Monday, July 29, 2013


Today I had a physio appointment and Jenny tried something different and I have a feeling it helped so fingers crossed for that part of my back. Perhaps next week she may be able to do something to help some of the other bits.

Tomorrow lots to do.  Have about 10 crocheted rugs to take to Vinny's.  I made some a few years back and they want some more so seems the work that went into those rugs well and truly worth it. Strangely enough the crochet is not doing my hand any harm but rather seems to be helping it so will keep on while the cool weather stays with us.  If it hurts I just rest it for a while and then do some more.

Also have to do some grocery shopping and a couple of other shopping chores and oh yes, our cleaning lass has changed her day this week so expecting her tomorrow for an hour as well.

Wednesday MOH has to be up before the crack of dawn to get ready for our son-in-law to pick him up at 5.45a.m. (the streets won't even be aired then) so he will be at the hospital by 6.30a.m. for his cataract operation.  This doctor of his doesn't operate in the hospital near us but in a *private hospital way over in Claremont.  Goodness knows why but you go where you're sent.  S-i-law to the rescue to pick him up when they call him.

Thursday of course it will be a trip to the doctor's rooms to have the pad removed from the eye and drops given which he will have to use (actually I will be administering them as he's not good with eye drops) for a few weeks.  That wonderful son-on-law once again playing chauffeur.

Friday I think will be a rest day for both of us and probably Saturday just a wee bit of shopping at the local shops.

Sunday it's up to our daughter and son-in-law's place for afternoon tea.  With their two birthdays just a couple of weeks apart they celebrate on the weekend in between which I think a splendid idea so we are looking forward to that.  Hopefully the rest of the family will be there as well as we don't see nearly enough of them.

*When I had my cataracts done at St John of God Hospital near us it seemed all very straightforward and simple.  Bethesda called this morning and MOH was told he has to take all his medications and his insulin with him (the doctor has already told him what to take and what not to take) and also his CPAP (sleep) machine.  The only reason I can think of is in case something goes drastically wrong and MOH has to stay overnight.  We hadn't even thought of that happening so it's best I suppose he does as he is told.

As anyone who does follow my blog knows I have completed the A-Z of birds.  As I seldom have anything worthwhile blogging about because I just don't do anything or go anywhere of interest I am contemplating doing a series of A-Z (if I can find one for each letter) of towns in Western Australia and in particular those that we have visited over the years.  I'd love to show off some of our beautiful state and would hope others would enjoy hearing about it and seeing pics.

Sunday, July 28, 2013


I'm probably cheating a wee bit with this one the same as I did with the Yaffle bird but it was the closest I could get to a bird beginning with Z and one I'd not heard of before.

The Zitting Cisticola (or Fantail Warbler) is a widely distributed Old World warbler whose breeding range includes southern Europe, Africa (outside the deserts and rainforest), and southern Asia down to northern Australia.  It is mainly found in grasslands.   During the breeding season, males have a zigzagging flight display accompanied by regular 'zitting' calls that has been likened to repeated snips of a scissor.

This bird's colouring is mainly brown above, heavily streaked with black markings.  The underparts are whitish, and the tail is broad, white-tipped and flicked frequently, giving rise to the alternative name for the species.  The adult males have less crown streaking and more back marking then the females, but there are no great differences between the sexes or the eighteen geographical races.  The absence of a nuchal collar separates it from Cistocila exilis.  In the non-breeding season, they tend to skulk within the grass and can be hard to spot. 

This species is found mainly in grassland habitats, often near water.  Most populations are resident, but some East Asian populations migrate south to warmer areas in winter.  In the Himalayas, they ascend to about 1,900 metres (6,200 ft) during summer but are below 1,300 metres (4,300 ft) in the winter.  This species is a rare vagrant to northern Europe, mostly as a spring overshoot.  Its European range is generally expanding, although northern populations are especially susceptible to hard winters.

They are very small insectivorous birds, sometimes found in small groups.

The breeding season is associated with the rains.  Two broods a year occur in many regions.  Males are polygynous but some are monogamous.  The male builds the initial nest structure deep in the grasses, and invites females using a special display.  Females that accept the male complete the nest.  The nest is made by binding living leaves into the soft fabric of felted plant-down, cobwebs and grass.

The Zitting Cisticola's nest is a cup share with a canopy of tied-together leaves or grasses overhead for camouflage; 3-6 eggs are laid. The female incubates the eggs which hatch after about 10 days.  Females change their mates frequently and rarely stay within the same territory. While males are less mobile. Females can sometimes breed in their first year.

