Twixt autumn and winter

Autumn is usually that settled period before winter arrives in earnest but this year it seems different. Spring is notorious for its fickle nature and the way that winter really doesn’t want to be gone too soon. A fellow blogger got me thinking about the time between seasons with his series on micro-seasons. This seems to be rooted in the Japanese culture unlike our western ideal of four seasons. We cannot mold the seasons to suit our requirements so maybe accepting these subtle or not so subtle periods twixt the seasons makes good sense.

Looking through my photos I was reminded of those occasions and activities that fall into autumn. Here in Victoria we start with a public holiday known as Labour Day in March. Then comes April holidays and the marking of Easter on the Christian calendar. On April 25 we also remember sacrificial love and duty to God and country when World War One broke out and so many took up arms to protect us. Sadly World War Two followed and other conflicts continue. ANZAC Day is not about glorifying war but honouring those who served. Younger generations of Australians and New Zealanders are learning about this part of their history. This year with no COVID restrictions more than 300 people turned out for the dawn service in our small town followed by the traditional gun fire breakfast usually a bacon and egg sandwich. Later in the morning there is a procession where veterans and other community groups and individuals are proudly involved.

The view from my bedroom window is changing with the arrival of foggy mornings and hot air balloons on crisp clear mornings. We see a red fox slinking through the grass in search of food and other times a family group of kangaroos waiting for the sun to arrive.

May is also when we celebrate Mother’s Day in Australia with all its commercial focus on pampering Mums everywhere. I managed a trip interstate to visit my own Mum. Last year, the borders between the states were being closed due to COVID and I just got home only hours before they were. I enjoy the larger open farming spaces of where I grew up. While visiting there was lots of burning off of stubble to make way for the next lot of crops. There is very little cropping near where I live now.

A new array of autumn colours has emerged while other trees shed their leaves freely. The sound of chainsaws echo in the valley as firewood is gathered for the coming cold months. The latest load of Black Angus steers has departed. Our birdlife changes with the seasons and weather. The colourful and cheeky King Parrots come searching for some wild bird seed. The weather has been a mixture of sun and rain with snow forecast this week on the nearby mountain. No doubt winter will arrive soon enough and with it comes the thought that we are almost halfway through another year!

Nature is not only what is visible to the eye – it shows the inner images of the soul – the images on the back side of the eyes.

-Edvard Munch (1863-1944) Norwegian painter and printmaker

Remembering the service of animals with a purple poppy

A colourful window display in our local Mansfield Country Women’s Association hall alerted me to it being Purple Poppy Day on February 24, which commemorates the service of animals of all kinds in war and conflict situations. Many of us are used to buying a red poppy to support our service men and women on ANZAC Day, April 25 and Remembrance Day on November 11.
The purple poppy was introduced to Australia in 2013 by the Australian War Animal Memorial Organisation (AWAMO). It is also known as the “Animal Poppy”. According to AWAMO, purple poppies are designed to be worn alongside the traditional red poppy. They are a reminder of the bravery of both humans and animals that served together.
AWAMO uses money raised from donations and the sale of Purple Poppies to establish memorials. These funds are also used to train support animals to help soldiers with post-traumatic stress, and provide care packages, including paying for care for war animals retired from service due to illness, injury and old age after active service says the AWAMO.
President Nigel Allsopp talks about the organisation’s work in the video clip below.

The Mansfield CWA members put their crafting skills to work to create purple poppies and other items to sell to support the AWAMO. I bought a purple poppy yesterday and look forward to wearing it with my red poppy on ANZAC Day.

Reference:

https://www.purplepoppies.com.au/about/

Country views

Surrounded by nature in my country home.

Some random images taken around and near my home in the High Country of Victoria. I love the changing natural light from sunrise to sunset. The changes in the seasons and the abundance of trees and other plants is also a joy to watch. The Delatite River is a delightful place to cool off or cross by bicycle. It is summer now and the lush greenness of spring has disappeared as the baking sun dries off the grass. It also brings outs the snakes including tigers and browns. We just chased one off now while having our coffee on the verandah. Snakes are a protected native species in Victoria but sometimes people will kill them if they get too near their house or sheds. We also have friends who have sadly lost dogs and even horses to snake bite so it does pay to be wary when out and about. Just like COVID we are learning to live with it!

Tawny Frogmouth master of disguise in Aussie bush

Living on our property in rural Victoria near the alpine area, we are often treated to a variety of Australian birdlife ranging from bright blue Superb Fairy Wrens and raucous Sulphur Crested Cockatoos and occasionally the owl-like Tawny Frogmouth. The latter is a nocturnal bird that requires a keen eye to spot during the day. The tawny frogmouth is able to master the art of camouflage and blend in with the bark of a gum tree tucked in a hollow. My husband and I were thrilled to find the adult male pictured above in one of our large gum trees next to our dam last year. He graced us with his presence for more than a week, and his distinctive deep booming “Oom-oom-oom-oom” noise could often be heard in the evening.
Apparently, if they sense danger, Tawny Frogmouths can hiss loudly and puff themselves up to look much bigger with enlarged eyes and wide-open beaks. However, the best defence they have is in their ability to vanish into their surroundings. The mottled grey feathers against the matching bark of the tree also make them hard to photograph during the day. I love his closed eyes as he tries to ignore the world.
But come nightfall, and that sleepy pose is replaced with the action of flight and search for food. I assumed that frogs were on their menu because our dam is full of noisy croaking, especially during spring. The name Tawny Frogmouth relates to their appearance. The “large flattened, triangular, hooked beak which is olive-grey in colour, and the huge frog-like gape is used to catch insects” is the description provided by the animalcorner.org website. The birds also go through two different plumage colour changes from silver-grey to being russet-red.

Tawny frogmouths are the masters of camouflage and hard to spot or photograph high up in the gum trees


Our visitor disappeared, although we could still hear faint sounds of “Oom-oom-oom-oom” from a distance for another week or so.
Then over a week ago, we had a surprise visitor land on our verandah close to our house early evening when it was going dark. My husband spotted the young Tawny Frogmouth while outside and called me out to look. I grabbed my camera and was thrilled to take some closeups of this downy little creature. We think our outdoor lights must have attracted him to try his luck at catching insects. It was fairly obvious this bird was still on his L-plates for flying and not long out of the nest. One notable aspect was the different noise to an adult bird which sounded more like a croak.
We didn’t want to stress him out too much, so we quickly moved away and were surprised when one of the parents landed on our verandah as if to say, come on home now. Lights were switched off, and we can only assume that the pair flew off together. There haven’t been any sightings since, so we hope they are alright.
I found a delightful video (link below) about these wonderful unusual, but endearing Australian birds which deserve to win our affection. Makes me appreciate seeing them in the wild so much more.

References

https://www.bushheritage.org.au/species/tawny-frogmouth

https://animalcorner.org/animals/tawny-frogmouth/