Friday, September 25, 2009


I've discovered that the 'friendly' Butcher Bird who lives in a tree in my front yard - is not at all friendly - at least at present it's not.

For the past 10 days or so when I've gone to the letter box, or to potter in the garden or bring the garbage bin up from the road, the Butcher Bird would appear quite quickly in a nearby branch and sit kinda peering down at me. I thought it was 'asking' for a tidbit of bread as I'd seen it sometimes in the back yard when the Rainbow Lorikeets have been flying in for theirs. It seemed quite shy then and would only fly down to retrieve some bread if I threw it quite close to where it was sitting, and then only after what appeared to be quite long 'inspection' of the morsel. I got a scare recently when coming back from the letterbox to hear a loud 'clack' beside me and realised the bird had flown very close to me and continued up into a tree. It un-nerved me for a second or two until I realised it was Mr or Mrs Butcher Bird. Oh well, it must want bread real bad to do that was my thought.

After having this busy bird 'swoop' at me three times now I've realised (slow learner here I think)! that the poor thing is protecting a nest. There are several of these birds in our area, one of them found dead on the ground recently with an 'attacked head' - the work we suspect of a flock of dreadful Indian Myna birds who terrorise the bird colony around our home. This seems to be their modus operandi when wanting to rid other birds of what they consider their territory. I've actually seen one of these scavengers attack a Rainbow Lorikeet in this manner. Dreadful to watch!

Anyway to get back to the Butcher Bird household. Since it dawned on me that the bird is actually trying to frighten me away from its nest, I'm really rather apprehensive about going outside the front door! I know it sounds foolish - I'm sure the bird wouldn't actually touch me - but I simply don't like the thought of being 'dive bombed'. It's not being aware that it's going to happen that freaks me. I'm sure if my neighbours have seen me in the past few days surrepticiously edging my way down the path they would certainly wonder what had come over me. Since the majority of them go out to work during the day, I don't think they've had to wonder.

These birds belong to the magpie family and from what I've read, they usually don't swoop from the front - I'm sure that's correct since this fellow certainly came each time from behind me. I'm thinking maybe I should buy one of those kids plastic yellow hard hats and glue a pair of eyes on the back. They say a plastic ice cream container works OK as well. Fortunately this kind of behaviour only happens between September and November - until the chicks have fled the nest.

Baby Butcher Bird taken 2007

Even though I've found it scary, I still have to marvel at the way God's little creatures take care of their young. Fancy something so small taking on something of human being size! Not a day goes by that God doesn't teach me more about the person He is! I am grateful and blessed!

Blessings friends!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


The 'bird' was not an owl at all. Having done a bit of investigating, have decided it must be a tawny frogmouth. A much harsher face than the soft features of most owls, this bird reminds me of a very stern 'old fashioned' school master perhaps weilding his cane in an attempt to coax his students into behaving. Anyway I haven't worked out a pattern for its appearance yet - it seems to come for a whole day, just sitting on the same branch, seeming not to move, then doesn't appear for a day or so, then back it comes - unusual. It definitely seems to have 'booked' the particular branch in the particular tree for now anyway. Time will tell as the weather gets hotter whether that will continue. Maybe it will seek out the more cool conifers which grow not far away.

Have been doing quite a bit of reading in the past week - I normally read a book a week but two I got from the library were very light reading and I got through them quickly - Anna Jacobs writes light historic romantic stories, often set in England however both these I read were modern in time quite enjoyable. Not long ago I read Ken Follett's "The Pillars of the Earth" which was definitely set in historic England and once into it, couldn't put it down. I have just finished his 'The Hammer of Eden' which also held my attention. I have one more to read before I return them to the library and its Follett's "World Without End". I'll begin that one tonight.