This is the last bird post so I am adding some pictures of this lovely little bird for no other reason than I find these photos absolutely delightful:

I have truly enjoyed finding out about so many beautiful and fascinating birds from all around the world including some of our own Australian species.  I hope those who have popped in have also enjoyed them.  I am asking a favour of people who do visit my blog.  Could you just say you've been here even if you don't wish to leave a comment.  I don't have many followers and it's nice always to know that someone has called in, however brielfly.  Thank you so much.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Y is for YAFFLE

The European Green Woodpecker is known as the YAFFLE because of its immitative laugh-like call.

This bird is a member of the woodpecker family Picidae.  There are four subspecies and it occurs in most parts of Europe and in western Asia.  All have green upperparts, paler yellowish underparts, a red crown and moustachial stripe which has a red centre in males but is all black in females.

The Yaffle spends much of its time feeding on ants on the ground and does not often 'drum' on trees like other woodpecker species.  It is a shy bird but usually draws attention with its loud calls.  A nest hole is excavated in a tree; four to six eggs are laid which hatch after 19-20 days.
This hole is larger but similar to those of other woodpeckers.  The eggs are incubated by both parents taking shifts of between 1.5 to 2.5 hours.  The chicks are naked and altricial at hatching and fledge after 21-24 days.

Although this bird is shy and wary, it is usually its loud calls, known as "yaffling" which first draw atttention to its presence.  It 'drums' rarely (a soft, fast roll) but often gives a noisy 'kyu-kyu-kyuck' while flying.  The song is a loud series of 10-18 'klu' sounds which gets slightly faster towards the end and falls slightly in pitch.  The female makes a thinner "pu-pu-pu-pu-pu-pu".  The flight is undulating with 3-4 wingbeats followed by a short glide when the wings are held by the body.

Friday, July 26, 2013


Yes, it is very windy here today but we've had some wonderful rain which is so badly needed.  It's quite cold (15ºC = 59ºF) and I'm loving it.  I truly am a winter person and love to rug up to keep warm whereas during summer I never seem able to cool down enough.

We've had about 20mm of rain at our place and the forecast is for more rain and showers during the coming week. The garden is literally lapping it up although, unfortunately, so are the weeds.  Guess you have to accept the bad with the good.

Our farmers need rain so much and I am hoping that these fronts will reach inland parts.  The last we had in W.A. swept right across into South Australia so hopefully there is enough strength in this lot to do the same.

I am so fortunate that grey skies don't cause any depression with me.  I certainly do thrive in these weather conditions although at times my poor old joints tell me I'm a little barmy.  Strangely enough change in barometric pressure seems worse as it I believe it affects the fluid in the joints and that possibly causes more pain than the cold as long as you keep nice and warm.

River, there could be some more wild weather heading your way before too long but I hope, if it does, it is less troublesome than the last lot.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

X is for XENOPS

I truly didn't believe I'd find a bird beginning with the letter X but I did find one although not a lot of information available.

XENOPS is a genus in the bird family Fumarlidae, the ovenbirds.  They are found in Mexico, Central America and South America and tropical rain forest.

They are small birds with a longish tail, a laterally flattened bill with an upturned tip (except in the slender-billed xenops), brown back and buff or rufous wing stripe.  They forage for insects on bark, rotting stumps or bare twigs, moving mechanically in all directions on the trunk like a woodpecker. but without using the tail as a prop.

Together with the distinct Great Xenops (Megaxenops parnaguae), this genus forms the tribe Xenopini, which based on some recent studies belongs in the woodcreeper and xenops sub-family Dendrocolaptinae, while others have found them to be part of the 'traditional' ovenbirds. (As long as these little birds know who they are I am sure they don't argue about who's who!!).

Wednesday, July 24, 2013


W had to be for WILLY WAGTAIL.

The Willy Wagtail (Rhipidura leucophrys) is a passerine bird native to Australia, New Guinea. te Solomon Islands, the Bismarck Archipelago and eastern Indonesia.  It is a common and familiar bird throughout much of its range, living in most habitats apart from thick forest.

