Sunday, 20 July 2014

Humour's downhill slide


Warning: Obscene language.

   Just what's going on with sex? Why does social media give the impression that we've now reached the stage of living in a realised Sodom and Gomorrah?
   To clarify, I'm NOT asking WHY, but WHEN did we arrive at the point of needing to be so very verbally vile?
   On a daily basis, I find it increasingly difficult to continue following some accounts for their wit, interesting content and insights, when they also seem to think it very necessary to post extreme smut.
   I've always tried to be as broadminded as the rest, and I fully accept that certain personalities and circumstances are a persistent source of particular levels. However, these sources now appear to have begun saturating further into societal mainstreams -- or maybe it was always there and not previously seen as being so widespread.
   How sad that the basis for this genre is so very contained in its point of offensive ridicule -- that basis being the two bodies of differing biological organs needed for the purpose of reproduction.
   Mathematically speaking, the entire number of organ and appendage differences is such a standard layout, that it's amazing so many continue to try applying offensive humour, when it should be obvious to all that the verbal diversity there is really limited.
   And before leaving my pedestal, allow me to comment on a mere three of the words used often in these failed attempts at total originality.....                                     
Tit: Yes, well, living in the bird world as I do, a tit is a species of bird (word orig. Scand.). Somewhere along the line, 'tit' (via Germanic orig.), left "teat" as in  "nipple" to arrive in its present day place as "vulgar slang for a woman's breast" (Oxford dict.).
   Accordingly, it becomes quite okay to use this slang against a body part designed for nurturing offspring (and most probably, did just that for many of those who use the term).
Fuck: Also vulgar slang which has survived since its Germanic origin in the 16th century AD. Definition has been constant, with no surprises. What it refers to, of course, is (test tubes aside), our way of reproducing and surviving as a species.
   It just seems a little curious to me that this very act would be vulgarised.
Cunt: My Oxford dictionary gives two definitions for this word, also Germanic origin, (1) as a woman's genitals and (2) as an unpleasant or stupid person.
   How these two definitions ever became connected by one word, I'm yet to discover, but I'm forced to ask here how many people are actually aware of both definitions?
   This word seems to be used less as a sexually deplorable attachment (by way of my own personal notice), in a country such as America, as opposed to the vulgarity it suggests in, say, Britian. As an Australian, I define the term as extremely offensive when realising the female connection and then, due to the vast numbers of people who use this word, I'm left to ask myself if I'm being over-sensitive or prudish.
   [This is just one more of those interesting societal developments that, when adopted by a growing majority, forces an unsuspecting minority into an indefensible corner.]
   I cannot get past the 'c' word as being used as a blatant misogynist term though, and as with the derogatory abuse of terminology for female breasts, this is, too, a curious adversity of a body part from where life is delivered. Very odd that this should attract vulgarity.
   And when that word is also used by a female, as is now often the case, I wonder if that doesn't hint at just a little self-loathing.
   Whatever the reasons for anyone's usage of any of these words, I stand by my opinions of tolerance or, at times, intolerance, and maintain my own respect for the way we've evolved for reproducing our species.
   Perhaps humour has now covered all known areas there can possibly be to make fun of and we, or rather our previous 'private parts', are now our last targets to aim our derision at.
   Couple this unfortunate state with all the so-called "glam" tattoos and unexplainable body piercings, and ridiculing could be partly justified -- but fingers crossed that the real reason we have those parts isn't totally lost in the low standard of comedic translation.
   In closing, I love humour and I completely admire any of you who can be genuinely funny without having to remove someone's clothing to find something to aim your jokes are truly a dwindling breed.


