Murrah Lagoon

Last June, we had a wonderful day out, exploring the Murrah River and Murrah Lagoon by canoe. We had long wanted to visit this area, as there is nothing more alluring than places, which are difficult to access. In our first two years in Candelo, there was a problem with the access road via Goalen Head, so a visit to Murrah Lagoon entailed a 2.2 km long walk via the beach, north from Goalen Head and back, which really required a full day outing….unless you had a canoe!!

Having recently initiated our canoe locally with a paddle down Back Lake, Merimbula, we were ready and raring to go!! Here is a closeup photograph of Murrah Lagoon and Murrah River from our map.BlogMurrahReszd20%IMG_0316But first, a little factual information about the Murrah River! The Murrah River drains an area of 195 square kilometres of the South Coast of New South Wales, just north of the Bega Valley. The upper catchment consists of two creeks: Dry River and Katchencarry Creek, which drain from the steep headwaters of the escarpment, meet at Quaama to form the Murrah River, which then progresses 5 km downstream to join Pipeclay Creek, a tributary from the north, which drains the rounded foothills. The Murrah River then flows 12 km through the bedrock-confined valley and state forest to the lowland plains, where the valley widens and the river comes under a tidal influence.BlogMurrahReszd20%IMG_0324BlogMurrahReszd20%IMG_0322We dropped the canoe in at the bridge crossing on the Tathra-Bermagui Road, 10 km south of Bermagui at low tide, wading and dragging the canoe for the first stretch of very shallow water, past river regeneration work, with huge wooden pylons shoreing up eroded river banks,BlogMurrahReszd20%IMG_0332BlogMurrahReszd20%IMG_0335BlogMurrahReszd20%IMG_0330BlogMurrahReszd20%IMG_0699 to a huge gum on the bend of the river, where we joined the main part of the river.BlogMurrahReszd20%IMG_0342BlogMurrahReszd20%IMG_0347It was a beautiful paddle down the river, past Striated Herons and Great Egrets,BlogMurrahReszd20%IMG_0354BlogMurrahReszd20%IMG_0391 to the lagoon with its perfect reflections,BlogMurrahReszd20%IMG_0352BlogMurrahReszd20%IMG_0372BlogMurrahReszd20%IMG_0394BlogMurrahReszd20%IMG_0398 and mouth of the Murrah River, where it meets the ocean,BlogMurrahReszd20%IMG_0433BlogMurrahReszd20%IMG_0452BlogMurrahReszd20%IMG_0518 the Murrah Headland and Murrah Beach.BlogMurrahReszd20%IMG_0418BlogMurrahReszd20%IMG_0417BlogMurrahReszd20%IMG_0442 We walked across to the beach to join this lucky Pied Oyster-Catcher and looked north to Murrah Head,BlogMurrahReszd20%IMG_0428 and south, past farming properties, to the giant black boulders of Goalen Head.BlogMurrahReszd20%IMG_0423BlogMurrahReszd20%IMG_0421BlogMurrahReszd20%IMG_0420 The water was so crystal clear and and a deep deep green.BlogMurrahReszd20%IMG_0443BlogMurrahReszd20%IMG_0460BlogMurrahReszd20%IMG_0583 We dragged our canoe up onto a tiny sandy cove.BlogMurrahReszd20%IMG_0446BlogMurrahReszd20%IMG_0467Tucked in behind the headland, on a sheltered slope, right on the river mouth, is Thubbul, the holiday home of well-known architect, Philip Cox, and his partner, journalist Janet Hawley.BlogMurrahReszd20%IMG_0439 Philip bought the property 45 years ago and built a series of pavilions (detached contemporary bungalows), connected by a central walkway and surrounded by an English style garden, within a spotted gum forest with an under-storey of macrozamias. Other native vegetation includes: Yellow box, ironbark and swamp mahogany; banksias, casuarinas and westringeas; and a variety of heath, reeds and grasses.BlogMurrahReszd20%IMG_0464 The low buildings and garden blend so well into the landscape that they are in fact very private and have a low impact on the natural environment.BlogMurrahReszd20%IMG_0546For more information, please see: http://www.abc.net.au/local/photos/2013/01/31/3680300.htm or read A Place on the Coast by Philip Cox and Janet Hawley 1997.  See: https://www.abebooks.com/book-search/isbn/0186430337/.

BlogMurrahReszd50%GetFileAttachment (3) It is such a lovely position for a beach holiday home. Keeping to the beach, we skirted the edge of the rocky platforms to eat lunch out on the headland. In the first photo below, we are north of Murrah Headland, looking back to Thubbul.BlogMurrahReszd20%IMG_0481BlogMurrahReszd20%IMG_0540BlogMurrahReszd20%IMG_0516 We looked north to the water tank and tall pines on the headland at Bermagui in the distance;BlogMurrahReszd20%IMG_0503 back over the beautiful Murrah Lagoon,BlogMurrahReszd20%IMG_0565 and south to Goalen Head.BlogMurrahReszd20%IMG_0555BlogMurrahReszd20%IMG_0529 The geology on the Far South Coast of New South Wales is so impressive and I love the native westringa!BlogMurrahReszd20%IMG_0525BlogMurrahReszd20%IMG_0507 What a wonderful place to spend your holidays!!BlogMurrahReszd20%IMG_0567BlogMurrahReszd20%IMG_0495Soon, it was time to return, so we headed back in the canoe, passing a long-time free camping site behind the beach, and negotiating the various channels back to the bridge.BlogMurrahReszd20%IMG_0611BlogMurrahReszd20%IMG_0612 It only took one hour and we were very fortunate in that the tide was coming in, so there was no wading at the end.BlogMurrahReszd20%IMG_0652BlogMurrahReszd20%IMG_0636BlogMurrahReszd20%IMG_0657BlogMurrahReszd20%IMG_0656We decided to explore a little up the river beyond the bridge, past river oaks and grasses, where we saw Pied Cormorants, Chestnut Teals and  Black-Fronted Dotterels!BlogMurrahReszd25%IMG_0667BlogMurrahReszd20%IMG_0689On our return to the bridge, we had stopped midstream to chat to a man in a kayak, who had been camping at the free campsite on the lagoon.BlogMurrahReszd20%IMG_0661 He told us a bit about the area and informed us that the Goalen Head access to Murrah Beach (via Hergenhans Road off the Tathra-Bermagui Rd) was now open, so we drove down there on our way south:BlogMurrahReszd20%IMG_0701BlogMurrahReszd20%IMG_0704 past beautiful coral trees (Erythrina)BlogMurrahReszd20%IMG_0732BlogMurrahReszd20%IMG_0731 to the end of the road and the southern end of Murrah Beach, where a cheeky Yellow Robin greeted us.BlogMurrahReszd20%IMG_0729BlogMurrahReszd20%IMG_0707BlogMurrahReszd20%IMG_0705BlogMurrahReszd20%IMG_0724 I loved these photos of the grass seedheads and the lichen-covered rocks and black boulders of Goalen Head to the south in the golden late afternoon light.BlogMurrahReszd20%IMG_0713BlogMurrahReszd20%IMG_0712BlogMurrahReszd20%IMG_0708It is so good to know that we can now walk up the beach to the headland, though we will always remember our beautiful canoe trip down the Murrah River!

For more on the Murrah River and the surrounding Mimosa Rocks National Park, including its early history, please see  http://www.clw.csiro.au/publications/technical99/tr54-99.pdf.

It is also probably worth, checking out the NPWS Management Plan for Mimosa Rocks National Park, just to the south (Goalen Head), for a review of the local native flora and fauna. See: http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/research-and-publications/publications-search/mimosa-rocks-national-park-plan-of-management and http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/resources/planmanagement/final/20110246MimosaRocksNPfinal.pdf.

Next week, I will be introducing our Drawing and Art Library!

 

Bountiful Beautiful Butterfly Bushes: Buddleias: January’s Feature Plant

My first monthly feature plant for the year are the beautiful, bountiful buddleias, which are in full bloom this month. Also spelt Buddlejas and known as Butterfly Bush, due to its popularity with butterflies; Summer Lilac and Bombsite Plant (see later), they were named by Linnaeus after Reverend Adam Buddle (1660-1715), an English botanist and taxonomist, who produced 36 volumes dedicated to British native flora (volumes 14 to 36 about mosses alone)!BlogBugsBBB20%Reszd2015-12-11 09.56.33They belong to the Foxglove family Scrophulariaceae (Buddlejaceae), with the genus containing at least 100 species (some sources number 140) and numerous decorative cultivars. They hail from four continents: Asia; North and South America: 60 species from Southern USA to Chile; and Africa, with no buddleias native to Europe or Australasia.BlogBugsBBB20%Reszd2015-12-10 19.02.53Please note that because I inherited my buddleias, which were already well-established in our garden, when we arrived, I do not know their names, though I assume they are all forms of B. davidii, hence my photographs will be identified solely by their colour!

While I will try to be consistent with my spelling, generally restricting myself to using ‘buddleia’, the odd ‘buddleja’ might still slip in, especially when the latter spelling is used in the names of plants or plant collections!

Description

Large, sprawling, deciduous (temperate climes) or evergreen shrubs (tropical areas) shrubs, usually less than 5 metres tall, though they can reach 9 metres tall.BlogButterflyHeaven 20%Reszd2015-12-03 10.24.44Long, narrow, lanceolate leaves, arranged in opposite pairs, except for B. alternifolia, in which the leaves are arranged alternately. Leaf size varies from 1 to 30 cm long. The leaves are often crepe-textured with pale, sometimes downy, undersides. Some species are silvery grey, while others are a dull matte green.BlogButterflyHeaven 20%Reszd2015-12-01 15.24.57Buddleias are grown for their flowers. Many have long, nectar-rich flower spikes, but some occur in spherical heads or loose clusters. The Asiatic species have terminal panicles, 10 to 50 cm long, and tend to be pastel pink or mauve, while the American species have cymes, forming small globose heads, which are often red, orange or yellow. Many cultivars have deeper colours, including a rich reddish-purple.BlogSummers here 20%Reszd2015-11-24 17.47.45 Each individual flower is tubular and divided into four spreading lobes (petals), 3 to 4 mm across. The corolla length again varies according to the species. Asiatic species have a 10 mm long corolla, while American species vary from 3 to 30 mm, the latter having long red flowers, pollinated exclusively by hummingbirds. Some species are fragrant and strongly honey-scented, attracting not only butterflies, but also moths and bees.BlogBugsBBB20%Reszd2015-12-07 09.40.29Flowering times vary according to the species, but generally they flower from Spring to Autumn. We had our first bloom in mid-November last year.BlogButterflyHeaven 20%Reszd2015-12-05 17.17.59The fruit is a small capsule, 1 cm long and 1 to 2 mm diameter with numerous small seeds.

Use and Care

Buddleias are usually grown for their flowers, as a feature plant and as a butterfly food plant, though B. davidii yields dyes (black and green from mixed flowers, leaves and stems, while the flowers alone produce an orange-gold to brown colour); and B. officinalis and B. asiaticum are used in traditional Chinese and Korean medicine and. See: http://www.chineseherbshealing.com/butterfly-bush/.

They are extremely hardy and tough, the deciduous species being hardier than the evergreens, though none will tolerate prolonged severe Winters. They are incredibly easy to grow and undemanding, tolerating salty air, drought, shade, urban pollution and most soil types, though they have a preference for chalky and limey soils.

