Stories and photos of my Life in the South West

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The Plover

Very few people would have seen this bird. You only find them on farms as far as I know. They breed in June - July. Maybe these are one of few birds that breed at the start of winter more so than  spring like other birds.

The photo below shows the eggs. They make no attempt to hide them. It's more than likely because they are so aggressive to any intruder and they back themselves to defend them. Also they have help from their neighbours or their extended family. I counted 16 over an area of about 5 acres. The old bushman liken them to Magpies on steriods.

So I imagine the area they breed in would become a no-fly zone or no entry. You might have to ask the Authorities or the white collar as I believe their numbers are dangerously low. 

The photo below shows you what I said, they do not attempt to hide their nest. But they are masters at hiding their young. If you look close you can see, she has clustered the white rocks close to her nest, with the odd dark rock or blue-metal amongst it. Also the big rock you can see is put there to deter young hoons that were driving around this area. Just in case the Authorities or the white-collar think it was the Plovers who put it there. It was me and they survived. 

This photo shows you the effect of the white rock and the dark rock. Try to find the baby Plovers. Before you move onto the next photo which is a close-up of this.

 

 The photo above shows the two Plover chicks 5 weeks later and their idea of camouflage is not as good as their mothers. Also the one below.

The photo above is I think a breed of Plover, only smaller. Maybe the bird lovers can tell me different. The photo was taken three weeks before the first photo of the Plover on the nest and you can see it is fully coloured. 

  The photo below I believe is the Plovers last years young and haven't quite coloured up yet.

 

Barn- Owl

 

This is a photo of our Barn-Owl and it lives in the Jarrah forests surrounding Collie. It would rank among the prettiest of our birds, but he's a top predator and prey's on what ever he thinks he can handle as the next photo shows. You can see the eye's of it's prey and it looks to be a fair size.The photo below shows another Barn-Owl sitting on a road-side post. Unfortunately a lot of them fall victim to cars

Tawny Frog-Mouth

The photo above shows a close-up of the Frog-mouth. Our grandson Ricky took this photo when he was maybe 10 or 11, he is 18 now. The following photo shows you, if he closed his eye's he would look like a continuation of the tree he is sitting on.

 

The photo above shows the Frog-mouth perched on the burnt out edge of a Sheoak tree and you can see how he uses the pattern and the colour of the bark of this tree as camouflage, similar to his feathers. Again if he closed his eye's, you would think he was part of the tree.

He is known under different names. The most common I believe is the (Mopoke) especially in the Jarrah forests. Also he is  known as the (Southern Boobook) and the other name is (Morepork). Which I believe the old bushmen, sitting around a camp-fire at night and feeling a bit hungry, would have said that bird is saying more pork. Similar to the frog in the swamp saying (Plonktwobobabottle). 

I remember an old fella telling me one time. He was falling tree's in the forest and cutting sleepers with a broad-axe. It was lunch time, he told me he walked over to where his mate was working, but he wasn't there. So he gave a (cooee) and his mate answered from down in the creek. When he reached him he said "what are you doing". He said "I'm having dinner". Then he said "these biscuits have gone too hard and I'm dunking them in the creek".   

Owlet Nightjar

The photo below shows the smallest of our Owls the Nightjar. This one flew into the side of my car, so I brought him home and I gave him to a registered Animal carer.

The above photo shows the Nightjar on the forest floor. Also the next photo shows the bush tracks they like to hunt on. You can see the Nightjar on the left of the track.

I remember when I was a boy in the 50's and spotlighting for kangaroo's. I'd say to my father when we seen what we called the night-bird, can I catch him. He'd pull up and I'd sneak, but every time he would fly when I'd get to about 6 or 7ft. I never did catch one and I think my father knew that and that's why he pulled up.

Boobook Owl

 The photo below as you can see was taken in our back-yard and shows you another one of our owls that are in the Jarrah forest of the South-west of WA.

Also the following photo shows the Boobook in a Mauri tree or Red-gum. This one had a mate, but I was unable to get them both in the photo. The old aboriginals used to tell their kids stories about the owls and I know they were scared of them, they were spiritual.

I remember sitting around a fire in the paper-barks. Jumbo Cockie, Davey Ugle, Dougy Mears and a few others, also their mothers and they would tell these stories.  I believe it was so the young Noongahs would not throw rocks at them. Because they were deadly with a rock in their hand.

Just the other day I was talking to another aboriginal I know well James Khan. We started to talk about the call of the owl and he told me he was out the bush with another aboriginal  and they heard the mopoke call. James said "that bird will follow us home", later that night, they were standing outside the house and they heard the mopoke call. James said " I told you he follow us eh".