Tuesday, 10 June 2014



   I can only guess that when Man first appeared in evolution's scheme-of-all-living-things, that his brain kick-started his imagination, eventually leading him to the present day. Should he have had dreams back then, they were most likely limited by what his days incurred and be of food and fearful predators - two bases which seem to have survived until now.
   Naturally, as his imagination and thinking progressed, and he began creating tools and better skills needed for acquiring food and shelters etc, the limits on his dreamtime would have lifted and allowed for more scope.
   Early Man had nothing except a need to survive, and what set him apart from other species, was the imagination he developed, and with its development, further removal of his limits.
   So let's skip a few years and look at what Man has now, by way of his needs, and the expanding imagination that provides the skills to acquire them.
   In fact, he's acquired EVERYTHING through imagination: food, shelter, language, community and rules. He's maintained the scary predators in the guise of things supernatural, and he's comforted himself about dying by creating an aerial wonderland where he'll float off to and meet up with all of the billions of immortal mortals who preceded him.
   When looking at the supernatural world, which still seems to be evolving, albeit at a much slower pace, and without  any of the first horror that had us gasping and cringing over the last few centuries, I always find temperature and location interesting.
   Very simply put, the cold, stay-indoors climes of far northern Scandanavian countries, provide us with much of its myth/legend/horror tales in a darker, dreamier style. Many almost feel as if they've originated from mid-winter sleepy huddles around indoor fires of log cabins near snowy, dense forests.
   European supernatural and horror, though frightening enough, is somewhat more tempered to acceptable climates,  which is probably one reason why more populations can relate easily to tales from these regions.
   However, jump south to much hotter zones, where life is more extreme (as in opposition to the extreme cold of the far north), and you find voodoo and hoodoo, practices that involve more plants, herbs, body parts and fluids. Generally, bits and pieces easily obtained where no freezing temperatures or excessive clothing are a hindrance.
   There was also the imaginative move in the 17th century, by the Church, to use the scare factor as a means of boosting their flock of believers. This was done with the sudden influx of so-called witches, a contrivance both devious and successful. People were terrified by these women with unknown powers to perform any number of ungodly acts.
   The Church, however, devised ways to deal with them (often fatally), and appear as an all-knowing saviour who could obviously outwit the devil, and offer safe havens for the masses. Results being a rejuvenation of religious bondage.
   How religions came into Man's existence in the first place, is no doubt a  question answered within the complexities of Man's need for a comforting father figure, coupled with an astounding amount of imaginative invention. One point that remains solidly intact, thanks to science, is that Man definitely DID precede all of these spiritual protectors, and therefore, imagination stands alone as the original source.
   It all gets a little murky though, when these belief systems attempt to enter the areas of general, and global, governance. Placing limited dogma atop necessary attendance to planetary crisis issues, is nothing short of dire detrimental ignorance against the care of people it claims to look out for.
   But let's wander away from this oppression.....
   Our world of story telling has grown through time and given us insights to places and legends, and filled every corner of our imaginations. So much so, that as I mentioned at the beginning of Part 1, there's a list of categories by Jessamyn West. In fact, there are even more lists, and the category numbers within the most noted lists, are for 3, 5, 7, 20 and 36. These are recognised as specific areas of storytelling description.
   In themselves, they represent limits of imagination, and should anyone care to know what they are, they're very easily found on Google.
   There are no real surprises by which everyday stories remain popular, outside of the aforementioned myths and legends. Love, adventure, mystery etc, will most likely always attract those opting for an easy read. Others, looking for darker corners, saturate the supernatural areas (and with a very high number of younger readers who are at more inquisitive stages of their lives).
   Further out, we have the science fiction fans. Many of these stories becoming outdated very fast, as science and space exploration gain a stronger foothold on reality with each new discovery.
   Just exactly what this says, is that Man still sets his own limits by whatever stage his imagination has reached.
   It's difficult to know if there'll ever be new categories for our stories to fill, but fortunately, there are people who are aware of another category that has no limits. Anyone can join this group. Simply walk, or ride your bike, out into the country, take your dog for company, and look around at something made up of the million recurring, limitless miracles Nature gives us. Our own miniscule creations, connecting us with galaxies far, far away, in what is our true, science non-fiction, never ending story.

              .........End Part 2........