Best in full sun on a moist, fertile well-drained soil, they grow incredibly quickly and some species can become invasive (more later).

They spread easily by seed and can be propagated easily by half-hardened soft wood cuttings taken in late Spring and early Summer. Cut a 15 cm new shoot, just as it is beginning to harden up, trim below the leaf node and nip out the top, then remove any large leaves. Dip the cut end into hormone rooting powder or honey (though it really doesn’t need it!) and plant in a 50/50 mixture of horticultural sand and compost.

They should be deadheaded constantly throughout the flowering season to encourage more flowers and prevent self-seeding and then pruned back to within 3 to 6 inches of the old wood in very early Spring, around crocus time, removing all dead wood. I am referring to the most common Butterfly Bush, B. davidii, here.

Pests include capsid bugs, caterpillars, nematodes (when grown in sandy soils) and red spider mite (especially during droughts). Neem Oil is a good organic treatment for all infestations. Buddleias can also experience root rot, if growing in swampy ground, and downy mildew, if grown in a cool climate with extended periods of rain.BlogBugsBBB20%Reszd2015-12-07 09.16.16Species and Cultivars

B. globosa : Orange Ball Tree

See: https://www.rhs.org.uk/Plants/2453/Buddleja-globosa/Details

Buddleias are mostly 20th century plants, except for Buddleja globosa, which was introduced to Britain from Chile in 1774. It is semi-evergreen, 5m tall and wide, and produces highly fragrant, honey-scented, orange globular inflorescences on branches from the previous season’s growth.

B. colvilei : Himalayan Butterfly Bush/ Tree Buddleia See: https://lambley.com.au/plant/buddleja-colvilei and http://www.louistheplantgeek.com/a-gardening-journal/802-buddleja-colvilei.

2 to 6 metres tall deciduous shrub or small tree with dark pink flowers in Summer.

B. paniculata   See: http://www.buddlejacollection.com/plants/paniculata/

Deciduous 6 metre tall shrub from East Asia and Northern India.

B. alternifolia:    Weeping Butterfly Bush/ Alternate-Leaved Butterfly Bush or Fountain Butterfly Bush

A weeping, semi-deciduous, 5 metre tall shrub, native to North-West China (Kansu), which also produces flowers on older wood, and whose leaves are arranged alternately along the stems. For an image, see: https://www.rhs.org.uk/Plants/2441/Buddleja-alternifolia/Details and https://lambley.com.au/plant/buddleja-alternifolia-argentea.

B. asiatica:      Bai Bei Feng     or Dog Tail/ Asian Butterfly Bush.

See: https://wildlifeofhawaii.com/flowers/904/buddleja-asiatica-dogtail/

A 3 metre tall and wide evergreen shrub, whose dried and powdered root is used to make a fermented liquor, used as an abortifacient and to treat skin problems in traditional Chinese medicine.

B. officinalis:  Mi Meng Hua

See: https://www.rhs.org.uk/Plants/85046/Buddleja-officinalis/Details

A 2.5 to 4 metre tall, early Spring-flowering, semi-evergreen shrub, native to East Asia and Western China, whose flowers (dried or fresh) are used to make a tea used in the treatment of ophthalmic conditions eg Corneal Opacity; Glaucoma and Nebula. The leaves, flowers and roots contain a large variety of flavonoid, triterpenoid and iridoid glycosides, which have been shown to repair damaged cell membrane of lens, prevent protein denaturation in the lens, reduce lens opacity and restore vision.

In traditional Korean medicine, the flowers and flower buds are also used to treat eye problems, as well as cramps and spasms caused by problems with the intestine, bladder or stomach eg Irritable Bowel Syndrome. The leaves are used to treat gonorrhoea, hepatitis and hernias.

The flowers of B.officinalis are also used to dye rice yellow in sticky rice dish, Hao Leng, and Five Coloured Rice, Wu Se Fan.BlogEndofSpring20%Reszd2015-11-19 17.17.04B. davidii (B. variabilis)

The most popular cultivated Buddleia species and a semi-evergreen, open arching shrub, 1.2 to 4.6 metres tall and wide. It is native to Central China (Sichuan and Hubei provinces) and Japan.

It was introduced to Kew in 1896 (180 years after Buddle’s death) and was named after another clergyman, a French missionary called Père Armand David (1826-1900), who travelled over 7000 miles by foot in Asia and was the first European to see it flowering on stony rocky slopes in China. David collected 1500 plants in his travels, including 250 new species and 11 new genera, including the Handkerchief Tree, Davidia involucrata.BlogBugsBBB20%Reszd2015-12-07 09.44.01B. davidii is highly invasive and colonises dry open ground very quickly, including railway track sidings (see http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-28196221); derelict factories and urban bombsites, hence its name, the Bombsite Plant.

Both the species and its cultivars have been banned in many states in the United States of America (eg Oregon and Washington), and it certainly has naturalised very successfully in Northern Australia.

There are interspecific hybrids like Buddleja ‘Lochinch’, a cross between B. davidii and B. fallowiana; and B. x weyeriana, a cross between B. davidii and B. globosa; and at least 180 B. davidii cultivars.BlogButterflyHeaven 20%Reszd2015-12-02 19.04.05Some of the most popular garden cultivars are Royal Red (rich magenta), Black Knight (dark purple) and Empire Blue (small blue spikes), all three being taller older varieties, as well as Sungold (golden yellow) and Pink Delight, the latter bred in Holland in 1990, a compact shrub with silvery foliage and fragrant long, pure pink flower spikes. Dartmouth is another tall hybrid, 5 metres tall, with magenta-purple hand-shaped blooms, whose spikes radiate from one ‘palm’.

There are compact varieties, suitable for smaller gardens, like the pink Peacock ; Purple Emperor; Adonis Blue; Marbled White; and Camberwell Beauty (like a dwarf Dartmoor), the last four named after British butterflies. Nanho Blue (blue) and Nanho Purple (purple) are both dainty hybrids, only 1.5 metres tall, with delicate long slender flower spikes.

Other hybrids include: African Queen (dark purple); Blue Horizon (clear blue); Petite Indigo (lavender- blue); Darent Valley, Nanho White, White Profusion and White Bouquet– all white; and Opera (pink). See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Buddleja_hybrids_and_cultivars; and https://www.plantdelights.com/blogs/articles/butterfly-bush-buddleia-davidii-plant-buddleja for more species and hybrids.BlogButterflyHeaven 20%Reszd2015-12-01 15.32.16In the United Kingdom, there are 4 NCCPG national collections, including:

Peter Moore (http://bredbypetermoore.co.uk/) of Longstock Park Nursery (https://leckfordestate.co.uk/nursery) has been breeding more compact (1 to 2 meters tall), sterile buddleias for over 20 years, which flower for a longer period without self-seeding. He produces 50 Buddleia crosses each year, trialling the most promising hybrids in the garden, and spends 10 hours every week, deadheading all the Buddleias in the collection. Longstock Park Nursery has two Plant Heritage Collections, one of Clematis viticella, the other of Buddleias, as well as holding the Gilchrist Collection of Penstemons.BlogButterflyHeaven 20%Reszd2015-12-01 15.28.19The Buddleja Collection started as a deer- and rabbit-proof screening hedge along the old tennis court and now contains 160 species and cultivars, some of them tender. The aim is to conserve, grow, document and celebrate buddlejas growing in the United Kingdom. See :https://leckfordestate.co.uk/nursery-plants/buddleja-stock-list for the stock list of Buddlejas held.BlogBugsBBB20%Reszd2015-12-07 09.39.19The collection includes:

Sugar Plum: a compact form of B. davidii, with the reddest flowers of all buddleias;

Pink Pagoda: a pale pink form of B. x weyeriana;

Blue Chip: 0.6 to 0.9 metre high compact shrub with lavender-blue flowers with sterile seed; and

Silver Anniversary: A cross between B. loricata from South Africa and the lilac-pink B. crispa from Northern India, Bhutan, Nepal, Pakistan, Afghanistan and China, with the best silver foliage of any hardy buddleja. See: http://www.buddlejacollection.com/collections/  for the whole collection. BlogButterflyHeaven 20%Reszd2015-12-01 15.30.47Here is another useful link for further reading on Buddlejas: http://www.buddlejagarden.co.uk/linx.html.

Next week, we are visiting the beautiful Murrah Lagoon!

 

My Love Affair With Birds: Part Two: Reasons

So, what do I love about birds? Here are a few reasons:

Their ancient lineage and evolution: I still marvel that birds evolved from dinosaurs (Archaeopteryx) and that there is so much colour and variation in the bird world! Below are photos of a mural and a model of the Miocene Thunder Bird, also known as the Demon-Duck of Doom, Bullockornis planei, a member of the Dromornithids.

Their huge diversity:

Colour: We are so lucky in Australia to have so many brightly coloured birds with amazing colour combinations : For example, the multicoloured Rainbow Lorikeets, Noisy Pittas and Eastern Rosellas (first photo); Crimson Rosellas (royal blue and deep red) (second photo); King Parrots (emerald green and bright red) (third photo);  and Galahs (pink) (fourth photo); Satin Bowerbirds (the male is a metallic blue, while the female has a combination of greens) (fifth photo); Regent Bowerbirds (the males are gold and black with a red dot on their forehead); the Scarlet Robin, Golden Whistler and Blue Wren, all named for obvious reasons; the metallic green head of the male Chestnut Teal (sixth photo); the deep blue and red of the Purple Swamphen (seventh photo); and the iridescent blue-green flash of a Black Duck’s wing (eighth photo).

BlogLoveBirds50%Image (842) - Copyblognovgarden20reszd2016-11-06-11-35-43BlogJanGarden20%ReszdIMG_5860BlogLoveBirds2013-07-10 16.48.36BlogSpringGardenReszd2017-09-01 15.27.41BlogLoveBirds20%IMG_4184BlogLoveBirds50%aug 2010 304BlogLoveBirds20%IMG_1588I also love the pink of flamingos (first photo), the blue of Azure Kingfishers (second photo), Pheasant Peacocks and Blue and Gold Macaws (third photo) and the fantastically coloured plumage of Birds of Paradise and Mandarin Ducks.BlogLoveBirds50%Image (875) - CopyBlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-15 16.56.10BlogLoveBirds50%Image (881) - CopyPattern: There is also so much diversity in pattern from the dots of Pardalotes (first photo), the chevrons on the tails of King Parrots (second photo), the herringbone pattern of the chest plumage of Wood Ducks (third photo) and the stripes of Fan-tailed Cuckoos, Hawks and Pink Eared Ducks (fourth photo). I also love the contrasts in the Red-Breasted Goose (fifth photo);BlogSummerDays20%Reszd2015-12-27 12.38.31BlogJanGarden20%ReszdIMG_5939BlogLoveBirds2014-09-22 17.47.34BlogLoveBirds2013-07-15 16.42.53BlogLoveBirds50%Image (869) - CopySize: Ranging from the large emus, ostriches, cassowaries, Wedge-Tailed Eagles, White Bellied Sea Eagles; Scrub Turkeys; Bustards; Palm Cockatoos and Black Cockatoos to tiny little SBBs (short for ‘small brown birds‘, which are notoriously difficult to identify, hence the group label!) Below are photos of a thornbill, wren and emu.BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0753BlogLoveBirds2013-06-29 13.49.30BlogLoveBirds20%IMG_4093Form: Again, there is so much variety from long and streamlined (darter) to large and chunky (eagle);BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_3507BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_2444Beak Shape: A keystone in Charles Darwin’s Natural Selection theory with his studies on the variation of beak shape in finches (photos below in order are the Red-Browed Firetail Finch, the Crimson Finch and the Double-Barred Finch) and a natural correlationblogsept-garden20reszd2016-09-19-09-55-02BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_9029BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_0268 and leadup to:

Diet and Feeding Habits:  Bill shape is directly related to diet, superbly shown by the photo below, the long curved bill of the Eastern Spinebill, perfect for accessing the nectar of the agapanthus flowers.