The adult Willy Wagtail is between 19-21.5 cm (7.-8.5 in) in length and weighs 17-24 gm (0.6-0.85 oz), with a tail 10-11 cm (approx 4 in) long.  The short, slender bill measures 1.64-1.93 cm (around 0.75 in) and is tipped with a small hook.  This species has longer legs than other fantails, which may be an adaptation  to foraging on the ground.  The male and female have similar plumage, the head, throat, upper breast, wings, upperparts, and tail are all black, with a white eyebrow, 'whiskers' and underparts. The bill and legs are black and the iris dark brown.

Immature birds (see below) in their first year after moulting from juvenile plumage may have pale tips in their wings, while juvenile birds themselves have duller plumage, their upperparts brown-tinged with some pale brown scallops on the head and breast.

The Willie Wagtail is insectivorous and spends much time chasing prey in open habitat. Its common name is derived from its habit of wagging its tail horizontally when foraging on the ground.  Aggressive and territorial, the Willie Wagtail will often harass much larger birds such as the Kookaburra and Wedge-tailed eagle.  Here he sees a crow on its way.

The Willy Wagtail has responded well to human alteration of the landscape and is a common sight in urban lawns, parks and gardens.  It was widely featured in aboriginal folklore around the country as either a bringer of bad news or a stealer of secrets.

The Wagtail is very 'chatty' and has a number of distinct vocalisations.  Its most recognised sound is its alarm call which is a rapid chit-chit-chit-chit although it has more melodious sounds in its repertoire. The alarm call is sounded to warn of potential rivals and threats from its territory and also seems to serve as a signal to its mate when a potential threat is in the area.  John Gould reported that it sounded like a child's rattle or "small cog-wheels of a steam mill".  In his book What Bird is That? (1935) Neville Cayley writes that it has "a pleasant call resembling a 'sweet pretty little creature', frequently uttered during the day or night, especially on moonlight nights".

The Willy Wagtail is almost always on the move and rarely still for more than a few moments during daylight hours.  Even while perching it will flick its tail from side to side, twisting about looking for prey.  Birds are mostly encountered singly or in pairs although may gather in small flocks.  Unlike other fantails, much of its time is spent on the ground.  It beats its wings deeply in flight, interspersed with a swift flying dip.  It characteristically wags it tail upon landing after a short dipping flight.

Willy Wagtails usually pair for life.  The breeding season lasts from July to December, more often occurring after rain in drier regions.  Anywhere up to four broods may be raised during this time  It builds a cup-like nest on a tree branch away from leaves or cover. less than 5m (16 ft) above the ground.  Rafters and eaves may also be used.  It is not afraid to build near human habitation.

The nest consists of grass stems, strips of bark, and other fibrous material which is bound and woven together with spider web.  Even hair from pet dogs and cats can be used.  It has also been observed taking hair from a pet goat.  (Or even from a kangaroo it would seem).
(I can remember when horses and carts were used to deliver milk, bread and ice years ago seeing Willy Wagtails diving on the horses trying to steal their hair for nest making).

The female lays two to four cream-white eggs with brownish markings and incubates them for 14 days.

Like all passerines, the chicks are altricial and nidicolous; they are born naked and helpless with closed eyes, and remain in the nest.  Both parents take part in feeding their young, and may continue to do so while embarking on another brood.  Nestlings remain in the nest for around 14 days before fledging.

Upon leaving, the fledglings will remain hidden in cover nearby for one or two days before venturing further afield, up to 20 m (60 ft) away by the third day.  Parents will stop feeding their fledglings near the end of the second week, as the young birds increasingly forage for themselves, and soon afterwards drive them out of the territory.

Although generally a peaceful bird, which lives quite happily alongside humans, the Willie Wagtail will defend its nest aggressively.  Willie Wagtails are known to swoop at passers by much like the Australian Magpie.  While attacks from Wlllie Wagtails are not common or as formidable as the Magpie, they do come as a great shock to recipients.  (I can say I have never been swooped by a Willy Wagtail).

The Willie Wagtail was a feature of Australian aboriginal folklore  Aboriginal tribes in parts of southeastern Australia, such as the Ngarrindjeri of the Lower Murray River, and the Narrunga People of the Yorke Peninsula regard the Willie Wagtail as the bearer of bad news.  It was thought that the Willie Wagtail could steal a person's secrets while lingering around camps eavesdropping, so women would be tight-lipped in the presence of the Willie Wagtail.  The people of the Kimberly in Western Australia held a similar belief that it would inform the spirit of the recently departed if living relative spoke badly of them.  They also venerated the Willie Wagtail as the most intelligent of all animals.  Its cleverness is also seen in the Tinputz tale of Bougainville Island, where Singsing Tongereng (Willie Wagtail) wins a contest among all birds to see who can fly the highest by riding on the back of the eagle.   However, the Gunwinggu in western Arnhem Land took a dimmer view and regarded it as a liar and a tattletale.  He was held to have stolen fire and tried to extinguish it in the seas in a Dreaming story of the Yindjibarndi people of the central western Pilbara in Western Australia, and was able to send  a strong wind if frightened.