Sunday, 8 June 2014



   Since my first blog, 'Toys vs Imagination', I've spent numerous sleepless nights thinking of so many more areas which afford interesting concepts. To me, anyway, and before I continue, please note that all of the following, are my opinions only.
   The one reference I'll make will be to a volunteer librarian, Jessamyn West, who listed seven categories in which all stories fit. I'm leaving them until last, but I mention them now as the categories easily flow into other genres.
   Following toys, I look at technology, which gives us appliances, communicative needs, medical aids and machinery, gadgetry and inclusions within almost every part of our days, from here to outer space. And, of course, in our entertainment.
   If some form of technology doesn't apply, then we can be reached through the verbal, "Well, technically speaking, you.....". There is very little chance of escape.
   The most common we encounter (as long as we're living somewhere that supports technology), are home appliances, computers, phones and entertainment products.
   Many of a household's chores are taken care of by appliances and, as with all technology, they improve over time and we're given more 'spare' time because of them.
   Computers and phones allow for worldwide interactions between people from where you sit and from where you may also have whole entertainment hubs set up. Screens bringing you visuals, buttons supplied to change visuals, someone telling you what's happening in the world, stories on film to satisfy your tastes, sporting coverage to appease your loyalties, lessons in how to cook food that you don't need, and on it goes.
   If these aren't enough, we reach for our electronic games and we begin to meet up with some serious limitations.
   The similarity in between the limits in games and, say, a racing car, isn't quite the same. The designers may have had the imagination to create a body of parts, linked to allow for possible high performances on roads, but to achieve this, a driver uses more skills than brain-only.
   Granted, physical ability IS controlled by a brain, but desired and necessary physical ability is not always within an individual's capability. This may also apply to the car's designer.
   As we've evolved, so too have our needs and therefore, our complications.
   Thankfully, there are still cultures that maintain enough original humanity to seek few, if any, of the daily needs within a so-called 'developed country'.
   Developed into what?
   Into a confusion of needs based on requirements of a societal existence. If you don't have this, or you don't have that, you may be classed as either 'poor' or 'odd'. For (1), being poor is usually only a level as measured against those who have some noticable wealth. To many of the poor, this is an unfairness and/or an affront.
   And (2), being odd is a refusal of a mass to accept a peer as someone who has an imagination geared to 'self' rather than 'herd'. That, more so than unfairness or affront, seems to me to be more a failure of the mass, where the mass has frowned upon an individual that has added a new dimension to his world. The mass appears happiest living in the limits, as set by the technological achievements within their possessions. Their own up-to-now standardized comfort zones. The damning of an individual's imagination is the REAL oddity.
   And so after we all have our appliances and vehicles etc, which save us so much more time than past generations in past centuries seemed to have had, what do we do?
   We create amusement. Or rather, as a society, designers in huge companies invent vast numbers of fun things for us, which more often than not, become international trends. This being helped along via media advertising and encouragement that convinces you that "you really need this in your life".
   Many must-haves are for indoor entertainment, and as populations explode, it seems wise that people are being continually provided with stay-at-home amusements.
   The downside of this, is that general standards of health drop. But not to worry, there are always many entrepreneurs who will build inviting gymnasiums, so you at least excercise a little. And you're told where to find these gyms in advertisements you see while you sit watching your televisions. If you have no inclination or time to visit these sweat factories, you can buy smaller equipment to install in your home
   One way or another, the exercise police will catch you and prick your conscience.
   Apart from any standard games that have been a source of challenges, we have now taken to feeding our levels of competitiveness without having to go out and physically indulge too much with other people.
   We have games. In many, many forms and levels. New games, and new variations of skills needed to play them, continue to flood our lives and whatever form they take to connect us, not many age groups escape.
   We give skills-needed toys or 'activity centres' to very young babies, and proceed from there.
   And so to our games.....: nicely entertained, in-house contained, we're fed our amusement needs, and we seem happy to accept being amused by other peoples' imaginations. We don't often seem to question that OUR imagination level has been limited. We're happy to give ourselves to an outside controller, and we stretch our finances to ensure we aren't left out of any circle of global population trying to reach that latest 'high score'.
   A top gamer will never be as good as the person(s) who created the game.
   It surprises me a little that avid players would always be willing to be no higher than 2nd place, at best.

                  ....end Part 1.....