BlogFestiveSeason20%Reszd2015-12-24 12.37.58 Compare the short strong beaks of seed eating finches (photos above) to the rounded bills of dabbling ducks and mine-sweeping spoonbills (first photo), searching for fish, small crustaceans and water life; the long probing beaks of Bar-Tailed Godwits (second photo); the short hooked beaks of meat-tearing eagles and vultures and long hooked beaks of Sacred Ibis (third photo); the boat-shaped bills of Kookaburras (fourth photo); the sharp points of diving petrels and gannets; the curved slim beaks of Rainbow Bee Eaters (fifth photo); and the strong nutcracking vices of King Parrots (6th photo) and cockatoos (7th photo), which strip fruit orchards, demolish bark in search of insects and crack open sheoaks and wheat grains;

BlogLoveBirds2014-11-06 13.34.55BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_0097BlogLoveBirds50%midmay 019BlogLoveBirds30%DSCF9393BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_9654

blogsept-garden20reszd2016-09-20-18-06-12BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_5596Habitats: Every niche and environment has its own particular birds from the polar penguins to the tropical birds of the equator and from mountains and forests to grasslands and farmlands, the river and the sea. BlogLoveBirds30%DSCF3925BlogLoveBirds30%DSCF0363BlogLoveBirds25%Lost City 2013 264BlogLoveBirds30%DSCF2697Birds have also adapted very successfully to urban  environments, coexisting with mankind for thousands of years. Some examples of the human-bird relationship include:

Poultry for eggs, meat, fat and feather products– they include chickens, ducks, geese, quails and turkeys;

BlogLoveBirds50%Image (847)Bird Aviaries and Companion Pets: Cockatoos, cockatiels, budgerigars and finches;BlogLoveBirds50%Image (847) - CopyBlogLoveBirds50%Image (850) - CopyOrganic Insect Control and Pollination;BlogSummers here 20%Reszd2015-11-28 19.23.45Falconry: Eagles and hawks for hunting;BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_2374BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_5638Pigeon Post;BlogLoveBirds30%DSCF4852Cormorants for catching fish;BlogLoveBirds50%late may 2011 240 and even….

Warning Bells: For example, the canary down the mine shaft to detect dangerously high carbon dioxide levels; and the dietary adaptations, changing migration patterns and extinction of bird species with climate change and habitat destruction.

Their habits:

Communication:

Where would the world be without bird song? Here in Candelo, I love waking up to the melodic trill of the resident blackbirds (first photo); the ‘Duke-Duke-Wellington’ of the Grey Thrush (second photo); the clear peal of the Crimson Rosella; the friendly warble of the magpie (third photo); and the beautiful song of the Pied Butcherbird (fourth photo).blogsept-garden20reszd2016-09-19-09-54-36BlogAugustGarden20%Reszd2016-08-18 14.49.08BlogPeonypoppy20%Reszd2015-11-14 09.21.06BlogLoveBirds25%bris2013 148Spring is heralded by the sweet call of the Striated Pardalote (first photo), Summer: the manic ascending cry of the visiting Stormbirds, the descending trill of the Fan-Tailed Cuckoo and the deafening clamour of massing Little Corellas prior to their January departure (second photo); and Winter is definitely on the way, when you hear the cold clear call of the currawongs (third photo).BlogSummerDays20%Reszd2015-12-27 12.39.01BlogFestiveSeason20%Reszd2015-12-25 21.14.56BlogLoveBirds30%DSCF4394I also love the calls of the bush birds:

The Eastern Yellow Robin is the first bird to wake up, giving it its scientific name: Eopsaltria australis, the Ancient Greek for ‘Dawn-Harper’;BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-06-01 15.19.08The Bowerbirds have such a distinctive whirr and the male and female Eastern Whipbirds have a combined song – the males calling first, followed by the whip of the females;BlogMayGarden20%Reszd2016-05-21 14.18.38The Lyrebirds are the consumate masters of mimicry. It is a joy to sit and listen to their full repertoire from Black Cockatoos to Grey Thrush, Eastern Whipbirds, Grey Thrushes, Currawongs, Kookaburras, Eastern Yellow Robins and a variety of parrots. See: https://wildambience.com/wildlife-sounds/superb-lyrebird/. I also love watching their courtship displays! Their tail feathers really do look like a lyre!BlogBenBoydNP20%Reszd2015-03-31 14.06.01Some bird calls are not quite so melodic! For example, the raucous squawks of our Summer party cockatoos and corellas for a start! When I was younger, our resident peacocks would often instigate police visits late at night after telephone reports of women being murdered when the poor disturbed birds would fly out of their roosting trees, straight at our peaked roof and slide inelegantly down the corrugated iron, shrieking the whole way!BlogCockatoo80%1st June 021

On our trip to North Queensland, the loud chatter of the Red-Tailed Black Cockatoos of Old Laura and the mournful cry of the Stone Curlews, forebearers of imminent death according to local aboriginal legend, were very distinctive and prominent.BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_5250BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_0062Courtship

Birds have an amazing repertoire of ways to attract a mate from vivid bright colours (usually the male plumage!) to their mating calls and incredible courtship displays eg Peacocks (photo below) and Birds-of-Paradise.BlogLoveBirds2015-01-27 11.58.55 Bowerbirds are also fascinating, building bowers in a north-south alignment, decorated with coloured objects, to attract females to watch his courting dance. blogsept-garden20reszd2016-09-25-09-50-40The Satin Bowerbird ( above) collects blue objects from blue Tobacco flowers and cornflowers to blue plastic pegs, milk bottle tops and biro lids, while the Great Bowerbird decorates its bower (below) with white bones and black river stones. They will even destroy other males’ bowers or steal their decorative objects to win ‘their bird’! Ross once timed the construction of a new bower from its demolished state- 40 minutes all up!BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_4409 Monogamy:

While Satin Bowerbirds are notoriously flashy, fickle and womanising, their cousin, the Catbirds (photo) mate for life, as do swans, geese, whooping cranes, black vultures, eagles and ospreys, some owls, ravens, scarlet macaws and Atlantic Puffins.BlogLoveBirds30%DSCF7246

Nests and Eggs:

Again, so much diversity in nests from the huge platforms of eagles and messy loose and dodgy-looking conglomerations of twigs by magpies and herons, to the neat traditional bowls and intricate hanging palaces of scrub wrens. Some birds don’t even have nests!BlogCockatoo20c 2013 104 Parrots use tree hollows (photo above) and peregrines lay their eggs on rocky cliff ledges, while cuckoos (photo below) steal other bird species’ nests, the interloper cuckoo baby turfing its host siblings out of the nest as they hatch and keeping their poor smaller and frazzled host parents constantly busy, satisfying their boundless appetites!BlogMarchGarden40%ReszdIMG_0239 - Copy - Copy Below in order are the nests of Nankeen Kestrels; a Grey Fantail; a honeyeater and Zebra Finches.

BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_1839blognovgarden20reszdimg_0435BlogLoveBirds50%Image (849) - CopyBlogLoveBirds2014-10-26 13.19.17I love all the different sizes, shapes, patterns and colours of bird eggs. Fortunately, egg collecting is a hobby of the past, but chemicals like DDT, as well as habitat destruction, not to mention feral animals, pose an enormous threat to birds like Peregrine Falcons.

Childrearing Practices:

While many birds support each other by feeding the incubating bird or sharing the feeding and guarding of the young fledglings, I love the role reversals within the bird world, where males often take on the important role of child rearing. The male scrub turkey and mallee fowl (first photo) build huge mounds, in which the female lays her eggs, then he carefully monitors and maintains the incubation temperature until the babies hatch and make their own way. They operate on the breeding strategy of ‘strength in numbers’, while male lyrebirds focus their energies on rearing one chick at a time, instructing their young in opera singing and dance performances. Male emus and cassowaries are also formidable primary carers of their young. In some bird species, rearing the next generation is a family responsibility with input from siblings form previous broods eg Superb Fairy Wrens.BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_6025BlogLoveBirds50%october 2011 359BlogLoveBirds50%late sept 131BlogLoveBirds30%DSCF3468Flight and Motion:

Is it any wonder that many people aspire to a reincarnated life as a bird?! Not only can they walk and run, but also swim, dive and fly,  completely at home in all environments! The sight of a majestic eagle soaring the thermals high in the sky; the speed of a diving peregrine off a cliff or a tern or gannet into deep water; the flash of blurred green of a flock of musk lorikeets in full flight; the amazing aeronautical displays of huge flocks of budgerigars in the desert or starlings on dusk (see: https://video.nationalgeographic.com/video/short-film-showcase/flight-of-the-starlings-watch-this-eerie-but-beautiful-phenomenon); the incessant beat of wings of hummingbirds as they sip the nectar of flowers; the crazy chase of disturbed emus, the cute slow gangly waddle of penguins or puffins; the jaunty busy hop of bowerbirds… all these amaze me and fill me with awe! Even, and especially, that huge leap of faith, when a baby bird first learns to fly!BlogSummer GardenReszd20%2017-02-09 17.40.31.jpg Below in order: a Frigatebird; three pelicans; a Black-Necked Stork (Jabiru) and a White-Bellied Sea Eagle.BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_3989BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_5695BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_4549BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_5758As do their migratory habits and patterns. The notion of a world without borders or passports is also very attractive to many humans, as exemplified in the films: Fly Away Home (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0116329/). The distances travelled are mind-blowing! The Bird Airport at Shoalhaven Heads is very illuminating on the subject and is well worth a visit. I love this flying bird sculpture overlooking Corio Bay at Geelong, Victoria.BlogLoveBirds50%IMG_4277 BlogLoveBirds2514-03-12 16.36.07The Spine-Tailed Swifts, which speckled the Summer skies at Dorrigo, flew all the way from Eastern Siberia and Northern Asia, up to10 000 km away, and we would often see long, long, black clouds on the horizon, just above seawater level, of migratory Short-Tailed Shearwaters, some of whom would not make it, their exhausted carcasses washed up on the seashore.

The highly-endangered Orange-Bellied Parrot flies from Tasmania to Geelong across the wild Bass Strait every year to feed on the samphire wetlands in Winter. The effect on bird life and migratory birds in particular, is my only reservation about wind turbines, especially on our coastline.

