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Click to enlarge.  Cartoon by Christopher Wilcox shared with thanks 🙂

Christopher Wilcox – https://www.facebook.com/christopher.wilcox.585

Screenshot from video taken by Simon Dilosa

Screenshot from video taken by Simon Dilosa

Very exciting to see a video of a shark swimming up the Alexandra Canal at Mascot yesterday.    Apparently, it headed back to the Cooks River, which is a good thing because the water is awfully shallow where it was.

You can watch the video taken by Simon Dilosa here –

https://www.facebook.com/dorsalaus/?hc_ref=PAGES_TIMELINE&fref=nf

Little Pied Cormorant. We need to increase areas of biodiversity beyond the the train line corridors and the Cooks River.

Little Pied Cormorant. I think we need to increase areas of biodiversity beyond the train line corridors and the Cooks River if we are to help local wildlife.  Our gardens are a huge part of this.

Bernie Krause is a Soundscape Ecologist.  He records the sounds of the natural environment & has been doing so for the past 50-years.  He records in the same place over & over again & sadly can show how much has changed in the natural world.

It’s getting very quiet.  He thinks this is due to global warming, drought & loss of habitat from clearing of forests.  Makes sense to me.

This 3.5-minute video, ‘Recording the Sounds of Extinction’ is well worth watching.  Released in May 2016 the video allows us to clearly hear the loss of wildlife.  Our world is changing & not for the better.

To watch – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KnpsMG0PWRY

Female Magpie & her new out of the nest fledgling drinking from the gutter.  Fresh water is not readily available for birds in this area that I am aware of so it would be wonderful if the community provided drinking water for them.

Female Magpie & her recently out of the nest fledgling drinking from the gutter.  Fresh water is not readily available for birds in this area that I am aware of so it would be wonderful if the community provided drinking water for them.

The heat is terrible at the moment & it stresses our wildlife.  Birds can die during heatwaves.

If you can put out water for the birds it would be helpful.   It doesn’t need to be a birdbath, any wide shallow container will do.

Place it somewhere safe & where the birds can sit & watch before they go for a drink, but also in a place where they can easily escape to safety.

If your container is deep, place a brick or pebbles inside so the birds can get out.  To make it useful to other creatures such as bees & lizards, place a suitable stick to allow entry into & exit from the water.

Placing the water in the shade is better because, like us, birds like cool water.

Lastly, it is best to replace the water every day to prevent the spread of any disease.

I am posting these photos purely to counterbalance yesterday’s post.  Having access to a river makes us a very fortunate community in my opinion.  Even better is the waterbirds & other wildlife that we come across when we are lucky.   Here is what we saw today during a short bicycle ride.

White-faced heron waits and watches the river.

White-faced heron waits and watches the river.

A close-up of his beautiful face.

A close-up of his beautiful face.

Ten Masked lapwings sit beside the river. I've not seen so many together before. One the way back their number had expanded to eleven.

Ten Masked lapwings sit beside the river. I’ve not seen so many together before. On the way back their number had expanded to eleven.

A close-up. I love their yellow mask.

A close-up. I love their yellow mask.

Half a dozen Little corellas flew in to rest in a tall tree.

Half a dozen Little corellas flew in to rest in a tall tree.

A young White-faced heron seen on the way home. He was within 1.5-metres of the path.

A young White-faced heron seen on the way home. He was within 1.5-metres of the path.

Well I wish it was a trip to Canada for two that kept me away from this blog for so long.  Life in my family is almost back to normal, so I should be posting regularly again.

Here are some birds nests to celebrate Spring.   No photo unfortunately, but our local Red Wattle birds now have two fledglings, which makes successful breeding in a street tree for this pair three years in a row.

A Magpie is back nesting in a local fig tree.  It is nice to see the same pair breeding in the same tree a year later.  A chick’s head was seen moving today, so we expect to see at least one more in the next couple of days.  Last year this pair had two sets of chicks.  The first three fledglings left the nest in November to be looked after by Dad, while Mum returned to the nest to sit on another clutch that hatched in December.  Then the whole family joined together to look after the youngest two.

A Magpie is back nesting in a local fig tree, also a street tree. It is nice to see the same pair breeding in the same tree a year later. A chick’s head was seen moving yesterday, so we expect to see at least one more in the next couple of days. Last year this pair had two sets of chicks. The first three fledglings left the nest in November to be looked after by Dad, while Mum returned to the nest to sit on another clutch that hatched in December. Then the whole family joined together to look after the youngest two.