The red dust storm which hit Sydney in the early hours of yesterday morning was a very unusual sight. I woke at 5.45am just after the sun began to rise and an eery orange/red light coming through the window forced me out of bed to get my camera. A strange phenomenon which apparently hasn't occurred here for about 70 years or more. It happens when weather conditions are right - high winds coming from the north west, heat and apparently time of year. The centre of Australia is almost all red earth and the wind had picked up tonnes and tonnes of it and swept it across the country and out to sea. I guess New Zealand may get a sprinkling of it in a day or so. Traffic bedlam reigned, road tunnels closed because of the ventilation problem, harbour ferries stopped, hospitals emergency departments filled with people suffering from asthma and chest complaints triggered by the heavily polluted air. Kids were kept home from school (including my E5 grandson) and those who did go were kept inside the classrooms for most of the day. Not pleasant. We are promised the possibility of another similar dust storm on Saturday!

A couple of weeks ago I fancied doing a little bit of smocking so pleated up some light apple green cotton fabric which I'd had in the cupboard for a couple of years. Got the little baby dress finished this week and have made a frilled lacy coat hanger to go with it. Have no one in mind at this stage to give it to, but I'll just put it by to use when the right occasion comes along.

Have had two baby girls born into our extended family in the past couple of weeks. A 'trendy' name for girls at present must be Ruby. One of the babies has been named Ruby Mae, the other Ruby Rose. Cute!

Here's the pattern for the knitted childs coat hanger if any of you are inclined to try it out.


1 roll Knitting Nylon (in Australia it is Knitlon or sometimes Arbee brand)
1 pr size 4mm (or English 8) knitting needles
2 - 3 mtrs (or yards) nylon lace which has insertion holes through the centre
Wooden coat hanger
Small piece hobby plastic tubing to cover metal hook.

1. Cast on 58 stitches and knit (garter stitch, knit every row) 2 rows

2.Next row knit one stitch and with the lace at the back of the work insert the needle into the stitch and into the hole in the middle of the lace. Continue to the end of the row. Cut off lace at the end of the row.

3. Knit 3 rows garter stitch.

Repeat steps 2 and 3, 3 times (you will now have 4 rows of lace)

Knit 2 rows of garter stitch then cast off.

Thread the metal hood with the plastic tubing. Find the centre of the cover mark with a pin. Sew the short ends of the cover together. Slip the screw in end of the hook through the centre of the cover and screw into the wooden hanger. Holding the edges together, sew the cover on to the hanger along the long ends. If you wish you can tie a satin ribbon bow around the base of the metal hook. I used a double length of the knitting nylon to form a little bow for a nice finish.

These covers can be made to fit an adult size wooden hanger by casting on 68 stitches and following the same instructions. 1 cover uses about 40 mtrs knitting nylon and 3 mtrs nylon lace.

Have fun trying one out and have a blessed week!

Sunday, September 13, 2009


Spring is the time of year that all the birds seem to come out of the trees and show themselves after the long cold winter. Oh some do continue to come to our backdoor throughout the cool months but others begin to show their lovely colours as they flit about looking for tidbits to feed their young.

Each year we have a family of cheeky butcher birds nesting in the tall eucalyptus tree in our front yard. Shy, with a diet mainly of insects they are always looking for a handout of bread which I feed to the Rainbow Lorikeets. Last Friday after the big truck had collected rubbish from our bins I went down to collect them and bring them around to the back of the house. I felt, rather than saw, something fly past my shoulder. Looking up to where the bird had settled, it was one of our friendly butcher birds - telling me in no uncertain way that bread was what he wanted. With beady little eyes on the bread I threw into the air, he swooped down to pick it up and proceeded to 'soften' it against the tree branch before he took it off to his family.

As I was watching his antics my eyes caught on a large brownish 'lump' further up the tree sitting on a branch. My heart did a flip - not knowing what it was. My neighbour saw me from over the fence and came and looked too. "Oh" he said. "I think it might be an owl".

A week or so ago, he had come home very late at night after playing squash and noticed an 'owl-like' shape sitting on his boat as he drove into his garage. We wondered if it was the same bird. I took a photo of it thinking that would be the last we saw it. These kinds of birds are certainly around the area but rarely seen in daylight hours.