When we lived in Geelong, we loved visiting the Cheetham Wetlands and the Point Cook Coastal Park, a 500 hectare site on the western outskirts of Melbourne, including a 300 hectare marine sanctuary, which has been designated an Area of Importance by the Ramsar Convention of Wetlands. There have been over 200 species of birds recorded, including 34 migratory species. Every year, with peak numbers between September and March. thousands of migratory birds, from as far away as Siberia, Alaska and Japan, to feed upon the saltmarsh and wetlands here. I loved the photo below of The Tower, Bill Kelly’s Monument to Migration and Aspirations, with Melbourne, a city representing the ultimate expression of that dream with over 200 nationalities, in the background. BlogLoveBirds50%late may 2011 288BlogLoveBirds50%late may 2011 291Migration patterns are definitely changing with climate change, with many birds now over-Wintering in previously cooler areas or not travelling as far.

However, despite the fact that some birds will be driven to extinction, birds are the ultimate survivors. They are brilliant at camouflage and adapt readily to new environments, climates and different food sources. They have incorporated feral weeds like privet and duranta into their diet and have incredibly finely-tuned senses when it comes to water eg their sudden appearance when the salt Lake Eyre fills with water. Here is a final photo of The Tower, described above:

BlogLoveBirds50%late may 2011 290

I hope this post has given you an excellent idea of the reasons I love birds so much, as well as being a good introduction to the 2018 monthly posts on some of my favourite birds. Here is a general guide to the monthly roundup this year :

January: Cockatoos and Parrots: Sulphur-Crested, Blacks, Gang Gang, Corella, Galah, King, Crimson, Eastern, Rainbow, Musk, Cockatiels and Budgerigars;

February: Sea Birds: Gulls, Terns, Gannets, Oyster Catchers, Plovers and Dotterels, Turnstones, Stilts, Darters and Cormorants, Pelicans, Osprey and Sea Eagles;

March: Water Birds: Swans, Geese, Ducks, Grebes, Swamp Hens, Coots, Jacanas, Rails, Kookaburras, Kingfishers, Bee-Eaters, Dollar birds, Spoonbills, Ibis, Egrets, Herons, Brolgas and Cranes;

April: Birds of Prey: Eagles, Hawks, Goshawks, Falcons, Kites, and Kestrels;

May: Large Birds: Emus, Cassowaries, Scrub Turkeys, Coucals, Bustards and Stone Curlews

June: Medium-Sized Neutral-Coloured Birds: Magpies, Peewees, Crows, Ravens, Currawongs, Blackbirds, Thrushes, Butcherbirds, Drongoes, Choughs and Apostle Birds;

July: Rainforest Birds: Bowerbirds and Cat Birds, Rifle Birds, Fig Birds, Pittas and Chowchillas;

August: Clever Birds: Owls, Frogmouths and Cuckoos;

September: Small Birds: Robins, Wrens, Finches, Silvereyes, Thornbills and other SBBs, Pardalotes, Flycatchers and Fantails, Treecreepers, Chats, Mistletoe Birds, Swallows and Swifts;

October: Nectar Eaters: Honeyeaters, Spinebills, Wattlebirds and Friar Birds;

November: Song Birds: Lyrebirds, Whip Birds, Bell Birds and Whistlers;

December: Doves and Pigeons: Wonga, Brown, White, Topknot and Crested Pigeons; Fruit Doves; Peaceful Doves and Quails.BlogLoveBirds50%october 2011 305I have set the scene to one of my favourite Christmas songs, ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’, starting with the refrain ‘On the first day of Christmas, my true love sent to me a Cockatoo in a Gum Tree!’

Posts will concentrate more on my personal experiences with these birds, with a few interesting or random facts thrown in, rather than detailed descriptions of appearance, call, behaviour, nesting, distribution etc, which can be gleaned from any good bird book. I hope you enjoy these bird posts!

My Love Affair With Birds: Part One

I have always loved birds, ever since my childhood, when Mum used to take us along to meetings of the local birdwatching group in Hobart. We also used to go on many picnics, furthering my fledgling interest in birds, as well as having our own home menagerie of peacocks, pheasants, guinea fowl, quail, ducks and chickens.

I was so fortunate when I married that my husband was also a keen ornithologist, having grown up on a farm bordering Lamington National Park in subtropical South-East Queensland. His uncle and aunts next door had a huge aviary, full of Satin Bowerbirds, a Major Mitchell cockatoo, galahs and corellas, the latter two neither local at the time, as well as a mixture of local parrots and little ground doves, who used to follow visiting children’s trailing fingers along the netting fence. When Ross was out mustering cattle on the steeply wooded slopes, he would often come upon a group of Glossy Black Cockatoos, quietly nibbling away at she-oak nuts.

We are both keen bushwalkers and are never without a pair of binoculars (Ross) and a camera with a good zoom lens (me)- until recently that is!!! We have had so many wonderful bird watching experiences together and as a family over the years, including the following:

1994 Overseas trip with our young family to the United Kingdom and France.

Highlights included:

Peter Scott’s Wildfowl Trust at Slimbridge on the River Severn: https://www.wwt.org.uk/wetland-centres/slimbridge/.

Photos below in order are: Mandarin Duck; European Goldeneyes; a pair of European Eiders with a Hooded Merganser on the right; and a trio of Hawaiian Nene Geese.BlogLoveBirds50%Image (856) - CopyBlogLoveBirds75%Image (856)BlogLoveBirds50%Image (855) - CopyBlogLoveBirds75%Image (855)Bird Hides and Wildlife Parks in England and Edinburgh, where we saw our first woodpecker and capercaillie (below);BlogLoveBirds50%Image (857)Staying at the Fair Isle Bird Observatory (http://www.fairislebirdobs.co.uk/), where we netted and banded birds and sat with puffins on the cliffs every evening. The other photos are of a Common Sandpiper and a falcon with Nick, the Deputy Warden of the Bird Observatory at the time; as well as daughter Jenny with puffins on the cliff.

Blog Whentheking20%Reszd2015-09-04 10.15.07Visiting the Bonxies of Hermaness and the cliff bird city of the Isle of Noss, Shetlands;BlogLoveBirds50%Image (859)BlogLoveBirds50%Image (879) - CopyBlogLoveBirds50%Image (866) - CopyBlogLoveBirds50%Image (860)For the boat trip to the island, we all had to wear hats in case we accidentally became targets, so our four year old had to wear this puffin cap!

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Gerald Durrell’s Rare and Endangered Wildlife Trust on  Jersey: https://www.durrell.org/ and https://www.durrell.org/wildlife/visit/; Below in order: Chilean Flamingoes; Red-Breasted Geese; a Crowned Crane from South and East Africa; a Pink Pigeon from Mauritius; and a Palawan Pheasant from the Philippines.BlogLoveBirds50%Image (875) - CopyBlogLoveBirds50%Image (869) - CopyBlogLoveBirds50%Image (868) - CopyBlogLoveBirds50%Image (871) - CopyBlogLoveBirds50%Image (872) - CopyThe flamingos of Étang du Fangassier in the Camargue, where I disgraced myself by commandeering the lookout telescope, which I mistakenly thought was public property, to the bewilderment of the French owners, who declared in response, ‘C’est bizarre!’BlogLoveBirds50%Image (863)BlogLoveBirds75%Image (874) - Copy1996 New Zealand :

Our introduction to a totally different set of birds, many adapted to years of isolation and many now threatened with extinction with the introduction of humans and feral animals. While it was far too late to meet Alice in Wonderland’s dodo, we did see kakapos, kakas, keas, kiwis , wekas, tuis and takahes, as well as many coastal birds. We visited:

Lake Te Anau Bird Sanctuary, South Island, where we saw kakas (mountain parrot), an Antipodes Island parrot; a kereru (NZ wood pigeon), takahes (like a giant swamp hen) and wekas; Here are photos of a kaka and a kereru.

BlogLoveBirds50%Image (864)BlogLoveBirds50%Image (877) - CopyAs well as the Pukaha Mount Bruce National Wildlife Centre (http://www.pukaha.org.nz/), just north of Masterton in the far south of the North Island, where they were saving highly endangered birds from extinction like the Chatham Island Robin. We saw Saddlebacks (first photo below), tuis ( a type of honeyeater), wekas (second photo below), kakas, red-capped parrots and takahes.BlogLoveBirds50%Image (863) - CopyBlogLoveBirds50%Image (862)1999 Lord Howe Island.

This World Heritage listed island off the east coast of Australia also has some very special birds, which have also experienced struggles to survive like the Lord Howe Island Wood Hen (photo below), as well as many regional variations in bird species from being isolated on an island for many years. For example, the currawong has a different call and the silver eye a different eye ring to their Australian cousins on the mainland.BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (128)For my 40th birthday, we climbed to the top of Mt Gower, where we called Providence Petrels out of the sky to land at our feet and be picked up and cuddled! We also saw Red-tailed Tropic Birds wheeling in the skies above Malabar Hill and Emerald Doves and Wood Hens foraging on the forest floor.BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (127)Armidale Years (1994-2003)

While the family was growing up, we explored and camped in a huge number of local National Parks, where we saw many birds eg Red-Rumped Parrots in our home garden; Peregrine Falcons at Kings Plains National Park; Turquoise Parrots en route to Kwiambal National Park; the Flame Robins, who visited Dangars Gorge every Winter (first photo below) and the delightful Eastern Spinebills, who revelled in the flowering heath of Wrights Lookout at New England National Park.Image (857) - Copy - CopyRoss ran guided natural history tours from the New England tableland, via the escarpment rainforests, right down to the sea at Coffs Harbour. Waterfall Way Tours introduced many guests in our self-contained cottages (Creekside Cottages), as well as Country Link visitors to the wonderful diversity of environments and bird life in our region. Here is a photo of a Red-Rumped Parrot.BlogCockatoo50%march 2 193Dorrigo Years (2003-2008)

Ross’s tour guiding experience also stood him in good stead for working as a National Park Discovery Ranger out of the World Heritage Dorrigo National Park Visitor Centre. Living on a bush block on the Dorrigo escarpment bordered by Bellinger River National Park, the link between Dorrigo National Park and New England National Park, we saw many beautiful rainforest birds on our property, including resident Wonga Pigeons (first photo below), Superb Lyrebirds, Eastern Whipbirds, Golden Whistlers (second photo below), Paradise Riflebirds, Satin and Regent Bowerbirds, Catbirds, King Parrots (third photo below) and Scrub Turkeys, who used to cadge at picnic tables at the visitor centre.BlogLoveBirds50%DSCF6508BlogLoveBirds50%Image (846)BlogLoveBirds30%DSCF4895BlogLoveBirds30%DSCF26972008 Australia Trip

After selling our farm at Dorrigo, we spent a whole six months camping and exploring our wonderful country. Here were some of the birding highlights, details of which I will elaborate in future bird posts:

Huge flocks of wild budgerigars (first photo) and cockatiels (second photo) wheeling in the outback (Mungindi and Longreach) and hot pink galahs drinking on the banks of the Thomson River.BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_2834BlogLoveBirds30%DSCF7043Townsville Bird Common: Jabiru, Comb-Crested Jacanas, Magpie Geese, Whistling Ducks, brolgas, pelicans and egrets (first photo) and Sacred Kingfishers (second photo);BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_0037BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_0042Dunk Island: In order, Beach Stone Curlews, Orange-Footed Scrubfowl and Sunbirds;BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_0886BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_0857BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_0841Cairns: Crocodile Farm: Rose-Crowned Fruit Doves and Cassowaries;BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_1450BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_1373Daintree River Cruise: Little Kingfisher (photo below); Azure Kingfisher; and Great Billed Heron;BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_1466Laura: Rainbow Bee Eaters; Red-Tailed Black Cockatoos ; Golden-Shouldered Parrots (first photo); Wedge-tailed Eagles (second photo); and Red-Winged Parrots (third photo).BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_5951BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_1935BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_1903Iron Range National Park and Portland Roads: Yellow-Bellied Sunbirds; Magnificent Riflebirds; Frilled Monarchs; Northern Brush Turkeys; Eclectus Parrots (first photo is a male); Shining Flycatchers (second photo); Double Eyed Fig parrots (third and fourth photos); and Large-Billed Gerygone;BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_2486BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_2523BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_2568BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_2569Rest of Cape York: Brown Falcons, Nankeen Night Herons and Striated Herons; Yellow Honeyeaters and White-throated Honeyeaters;  Palm Cockatoos; Red-Winged Parrots; Stone Curlews; Bustards (first photo); Sarus Cranes (secondphoto); Great Bowerbirds (third photo) and their bowers (fourth photo); and Northern Scrub Turkeys (fifth photo). BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_4119BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_6688BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_2912BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_1853BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_3491Lakefield National Park: Brolgas grazing and dancing (first photo); Green Pygmy Geese (second photo); Comb Crested Jacanas (third photo); Burdekin Ducks (Whiteheaded Shelduck); Magpie Geese feeding in the lotus lagoons (fourth photo); Azure, Forest and Sacred Kingfishers (fifth photo) and Blue-Winged Kookaburra; Golden-Headed Cisticola; White-bellied Sea Eagles and Ospreys surveying overhead; Black-Fronted Dotterels (sixth photo) at Hann Crossing and pelicans soaring high over the Nifold Plains;BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_5500BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_5540BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_5513BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_5494BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_5563BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_5641Lotus Bird Lodge: a quiet Black-backed Butcherbird and a baby hand-reared Red-Winged Parrot on the verandah; Comb-Crested Jacanas (also known as Lotus Birds, after whom the bird lodge is named); a family of Papuan Frogmouths (photo below); and over 200 species of wading, migratory and resident wetland and grassland birds;BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_5787BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_5801Abattoir Swamp Bird Hide: First photo below: Red-Backed Fairy Wren; and Kingfisher Park Birdwatchers Lodge, Julatten, 1.5 hours north-west of Cairns: Over 350 species of birds, including 13 Wet Tropics endemic species. We saw Noisy Pittas (second photo below) and Emerald Doves here.BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_6752BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_6770Atherton Tablelands: Victoria Riflebird and Golden-Whistlers, Lake Eacham; Hasties Swamp Bird Hide: Huge flocks of Magpie Geese (first photo), Whistling Ducks (second photo) and grebes;BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_8851BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_8596Mission Beach: Cassowary sighting on the Dreaming Trail!BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_9228

Tyto Wetlands, near Ingham : Crimson Finches (photo below); Whistling Ducks; Green Pygmy Geese; Great Egret and Peaceful Doves;BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_0179Artesian Bore at Burketown: Sarus Cranes (first photo); Jabirus (second photo), Royal Spoonbills; Richard’s Pippit; Snipes and plenty of ducks;BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_2270BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_2335Katherine: Red Goshawks;BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_3564

Kakadu National Park: Yellow Water: Magpie Geese, Burdekin Ducks, Azure Kingfishers, Green Pygmy Geese; Rainbow Bee-Eaters (first photo); Whistling Ducks (second photo); Great Egret (third photo) and other egrets and ibis; and Darters (fourth photo); and Mamukala Wetlands and Bird Hide: Whistling Ducks, Black Ducks, Darters, Pied and Black Cormorants, Magpie Geese, and Lemon-Bellied Flycatcher;BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_4818BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_5789BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_5643BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_5595Mary River: Huge flocks of Little Corellas, preyed on by Whistling Kites (first photo); Sulphur-Crested Cockatoos; Collared Rainbow Lorikeets (the northern race); and Forest Kingfishers and Blue-Winged Kookaburras (second photo).BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_5898BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_4351Corroboree, Bird and Annaburroo Billabongs and Leaning Tree Lagoon: Lots of similar Northern Territory birdlife, including a jabiru with three babies (one in photo below);BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_6026Fogg Conservation Dam: A wonderful birdwatching site, just east of Darwin; Photos below in order: a pair of Straw-Necked Ibis; Burdekin Ducks; Green Pygmy Goose; and an Australasian Darter.BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_6042BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_6090BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_6101BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_6100Ord River trip: Jabirus (now known as Black-Necked Storks) and Magpie Geese;BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_8209BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_7772Parry’s Lagoon, another birding mecca; Photos below in order: Parry’s Lagoon; Huge flotillas of pelicans; a Pied Hero ; and a Comb-Crested Jacana.BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_8367BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_8397BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_8344BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_8360Mornington Wilderness Lodge, Gibb River Road, WA : The highlight was definitely sighting the first Gouldian Finch family of the season (first photo), though we also saw Purple Crowned Wrens; Bustards; Long-Tailed and Scarlet Finches; Button Quails;  Partridge Pigeons (second photo) and Crested Pigeons (third photo).BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_0468BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_9310BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_0404Broome Bird Observatory: Double Barred Finches, Brown Honeyeaters, Great Bowerbirds and plenty of shorebirds; and further south, Deep Creek, Dampier Peninsula: Star Finches (first photo); and Ningaloo Reef: Emus (second photo).BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_1517BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_1732Skipjack Point, Francois Peron National Park (first photo): The entire beach was lined with huge flocks of Pied Cormorants (second photo), Crested Terns, Boobies and Pelicans. We also saw rare Thick-Billed Grass Wrens running across the road in and a Crimson Chat (third photo).BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_2431BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_2465BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_2255South-West Western Australia: Rock Parrots (first photo); Ringneck Parrots (second photo); Splendid Fairy-Wrens (third and fourth photos);  Common Bronzewings (fifth photo) and Carnaby’s Black Cockatoos (sixth photo).BlogCockatoo25%IMG_4087BlogCockatoo25%IMG_6556BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_6163BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_5193BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_3840BlogLoveBirds25%IMG_5596Ongerup, Western Australia: Mallee Fowl CentreBlogLoveBirds25%IMG_6020Bucket Birdwatching List

Our 2008 circumnavigation of Australia certainly was the trip of a lifetime and it was wonderful to see so many of our beautiful Australian birds in the wild, but we still have a few places we would like to visit, including:

A Desert Trip out to Broken Hill and Menindee Lakes to see the parrots;

Lake Eyre in wet season;

A bird tour of Papua New Guinea, especially to see the amazing Birds of Paradise; and an exploration of the Wallace Line, which divides the Asian birds from the Australian contingent.

Candelo  2015 – Present

Meantime, we are loving the prolific birdlife in Candelo, which have featured in former seasonal posts, as well as those of the surrounding mountain forests, farmland, national parks and coast. The noisy Little Corellas amass in huge flocks at this time of year, just prior to heading off, though we have yet to discover their destination!BlogFestiveSeason20%Reszd2015-12-25 21.14.56 We have a wonderful local birdwatching group, which has published two books, as well as three documented bird routes, about which I will write in a future post.BlogEnvtlBooksReszd30%Image (509)

Other great bird-related venues include the fabulous On the Perch; Potoroo Palace; and  Panboola, the Pambula Bird Sanctuary (photo below), where we saw a Gang Gang flock, grazing on the hawthorne berries.BlogFeb Garden20%ReszdIMG_2645It is great to see our youngest daughter, Caroline, following in our footsteps with our mutual love of birds! She has always loved them and has hand-reared budgies and cockatiels, as well as nursed enormous sick, though still feisty, roosters back to health with syringes of herbal concoctions. We were never allowed to get rid of any baby roosters and when we first moved to our bush block at Dorrigo, we had no chook pen and only a series of wire shelters to house our chooks and six roosters! One day, we watched a wedge-tailed eagle descending with the free range roosters in his sights and very foolishly and instinctively chased it away. Even though it may have been an effective way to reduce numbers, we would have had a challenge explaining why her roosters were dropped from the sky!!!BlogLoveBirds50%Image (865) - CopyBlogLoveBirds50%Image (864) - CopyShe is now studying a zoology degree, initially through Deakin University, Geelong, where she had some wonderful fieldwork opportunities from measuring fairy penguins for moulting studies; catching flighty red-capped dotterels; and making flycatcher nests to determine the effect of their practice of coating their nests in ultraviolet-light-emitting spiders webs. Now that she lives over here on the coast, she hopes to continue her studies through distance education with University of New England, as well as volunteering with Mogo Zoo and Potoroo Palace. There is also a wonderful postgraduate course in ornithology with Charles Sturt University, which may have future potential!BlogLoveBirds50%Image (846) - CopyBlogLoveBirds50%Image (862) - CopyBlogLoveBirds50%Image (844) - CopyBlogLoveBirds30%DSCF2277My love of birds has even translate itself into two embroidered cushions: our local birds, including many rainforest species, for Ross!BlogBdayblessgs20%Reszd2015-10-03 13.31.41

And seabirds for my Mum, including a sea eagle, pelican, silver gull, blackwinged stilt, pied oystercatcher, hooded and double banded plovers, a cormorant on a lichen-encrusted rock made of French knots and even a fairy prion in flight, the only bird photo that came from a bird book (!).Blog Mid Winter20%Reszd2015-07-12 11.50.33I really loved making them, even though there is a fair bit of poetic licence with their rendition!

On Thursday, I will try to explain the reasons behind my love of birds!

The Festive Season 2017

It has been a wonderful festive season with the return of my daughter from Berlin for three weeks and long-awaited visits from old friends to relaxing lunches and beach trips on the warmer days, as well as plentiful rain, resulting in a blowsy overgrown garden, full of colour!BlogFestiveSeason2517-12-15 17.43.06BlogFestiveSeason2517-12-08 08.39.13OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA While the roses are taking a break, except for the wonderfully generous Archiduc Joseph, the sunflower patch has been prolific and the honeysuckle has scaled the side fence.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABlogFestiveSeason2517-12-16 09.10.54OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe self-seeded pumpkin, tree dahlia and tree salvia are also heading to the heavens, the latter never missing a beat after its transplantation from the Moon Bed, and a remnant kiwi fruit vine hitching a ride on the tree dahlia!BlogFestiveSeason2517-12-12 08.44.18BlogFestiveSeason2517-12-13 08.42.31Here is a sample of the plants in bloom this Summer:

Roses:

Left to Right and Top to Bottom:

Heritage, Archiduc Joseph (2 photos), Ice Girl, William Morris and The Children’s Rose:

White: Gardenias; Hydrangeas; and Madonna Lilies:

Purples and Pinks: Buddleias, Poppies, Hydrangeas, Geraniums, Bergamot and Dahlias;

Golds and Reds: Dahlias and Calendulas; Meadow Lea Dahlia and Gladioli; Ladybird Poppies and Alstroemeria; Red Dahlia and Pomegranate; and Sunflowers.

