Saturday, 13 September 2008

Pea time with the wattlebirds

Despite being about the size of yer average shower cubicle, my garden has a reasonably good diversity of birds. It's true that most of them are introduced species but I do get a few natives. Apart from crested pigeons, which enjoy sunbathing on the shed roof, my most frequent visitors are red wattlebirds and white-plumed honeyeaters.

A red wattlebird drops in almost daily. I like to think it's the same one but I'm not sure how to tell them apart. I'd be rubbish if I had to look at a line up.

Can you identify the wattlebird that mugged you, madam?

I'm not sure, sergeant. I'd like to hear them speak. Could you ask them to say, "Hand over the nectar or the petunias get it"?

Anyway, when I'm working in my office, I often get a visit from a wattlebird. My desk faces a window, which overlooks a 2.5 m wooden fence. It's not exactly the best view in town. This is handy, because I'm easily distracted. When I'm supposed to be working, I'm usually looking past the computer screen at the jumping spiders that roam the palings in search of six-legged meals. They're fascinating, you know. Much more fascinating than work.

But then I drag my focus back to the monitor and get on with it. Until a bird-shaped shadow falls across the window, followed by a surprisingly loud thump as the wattlebird lands on the fence. Of course, I rarely have my camera ready. And when I do, my feathered visitor doesn't give me the chance of decent picture. But he or she does hang around long enough for us to get a good look at each other. I like to think we have a bond. On the other hand, I might simply be insane.

The white-plumed honeyeaters aren't so brazen. They spend most of their visiting time weaving through foliage and avoiding the camera like overwrought celebrities. But I was out in the garden this morning, hanging out the washing, when three of the little beggars landed on a bare branch, not three metres from me. They were pushing and shoving, shirtfronting each other like rugby league forwards. It would have made a perfect picture had I been holding a camera and not the bath mat. In future, I'm not going anywhere without the point and shoot dangling around my neck.

Why is my miniature garden so popular with honeyeaters? For a start, it's the only one in the street that isn't either covered in concrete or planted with broccoli and beans. But what's luring them in right now are the kennedias. Three species (Kennedia nigricans, K. retrorsa, K. beckxiana) have gone berserk and are smothering everything. I'll have to take the secateurs to them before they kill the pincushion hakea (Hakea laurina). But I'm not going to do that until they've finished flowering.

Here are some photos I took today in the garden. The 60 km/h north wind made it difficult to get sharp images but I did what I could. There are some portraits of the flowers in this post. They're rather nice, even if I do say so myself.

Black coral pea (Kennedia nigrans)

Black coral pea and K. retrorsa

And again

Cape Arid climber (K. beckxiana) just a little after its prime

Cape Arid climber taking over the Hakea

Linked bird images from Nature of Gippsland (wattlebird 1, white-plumed honeyeaters) and Trevor's Birding (wattlebird 2).


Mosura said...

Nice Kennedia collection!

Snail said...

I've got a few more species but they're rather better behaved than these three.

When I moved into this place I cut down a massive wisteria and replaced it with the black coral pea. I don't know which one is more vigorous!