Monday, 2 June 2014

DONALD - Part 2

DONALD - Part 2

   Donald continued to thrive over the next two weeks, and took it upon himself to be overseer of any orphaned nestling that I brought in. He visited every one and would stand close to them and exchange a few vocal noises, neither of which would understand, but the comforting reassurance conveyed, was accepted by all.
   He had gained extra privileges as he was an 'introduced' species. An exotic. A feral pigeon. He didn't come under the wildlife carers' licensing rules of the protected native animals/birds. Many carers wouldn't have kept him, but I was interested in learning as much as I could about any bird species, and I was willing to keep him until a suitable release site was found.
   As with any young chicks, I was careful not to imprint on or tame him, both being detrimental to their chances for survival in the wild.
   During week three, Donald feathered nicely and mastered walking, with the addition of jumping and getting stuck in hard-to-reach places. Generally though, he developed a definite independence and a complete aversion to anything relating to a routine...such as settling down at night. I didn't really mind anything he did though, as the important thing was that he'd survived.
   Near the end of that week, I had a call from another carer.
   "I've got a present for you," she said, in a tone we used for each other when one of us had a nestling that could be matched with any the other had in care. "I found a pigeon nestling at the shops. People were nearly stepping on him. Do you want to put him with Donald?"
   She didn't have to ask again, I had an hour before next feed time and I headed over to her house. An hour later I was back home, carrying in the new arrival as a surprise for Donald.
   There isn't much room in wildlife caring for sentiment, but if anything ever deserved being labelled "love at first sight", it was when Donald set his eyes on Mickey. Both chicks seemed to bond then and there, and the still-so-very-young Donald became full time guardian of the quiet, gentle newcomer.
   What also happened from that meeting, was that the ONLY time I could approach  Mickey, was if I was carrying food for him. They were both dependent on me for that, neither yet self-feeding. Mickey also hadn't shown much sign of being active, but as his appetite was good, I wasn't too concerned.
   They spent all of their days together, and anytime I was near them, outside of feed times, Donald would stand as tall as he could, and flap one of wings at me, in a direct warning to "back off". And so I would, and continued to respect this gesture until they were both ready to move into my large, flight aviary.
   Around the time they were about three months old, Donald gave me the biggest surprise I'd had for some time. "He" laid an egg, and Donald became Donal.
   Twenty four hours later, Mickey laid an egg too, and became Mikki.
   And both girls, in turn, 36 hours respectively, after their first eggs, laid a second.
   I called a pigeon club and was assured this was par for the course. The pigeon adaptation of acting like chickens.
   All went well for a number of weeks. I'd decided to give Donal and Mikki a permanent home, as the only strong colony of pigeons I could find, was also a constant attraction for hawks. And then, another unexpected situation developed, which made my decision not to release the pair, a correct one.
   As weeks passed, the pair fledged, and gained their skills but I noticed an occasional limp in Mikki's walking. As more time passed, her legs began to 'bow', and although she'd learned to fly well, it was on the ground when movements became difficult for her.
   This was a very slow process, but it also provided a reason why she may have been ousted from her nest in those early days.
   "Survival of the fittest", is a reality in the natural world and often, what may seem to us to be cruel, is merely the act of continuing bloodlines in the strongest way possible for a species' survival. And "cruel" is our word imposed on another world's reality. It really shouldn't apply.
   The rejection of newborns or hatchlings happens. And even more astounding, is the ability of parents to KNOW that a newborn or hatchling has a genetic fault, which may not be visible for some time to come. Throughout the years I cared for wildlife, Mikki was by no means the only chick that I received because of this same, unfortunate circumstance.
   Over the next few years, Mikki gradually worsened. She suffered no pain, and was happy being with Donal, and Donal was devoted to her. Until a time when she suddenly seemed to lose enough strength to stand, and I took her inside for what I thought could have been her last days.
   There was a man nearby wanting to re-house some of his pigeons, and I paid him a visit, with the intention of choosing a new friend for Donal. The man had been desperate to find homes for his birds, and I went home that day with four of them, instead of one.
   By some unseen force though, Mikki rallied, and I returned her to Donal and the new friends they'd acquired.
   A few more weeks passed, and Mikki's health failed again. This time she didn't survive. Donal said her goodbye, as many birds do, and also as many birds do, chose a new special friend from amongst the newer arrivals.
   There's really no incentive for looking back, in a bird's world. Understanding death, and accepting it, is a part of life.
   It's just how it is.

