Petit Paradis in Collage


The Eighth instalment of our annual bit of artwork tracking the Two Little Fellas.

This year, on a whim, our youngest Little Fella takes the stage given that he’s played smaller roles in previous pictures and I loved how he embraced his nature playground in the garden – quite literally.

Over the years friends and family have wanted to know a bit of the story behind the artwork so this is a little about this years . . .

In the New Year we will move to Tillellan, the long-term project that is finally nearing completion. The landscaping and backyard will be a project within its own right. In anticipation of the move this years art features some of the elements of the original petit paradis abode.  A kind of thank you and goodbye for our first family home.

This place has seen several families of guinea pigs and chickens pass through it. It was pivotal in my adventures in seed saving and building up varieties, quantities and experience in locally adapted edible species. As a result, much of the growing space was for seed production and really only supplemented our kitchen from time to time with food. Moving to Tillellan we plan to accommodate both requirements.

There was a whole lot I could have put into this picture, but some of the highlights are the Pitaya flowers that made a showy display the last couple of autumns. Our eldest Little Fella is feeding Pinky, Brownie and Missy Miss – some of our current guinea pigs. Our original g-pigs Maiki & Jazz can be found in the picture as well along with various pet chooks that have been on the adventure also.

One of the favourite things about the house that I will miss is seeing the flocks of ibis and pelicans flying past the house on their way out to feed or returning home in the afternoon. Quite regularly we’ve had a half dozen or more pelicans glide low and slow over the houses and past our living area window in the early morning. It is a magical site, especially when they are low enough to hear their wing beats, and I missed it when we rented briefly so I know I will when we move.


There are various flowers and the quail, some of our container gardens and goldfish and koi. Fruit trees and crops that we’ve had. The garden itself was different with every passing year as it adapted to the needs and requirements of the family and whatever we were doing in preparation for the eventual move. Whether it was sorting out salvaged resources or propagating varieties of plants.

It will be a little sad I imagine to part ways, but we’ve also out-grown it rapidly and its very much a natural transition for us. It would have been just right with the Two Little Fellas, but with the addition of Gran and her various requirements we’ve definitely overstayed.

Australian Bird of the Year 2017

greybutcherbird petitparadis

The Guardian is running the Australian Bird of the Year poll for 2017 in partnership with BirdLife Australia. The finalists were narrowed down based on recommendations from Guardian readers, Guardian staff and BirdLife Australia. Now The Guardian is calling on the Australian public to select their favourite native bird from the short list.

The poll will stay open until 9 December, after which time the winning bird will be announced. If you feel the best Australian bird has been ignored, The Guardian have included an option for you to add it yourself.


I voted for the Grey Butcherbird.

There are so many wonderful birds on the list, but I have a soft spot for the somewhat drab, Grey Butcherbird. I vividly remember when I was a nine year old looking out my bedroom window and seeing a scene very similar to the one in the picture above. A curious looking bird sitting on the fence that I couldn’t work out what it was. Soon it was joined by a parent who kept returning to feed it. I was intrigued. I was hooked. I started to read about birds and look out for other birds, paying more attention to the ones that visited our garden or my school ground.

A few years later I met a wonderful lady who was prepared to let me tag along on some birding adventures. I saw a great deal more of WA over a couple of years and had many camps and surveys.

Some 34 years later I am still observing birds and teaching the Little Fellas all about them.

The Grey Butcherbird folks. Not to be underestimated.

Further Reading:

Birdlife Australia Facebook Page

White Ibis Survey

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


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. 

Australian White Ibis Survey



Australian White Ibis photograph courtesy of Frank O’Connor

I plan to do the usual bird survey this year during Bird Week, between the 23rd and 29th of October 2017. Also this year I will look at doing the National Australian White Ibis survey as well, given that we are going to be living much closer to one of the local wetland areas.

The Australian White Ibis, Threskionis molucca, is a highly visible native water bird in New South Wales and I suspect most other Australian states. Prior to the 1970s, the White Ibis was rarely sighted in urban areas and did not breed in the Sydney region. Instead it followed the non-permanent waters of inland lakes and rivers. Due to extensive droughts and changes in water regimes, White Ibis have sought refuge in coastal wetlands and have managed to adapt well to the regular water and food supply available in urban environments. They are now a common site in  parks where they feed on invertebrates (beetle larvae etc.), crustaceans (yabbies etc.) and handouts (bread etc.).

Since 2003, the NSW Office of Environment & Heritage have been running a community survey where they ask members of the public to record their White Ibis sightings.

If you can find yourself a local area to survey it is simply a matter of filling in the on-line sighting form found here.

The Aussie Backyard Bird Count runs from the 23rd of October to the 29th. The White Ibis survey runs between the 21st of October to the 29th.