The Kalam people of the New Guinea highlands called it Konmayd, and deemed it a good bird; if it came a chattered when a new garden is tilled then the there will be good crops.  It is said to be taking care of pigs if it is darting and calling around them.  It may also be the manifestation of the ghost of paternal relatives to the Kalam.  Called the Kuritoro bird in New Guineas's eastern highlands, it appearance was significant in the mourning ceremony by a widow for her dead husband.  She would offer him banana flowers and the presence of the bird singing nearby would confirm that the dead man's soul had taken the offering.

A tale from the Kieta district of Bougainville Island relates that Maneka, the Willie Wagtail darting along a river bank echoes a legendary daughter looking for her mother who drowned trying to cross a river flooding in a storm.  The bird has been depicted on postage stamps in Palau and the Solomon Islands, and has appeared as a character in Australian children's literature, such as Dot and the Kangaroo (1899),  Blinky Bill Grows Up (1935) and Willie Wagtail and Other Tales (1929).

This is a very long post but I am sure other Aussies love our Willie Wagtail as much as we in the West do so I just needed to find out all I could about them and I was quite impressed by all the folk lore that abounds about this cheerful little bird.

P.S.  Back in the 1940s we had an infestation of Argentine ants throughout Perth and its suburbs so extensive spraying with dieldrin took place.  We noticed that all grasshoppers and similar species disappeared and with them went the Willy Wagtails.  It is only in the past 5 or so years that the Willy Wagtails have made their way back to the coast and we now delight in seeing them once again flitting around our lawns and gardens.  Still very few, if any, grasshoppers to be seen, but the birds have obviously managed to find other food to their liking.  It is a huge welcome back to the little wagtails.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013


Anyone who has visited my blog has probably seen, at one time or another, that I have a particular fondness for cats.  Yesterday on Facebook this beautiful picture appeared and I thought it said it all:

I think it is their individuality, their independence (they really do need us but they won't let us know that), their sheer beauty that I admire so much.  To have Precious jump on my lap wanting to be made a fuss of is a wonderful feeling and one must also remember that stroking a cat is so good for us and relaxes us as well as the cat.  I can't imagine my home without a cat being part of it.  This photo shows Precious in all her winter finery (as she is right now).  She sheds so much hair during spring to virtually become a short-haired cat for the summer months.

Not much more I can say but I really did want to share the first picture with other cat lovers.

P.S.  We have also had some wonderful canine friends but we are too old now to care for a dog whereas a cat takes so little looking after.   No walks or baths needed; just daily brushing (which Precious loves), good food and a comfy place to sleep.

In response to people who dislike cats (I don't like to use the word hate in this context) and would like to see our suburbs rid of them I always suggest there could be repercussions if this should happen. Who then would assist in keeping rats and mice under control?  Provided cats are taught properly and not allowed to wander at night, birds and native animals should be safe from them.  It is the people I deplore who don't have cats sterilised or just dump unwanted cats who then can become feral and a danger to native fauna.

Thursday, July 18, 2013


It was inevitable that my thoughts would recall the event that took place 60 years ago today.  It was at 5pm on 18th July, 1953 that, on my father's arm, I walked down the aisle of St George's Cathedral in Perth to be married to my first husband.  (I had also been christened and confirmed in that place).

It had been a 12 months engagement during which time I had had doubts; doubts I put behind me as I felt I had made a commitment and one I should be true to.  It turned out that I was wrong in going ahead with the marriage but I'd been rather overwhelmed during our engagement with my fiance seeing me nearly every evening/day which gave me little hope of finding out what it would be like to not see him for a while.  Hope that makes sense.  I think now I should have insisted on some breathing space but I didn't.   We all make errors of judgement and also learn by our mistakes.

I must admit it was a lovely wedding.  My mother-in-law had made me a beautiful wedding dress and going away outfit, the style of wedding dress not unlike the one chosen by Kate when she wed William.  My daughter actually showed pictures of the two dresses on her blog at the time of the Royal Wedding as she was amazed at the similarity in style.  Mine didn't have a long train nor did it cost very much money but it was gorgeous!!  I was very fortunate in my choice of in-laws!!