Monday, 26 May 2014

DONALD - Part 1

DONALD - Part 1

   After a lengthy love affair with a 1976 Fiat Mirafiori, I succumbed to the needs and constancy of wildlife caring and  bought a 1984 Suzuki Carry Van. In fact I bought it without even seeing it first, and when it arrived, I loved it instantly.
   A bright yellow high dome, made Rufus distinctive and so easy to find in crowded carparks. And despite his size, he was like a truck to drive.
   On the first night of his arrival, I left for the city business district, after receiving an 11:30pm call from the night concierge of an apartment block. He said he'd found a bird in the parking lot, and when I asked what kind of bird it was, he said, "Kind of like a pelican."
   A few things came to mind...(1) pelicans aren't known to be night flyers, but as the call came from half a mile away from a lake, night occurences and disturbances are always possible.
   (2) My biggest cage was for cockatoos. Much too small for a pelican, and even the door was going to be too small to put the bird through.
   (3) Should the bird be able to recover, I definitely had no appropriate food for it, even though I would contact Conservation Rangers who kept facilities for large species at their headquarters.
   First things first though, and with fingers crossed for the bird not having injuries too serious for recovery, I set off on Rufus's first pick-up, 12kms away, in a sleeping CBD just on midnight.
   I parked at the main entrance and went inside to find out what size the bird actually was, and something about its condition.
   The concierge wasted no time in disappearing to get the injured party and when he came back, carrying a box that had once held a 100cm television, my heart sank. No way was the cockatoo cage I'd loaded into Rufus going to be big enough.
   "Here it is," he said, and I walked over and peered inside, only to be peered back at by two bright eyes on an almost naked little body, nestled into one corner of the box.
   Definitely not a pelican, but a pigeon hatchling -- fallen off a totally unsafe nest site, as pigeon hatchlings tend to do.
   After finishing the paperwork, I left with the bird in a much smaller carrier, and drove to a nearby 24hr vet clinic to have him checked for internal injuries, thus saving another trip the next morning.
   While I waited, a man there said, "That pigeon, it'll die. You can't raise them, they stress too much." He then went on to suggest what food to give it anyway. All of this had me thinking I wouldn't succeed with this bub, and determination set in.
   The vet check was fine, and back home I settled the little one into a warm place and left him. Come morning, first food offer proved to be more difficult than with most new arrivals, and I ended up with more of the mixture over me than what the bird had taken in.
   For an almost featherless, unattractive, podgy-shaped little bird, he certainly put up a struggle.
   A couple of later attempts though, were more successful, and he and I met halfway in what was a two-way operation -- me, on one side, supplying the food and he, on the other, making up the rules about how much of it, if any, or all, he was going to swallow.
   This small victory for me was all I was concerned about for now. Nourishment being an absolute must in so young a chick.
   Gradually though, after three days, I noticed a decline in his manner and his appetite began dropping, which wasn't good at all.
   I stood nearby and watched him, and I took into account the surroundings  he was in. Firstly, he wasn't walking yet, and I'd 'nested' him in a carrier which had all sides enclosed but constructed  so that the occupant had a full view everywhere around him.
   There were a few other chicks in other similar carriers, and wide, double windows in one wall, gave them all a view of the many trees in my backyard, along with the sounds of wild birds which frequented the garden.
   I looked back to the pigeon chick and his eyes were focusing on the greenery through the windows. He barely moved, unlike the others, who could be quite vocal and who had begun moving around and testing out what their legs were for.
   Not so, the pigeon. He was stressing. He was beginning to 'give up'. I followed his gaze once more, then went over to him, took him out of the carrier, and set him down near the floor-length windows.
   Little miracles are something carers treasure, and one took place there in front of me.
   Donald, as I'd come to call him, rolled a bit, but soon found his legs and made his wobbly way over to where he could see the view outside. The 'miracle', was the immediate change in his eyes, his face, his behaviour, and from then on, he became livelier and more attentive to all others in the room.
   So, Lesson 1 with baby pigeons is: understand and compromise. Lesson 2: Never contain baby pigeons. They need to be free.

   In my next blog, DONALD Part 2, Donald surprises me.....and I surprise Donald.

