First cuckoo of spring …

On a day that feels nothing like spring, bleak, cold windy and wet, snowfalls down to 600 metres …

Horsfield’s Bronze-Cuckoo

Birdlife tells us …

It usually parasitises bird species that build dome nests such as fairy-wrens and thornbills, but may also parasitise the open cup nests of other species, such as the White-fronted Chat.

Around here that means the Superb Fairywrens need to look out.

Another Day, Another Silo …

Rochester this time, a small town on the Campaspe River in northern Victoria.

Rochester, Vic

The artist is Jimmy Beattie aka Dvate and the subjects are a Squirrel Glider and a Sacred Kingfisher. The glider is a rare resident in the woods along the Campaspe while the kingfisher is a fairly common and colorful summer visitor. The medium is acrylic on silo.

Rochester, Vic

Dvate has painted another silo near Benalla which I hope to catch up with soon.

Many more places possessed of silos are queueing up for a painting. As an art critic I am entering a burgeoning field. I hear there are some north of the border as well.

August …

The odd Wood Duck is wandering around the Victorian Goldfields with a trail of little Wood Ducks in tow. Little Ravens are gathering nesting material. The nice days of late winter really are nice. Spring has served notice of its intentions.

The winter visitors are leaving. Over in Newstead 45km away Geoff Park  reports the departure of the Flame Robins. They are heading for the hills now. It was a good year for them over there. We have had none overwinter on the McGee country estate this year and few in the neighbourhood but I did run into a flock on the move through Paddys Ranges State Park the other day.

Other birds are also on the move. It’s a good time to turn up species that are just passing through. They all add to the fun. Cuckoos will soon be here. The bad days are still wintry, however, and the last couple have let us know that it’s too soon to plant anything that is not frost hardy.

The other day I was surprised to find a solitary Barcoo Bantam rushing past as I worked (no, slaved) in the garden. It was a first for the property list. Their correct name is Black-tailed Native Hen. They are denizens of lignum swamps and have a knack of turning up out of the blue after rain even in places that have been dry for years. One on its own is unusual so I have no idea why it was passing through. Other parts of Australia though are in serious drought so it may not be the only refugee we see. Another influx of Budgerigars would be nice.

And bear in mind that most of the western half of the continent is desert anyway.

Our dryish part of Victoria is in better shape. The estate is pretty much on the average for winter rain, our tanks are full (we can shower and wash our clothes, drink water in stead of wine) and the paddocks are green. If it keeps up there will be a good crop of hay. The view westwards yesterday tells the story …

Was it about to rain? Indeed it was, but only briefly.

In a couple of weeks time I will be driving through the heart of the drought. I’m sure the photos I take there will be in stark contrast to this one.

Endangered …

Sadly a Polar Bear was shot dead on Svalbard last week.

photo AP

The German Hapag Lloyd Cruises company, which operates the MS Bremen, told The Associated Press that two polar bear guards from their ship went on the island and one of them “was attacked by a polar bear and injured on his head”. The polar bear was then shot dead “in an act of self-defence” by the second guard, spokeswoman Negar Etminan said.

The injured man was evacuated to Longyearbyen where he was treated for non-life threatening injuries.