Birdies in Great Conjunction

The term “Great Conjunction” refers to the major planets lining up.

This morning, all my ducks were in a row, if you’re prepared to overlook the fact none of the birds were ducks.

2014-09-18-Grand-Conjunction(Larger version of picture)

Brave, Pip, Saucy and Pie were all waiting for the second feed of the morning. If I’d been two seconds faster, Swoopy would have still been on the dark post just right of centre.

And for those who worry that I may be making these birds too tame or human-dependent, fear not: they all forage for grubs and beetles in my yard and others nearby. I also discourage them from getting close enough to be touched.

Pip and Brave: A Good Afternoon for Photos

IMG_6911Pip turned up, asking for food.

IMG_6913This happens a few times, most days.

IMG_6916This time, I was a little bit better than usual at steering a camera while dispensing bits of meat.

IMG_6917Pip’s father, Brave, turned up long enough to grab a shipment for the young ones back in the nest.


Does this LOOK like a starving bird? You should have heard his plaintive squeaks before I emerged.


And that’s about it till next feed!

‘Ungry Birds and Frosty Comebacks

Young Pip continues to change. All that infantile brown is being replaced with black, and I wonder if he’ll stick around, or be kicked off the patch by the parents.

Speaking of parents,  mother butcherbird Swoopy, her mate Brave, and the magpies (Pie and Saucy), have become quite bold in the quest for handouts.

There are multiple rapid begging raids, interspersed with flights to ferry beakloads of tucker back to their respective nests.

IMG_6876The Brave Guardian of the Feet. She also warns if hungry birds are queueing outside. Good girl she is, and never chases any welcome visitors away.

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Anyone who’s been reading the backdated posts with older photos may notice that things are not quite as grand as they used to be.

It was a harsh winter, and I wasn’t able to get the plants into shelter.  Hopefully, most will make a comeback.

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Miscy Pix – Illustration Heavy


Xanthorrhea (grasstree) clone. By the time it’s got a proper stem (probably twenty years from now) I myself will be fertiliser.


Sarracenia psittacina regrowth emerging from under frost-bitten pitchers.


New growth already on the rescued Nepenthes.


Spring comes to my potted jalapeno pepper plant.


Sometimes Young Pip comes to the same jalapeno plant.

2014-09-07-Birds&Swamp-Garden-2000The birdseye chilli bush looks like it will recover fully.

2014-09-07-Birds&Swamp-Garden-0055The seedling Sarracenias might make a comeback, and…

2014-09-07-Birds&Swamp-Garden-0057Dioneas (flytraps) are supposed to endure a cold winter dieback, or they don’t do well the next year. I think mine definitely copped a chill!

2014-09-07-Birds&Swamp-Garden-0061More of the Drosera spatulata lived than didn’t, which is good.


By the looks of things, there will be many leucophylla seeds in a few months’ time.

With luck, and an improvement in health and the weather, there will be more here soon.

Now, to the kitchen! A cool evening deserves a warming soup…


I Told Her I Didn’t, And Crawled Off To Sleep In the Bath…

A Nice Young Tradesman Chap bought the rental place next door just before Winter set in. Being a tradesman, our new neighbour promptly started doing the place up.

When I saw the remains of the old bathroom beginning to accumulate in the trailer, I did what any questionably-sane carnivorous plant grower would do, and asked if they were disposing of the bathtub.

Lovely guy, the new neighbour! He even brought it over the next day, saving me a bit of lifting. I expressed my gratitude with a small basket of home-grown chillies, and put the tub aside for Spring.

I’d been ready to divide some of the Sarracenia pitchers this year: the mad rush of buds, emergent flower stalks and swollen bits of rhizome literally stretching the sides of their plastic tubs, let me know some division and repotting was well due.

While I’ve got even more tubs of leucophylla, and about as many purpurea and psittacina as before, there’s a fairly good selection in the bathtub too.

2014-09-07-Birds&Swamp-Garden-0000Things will hopefully get a lot prettier soon!

2014-09-07-Birds&Swamp-Garden-0008Some leucophylla and purpurea, settling in.


Good old Drosera capensis – couldn’t kill ‘em with an axe!2014-09-07-Birds&Swamp-Garden-0010

Sarracenia psittacina and (probably) leucophylla x purpurea, at the sump end.

There may be scope for a few flytraps and some Drosera spatulata, once things settle a bit. For now, it’s a case of using hardy species I can spare.

Little Darlin’, It’s Been A Long, Cold, Lonely Winter…

I’m sure the Fab Four can spare me a small chunk of lyrics for a tagline.

It’s true, anyhow. The unexpectedly heavy frosts of this Winter caught me at a bad time, and I was unable to get some of the more delicate specimens under cover, or out of the cold, before damage was done.


The large, expensive nepenthes really copped it.

2014-09-07-Birds&Swamp-Garden-2500There’s a few patches of green, and a bit of green/moist action below the bark, so I’ll leave it and wait.

The two other Nepenthes weathered the ordeal a bit better:
I think we can expect an eventual recovery from both.

This is a new Nepenthes, species unknown. I got it from the rescue area (Bargain Trolley Of Death?) at one of the local Big Hardware places.

Coming Almost Immediately:
more posts, for the other plants.

Meh – What’s A Few Months, Anyway?

Life goes on. The arthricketty bits still creak and grind, and “one-handed typing” is nowhere near the hedonistic pastime of my youth. These days it’s because my left arm is currently not playing with the rest of the team, choosing instead to spend its time hanging with a nerve pinch somewhere up top.

So, what does a one-handed gardener see when he staggers toward the back stairs?2014-09-07-Pie-waits-on-stair-rail-01

First to greet me was Pie, the male of my local pair. His crippled offspring has been driven away to seek its own fortune by now, and both parents are collecting lots of “takeaway” feeds. I gather there may be new hatchlings.



Young Pip, the butcherbird with great expectations, comes to me still, and at different times from his parents. I think there’s young in that nest too, as only one adult at a time comes to beg.

Pip’s adult plumage is growing in, and he’ll soon be a black-and-white adult.

Coming Soon: Pics of Swamp-in-a-bathtub.

Sauce That Goes “Ouch”, With Interruptions

If there’s a good afternoon for making sauce, outside, where the fumes won’t annoy Herself, then it will also be a good afternoon for visitors.

Like a trio of magpies,

including the one with two crippled feet…

(you can just see the piece of nylon string, dental floss or whatever, still attached to his right foot)…


Once the maggies had eventually had enough,

Greedy old Sauce, the mother, gathered up a beak-full for later,

and I was almost ready to get serious…


… when along came Pip, the juvenile butcherbird,

so called because this bird has Great Expectations,

and has been known to perch on the stair handrail and knock on the back door if he thinks I’m late.

Pip being satisfied, I cut and seeded my chillies. Sixteen old-fashioned ounces went into each batch.

The leftover seeds will be a “mystery bag” for one of my friends. There’s everything from fruity peppers to fairly serious heat-givers.

Batch One was made up of fruity peppers and birdseye chillies.

Jar sterilisation is an important factor, and I didn’t overlook it.

Cue lots of bubbling while I cut up Batch Two and prepared some auxiliary ingredients.

Batch Two has Bhut Jolokia and Trinidad Scorpion peppers, among others.

A clump of (frozen) chopped ginger, waiting to go in both pots, along with…

A whole bulb of garlic per batch.

Spices, sugar, salt, vinegar and tomato rounded out the recipe.

And it boiled…

A quick trip to the inside kitchen and a loan of Herself’s blender, and both batches were a lot smoother, and more visibly saucy.

It’s all in jars now. Chosen friends will soon remember me… warmly.