Saturday, 17 May 2014



   There are so many aspects in wildlife caring, no less in being a carer for one overall species, as I was -- for birds.
   A favourable part of that whole involvement, is when you release birds, either young juveniles you've hand-reared yourself, or others which have been injured or sick.
   Adults of the latter circumstances are, as often as possible, released back into their own territory, as many of them have partners or families to return to. First-time releases are found suitable areas where all of their needs are taken into account and, very importantly, where they'll be as safe as possible from predators or other birds which may prove to be unfriendly.
   I had a call from our wildlife shelter, concerning a Sulphur-crested Cockatoo (Cacatua galerita, 46 - 50cm), they'd had for a few weeks. He'd been slightly injured, but had fully recovered. The problem though, was that none of our experts could assess whether he'd been a captive bird, or one from the wild. This is usually very easy to tell, regardless of what species the bird is.
   So with much trepidation at first, back-pedalling to a tentative agreement amongst themselves, the shelter's main body decided this bird could be released. He'd been found in my area, so I was asked to collect him and take him back to the same place he'd come from.
   An hour later, having made the pick-up, I took out the large carrier from my car, next to a very expansive parkland, which acted as a divide between two suburbs.
   In the distance, I could see a childs' playground and from there, various pathways had been designed for walkers. Running through the centre of the entire area, (some half a mile long), was a creek with no fencing alongside, but left in a sunken, craggy, natural state. The width of land each side of the creek was about 50 metres.
   Following their squawks, I could see 40 - 50 Cockatoos feeding in a couple of trees directly opposite me, and about 20 metres away from the other side of the creek.
   So far, so good. It looked like being a good release and as is the procedure, I set the carrier down to wait for a while, as the bird I'd brought picked up the sounds of the others. In fact,  he did this very fast and began making a few squawks of his own.
   This, of course, got the attention of the feeders, and most of them stopped eating, and turned towards the newcomer's direction.
   I waited another few minutes, anxiously taking note of the flock's movements, but they seemed calm and no adverse vocals or behaviour were evident. And so I opened the carrier door and stood back.
   What should have happened, was that the bird fly over to the others. He didn't. Instead, he ran in a crazy, excited way to the edge of the ground that sloped down to the creek. He stood for a few seconds, contemplating the descent, then seemed to jump over and out of my sight.
   I ran across and looked down, seeing him standing on a dirt mound at the edge of the water. While I looked around, trying to find a safe way for me to go down and retrieve this bird who obviously couldn't fly, he began calling out to his peers.
   It was a pitiful call he was making. He knew he couldn't fly, and he knew he couldn't cross over to the others because of the water.
   Before I could make my way down to him, I heard the heavy, powerful sound of Cockatoo wings, and looked up to see that three of them had left the trees and were flying to the helpless newcomer.
   They flew low over him, calling and flying on upwards behind him in the same path he'd gone down. They flew in an arc, and crossed back over the creek again, but without stopping, returned to him and flew up behind him once more. This time, they landed in a nearby tree and the new arrival jump-climbed his way back up from the creek, and crossed over to the tree. Hitching himself by beak and feet alternatively, he climbed the trunk until he reached the first, low branch where his three rescuers were perched.
   As soon as he had managed to nearly reach them, they flew back to their flock.
   The released bird seemed a little confused by his new position and me, finally shaking myself out of a state of amazement, realized that somehow, I had to get the bird down from the tree. This had all seemed to have happened so fast, and I chided myself many times after, for not coming to my senses and catching him before he made his climb.
   Nevertheless, there it was -- the bird's problem solved and now one for me.
   Retrieving him wasn't too difficult. I saw a government worker cutting grass on a ride-on mower, and after signing to him to turn the machine off, I asked if he could ride it down to where the bird was, so I could use it as a makeshift ladder.
   Breaks in monotonous jobs always seem to be welcome, and within 20 minutes, the mower had been converted from razer to rescuer.
   Before another hour had passed, the Cockatoo was back at the shelter and happy enough to be with the other fourteen Cockatoos he'd spent the previous few weeks with.
   These majestic birds, doomed to spend a possible 80+ years away from the life they were meant for.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014



