Tuesday, 18 December 2007

Pesky Birds

Imagine a scene from' The Bill' or 'CSI', where a squad of police are walking across a field in a line searching for clues at a murder scene. Now imagine the same scene with ducks instead of people – common Australian Wood Ducks - more than thirty of them waddling along, mumbling to each other as they raise insects ahead of them in their search for food and leaving copious quantities of dark green slimy poo where they have been. This is the time of year when families seem to gather together with their new offspring in large flocks and this morning they again visited me. Charming you think? Definitely not! Early this morning they traversed my vegetable patch, stripping young Broccoli plants to their stalks, removing the centres from the Sweet Corn and eating the lettuces. Secondly the Pink Dog loves to roll in their evil smelling green poo when I'm not looking, she did and she then needed a bath.

I have a 4 metre long row of Raspberry canes along a fence, and this year promises the best crop ever. Two days ago, noticing that a very few were beginning to colour, I immediately rushed to find the bird netting and quickly covered them thinking I had beaten the birds at last. Earlier today, my attention was drawn by the loud squawking of a young Currawong sitting on the fence, demanding attention. Its Mother was somehow getting Raspberries through the netting and had been feeding it for breakfast! I have since picked all the ripe ones and readjusted the netting. I'm thinking of tethering the big dog, who hates birds nearby to protect the rest of the crop.

Pathetic rather than pesky – Dorothea the Light Sussex chook has been broody for about three weeks, and is sitting with great determination on a plaster egg! She is looking poorly, missing feathers and very pale, leaving the nest box only to feed late in the day. Oddly the other chickens squeeze in beside her to lay their eggs and today I retrieved three from under her warm fluff. I know they were not all hers as some were white and she lays brown ones.

Pesky bird story #4. When my fruit trees were covered with blossom there was a series of heavy frosts and no fruit developed on the pears, plums, cherries, quince and most of the apples as a result. One old Granny Smith tree seemed lucky enough to escape the damage and was covered with small apples a few days ago. I mean hard, green bitter apples less than 2 cms in diameter. I thought it would soon be time to net it, but I am too late. They are all now lying on the ground beneath the tree, many untouched but most with a small bite out of one side. I blame the beautiful but very destructive Scarlet Rosellas that abound in the area.