Canterbury Racecourse is a biodiversity hotspot being located next to the Cooks River with great expanses of grass & quite a few substantial trees.   A Raven holds the highest nesting site right up with the powerful lights that illuminate the track.

Canterbury Racecourse is a biodiversity hotspot being located next to the Cooks River with great expanses of grass & quite a few substantial trees. A Raven holds the highest nesting site right up with the powerful lights that illuminate the track.

A Willy Wagtail has a tiny nest on a horizontal branch of a London plane tree.  It was hard to spot.

A Willy Wagtail has built a tiny nest on a horizontal branch of a London plane tree. It was hard to spot.

In another London plane tree is a mud nest of a Magpie lark.

In another London plane tree is a mud nest of a Magpie lark.

Lastly, Fairy Martin nests can be found all over the race course & it is easy to spot these birds flying above the grass catching insects.  Each little beak full of mud can be easily seen in this nest.

Lastly, Fairy Martin mud nests can be found all over the race course & it is easy to spot these birds flying above the grass catching insects. 

 

Little corollas.  Mum and Dad start to prune their chick.

Little corollas. Mum and Dad start to prune their upset chick – just like human parents settle their own baby.

What is wrong with the Baird Liberal government?

An article in today’ Sydney Morning Herald ( http://bit.ly/2dxn4Bx ) says that the Baird government will abolish the need to get a licence to kill native animals.

“Last year 47,000 native animals and birds were killed in NSW by property owners using a “s121 licence”.”

47,000!  If this were 47,000 human beings, there would be outrage.

Permits were given to kill “34 species, or a total of 145,550 animals and birds to be killed in 2015-16. This included more than 100,000 eastern grey kangaroos, almost 9000 corellas, 6500 sulphur crested cockatoos, 5500 galahs, 655 emus, 175 swamp wallabies, 113 wombats and 83 magpies.”

“An application to kill kookaburras at North Head by a lessee in Sydney Harbour National Park was refused.”  Why would anyone want to kill a Kookaburra?

It gets worse – “Species to be exempt from offences relating to harming animals will include sulphur crested cockatoos, galahs, purple swamp hens, ravens and crows.”  It might be carnage on the golf courses.  I often get correspondence from people who want to kill birds on golf courses.

With no licence needed, no-one will know how many animals & birds will be killed.

The Baird Liberal government plans to take what they seriously call “biodiversity legislation” to NSW Parliament in October.  I sincerely hope the Senate will refuse to pass this.

We cannot go so far backwards in our society where it is okay to kill native species because we don’t like them and not be accountable at the same time and our government not wanting to even know how many we kill.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The bees loved the poppies.  There were at least 100 bees enjoying the poppies.

There were at least 100 bees enjoying the poppies.

A closeup of the huge dragonfly eating a bee.  Seeing this was a first for both of us.

A closeup of the huge dragonfly eating a bee. Seeing this was a first for both of us.

We went to the markets to buy fresh fruit & vegetables today.  On the way out we stopped at the flower stall to marvel at the huge amount of bees that were enjoying the flowers, especially the Poppies.  One wonders how could so many bees know to come to collect pollen in an area surrounded by buildings.  So I googled.

Researchers from the University of Bristol found that bees can sense the electric field of a flower. See – http://science.sciencemag.org/content/340/6128/66

“As bees fly through the air, they bump into charged particles from dust to small molecules. The friction of these microscopic collisions strips electrons from the bee’s surface, and they typically end up with a positive charge.  Flowers, on the other hand, tend to have a negative charge, at least on clear days. The flowers themselves are electrically earthed, but the air around them carries a voltage of around 100 volts for every metre above the ground. The positive charge that accumulates around the flower induces a negative charge in its petals.  When the positively charged bee arrives at the negatively charged flower, sparks don’t fly but pollen does.”

I wonder if bees are like some birds & send out a scout to check an area, then race back to the hive & tell the rest of the bees.

On the way back to our car we noticed a huge dragonfly was hanging from one of our plastic shopping bags & was busy sucking the guts out of a bee.  We walked around two-hundred metres to our car, then carefully placed the bag on the ground.  Only then did the dragonfly go, leaving a dead bee behind.