Hopefully, the flowers of the pomegranate will develop into fruit! We have had a wonderful fruit season with raspberries for breakfast every morning and now strawberries and plums.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABlogFestiveSeason2517-12-08 15.45.47BlogFestiveSeason2517-12-13 08.02.43BlogFestiveSeason2517-12-02 13.00.44BlogFestiveSeason2517-11-29 11.37.43We have also been harvesting the chamomile flowers daily to dry for a relaxing tea.BlogFestiveSeason2517-12-02 15.07.20BlogFestiveSeason2517-12-08 15.46.22 We only just caught the wild plums (photo above) in time after a mini-raid by a party of hungry Sulphur-Crested Cockatoos and are now watching the ripening of the purple plums with eagle eyes, in case they suffer the same fate!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABlogFestiveSeason2517-12-12 08.55.19 We are similarly vigilant with the apples (third photo), though the cockatoos have not yet discovered our Golden Hornet crab apples (first and second photos).BlogFestiveSeason2517-12-21 11.42.30BlogFestiveSeason2517-12-07 09.09.18OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA The Elder tree (Sambucus) is also growing fast and has blossomed for the first time. I look forward to using the flowers in future years to make elderflower cordial!BlogFestiveSeason2517-12-13 08.44.36Here are some photos of the local inhabitants of the garden:

A blue-tongued lizard sunbaking; a butterfly resting and another butterfly feasting on a buddleia flower; and a happy snail exploring after rain :BlogFestiveSeason2517-12-04 09.42.27BlogFestiveSeason2517-12-04 08.53.00BlogFestiveSeason2517-12-08 15.42.58BlogFestiveSeason5017-12-02 13.02.37And the birds: Huge flocks of very noisy Little Corellas (photos 1 and 2), who wake us up every morning at 5 am (!); and a pair of Crimson Rosellas, grazing in the Soho Bed:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABlogFestiveSeason2517-12-23 18.04.09OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWith all the wonderful colour in the garden, I have been spoilt for choice and have revelled in making beautiful bouquets for the house! Here is a bucket of freshly-cut blooms, ready for arranging!BlogFestiveSeason2517-12-24 07.48.37From simple blue agapanthus to a single rose bloom (Lucetta):

Soft Pinks and Purples:BlogFestiveSeason2517-11-30 11.11.46BlogFestiveSeason2517-12-16 15.00.16BlogFestiveSeason2517-12-20 07.55.54And bright golds, oranges, reds and purples: BlogFestiveSeason2517-11-30 11.22.09BlogFestiveSeason2517-12-16 14.28.15BlogFestiveSeason2517-12-07 09.43.54BlogFestiveSeason2517-12-09 16.20.39-4BlogFestiveSeason2517-12-16 15.01.40To the vibrant colours of the Christmas table:BlogFestiveSeason2517-12-24 08.41.30BlogFestiveSeason2517-12-24 08.12.18Other creative pursuits included home-made Christmas gifts: a spectacle case for my Mum:BlogFestiveSeason2517-12-13 08.46.18 and a table runner for my friend Heather to compliment the set of Russian vintage wooden folk art spoons, which I found for her!BlogFestiveSeason2517-12-04 17.35.51 We have also been loving the musical sessions with both my daughters, who are keen musicians and composers. Here is a photo of my youngest Caro playing at Bodalla Dairy.BlogFestiveSeason2517-12-10 14.31.30I will finish with a photo of our beautiful Christmas Tree!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and enjoy your New Year!

Musings on Poetry Part Three: Australian Poetry and Nonsense Verse

Finally, a look at specific genres of poetry: Australian Poetry and Nonsense Verse.

Australian Poetry

We have two books of Australian poetry: a general tome and one devoted entirely to the poems of Banjo Paterson. As in Parts One and Two, remember that many of the poems mentioned can be accessed online through sites like:

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems;

https://allpoetry.com;

https://www.poets.org;  and

https://www.poemhunter.com.

The Illustrated Treasury of Australian Verse, chosen by Beatrice Davis 1984/ 1986

We are very lucky here in Australia to have had some wonderful poets from the anonymous songs of convict times to Dorothea Mackellar, Mary Gilmore, Henry Lawson, Henry Kendall, AB Paterson (Banjo Paterson), PJ Hartigan and CJ Dennis, as well as the more modern offerings of Kenneth Slessor, Ian Mudie, Douglas Stewart, Judith Wright, James McAuley and Max Harris, Randolph Stow and Les Murray. Here are some of my favourites:

Anonymous verses: The Wild Colonial Boy; The Dying Stockman; and Click Go the Shears, Boys;

Henry Kendall (1839-1892): Bellbirds;

Thomas E Spencer (1845-1910): How McDougal Topped the Score, a wonderful poem about our national game, cricket;

Jack Moses (1860-1945): Nine Miles From Gundagai, about the famous dog on the tuckerbox. See: https://www.tripsavvy.com/the-dog-on-the-tuckerbox-1464302  for the full story!;

AB Paterson (1864-1941), who wrote so many famous poems. See below for more details.

Mary Gilmore (1865-1962): Old Botany Bay;

Henry Lawson (1867-1922): Ballad of the Drover; and Andy’s Gone with Cattle;

CJ Dennis (1876-1938): The Intro (‘Er name’s Doreen) and The Play (‘Wot’s in a name) from The Songs of a Sentimental Bloke; and Country Fellows;

PJ Hartigan (1879-1952): Said Hanrahan: A wonderful poem about the pessimistic attitude of some farmers towards the Australian weather with all it’s extremes, ‘We’ll all be rooned’, said Hanrahan..! My brother-in-law knew it by heart and recited it spontaneously off the top of his head at our wedding reception in 1983, which had been moved indoors onto the verandah of our old homestead at the last minute after unseasonal rain and flooding! It made the day!;

Dorothea Mackellar (1885-1968): My Country, known by every schoolchild across the country and generations for its famous line: ‘I love a sunburnt country’ at the start of the second stanza. In fact, most Australians would be able to recite just that particular stanza:

I love a sunburnt country,

A land of sweeping plains,

Of ragged mountain ranges,

Of droughts and flooding rains.

I love her far horizons,

I love her jewel sea,

Her beauty and her terror-

The wide brown land for me!

So evocative of our wide brown landscape with all its vagaries of weather and so so Australian!;

Kenneth Slessor (1901-1971): Five Bells; and his mesmerizing poem, Sleep (Do you give yourself to me utterly, Body and no-body, flesh and no-flesh, Not as a fugitive, blindly or bitterly, But as a child might, with no other wish? Yes, utterly);

Douglas Stewart (1913-1985): Brindabella; and Lady Feeding the Cats. He also wrote a verse play called The Fire on the Snow about the doomed Terra Nova expedition to Antarctica by Robert Falcon Scott 1941;

Judith Wright (1913-2000): Magpies; and Woman’s Song;

John Manifold (1915-1985): The Bunyip And The Whistling Kettle;

James MacAuley (1917-1976): Pastoral; Magpie; Spider on the Snow; and Canticle. James MacAuley was one of the two young poets (the other being Harold Stewart), who were the names behind the Ern Malley hoax, played by AD Hope on Max Harris (1921-1995), the founder of the modernist literary journal, the Angry Penguins. Max was also a poet himself, writing The Tantanoola Tiger, which is also in this treasury;

Randolph Stow (1935-2010): The Ghost at Anlaby. I have only just read this poem and its images and word inventions, reminiscent of Dylan Thomas, like ‘antwaisted, hamsleeved, bellskirted ladies’ and ‘Rosella-plumed sun’ greatly appeal. I studied his novel, The Merry-go-round In the Sea 1965 at school and absolutely loved it. It revolves around a young boy’s coming-of-age in Geraldton, Western Australia. I love reading books about places I know well (though having not visited Geraldton or WA before 2008, it’s more about Australia in this case!) and I particularly loved his descriptions of the beach, the local town and Mrs Maplestead’s old homestead and garden, where Rick’s widowed grandmother and maiden Aunt Kay lived, reminding me so much of old country properties and families, like that of my husband – the Stephens of Cedar Glen; and

Les Murray (1938-): Les has published over 30 volumes of poetry and has been rated by the National Trust of Australia as ‘one of the 100 Australian Living Treasures’! This book includes: The Broad Bean Sermon; Rainwater Tank; and The Future, all areas to which the ordinary Australian can relate!

Complementing the poems are some beautiful artworks and black-and-white photographs and illustrations throughout the treasury, reason enough to buy the book, and at the back are biographies of the poets featured.BlogPoetryBooksReszd30%Image (704)

AB ‘Banjo’ Paterson’s Collected Verse: With the Original Illustrations of Norman Lindsay, Hal Gye and Lionel Lindsay 1921/ 1984

Immortalising so much of bush life in Australia in his lengthy poems, it is worth owning a separate copy of all the prolific outpourings of this amazing poet! Andrew Barton Paterson (1864-1941) was an Australian bush poet, journalist and author, who wrote numerous ballads and poems about Australian life, especially rural areas and the outback. Some of my favourite classics are:

The Man From Snowy River, whose first half I have learnt and can quote with the odd mistake!

Clancy of the Overflow, another famous poem, which I have learnt by heart and which typifies the yearning for the bush, when trapped in a ‘dingy little office, where a stingy ray of sunlight struggles feebly down between the houses tall, And the foetid air and gritty of the dusty, dirty city, Through the open window floating, spreads its foulness over all’; A terrific poem! His poems are so humorous and celebrate the ocker from:

The Geebung Polo Club; The Man From Ironbark; Johnson’s Antidote; A Bush Christening; and

Mulga Bill’s Bicycle; and, then there is, of course, Australia’s unofficial and much-loved bush anthem:

Waltzing Matilda (1895):

While many people struggle beyond the first verse of our official Australian anthem, Advance Australia Fair , written by Peter Dodds McCormick in 1878 and replacing ‘God Save the Queen‘ in 1984, most do know and can even possibly recite this wonderful iconic poem!

Based on the story of Samuel Hoffmeister, a shearer, who was part of a strike at Dagworth Station in 1894, three years after the Great Shearers’ Strike in Queensland, which almost brought the colony to civil war and was only resolved when the army stepped in. After the situation turned violent with the burning of a woolshed, killing a large number of sheep in the process, the owner of Dagworth Station and three policemen gave chase to Hoffmeister, who, rather than be captured, shot and killed himself at Combo Waterhole, near Winton.

Banjo Paterson stayed at Dagworth Station in January 1895, when he penned the words, the poem being set to music, played on a zither by Christina Macpherson, one of the family members at the station. It was based on her remembered rendition of the Craigielea March 1890, which itself is based on a Scottish Celtic folk tune, Thou Bonny Wood of Craigielea 1806.BlogPoetryBooksReszd30%Image (722)

Nonsense Verse

Another specific genre of poetry and a particular love of mine with its humorous play on words and its imagination and creativity and just plain fun! Defined as: ‘humorous or whimsical verse that differs from other comic verse in its resistance to any rational or allegorical interpretation’ by the Encyclopaedia Brittanica, it often uses coined, meaningless words and strong prosodic elements like rhythm and rhyme. Often written for children, it is an ideal way to finish off this post and come full circle!

Limericks are the best known form of nonsense verse, but some poets have turned it into an art-form, including Edward Lear, Lewis Carroll, Mervyn Peake, Edward Gorey, Ogden Nash, Dr Seuss, Spike Milligan, Roald Dahl and even our own Leunig, who features in: https://candeloblooms.com/2017/11/09/the-wonderful-world-of-art-part-two-post-1900s/.