Yesterday I was watering in the front garden and was surprised again to see the bird up in the tree again. This time it was sitting facing me so I got another photo of it. After checking it, I realised that it's not an owl at all - but a tawny frogmouth. Not the most attractive bird I have to say but I don't mind if he decides to hang around for a while. I'll be out there again this afternoon to see if it's come back again. Aren't God's little creatures wonderful?

Have a good week my friend.


Saturday, September 05, 2009


I can hardly credit it's almost a month since I put something here. Silly thing about it though is that I really have no good excuse! I have been busier lately its true but somehow I didn't get to writing in this way.
What have I been up to?
Since I began to feel much more human again after surgery I decided to try to find something more constructive with my time rather than sitting around trying to keep warm. I got in touch with the U3A (University of the Third Age) again having tried to find vacancies in classes a couple of times before without success. This time I was able to secure a place in two group which interested me - family history and calligraphy. I think I mentioned a while ago that I had missed the first calligraphy class - another story.
I have since been a couple of times but am not entirely sure it's 'my' thing. It is quite difficult but doesn't phase me - everything new has an element of difficulty at first - I think I like to work at a slightly faster pace than this particular class. I don't mean to sound 'righteous' or 'better than the rest' but I just don't see myself practising the letters of one particular style for the rest of the year. I think I might be able to do that at home - and at the same time try out some other styles along the way. I'll see how it goes as the term comes to an end.
The Family History group doesn't bring me much joy either (am I sounding a misery?) - they are all except one, interested in Australian families and early history. I do enjoy the history bits that members bring to the group but I had hoped I would be able to get some assistance in my own research - which although I've been 'into' for well over 20 years now, still holds my interest and curiosity.
Oh well - I'll see what other groups have vacancies early next year and perhaps try something different.
What else have I been doing? Knitting squares - I think I'm about half way towards that rug I started earlier in the winter. It's becoming a little too warm here now to knit for much longer so I may need to put it away until next autumn/winter. I"ve done some smocking on a baby frock I intend to give away. Talking about baby stuff - there have been two new baby girls born into our extended family this week - one is Ruby Rose and the other is Ruby Mae! I guess names go through trendy periods and Ruby seems to be the flavour of the month just now! A third bub born to a young friend from church earlier in the week weighed in at 10lb 4ozs and has been named Isabelle. That's another name that seems to have had a revival over the past little while - variations of it as well including Bella. It's certainly been a week for the little girls!
My E17 grand-daughter is getting a puppy in a few weeks time. She has visited the pregnant mum and last week after the birth, went and chose Texas and took photos of her. A tiny bundle of brown and black dachshund - only just fitting in her hand. What a gorgeous little pup - shame they have to grow so quickly. E17 will be taking delivery of her when she's 8 weeks old. She's so looking forward to it.
Have been doing a little gardening also - not too much bending yet (actually I'm finding it difficult to get down) so have been making use of a small stool which we brought back with us from Zambia - most useful and low enough to make weeding a much more comfortable exercise - beans are up - both climbing purple and dwarf yellow butter - silver beet is doing well - blueberries are looking fabulous and just beginning to get a pinky tinge to them - a new variety of tomato plant, the oval fruit is said to have twice as much of the anti-oxidant Lycopene - is doing really well and has little flower buds already. I also purchased some alstroemeria corms and they have begun to shoot little green leaves. I will have to check out how long it takes before they flower. I really love the way they last for so long in a vase. Have done some tidying up and pruning back some shrubs but still have a long way to go. The garden gets away so quickly when not attended doesn't it?
Fathers Day here in Australia today. We are having lunch with family and friends at a brand new restaurant attached to a brand new golf course not far from where the family live. As I write, the sun is shining and it's predicted to be a very nice 21 degrees this afternoon. I'm looking forward to it.

Till next time - blessings!