   I mentioned three species of birds in "The Food-Share" blog which team up and chase Sparrowhawks away from suburban areas:
1: Australian Magpie...37-44 cm
    (Gymnorhina tibicen)
2: Pied Currawong...42-49 cm
     (Strepera graculina)
3: Magpie-lark, (or Pee Wee)...26-30 cm
     (Grallina cyanoleuca)
   As an example of this teamwork, I'll describe one particular event I watched in its entirety.
   Firstly, the setting: In front of my house is a huge elm tree. Its most important duty is to provide sleeping quarters when the annual, large crèche of juvenile Starlings arrive.
   Each year, they come from the state of Victoria, in the southern end of Australia, and coincide with the ripening of fruit on my 8metre fig tree.
   They reach here as dull, plain-looking, first-time migratory travellers, with a couple of 'carers' and they stay until the figs are almost gone, and by which time  they've grown their beautiful metallic-coloured feathers.
   My tale here though, occured in early spring and includes a number of Common Mynahs (Acridotheres tristis) - an invasive, introduced species, which plays havoc with nests of native birds, removing eggs, and taking over the nests for their own use. This attracts environmental advocates who capture and euthanase them.
   The mynahs are 24cm and a perfect size prey for a Collared Sparrowhawk (Accipiter cirrhocephalus), 30-40cm, (in fact I've witnessed a number of "catches").
   One afternoon, I heard a commotion outside my house. I followed the piercing alarm calls of Pee Wees, until I was under, and looking up into, the inner branches of the elm tree.
   Two Pee Wees I knew to have a nest nearby, (and apparently then unattended), were noisily objecting to the presence of a Sparrowhawk, quite close to them, and standing on a branch beside the limp body of a mynah.
   The Sparrowhawk had been interrupted before eating his catch, but something in the world of natural laws, makes the hawks very wary - even afraid - of the smaller Pee Wees. Whether this is to due to the similar colouring of the Magpies, or their piercing vocals, is up for discussion.
   I stood there for some minutes, the scene above not changing at all and then, slowly coming from the south, a responding Pee Wee call could be heard. As it grew louder, I stepped out from beneath the tree and saw two more Pee Wees flying towards the drama in progress. And the most amazing thing was, that between them, was a Currawong.
   The two smaller birds had brought help!
   When the three newcomers entered the tree's foliage, the first Pee Wee pair immediately left, flying back in the direction of their nest. And seeing the arrival of the Currawong, the Sparrowhawk edged away, finding another branch well back, but not quite willing as yet, to leave his catch behind.
   The new Pee Wees continued the alarm calls and the Currawong, instead of  solely attempting to scare off the predator, instead, spotted the body of the mynah.
   Currawongs alone aren't killers, but they are always interested in eating.
   At this point, about 20 minutes had passed and as I looked at the Currawong move in on the mynah, with the Sparrowhawk looking on helplessly nearby, there came more calls from the distant skies.
   Within just a few more minutes, a battalion of vocal, winged soldiers had arrived. Magpies and Currawongs, accompanied by more Pee Wees, had come en masse.
   This time, the Sparrowhawk did decide to forgo his meal, and as fast as he could, left the tree behind and flew north, followed by a very large, noisy protective comradeship.
   Within less than two more minutes,  peace was again mine.
   The parent pair were back at the job of feeding their chick, the Sparrowhawk chase had almost disappeared in the distance, and the only movement in the tree was the Currawong feasting on the mynah. He was in the company of another of his kind, who'd chosen to miss the excitement of the chase in favour of a free meal.

Tuesday, 6 May 2014



   Within two years, the change has been devastating. A complete violation of nature once more, where a bio diverse system has been destroyed. And by what? By a group of so-called forward-thinking architects and planners who designed and built a new suburb of nature-friendly constructions for environmentally aware residents.
   Such a nature-aware lot of humans, that the first thing I notice when looking over at this new development, is that there isn't even a single tree in sight. And so, therefore, no birds either.
   During this time of oft-repeated violation of nature, the kookaburras, who had previously had a north-south hunting behaviour, now are attuned to east-west. And this being due to their integration with Australian ravens in a pine plantation on the western end of the green space. I hear Barney and his family "laughing" from different directions along its length. Their hunting now, of course, is much reduced of prey and the days when I hear them are very few.
   Sparrowhawks have also been forced to look further a-field, and this has resulted to almost daily visits to my suburb. Now, because of this, the suburban magpies, currawongs and pee wees (as the species who don't take kindly to hawks), give noisy chase to the predators while garden birds, who are the potential prey, flee to hiding places.
   And so, trying to add a little assistance here, I practice a "food-share" as often as I can.
   Because of the many backyard compost piles, aviaries and chicken coups in the suburb, mice are an unappreciated addition. As secretive as they are though, those which chose my pigeons' aviary as a source of nocturnal nourishment, were silly enough to give away the whereabouts of their breeding sites.
   Giving them the benefit of a free feast, by way of a cute little contraption the mice can't resist climbing into, (only to find they can't get out of), I catch as many of the little horrors as I can. Then, as they're still alive, I release them on the green space. In fact, I aim the contraption towards the new suburb, and 'fling' the glad-to-get-away critters in that direction. Come night, when they're fully active, and the highway is devoid of most traffic, the most adventurous survivors among them, will cross over to a new life.
   Everyone's happy.
   The mice are happy to be free of imprisonment. The magpies hunting in the area are immediately alerted and happy. The kookaburras will have an opportunity to feast as well....and the new suburbanites, I'm sure, will be happy to be made aware that nature has provided them with a visiting challenge.
   And I'm happy too. Smugly delighted with joyful revenge.