No doubt it was a different owl. I said "James if you were to go ten kilometres the other side of Collie you would hear him again". So the old peoples stories had worked, they respected the owl.

 

 

Night-Life

The photo above shows the Possum and it's still quite plentiful in our Jarrah forest also the following two photo's.

 The photo above show's a Native Cat or (Quoll) on the prowl at night and the photo below shows a Quoll hiding in the day-time.

The photo above shows an Echidna also known as (porcupine or spiny anteater) at night-time on the highway and with the amount of traffic on the roads today we lose a lot. But I believe we lose a lot more by the way they harvest the forest.

The next photo shows you the Echidnas method to beat his predators like the fox. He will burrow under the log as you can see and angle his quills so it's near on impossible to pull him out. Also the fox is unable to turn him over, which allows them to kill through the under-side.

The photo above shows another method used by the Echidna to beat his predators and the following photo is a close-up. I've seen them do this many times, if you approach him, he will curl up in a ball. They must feel the vibrations in the ground and you can watch him roll his quills to face you.

Road Kill

We live in a town house maybe 200-300yrds from were this fox cub was run over. They become more vulnerable this time of the year. The mother has left them to breed again and they make mistakes.

This photo shows that the adult fox makes mistakes as well when their hungry, you are looking at the remains of a kangaroo, thats been run over a few times.This photo shows another road kill of a fox and rabbit. The female fox is known as a vixen and I witnessed this one day, I was sitting in my car and I was looking at a big clump of rocks, it was a rabbit warren and I was waiting to see if one would come out, it was on a very big hill that dropped down to a river.


I watched this vixen come up from the other side of the hill, and did'nt know I was there, she jumped up onto the big rocks, I was within maybe 50yrds, I watched her stretch and arch her head back, she let out with the most mournful screams. They do this when their in season and their calling for the male fox. I reckon it would travel a couple of kilometres through the big hills. I also thought if a man was on the river marroning  at night with a couple of drinks in him and heard that, there's a chance that he'd have gone home. It sounded like a woman being murdered.
This fox was killing ducks in town.

The Fox is Hated in Australia

The farmers would organise fox shoots to keep their numbers down. I will always  remember this night, we were out spotlighting for rabbit's and dog meat. The brother-inlaw  Neil was with me. We picks up a big male fox, I held the spot while Neil shot it. When he go'es down to pick the fox up and bring it back, he was carrying it by the tail and I could hear the jaws snapping.

He'd hit the backbone and partly paralysed it. I said if he gets hold of you you'll know about it. He laid it on the ground, but the spotlight lead was a bit close, I said he'll bite that in half if he grabs it. I think Neil went to get the gun to finish him, I bent over to move the spotlight lead, I did'nt see him move and he was hanging off my thumb. I jumped backwards and I'm standing there with him hanging from my thumb.

I remember flinging him to the ground and pulling back as hard as I could. I remember putting my thumb under my fingers and squeezing as hard as I could, too scared to have a look, the good thing there was no pain at all, at that time the worst part was that Neil was laughing at me. We would never miss having a go at each other.

I said your mad he's bit half my thumb off, I finally got the nerve to release the grip from my thumb and have a look and it was'nt too bad. His teeth had gone to the bone on both side, top and bottom. It must have been the power he hit my thumb with because it was numb. I said to Neil that it's not too bad so we'll keep on going.

But ten minutes later I could'nt take the pain, it was throbbing bad and I said that we'll have to go home. It looked silly but I had to hold my hand above my head to ease the throbbing. I remember sitting there on the passenger side going home in the night, I was looking at him out of the corner of my eye, I know he was still laughing. Real bad night in bed and the Doctors next day for Tetanus needles. I remember sitting in the surgery thinking I will square up with him. NOT THE FOX.                

Rainbow Martin

I took this photo in November 2012 of a Rainbow Martin or Bee-eater at Collie in the SW of WA. They say he migrates to parts of Indonesia also New Guinea and he roams pretty much all of Australia. They migrate to Collie at the start of summer and  are commonly found in sandy country close to water, where it is easier for them to dig little tunnels and lay their eggs. It's the reason they are nicknamed (gold-digger or miner)(golden swallow)(pin-tail sandpiper).

A lot of people would not have seen this bird and definitely not close up. They time their breeding for when there's an abundance of bees, when a lot of our native trees are in blossom. Especially the Xmas tree, that also likes the sandy country. The next photo's show the xmas tree in blossom and you can see how it attracts the bees also the paper-bark which also favours sandy country and the bottle-brush. They're all surrounded by our Jarrah forest in the Collie Basin.Below is the Xmas tree in bloom.

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