Monday, November 29, 2010


Gang-gang Cockatoos are listed as 'vulnerable' by the NSW Government's fauna/flora gurus. They are patchily distributed throughout the Southern Highlands - one sees them infrequently. Last year, I was fortunate/chuffed to see close to twenty birds behind the Sutton Forest Inn - an outstanding tally.

A pair turned up in an acacia opposite my place, early in the evening, yesterday. For an hour and twenty minutes they feasted on seed pods, occasionally omitting their bizarre troubled cat meets hedge trimmer screeches. At one stage, the male got into biffo with a Galah trying to munch pods along the same branch: the Galah, rattled, flew off. Both Gang-gangs used their beaks as a third claw to manoeuvre their way along branches.

The excellent Government website has a wealth of information on Gang-gangs, including eleven points on how to protect the species so it doesn't become endangered in NSW. Clearing, frequent fires and climate change are major issues the bird has to contend with. In Bowral, PCD (Psittacine Cirovirus Disease) has been a great concern.

It's up to all of us to do what we can to look out for the bird, possibly the most beautiful of our cockatoos. If you've seen any Gang-gangs in Bundanoon lately, please send me an email.

LJ, November 29 2010

Monday, November 15, 2010


Early Sunday, I went for my first wander to Fairy Bower Falls. The day was steamy, throbbing, almost suffocating: summer had arrived like a squadron of Black Hawks.

I think Samuel Taylor Coleridge, if he was still amongst us, would love Fairy Bower Falls. He wouldn't have felt incarcerated there, as he did in his famous poem incorporating a lime tree bower, for the place speaks only of liberty. Down there, amongst a multiplicity of ferns, you can reinvent or recapture yourself.

The ecstatic static and sound of applause/breaking surf in cascading water, stalactite-like tree roots hanging over and around the Falls, a cliff face plastered with orange lichen, a purplish flower at chest height (which I'm guessing was some sort of orchid), the sharp ticking of Large-billed Scrubwrens (the Falls are my third spot in the Southern Highlands for this irregularly seen species - Ferny Glen at Fitzroy Falls and Robertson Nature Reserve are the other two), a retreating Swamp Wallaby's thud-thwack paw-cadence then fearful stare at you, a Spotted Pardalote's bobbing as it called above a potential nest hole embankment and, of course, that humbling view across the measureless gullies that harbour Bundanoon Creek and Sooty Owls (hopefully the subject of an upcoming post): so many immaculate things for the person who craves otherness.

Snapshots to follow...

LJ, November 15 2010

Friday, November 12, 2010


An adult male King Parrot turns up in my backyard every few days, for seeds, and possibly company (not that a parrot needs human company - unless it's a bedraggled, schizophrenic parrot kept in the bottom of a rotting hulk in some far-flung, fantastical, pirate-infested corner of the globe, or dead, on a TV, in a British living room).

This morning, two adult males appeared and hung out with me for twenty minutes. I handed them some seeds and fruit. They were flighty, screechy and evasive if my son, dog and I got too close. But then, they'd come back, feed some more. Eventually, some other disturbance beyond our comprehension, involving an hysterical cockatoo, pushed the birds into the air, then memory.

The vermillion on the parrots' heads and chests was dazzling. I used to think the orange-red of an adult male Flame Robin was the most blindingly beautiful colour in Australian nature, now I'm not so sure.

LJ, November 12 2010

Monday, November 8, 2010


Another walk to and from Erith Coal Mine on the weekend produced an Echidna. Serendipity plays a large part in finding them. A naturalist doesn't say, 'Today I will track down an echidna'. The echidna tracks you down.

I love Echidnas for their doggedness, their resolve: they just get through. Up close, they're a colony of sharpened pencils, a conspiracy of minarets, a breathing sea urchin. Their snout is like a dead man's little finger.

This is the fourth or fifth Echidna I've seen in the Highlands.

LJ, November 8 2010.

Thursday, November 4, 2010


Late morning, my son and I were privileged to see two (I'm presuming they were male) Eastern Grey Kangaroos scrapping on the sodden flats between Blue Gum Rd and Birchwood Drive. There was much kickboxing going on. The fight lasted for about ten minutes. I wasn't sure who the victor was - neither animal staggered away dazed and bemused. The pair were part of a mob of about thirteen kangaroos. The females, all nonchalance, weren't paying attention to the males' hullaballoo. I've only witnessed this behavior once before, in a steep north-western stretch of Kangaroo Valley guarded by towering eucalypts.

LJ, November 4 2010.


There are four juvenile Welcome Swallows on their nest outside The Good Yarn. The cupped nest is a sturdy thing of mud, stuck onto brickwork. The nestlings are being fed by both parents.

LJ, November 4 2010.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


Celebrated poet, Soil Saint and mate, Peter Lach-Newinsky, tends a twenty-acre permaculture farm in Bundanoon. He has a fascinating essay on the minutiae of his property in revered Tasmanian literary mag Island (#121); it is well worth a read for its illumination of Bundanoon's often unseen wild side.

You can check out Peter's writings on permaculture/bioregionalism/animals etc. at and assorted other things at 

Peter's a man who really walks this Earth and understands its spirit.

LJ, November 3 2010.  

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


Following a report of Brown Quail and Origma at/near Erith Coal Mine by Melbourne-based birder Ian Lundy, I  tramped along the track to the Coal Mine in 24 degree heat last Sunday morning. Neither bird showed. I need the latter for my Southern Highlands list.

What I did discover (by myself, and then later, with my son's keen-eyed help) between the almost metaphysical waves of cicada song, grass trees, boronias, irises, eggs and bacon, hakeas, geebungs, banksias, coral ferns, scribbly gums with their polygraph graffiti and eucalypts various, were frogs or toadlets making the noise of distant geese (odd, will have to follow this up), a Jacky Lizard sunbathing (it's been a long time between Jacky Lizards), a minute snail with olive and yellow shell patterning, a centimetre-long red and black spider (I'll have to consult my spider guide), a well-camouflaged brutalist-architecture-grey grasshopper or cricket, Tree Martins arcing beneath the canopy (I've not watched them below the canopy before; I also saw one perched in a tree on my last visit: another first), bull ants ready for biff-o, excitable Striated Thornbills and full-voiced Rufous Whistlers.

The coachwood-blessed wet forest beneath and beyond the entrances to the disused mines, has huge potential for Sooty and Powerful Owls, perhaps a wayward/lost Pink Robin, Green Catbirds, Noisy Pittas, Logrunners, crayfishes, a variety of amphibious things and, if one's lucky, quolls.

The place has seduced me. Naturally, I'll return.

LJ, November 2 2010.

Monday, November 1, 2010


Last night, a Boobook Owl turned up opposite my home and positioned itself high in a pine. For twenty minutes it called incessantly: it would let out its 'mo-poke' every three seconds; once it just uttered a 'mo' without the 'poke'. I was unable to get my torch beam onto the bird due to the pine's dense mass of needles.

A couple of weeks back I was out in Morton NP at about 7pm and heard five Boobooks calling from various areas about the gully that holds Bundanoon Creek. Surely, the Boobook's two-syllable hoot is the quintessential Australian night noise.

LJ, November 1 2010.