Tuesday, April 27, 2010

~ a third column

I started this blog because, like everyone who gets into blogging, I wanted to add a third column to my ... template.ThreeColumnBlogger

Over the next week or so, health willing, I’m going to make an effort to update the Sails of Oblivion layout, so please excuse me if the page looks strange from time to time. I really want that third column ... mainly for the twitter feed and all that stuff which gets lost at the bottom. And I think it’s time for an improved header. And a fresh new look all round.

I saw a little wattlebird yesterday. Similar to the common red wattlebird but devoid of wattle and yellow-stained chest, and blessed with a distinctive, possibly even more demented range of vocalisations. Today there were some masked lapwings on one of the Monash Uni ovals. In the Valley Reserve I witnessed the wonderful display of a flirty grey fantail and, briefly, I think, an eastern spinebill.

As long as I can remember, there have been tiny brown and grey chirruping birds living outside the window of my study. Like all species, they have their own specific character - a thing which birders (unfortunately) call their ‘jizz’ - but until recently their identity has remained mysterious. Despite their abundance, it was a hard job pinning them down - even with the help of my new field guide. They do not look spectacular; they are not an imposing bird in any way, yet they colour the ambience here with their twitters and trills, and the flickering they do among the leaves. I am sure I would notice their absence.

I learned that they are brown thornbills - and with this knowledge a world opened up, just there, outside my window, of which I had no real prior awareness. Now I know their preferences, the months they breed, the kind of nests they make and the extent of their range. It’s all so ... fascinating. A name is a key - and never more so now we have the internet.

I am beginning to see the hot churning black hole at the centre of the birder’s mind; I am beginning to feel its irresistible attraction ...

This is the long-billed corella. The last few mornings I have heard the harsh, grating voices of a flock passing high above the house. The bird often looks scruffy because it has a habit of digging for tubers, including, helpfully, the bulb of the hideous onion weed. The individual above, (photographed by Noodle Snacks) is, however, perfectly presented, though
the bloody bib suggests (falsely) that it may recently have been gnawing at something’s throat.

Yesterday, Polly imprisoned a daddy long legs in a small lidded container together with a snail in the hope that by morning they would have ‘mated’. Also, she’s acquired a device called an R5 which holds eighty games and can be plugged into the back of her DS - this will settle her for the next week or two

Speaking of mating, did you hear about the transgenic pig-sheep? I was excited for a while - and hopeful, thinking it might have some advantages for the environment. We farm pigs anyway; if they could grow wool as well as bacon, then there's got to be some kind of energy saving. Perhaps some of our sheep pastures could be turned to forests roamed by woolly free-range pigs? Disappointingly, the abomination turned out to be the Mangalitza, a rare porcine breed from Austria with no apparent sheep genetics. Still, the idea is there. There's no reason to give up hope entirely.

And if only there were a substance that was neither illegal nor poisonous which you could have just a little of as night begins to fall. Something to make you laugh and forget how tired and sick you feel, something to elevate the spirit and anaesthetise some of the wounds acquired during the day - and which did not give you a hangover. Is Big Pharma working on something like this? Would they be allowed to? And if they succeeded, would it be legal?

This is a an old car that burned in the black Saturday bushfires. It was part of a collection of valuable Australian antiques and was donated to the Melbourne Museum in the condition you see. The chassis of most modern cars warped, even melted in the terrible heat, but older cars, with heavier steel bodies, seem to have been able to hold their shape. Mind you, the insides were a charred and melted melange.

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Ann ODyne said...

I followed some othertip to those woolly pigs the other day, and when I mentioned them to my sheep-farmer friend, she had not heard of them.
The Austria part is the clue.

The terrible fires affect me still, god knows how the survivors cope.

The thing we all need at the end of the day is the laughter of friends in our home. Failing that, a Marx brothers movie in the dvd player?

Dusk is a freaky time indoors, but outside, especially in autumn, it is quite soothing. All the activity of birds settling for the night is soothing. Magpies have a particular evening call, as do bloggers I fear.

james said...

Very Nice Blog..
Good Job..

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