Here are some of my favourites:

Edward Lear (1812-1888)

: Edward Lear’s Nonsense Songs 1953: Includes The Owl and The Pussy-Cat, one of my favourite children’s poems; The Jumblies (They went to sea in a sieve, they did, In a sieve they went to sea.); The Dong With a Luminous Nose; The Pobble Who Has No Toes; and the delightfully-titled and quirky poem, The Quangle Wangle’s Hat. I love Edward Lear’s original simple illustrations, accompanying his verse.BlogPoetryBooksReszd30%Image (723)

Other nonsense poems, which I love, but do not own are:

Lewis Carroll 1832-1898:  

Jabberwocky , whose brilliant first verse typifies this genre with its nonsensical words

: ‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:All mimsy were the borogoves, And the mome raths outgrabe’  and

The Hunting of the Snark: An Agony in Eight Fits 1876, described as the longest and best sustained nonsense poem in the English language. It also cleverly contained an acrostic on the name of his then-favourite child friend, Gertrude Chataway, whose name is also found in the first words of each stanza of the poem: Girt, Rude, Chat, Away.

Lewis Carroll’s verse can be appreciated in his famous children’s novel, Alice in Wonderland. I have two copies: A fragile small hardback from 1899 (first photo); and my childhood copy from 1965 (second photo). It is interesting comparing the illustrations at the front.

BlogPoetryBooksReszd30%Image (725)BlogPoetryBooksReszd30%Image (731) Another difference is the poem at the very front of the 1899 book, which is absent in the later copy.BlogPoetryBooksReszd30%Image (726)BlogPoetryBooksReszd40%Image (727)

Here are some of his classic verses throughout the book, which will be very familiar to past readers and display Lewis Carroll’s complete mastery of nonsense verse.

BlogPoetryBooksReszd40%Image (728)BlogPoetryBooksReszd50%Image (729)BlogPoetryBooksReszd50%Image (730)Image (732)Hilaire Belloc (1870-1953) is remembered for his The Bad Child’s Book of Beasts 1896 (https://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/b/belloc/hilaire/bad/ ) and Cautionary Tales 1907, which can be accessed at: http://www.gutenberg.org/files/27424/27424-h/27424-h.htm.

Even though this is a modern book, Christopher Matthews only being born in 1939, because his book is a send-up of AA Milne (1882-1926), I am including it here:

Now We Are Sixty by Christopher Matthew 1999 A gift for my husband’s 60th birthday in 2007, this amusing book, written in rhyme, sends up AA Milne’s Now We Are Six for an audience reared on this famous book! There are some very funny poems with titles like: Let’s All Go Mad (after Buckingham Palace), the first line being ‘They’re changing sex at Buckingham Palace’. Definitely NOT a children’s book! Or Cutting Edge, based on Happiness:

Tom had a

Brand New

Personal Computer;

Tom was

Plugged

On the

Internet; Tom had

The Works.

But was

Techno-illiterate,

And that

Was pretty

Much

That.

I also loved Insomnia, modelled on In the Dark: ‘I’ve been to dinner, And over-eaten, And drunk a brandy or three; I’ve taken a couple of Alka-Seltzer, And had a jolly good pee’. Like the children’s version, it’s content is perfect for its target audience. There are just so many witty poems that it really is worth purchasing a copy for any nearest and dearest approaching that magic age! And no, I don’t think you can find them online just yet!

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TS Eliot (1888-1965)

Nonsense verse can also includes light verse like Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats by TS Eliot, a collection of whimsical poems about feline psychology and sociology, and which was later adapted to the musical Cats, composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber. It contains classics like The Rum Tum Tugger; The Song of the Jellicles; Mungojerrie and Rumpelteazer; Old Deuteronomy; (The Magical)Mr Mistoffelees; Macavity: The Mystery Cat; and Skimbleshanks: The Railway Cat.BlogPoetryBooksReszd40%Image (723)

Ogden Nash (1902-1971) had some wonderful nonsense verse. For example,

A Word to Husbands

To keep your marriage brimming
With love in the loving cup,
Whenever you’re wrong, admit it;
Whenever you’re right, shut up.            And

A Flea and a Fly in a Flue

A flea and a fly in a flue
Were imprisoned, so what could they do?
Said the fly, “let us flee!”
“Let us fly!” said the flea.
So they flew through a flaw in the flue.

Dr Seuss (1904-1991)

We were all raised on the books of Dr Seuss (Theodor Seuss Geisel), in turn raising our own kids on them. He is still popular today. Here is our well-thumbed battered copy of one of his famous books:

BlogPoetryBooksReszd30%Image (733) - Copy

Who does not love: Horton Hear a Who 1954; the topical How the Grinch Stole Christmas 1957; The Cat in the Hat 1957 and The Cat in the Hat Comes Back 1958; Green Eggs and Ham 1960; One Fish Tow Fish Red Fish Blue Fish 1960; Fox in Socks 1965; The Lorax 1971; and Oh, The Places You Will Go 1990, a gift from friends on our departure from the family property and the start of our big adventure called Life. I love the introductory lines:

‘Congratulations! Today is your day. You’re off to Great Places! You’re off and away!’

BlogPoetryBooksReszd30%Image (735)

For more, see: http://www.drseussart.com/.

It even spawned a delightful book, written in a very similar style by Marion Holland  (1908-1989), called A Big Ball of String  1958, one of my son’s favourite childhood books.BlogPoetryBooksReszd30%Image (734)

Spike Milligan (1918-2002)

: Silly Verse for Kids 1959. It includes the delightfully-titled On the Ning Nang Nong: ‘On the Ning Nang Nong, Where the cows go Bong, And the monkeys all say Boo! There’s a Nong-Nang-Ning, Where the trees go Ping! And the teapots jibber jabber joo‘. It definitely has a ring to it and was one of the most popular songs on Play School. See: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3SUU1f3Mgpc. To see Spike Milligan reading his poem, see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Wom1OzwzLw.

Another verse in this book is the delightful Lady B’s Fleas:

Lady Barnaby takes her ease
Knitting over coats for fleas
By this kindness fleas are smitten
that’s why she’s very rarely bitten.

For more, see: https://www.poemhunter.com/spike-milligan/ and http://www.musingsbylizzytish.com/cn/silly-verse-for-kids.htm.

There is a very fine line between nonsense verse and children’s books, and while the next two books from my childrens’ childhoods could have fit easily into Tuesday’s post on Children’s Poetry, I have included them here, as they represent both Australian Verse AND Nonsense Verse! Plus, I used to love reading both of them out loud to the kids. As with children’s film, especially animated films, if a book can entertain both children and their parents alike, then in my book, it is a very successful production!

My Grandma Lived in Gooligulch by Graeme Base 1983

Illustrated and written by Graeme Base (1958-), this lovely chidren’s story is totally written in rhyme and introduces young readers to the Australian bush and life outback, as well as some of our wonderful Australian place-names, animals and birds.BlogPoetryBooksReszd25%Image (737)

Wombat Stew by Marcia K Vaughan 1984

I adored this book. It has such a terrific rollicking verse, especially the chorus, which goes: ‘Wombat Stew, Wombat stew, Gooey, brewy, Yummy, chewy, Wombat stew!’ There is lots of repetition and the illustrations by Pamela Lofts are terrific! There is even a musical score for the chorus at the end.BlogPoetryBooksReszd25%Image (738)

Roald Dahl (1916-1990)

Roald Dahl was a favourite with my children and not only wrote brilliant books, but while researching this post, I discovered that he was also was a gifted comic poet, writing 27 poems. Try this send up for example:

Mary, Mary, quite contrary

Mary, Mary, quite contrary
How does your garden grow?
“I live with my brat in a high-rise flat,
So how in the world would I know.”

I also enjoyed his versions of The Three Little Pigs and Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf. See: https://www.roalddahlfans.com/dahls-work/poems/. I would love to read his poem, Where Art Thou, Mother Christmas?, which was published as a charity Christmas card to benefit the Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital in England. In it, he wonders why we never hear of Mother Christmas, who probably buys and wraps all the gifts , while Father Christmas takes all the credit: ‘Down with Father Christmas, that unmitigated jerk!’

And now, because it IS Christmas, I will finish with the old favourite traditional Christmas poem:

‘Twas The Night Before Christmas by Clement Clark Moore

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;
And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled down for a long winter’s nap,

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below,
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;

“Now, DASHER! now, DANCER! now, PRANCER and VIXEN!
On, COMET! on CUPID! on, DONDER and BLITZEN!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!”

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my hand, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.

His eyes — how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook, when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly.

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,
HAPPY CHRISTMAS TO ALL, AND TO ALL A GOOD-NIGHT!

Wishing you all a Very Safe and Happy Christmas and a Wonderful New Year! Much Love, Jane xxx

Musings on Poetry Part Two: General Adult Poetry Books and Specific Poets

Yesterday, we began the exciting discovery and journey into the world of Children’s Poetry, the forerunner of a continued love of poetry into the world of adult verse.

This next section looks at some of our favourite general poetry books, of which I only possess two, and specific poets including Wordsworth and fellow Romantic Poets, as well as John Masefield, Rupert Brookes, WB Yeates, Robert Frost and Dylan Thomas.

General Poetry Books for Adults

I don’t have many general poetry books, but here are two of my favourites from either end of the scale time-wise! Remember that, as in Part One, many of the poems mentioned can be accessed online through sites like:

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems;

https://allpoetry.com;

https://www.poets.org;  and

https://www.poemhunter.com.

The Open Road: A Little Book for Wayfarers 1899/ 1948 (45th edition), compiled by EV Lucas

I treasure my little thin copy of this delightful anthology, as well as its premise:BlogPoetryBooksReszd80%Image (715)The Table of Contents is divided into:

Farewell to Winter and the Town;

The Road;

Spring and the Beauty of the Earth;

The Lover Sings;

Sun and Cloud, and the Windy Hills;

Companions;

Birds, Blossoms and Trees;

Summer Sports and Pastimes;

Refreshment and the Inn;

Garden and Orchard;

Music Beneath a Branch;

The Sea and the River;

The Reddening Leaf;

Night and the Stars;

A Little Company of Good Country People;

A Handful of Philosophy; and The Return.

As you can see, all the good important things of life!BlogPoetryBooksReszd40%Image (714)

I particularly loved:

In City Streets by Ada Smith;

The Early Morning by Hilaire Belloc;

The Joys of the Road by Bliss Carman;

A number of poems simple titled ‘Song’:

Song (also known as Pippa’s Song) and Home Thoughts From Abroad by Robert Browning;

Song  (from Arcadia poem) by Sir Philip Sidney; and

Song by James Thomson;

The Lady of the Lambs by Alice Meynell;

She Walks in Beauty by Lord Byron;

Beauty by John Masefield, a particular favourite!;

The Cloud by Percy Bysshe Shelley;

Ode to a Nightingale by John Keats;

Ruth by Thomas Hood;

Kubla Khan by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, whose epic poem, The Ancient Mariner, we had to learn by heart at school;

The Brook by Alfred, Lord Tennyson;

Night by William Blake; and finally,

Henry VI’s Pastoral Wish by William Shakespeare, the famous bard himself!

