T’is the season …

Well of course it is, the mince pies are back in the shops. No carols yet, though.

In Darwin, Australia’s most northerly state capital, the inhabitants from the dawn of time identified six seasons. Presently it’s Gurrung, the hot dry period, time to hunt file snakes and long-necked turtles. When the white fellah showed up he simplified matters to just two seasons, wet and dry.

Melbourne, the most southerly capital of mainland Australia, has four seasons … most days.

In my little patch of Victoria it’s spring. The last week or so of winter was very summery. I do occasionally see a long-necked turtle but I’d starve to death if I had to rely on hunting them. I tend to notice the passage of the seasons by the birds. I heard the first Rufous Songlark on October 29. The following day they were everywhere singing and displaying for all they were worth.

Rufous Songlark

Horsefield’s Bronze-Cuckoos were hot on their heels.

Horsfield’s Bronze-Cuckoo

No sight or sound yet of the Sacred Kingfishers.

They were all greeted by an icy blast. Since the calendar ticked over the weather seems determined to return to winter.

Despite the cool weather the first Brown Snake of the year turned up in the dog yard this morning.

My neck of the woods is nice and green. Winter rain was about average and the crops locally are looking good. That’s not true for inland Australia even as close as north-west Victoria it’s been very dry. This has brought a few nomads into the state. It was my chance to add Pied Honeyeater and Crimson Chat to my Vic List. To find them I headed to Goschen and I found them both within an hour or so.

Crimson Chat has to be the most gorgeous bird in the Australian Field Guides but they are rarely as attractive in real life as they are on the page but some of the males on this occasion were at their finest …

The Yellow Robin that showed up recently in the driveway is still around. I hold out little hope for it finding a mate however.

Where was I …

Half way up the I-75 as I recall.

Since then I’ve visited London, UK and now I’m back in Oz.

A quick walk around the country estate (in the Goldfields, Victoria) this morning turned up some of our spring migrants, Sacred Kingfisher and Horsefields Bronze Cuckoo. The signature tune of spring here is provided by the Rufous Songlark. Whoever named this bird was using rose-tinted hearing aids. It’s back and welcome despite its scratchy voice. I guess it was never going to be called a Screechlark.

I found a platypus busy in the creek that makes my eastern boundary. I haven’t seen one in ages so it’s almost a relief to find they’re still around. Last summer the creek was just a series of billabongs but it’s flowing presently.

The grass is up. The fire season approaches so the mower will get plenty of work in the next few weeks. But there’s less need for firewood so I can put down the chainsaw for a while.

The winter crop this year has been canola (rapeseed for some of you). It got off to a poor start. It was very cold this winter and germination was very slow. It’s patchy but overall it’s done better than expected …

Life’s good.

Back to the I-75 …