Sunday, 4 May 2014


     THE FOOD-SHARE: Part 1
   Across fom my house, there's a wide "green space" that travels along the rear of two suburbs. It has diverse terrain, centred with a track for walkers and the occasional (illegal) motor vehicles and trail bikes. Steep hills, interspersed with high, flat stretches, make for interesting walks, and one which many local birds bring chicks to for survival lessons.
   Immediately in front of my house is a long plateau at the top of a slight hill. Not visible from the house and travelling alongside the entire green space, is a busy 4-lane highway that lays at the bottom of a steep drop.
   On the far side of the highway, previous open country had gone on well into the distance. Since living here, new suburbs have been built through areas to my north, but all had been too far and too hidden to see.
   Until two years ago.
   The undeveloped land next to the highway and across from me, was a huge area that was home to a kookaburra I called Barney, and his extended family.
   Many bird species are sociable and form groups, but when a group of kookaburras appears, chances are that they're all related.
   I named Barney when he suddenly began appearing in my backyard every afternoon. Always alone, and always leaving at least five or six family members on the power lines in front of my house. Barney turned up at the same time each day I'd taken to throw out pieces of meat for visiting magpies.
   Eventually, the magpies moved on, but Barney kept coming daily for three years. And then, just as suddenly as he began, he stopped coming. I feared the worst, but then heard him and his family "laughing" in the vicinity.
   The reason for his altered routine, was the appearance of bulldozers in his territory. Men and machines had moved in and begun clearing Barney's ancestral grounds. This wasn't only a catastrophe for the kookaburras, but also sparrowhawks, the occasional eagle, and many migratory birds that stayed for the spring/summer season, feasting on various offerings of the native trees and shrubs.
   There was also the sheer joy of seeing the annual visitors produce chicks and nuture them in an area which would imprint itself onto them for life. In following years, again and again, I've seen the same birds return, and watch as they circle the area around my home, as a sign of recognition when they arrive.
   And so, what the bulldozers represented, was nothing less than a tragedy.
                •••••( End of Part 1)•••••

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Toys vs Imagination

   Toys vs Imagination
   The following twaddle comes as a result from an incident I witnessed last week, which in itself, deserves a separate mention.  After I came home, I had these thoughts...
   It concerns something we hopefully all have,  and what's really our own personal, best toy. Our imagination.
   This is our own plaything, and we're each able to play with it, use it or apply it.
   It's really a very simple tool that we have, but one which we can learn to use well enough to appease or totally disturb our emotions.
   Here though, I'm only concerned with it as a 'toy'.
   Ranging from very simple to extremely complicated, actual toys have been with us for a long, long time. They're given to small babies as a way of prompting first signs of interest and play. Designs include much forethought of materials, as even very young babies learn to use toys as a relief for tender gums.
   And from then on, we're showered with an assortment of playthings, many bearing information as to what age a child should be before being introduced to them.
   They're consistently given to offspring as an aid to development and with growth, the toys become more complex, faddish and expensive.
   With poorer social times in developed countries, families easily adapted to the 'make-do' necessity for entertaining children. Items such as a wooden clothes peg became a much loved  little doll, with imagination and added cloth for clothing, and a face drawn onto it.
   Someone had used their imagination and designed these pegs. Children applied their imagination, and the pegs became toys.
   Toy shops are places of wonder and bright colours, but all items are just toys, it's you who creates the fun. All toys are the results of of someone's imagination, put into production and manufactured en masse. But until you further their imagination, their vision stops there -- nicely packaged and giving no fun to anyone. They maintain the possibility of alleviating your finances, should you make a purchase and take a chance on seeing how much that item pleases your child.
   By applying our imagination to a toy - or anything - we're able to perceive acquired results, ranging from fun to horror. We can manipulate the intention of something, accept or reject it to please ourselves
   As long as we have imagination, we need no rules for our fun -- safety cautions and morals aside.
   And those of us with really big imaginations, need no toys at all.