Dragonflies are important predators that eat mosquitoes, and other small insects like flies, bees, ants and wasps.

Dragonflies are important predators that eat mosquitoes and other small insects like flies, bees, ants and wasps.  A single dragonfly can eat hundreds of mosquitoes a day.

 I have not seen a gall  like this before.  It was as big as a softball, maybe bigger.

I have not seen a gall like this before. It was as big as a softball, maybe bigger.

I was waiting for a friend in Stanmore when a Banksia tree in someone’s front garden grabbed my attention.  It was covered in little knobbly clumps that were not seed pods.  I thought might be galls & checked with friends in the know who agreed.

Galls are formed by wasps, beetles, moths & insects who lay their eggs in plant parts.  They occur on leaves, stems, buds & roots. This is irritating to the plant who then thickens the tissue around the area, creating many interesting shapes.

These can be small lumps on leaves, great big hanging brown balls, little lumps on stems or curly lumpy things like I spotted on this Banksia.

The inside wall of the gall provides nutritious food for the developing insect & also protection from predators. Sometimes a gall holds one developing insect, sometimes it is like a mini-hotel with different rooms for several insects.

All the advice I have read has said galls are common with Australian trees, especially eucalypts & acacias.  The presence of galls does not cause problems or kill the tree.   If you want less galls, then increase the biodiversity in your garden.  The birds will take care of the insects that cause galls.

Parasitic wasps also help control galls by laying their eggs inside the gall.  Once the eggs hatch, they feed on the insect developing in the gall until they eventually kill it.  Not such a great hotel room now.  Once the wasp matures, it leaves the gall via a small hole.  Galls remain on trees after the insect has matured & left.

The bottom line is galls are part of the lifecycle of many native insects & there is no need to take action.  You could cut off the offending branch if they really bothered you.

The only time to take action is if your citrus trees are affected because citrus gall will slowly kill your tree.  Therefore, it is advised that you remove the branch that has the gall before August, when the insect is likely to leave the gall.

Galls galore!  I found this tree fascinating.

Galls galore! I found this tree fascinating.  Despite the galls, it appeared quite healthy.  

 

 

Do you like feed & put out drinking water for wild birds?  If so, this is a perfect opportunity for you to become a citizen scientist & help researchers at Deakin University & Griffith University by participating in ‘The Australian Bird Feeding & Watering Study.’

The researchers know that many people feed birds & have fresh water available for them, particularly in their own back garden & that they enjoy doing so.   They want to know more about whether feeding wild birds impacts on bird diversity, the abundance of birds, what species come to eat or drink at your garden restaurant, whether gifts of food affects bird behavior & also what food people are giving to the birds.

The researchers intend to develop guidelines that will help people know what to feed wild birds without harming their heath.  Many people think feeding bread is okay for birds.  Although the birds love bread, it is actually very bad for them.

Birds in Backyards says, a diet of too much food not natural to their diet is likely not to contain the nutritional needs wild birds need & can lead to health problems.

For example –

  • Mince or processed meats: these foods can stick to beaks leading to infection. Mince is very high in protein & if the birds fill up on this, they could develop malnutrition. They need other nutrients like bone, fur & insects. If the parent birds feed their chicks mince, their chicks could develop brittle bones.
  • Processed meats: are high in salts, fats & preservatives.  “Magpies fed items like devon have been shown to have high cholesterol!”
  • Bread: can cause digestive problems, as the bread ferments in their stomachs. Moldy bread is toxic.
  • Honey/water mixes: are lacking in the complex sugars contained naturally in the nectar of flowers.
  • Feeding areas can become dirty & spread disease amongst visiting birds. Parrots can spread Psittacine Beak & Feather disease.  If you ever see a bird with this disease, you will not need convincing that they are suffering.  It causes a long slow death.

The surveys are being held over four weeks –

  • Week 1: Monday 1st – Sunday 7th August.
  • Week 2: Monday 8th – Sunday 14th August.
  • Week 3: Monday 15th – Sunday 21st August.
  • Week 4: Monday 22nd – Sunday 28th August.

To participate, you need to sign up here – https://csdb.org.au/Account/Sign-Up.aspx

A healthy wild Cockatoo.

A healthy wild Cockatoo eating grass seeds.

A sick Cockatoo with what I think is Beak and Feather disease.  The difference is profound.

A sick Cockatoo with what I think is Beak and Feather disease. The difference is profound.

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