax.

ZONE 1 — The  location for those elements in the system that require frequent attention and visits. In our design it is likely to feature salad crops, aquaponics, potted herb plants, soft fruit like strawberries possibly aquaponically grown, cold frames, propagation area, worm compost bin for kitchen waste and a compost toilet.

ZONE 2 — This area is used for siting perennial plants that require less frequent maintenance, such as occasional weed control (preferably through natural methods such as spot-mulching) or pruning, including currant bushes and orchards. In our design we plan to have some espaliered fruit trees doubling as a fence for the retaining wall and the main vegetable garden close to the back steps.

 ZONE 3 — Is the area where main crops are grown, both for domestic use and for trade purposes. After establishment, their care and maintenance is fairly minimal provided mulching is used and irrigation requirements are sorted. This area for us is the main swale with fruit trees, the sub-tropical area and water tanks. It may be used for some pasture for rabbits and guinea pigs from time to time.

ZONE 4 — Is semi-managed land. This zone is mainly used for foraging and collecting wild food as well as some timber production. An example would be coppiced hazelnuts and other trees which we plan to utilise for various uses. There is less tendency to visit this area. Perhaps every few weeks.

ZONE 5 — Is typically described as wilderness. There is no human intervention in Zone 5 apart from the observation of natural eco-systems and cycles. This is an area for preserving and observing natural systems so that we can use it as an educational tool to learn aspects of working with nature, not against it. It is a retreat for wildlife that can use it to move out to the other zones to interact.

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In the picture above you can just about see the various zones according to their use, even in the early stages of the house renovation and make-shift garden. From right to left there is the house as Zone 0 and the soon to be paved area for salad greens and aquaponics in Zone 1.

Then the summer garden beds – which have developed a bit since this photo was taken a few weeks back – are in Zone 2. Then the embankment with some trees already planted (Zone 3) and the rainwater tanks. Beyond this is a grassy slope. Zone 4. Further up the slope beyond a block of houses is the natural bushland that crowns the mountain side. This would be our Zone 5.

Has anyone applied thinking consciously about zones when designing their garden?

White Ibis Survey

This follows the post on the National Australian White Ibis Survey running this week.

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The boys and I were up early this morning. Nothing unusual about that really. Although a lone bush walker met us on the path to our morning outing and made comment.

“How did you get them up so early?”

“Trust me, they are up early anyway!”

We did a quick visit to Lake Seppings for a White Ibis survey. As I suspected, there were quite a number of ibis at the swampy end of the lake. I am also guessing that they are breeding here  as I observed an ibis flying over houses in town a few weeks back with sticks in its bill. It was heading in the direction of the lake here.

In the background of the above picture you can get an idea of the proximity of houses to the lake. At one point during the early to mid 1900’s the lake area was used as a local rubbish dump. It was not until the 1970’s that it was looked upon as a waterfowl reserve of some importance and amazingly it took until 2000 before mention was made of restoring the lake to a resemblance of its former glory and bestowing it with nature reserve protection status.

At a rough count we got 53 ibis in this particular area before a rain shower. I like surveys such as this as they give a better understanding of where particular species are congregating and how they are interacting with urban areas. Just as the bushland at the top of Mount Adelaide constitutes our permaculture Zone 5, this wetland area could also be regarded as part of our Zone 5. Fortunately our new house will be sandwiched between the two areas giving us good access to areas of wilderness close to the house.

For more on permaculture zones you can start here.

The Australian White Ibis was formerly known as the Sacred Ibis. For the details of why some Australian bird names have changed click here. 

Solutions for a Spinning Planet

Some small and slow solutions proudly brought to you from the Realms of Necessity…

Friday Night is Dessert Night!

I’m wary of traditions. Especially just for the point of having them. But we may have birthed one.

Our boys were getting into the habit of demanding dessert before, during and after our meals. It was relentless, stressful and totally not necessary (in my view!). Looking for a solution I decided we should make a change. The initial idea was to have a designated night each week that would be “dessert night” and one other night during the week that would be spontaneous, to accommodate for gifts or random produce we might have.

Thus far, Friday night is the designated dessert night (picture this in big neon lights) and it has been working a ‘treat’ for the past fortnight and instantly (to my utter amazement) put a stop to any requests for dessert aside from the occasional inquiry which usually results in a reply of “No. It’s not Friday.” End of story. Happy Daddy!

The up-shot is also that we  now put aside the time to actually make something a little bit special. So far we have had Strawberries and Sherbet and Frozen Banana & Chocolate Ice-Cream. It’s home-made, we know what we are getting ourselves into and it’s manageable. Did I mention less stressful too? Less weekly dishes, less time cooking… 🙂

I will also mention that it slightly curbs Grans sugar intake for the week as well, not to mention ours. And the other spontaneous night? The wild card for dessert satisfaction each week? So far it hasn’t even happened. Shhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!

Be very quiet.

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SOS – Save Our Seedlings

Diatomaceous earth (DE) has been used with great success in our garden and house. For more specific information this site has a great post. My recent success came as a result of necessity once again. I was wishing to safe-guard some seedlings from the creatures of the night that were coming and wiping them out, or leaving them maimed.

I normally use snail and slug pellets for this kind of situation – especially when growing heirloom seedlings but I couldn’t find the brand I wanted and didn’t want to revert to trying anything else. I’m not happy buying stuff like this at the best of times. We did however have a bag of diatomaceous earth that we were using to scatter in our chook pen to reduce mites and such things. So I have been using this on my seedlings and they have been growing unhindered by any further events with the ravaging, small, creatures of the night.

DE is still an input from the shop, but its uses are multiple (garden, home and inner body if using food grade DE) and it is available in bulk. Compared to a packet or bag of Snail & Slug pellets which come in printed packages and really only have one application – they can only be used for their intended purpose ie – you wouldn’t add them to your morning bowl of cereal. Plus, they are not as effective as DE in deterring pests and they are still a manufactured product so there is no guarantee of the safety and ingredients or the impact of prolonged use in a given area.

Bartering/Swapping/Exchanging

Be delighted. Be damn delighted by the serendipitous stuff that can come to you when you barter. The best ones are when I’m just happy to get rid of stuff – and others want to give you stuff in return. When this turns out to be useful stuff, well, what a bonus!

p.s. more solutions coming, but go about your business and come back later. In this part of the world there are still 24 hours.