We had a very nice sit down reception with family and friends and spent a pleasant few days honeymoon at the Yanchep Inn.   We had very little money and had to live in rented rooms in several places before finally ranting an old two-storey house from his grandfather.   All went quite well for several years and although the marriage didn't last past 13 years (I feel perhaps it wasn't meant to last) from it I had two children one of whom is still the light of my life, the other whom, unfortunately,  has more or less divorced me and the rest of the family as well.

On the day of our divorce we went and had a coffee and he made the comment that we weren't really that compatible were we?  Something had definitely changed during those 13 years of marriage.  I still thought I was the same person but I guess there had been changes on both sides which had driven us apart.  I am still on friendly terms with him, although he fortunately lives outside the metropolitan area so our paths seldom cross.  He even sometimes remembers to telephone me on my birthday which I guess is rather nice.   He is now in his third marriage and I am in my second and for me second time around has worked out very well.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

V is for VERDIN

The VERDIN (Auriparus flaviceps) is a species of penduline tit.  It is the only species in the genus Auriparus, and the only species in the family to be found in the New World.  It is a very small bird. At 4.5 inches in length, it rivals the American Bushtit as one of the smallest passerines in North America. It is grey overall, and adults have a bright yellow head and rufous "shoulder patch"(the lesser coverts). Unlike the tits. it has a sharply pointed bill.

Verdins are insectivorous, continuously foraging among the desert trees and scrubs.  They are usually solitary except when they pair up to construct their conspicuous nest.  Verdins occasionally try to obtain tidbits of dried sugar water from hummingbird feeders.

Verdins are permanent residents of the southwestern United States and northern Mexico, ranging from southeastern California to Texas. throughout Baja California and into central Mexico, north of the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt.

An acrobatic species, the Verdin is generally solitary away from nest sites.  It is most easily detected by its surprisingly loud calls.   The nest is an intricately woven ball of spiderwebs and small twigs.  The male often builds several structures during the nesting season; both sexes roost in these year-round.

Another interesting little bird of which I knew nothing.  I do so enjoy learning about species of birds and animals in other parts of the world.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013


My daughter passed on this little story to me and I had to share it even if it's one against me.  Or is it? No, I don't think it really is.  I think it is hilarious and it's always nice to be thought of in every way.

I am told that my 5-year-old great-granddaughter (my daughter's granddaughter) was chatting to her mother and used the word "vintage" when telling her about something.

This seemed quite a big word for a 5-year-old so her mum asked her if she knew what the word meant.

"Oh, yes!" replied g.granddaughter of mine, "It means something that's old.  Like Mimsie."


This is a bird I'd never before heard of so thought I'd share it as it may also be a stranger to you.

The Umbrellabirds are birds in the genus Cephalopterus found in rainforests of Central and South America. With a total length of 35-50 cm (14-20 in), they are among the largest members of the Cotinga family, and the male Amazonian Umbrellabird is the largest passerine in South America.

They are almost entirely black, and have a conspicuous crest on top of their head, vaguely resembling an umbrella (hence their common name).  All have an inflatable wattle on the neck which serves to amplify their loud, booming calls  This wattle may reach a length of 35 cm (14 in) in the Long-wattled Umbrellabird, but is smaller in the two remaining species, and covered in bare, bright red skin in the Bare-necked Umbrellabird.  Females resemble males, but are noticeably smaller and have a reduced crest and wattle.

They feed on fruits, large insects and occasionally small vertebrates (e.g. lizards).  The males gather in loose 'leks', where they call and extend their wattle to attract females.  The flimsy nest is built entirely by the females, which incubate and raise the chicks without help from the males.  (Obviously another male-dominated society).

Of the three species, two, the Long-wattled and Bare-necked Umbrellabird, are threatened by habitat loss and, to a lesser extent, hunting.

The Bare-necked Umbrellabird is the largest passerine in its range and is found in Costa Rica and Panama:
The Amazonian Umbrellabird is also almost entirely black, with a head crest and an inflatable wattle on the neck.  This bird though has pale eyes, whereas in other umbrellabirds the eye is black.  The undulating flying method of this species is considered quite woodpecker-like.  One population occurs in the Amazon Basin, mainly near rivers in woodland and forest and the second in forested foothills of the eastern Andes.