All the poems mentioned can be accessed online. I have generally not included old favourites, which appear in other books in this post eg The Lake Isle of Innisfree by WB Yeats or The Vagabond by RL Stevenson. I could not find JW Mackail’s translation of Laus Veneris by Ascepiades, so am reproducing it here:

‘Sweet is the snow in summer for the thirsty to drink, and sweet for sailors after winter to see the garland of spring; but most sweet when one cloak shelters two lovers, and the tale of love is told by both’.

The passage below was another favourite, which exemplified the feeling of joy, freedom and exhilaration felt by my seven year-old son on his conquest of the high sand-dunes at Cloudy Bay at the southern end of Bruny Island, Tasmania on World Environment Day 1992, when we went searching for the extremely rare forty-spotted pardalotes!Image (720)BlogPoetryBooksReszd50%Image (720)I also enjoyed the little introductory spiels, including quotes, at the start of each section; the super-thin paper pages and the beautiful green front and back papers of the book, showing the daytime (sun) at the start and the nighttime (moon) at the end.BlogPoetryBooksReszd30%Image (713)BlogPoetryBooksReszd30%Image (721)For more ‘modern’ poetry, we have this small paperback, though it is now over fifty years old!:

The Penguin Book of Contemporary Verse 1918-1960  Edited by Kenneth Allott 1950/1974

This collection contains 175 poems by 86 poets and  divides the poems chronologically by their creators. They include , and please note that I have only mentioned particularly favourites, and more specifically, only those favourites, where I could provide an example of their poems.

: WB Yeats (1865-1939) eg A Prayer for my Daughter, which reminds me of Laurie Lee’s beautiful short story, The Firstborn, in his book, I Can’t Stay Long, in which he expresses his hopes and fears for his newborn daughter. Incidentally, Laurie Lee (1914-1997) is also included in this anthology, with his poem, April Rise;

: War Poets: Siegfried Sassoon (1886-1967) eg The Child at the Window; and

Edmund Blunden (1896-1974) eg The Pike;

WH Auden (1907-1973) eg Chorus from The Dog Beneath the Skin (Happy the hare at morning, for she cannot read); though I would have also included his poem, Two Songs for Hedli Anderson, immortalized in the film, Four Weddings and a Funeral.

Stephen Spender (1909-1995) eg The Landscape near an Aerodrome;

Dylan Thomas (1914-1953) eg Poem in October– more later! and

Philip Larkin (1922-1985) eg Church Going;

Kenneth has a very interesting discussion about the poetry of this time period in the introduction, as well as biographical notes at the start of each grouping of poems. General poetry books are very useful, in that they point you in the right direction for finding your favourite poets.

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Specific Poets

In chronological order!

Wordsworth: Selected Poems Edited by HM Margoliouth 1959/ 1980

William Wordworth (1770-1850) An English romantic poet and Britain’s Poet Laureate from 1843-1850, whose house we visited at Dove Cottage, Grasmere, in the Lake District on our 1983 trip. I love his romantic uplifting nature-inspired poetry, including:

Lines: Written at a small distance from my house and sent by my little boy to the person to whom they are addressed (It is the first mild day of March);

To Sleep (A flock of sheep that leisurely pass by, One after one; the sound of rain, and bees Murmuring; the fall of rivers, winds and seas, Smooth fields, white sheets of water, and pure sky; I’ve thought of all by turns; and still I lie Sleepless…), a perfect poem for my husband at 3am, the witching hour of the Whale of Doom!

The Solitary Reaper (Behold her, single in the field, Yon solitary Highland Lass),

And, of course, the poem, for which he is most famous: Daffodils (I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud).

As with most of these books devoted to one poet, the next one being the exception, there are extensive biographical notes and critiques of their works. But before I progress to WB Yeates, a nod to a few other poets, whose works I do not possess.BlogPoetryBooksReszd30%Image (717)

Other English Romantic poets:

John Keats (1795-1821), whose poetry I also love, but alas do not have any books! I didn’t realize that he died of tuberculosis when he was only 25 years old, nor that he was a licensed, but non-practising  apothecary for that matter! Luckily, I can access his beautiful poems on: http://keats-poems.com/. Among my favourites are: Ode to a Nightingale 1819 and To Autumn 1820.

Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809-1892): The Brook; Charge of the Light Brigade; Crossing the Bar; and The Eagle. See: https://www.poemhunter.com/alfred-lord-tennyson/  and

Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861): https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/how-do-i-love-thee-sonnet-43.

Later Poets:

John Masefield (1878-1967)

I should also have a copy of John Masefield poetry, as I love so many of his poems, including: Sea Fever; Cargoes; A Wanderer’s Song; The West Wind; Trade Winds; Roadways and Beauty, one of my favourites:

Beauty

I HAVE seen dawn and sunset on moors and windy hills

Coming in solemn beauty like slow old tunes of Spain:

I have seen the lady April bringing the daffodils,

Bringing the springing grass and the soft warm April rain.

I have heard the song of the blossoms and the old chant of the sea,

And seen strange lands from under the arched white sails of ships;

But the loveliest thing of beauty God ever has shown to me,

Are her voice, and her hair, and eyes, and the dear red curve of her lips.

They all have such a lovely rhythm, as well as beautiful imagery. For more of his poetry, see: https://www.poemhunter.com/john-masefield/poems/.

Rupert Brookes (1887-1915)

Another later poet, whose poems I admire, but also do not possess a copy, is the First World War poet, Rupert Brookes. Like Keats and Dylan Thomas, he died far too young, from an infected mosquito bite, while on a French hospital ship off the coast of Greek island, Skyros. His most famous and much-loved poems include: The Great Lover and The Soldier. See: https://interestingliterature.com/2016/02/16/the-best-rupert-brooke-poems-everyone-should-read/.

WB Yeats: Selected Poems 1992  Selected by Ian Hamilton for Bloomsbury Poetry Classics

I love my little hardback Bloomsbury Poetry Classic edition, which I bought at the delightful café-bookshop, The Islandman, Dingle, Kerry, back in 1994!BlogPoetryBooksReszd50%Image (712)

Irish-born WB Yeats (1865-1939) is one of my favourite poets and I love a number of his poems, including:

When You Are Old, the poem I read at my Dad’s funeral (Dad’s choice), though I would have also loved to have read his famous poem, The Lake Isle of Innisfree, as it reminds me so much of Dad, his self-sufficiency ideals, his beekeeping and his love of nature, books, silence and a peaceful life! Funnily enough, both poems are from The Rose 1893 and appear next to each other in my little book:BlogPoetryBooksReszd40%Image (722)

An Irish Seaman Foresees his Death (From The Wild Swans at Coole 1919) (I know that I shall meet my fate Somewhere among the clouds above);

And Sailing to Byzantium (From The Tower 1928) (That is no country for old men…), though I would have loved to have seen A Coat and He Wishes For the Cloths if Heaven included:

A Coat by WB Yeates

I made my song a coat 

Covered with embroideries 

Out of old mythologies 

From heel to throat; 

But the fools caught it, 

Wore it in the world’s eyes 

As though they’d wrought it. 

Song, let them take it

For there’s more enterprise 

In walking naked.

He Wishes For the Cloths of Heaven (From The Wind among the Reeds, 1899)

Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

Robert Frost: Selected Poems Edited by Ian Hamilton (yes, the same editor as the previous book!) 1969/1973

Robert Frost (1874-1963) was one of America’s best-known poets and a favourite poet of my generation, as many of us studied his poems at school. Here are some of my favourites:

From North of Boston 1914:

Mending Wall (Something there is that doesn’t love a wall);

After Apple-Picking (My long two-pointed ladder’s sticking through a tree Toward heaven still);

From Mountain Interval 1916:

The Road Not Taken (Two roads diverged in a yellow wood..). Possibly THE most famous Robert Frost poem, it is a tricky poem to learn by heart, but we did it! The problem is that you really need to recite it often to retain the correct order of the words, but it is a beautiful poem and so succinct about the choices we make, that influence and determine the direction of our lives and how really, no choice is necessarily the right one, only different.

From New Hampshire 1923:

Fire and Ice (Some say the world will end in fire, Some say in ice), an even more succinct little poem of only nine lines!

Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening (Whose woods these are I think I know) Another poem with tricky word order, it is so easy to start: Whose woods are these I think I know! I love the last verse and its repetition:

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,

But I have promises to keep,

And miles to go before I sleep,

And miles to go before I sleep.

From West-Running Brook 1928

The Rose Family, very pertinent to a rose lover like myself and a lovely little dig at scientific classification:

The Rose Family

The rose is a rose,

And was always a rose.

But the theory now goes

That the apple’s a rose,

And the pear is, and so’s

The plum, I suppose.

The dear only knows

What will next prove a rose.

You, of course, are a rose-

But were always a rose.

And finally, from A Witness Tree 1942:

The Gift Outright (The land was ours before we were the land’s).

His poems are just so lovely and have such a great sound when read out loud.BlogPoetryBooksReszd30%Image (709)

The Collected Poems of Dylan Thomas: The New Centenary Edition  Edited by John Goodby 2014

Born in Wales, the intense and passionate Dylan Thomas (1914-1953) burned with a fierce light and he died far too young at the age of 39 years old, but he left us some wonderful poems.

For years, I survived with my battered old Everyman’s Library 1978 paperback copy from schooldays, Dylan Thomas: Collected Poems 1932-1952, but it has now been supplanted with a beautiful birthday hardback book (photo at bottom of post). Here is my original copy:

BlogPoetryBooksReszd30%Image (733)

I love Dylan Thomas’s poetry, as so many of my generation do. I love his imagery, his phraseology and his use of invented words, and his stringing together of normally-unrelated words to create perfect visual images eg:

In the mustardseed sun, By full tilt river and switchback sea’ and ‘palavers of birds’, ‘the congered waves’ and ‘the thistledown fall’ in Poem on His Birthday; and

the mussel pooled and the heron priested shore’ and ‘the sea wet church the size of a snail With its horns through mist’, both from Poem in October.

I love his repetition, used to such devastating effect in And Death Shall Have No Dominion and Do Not Go Gently Into That Good Night;  his rhythm in Lament and The Hand That Signed The Paper; and his use of tempo to create the required effect.

Fern Hill  literally sings and trips like a burbling brook or a child on the run from dawn till dusk, ‘before the children green and golden Follow him (time) out of grace’, when the tempo slows.

I also love his use of allusion, often quite elusive and well hidden by context. Here is an obvious one! ‘Incarnate devil in a talking snake’ in Incarnate Devil.

Obscure at times, and often quite bleak, these poems are so richly layered and sensuous, that if you haven’t had the fortune of encountering Dylan Thomas, definitely make the effort! All poems are online.

The appendices in the Centenary edition, contain extracts from letters and interviews and some very helpful notes for a full understanding of his poems, especially the more obscure ones!

My favourites are, in order of publication:

From 18 Poems 1934: Especially When the October Wind (1932) ;

From Twenty-Five Poems 1936: And Death Shall Have No Dominion (1933); and The Hand That Signed The Paper (1935);

From Deaths and Entrances 1946: Poem in October (1944) and Fern Hill (1945); and

From In Country Sleep 1952: Poem on His Birthday (1949); Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night (1951); and Lament (1951).BlogPoetryBooksReszd30%Image (705)

Tomorrow, I will be looking at two specific genres of poetry, which are favourites of mine: Australian Poetry and Nonsense Verse.