Saturday, May 05, 2012

Australian Garden Visitors - Annie West

Rainbow Lorikeets
 I thought I'd share something a little different with you today. I looked out my window earlier and saw a group of colourful birds (Eastern Rosellas) gathered on our pergola and realised how unique they are. Australia is full of a great range of birdlife, and other unique wildlife for that matter, which makes life interesting.

As well as rosellas, we get colourful lorikeets and I have to say they're the stars of this piece. Here's a picture I took at my parents' house. As you can see, my parents put out food for them . These little birds are very cheeky and appealing, and raucous in large numbers. In wet weather they congregate near my parents' back door, on the eaves and outdoor windowsills, waiting for feed time. One even flew in one day, to be found hours later perched on the top of their curtains - obviously eager for seconds.

Free for all at feeding time

You'll get a little idea from the picture what a scene they make - always on the move and squabbling even as they make room for each other. I get these in my yard too, flying down from the tall gum trees and filling up on edible fruits and flowers. In addition we get kookaburras (not nearly so pretty but with great character and a terrific laugh), king parrots in vivid red and emerald green that I'm sure is even brighter than the lorikeets, and a whole stack of other winged visitors.

Here's a surprise we discovered one day. Mum and baby ducklings had decided to have their first swim on our pool. Sorry the photo isn't too clear - I didn't want to distress them by getting too close. You can see them gathered on the far side of the pool. I got such a shock when I sat down to work early one morning and discovered this little lot paddling about. Unfortunately I had to go out later and missed seeing how mum got the babies out of there and down to the nearest watercourse.
Their first swim!

In addition to birds we get snakes, including at least one venomous one, but as they're usually after frogs they don't bother us. We have the most marvellous slow-moving and very appealing blue tongue lizards (whose tongues really are blue). They creep through the undergrowth and give me the fright of my life when I'm weeding and think I've found a snake. We have at least two types of possum in our yard and have had a stand off with one who wanted to live in our roof. In addition there are the usual little critters including red back spiders (nasty little things related to black widow spiders) and funnel-web spiders which give me the creeps (yes, they're venomous). But, though it sounds like it could be scary, it's not. I'm glad to say we live pretty well in harmony with our wilder neigbours.

How about you? Do you get visitors to your garden or neighbourhood that remind you of the wider world of nature? Or do you have favourite creatures you haven't seen but would love to?

I'll give away a copy of my latest book to a person, chosen at random, from those who leave a comment.

I've got a new release out now: UNDONE BY HIS TOUCH, and for a change it's set in Australia. No, it doesn't feature flocks of birds or even venomous creepy crawlies. Instead it's got a brooding, scarred Aussie recluse of a hero who steals the limelight. This is my first Beauty and the Beast story and I'm very excited about it.

If you want to read more about it visit me at where you'll find an excerpt and  links to buy it. It's a May release in Australia and New Zealand, and a June Presents Extra in North America. And, to my delight, it recently scored a 4 star review from Romantic Times. 


Mary Preston said...

I have birds of every variety including: crows, currawongs, magpies, peewees, cockatoos, kookaburras, rainbow lorikeets and assorted others from the bird habitat down the road.

The dawn & dusk chorus is raucous to say the least.

I also have blue tongued lizards & SO many skinks.

Spiders abound, but no snakes thank goodness. I had enough of those as a child.

Annie West said...

Hi Marybelle,

I love skinks. We get lots of them here too. They like to sun themselves on the path in autumn and spring in particular.

It sounds like you've got quite a bird collection there. Lovely!

Anonymous said...

Hi Annie,
What a beautiful array of colour those Rosellas are. How lucky to have them so close to observe and photograph. :)

On the Central Coast we get quite a few pink Galahs ( I love their antics on the high wires) white Cockatoos, occasionally the black cockatoos fly by and lots of bunny's (grrrr for they eat the young shoots on my vege garden and plants ) and at dawn and dusk there are kangaroos and wallabys in the local bushlands, not far away.

And yes there are the slithering kind, (shudder) the Red-Belly Blacks and the Brown Snakes.
Yes we are a very unique country with our diverse Flora and fauna.

Annie West said...

Hi Mary,

How cool to have kangaroos and wallabies coming in close to your place. Bad luck on the bunnies, though.

I love galahs too but particularly the black cockatoos - they're special. Years ago we used to live in a place where we got gang gangs - about the size of a galah but they make a sound like a squeaking gate opening.

Sounds like your place is full of visitors too.

Karen H said...

Just another reason why I want to visit Australia someday....such varied and interesting wildlife abounds there! Here in NC, we do have Copperheads and Cottonmouths...but fortunately, I haven't run across any of those critters. I've seen lots of rabbits, a few deer and a fox in my back yard. I live in a rather well-developed urban area, so wildlife is not found in great numbers. That said, one neighborhood has recently been visited by a black bear. Glad it's not my neighborhood! I do see lots of birds, ducks and geese flying around. The other day, I saw a family of geese walking down my street...they were looking for the pond a few blocks away! And I see plenty of skinks and have seen several praying mantis hanging around my doors. Once a skink was posed on one of my dining room windows, outside but all I could see its shadow on my window blind inside. Looked a little weird and eerie!

Kaelee said...

Oh yes ~ the more I read about Australia and New Zealand, the more I'd love to visit to see the flora and fauna.

We don't feed the birds but we do have a heated birdbath so that they have a source of water during our cold winter months. We get chickadees, crows, and sparrows all year round. In the warmer months we get robins, the occasional nuthatch, blue jays, magpies and other birds. It's so much fun to watch them taking a bath and splashing water everywhere.

Squirrels, both black and brown ones, love to bury their peanuts in my garden. I have been trying to educate our neighbors so that they do not feed peanuts to the squirrels as they seldom eat them. I did save a whole batch of them and gave them back to one neighbor who fed them peanuts in the shell. He did promise not to do it but I'm still finding the peanuts everywhere.

Your beauty and the beast story sounds very interesting.

Anna Campbell said...

Lovely post, Annie! As you know, we get a lot of the same critters in my yard. My favorites, I think, are the bearded dragons. Wonderful miniature dinosaurs. We're so lucky to have this beautiful wildlife living so close to us, aren't we? Sadly there aren't many kookaburras here where I live. I'm never sure why. Maybe the lorikeets chase them out!

Annie West said...

Hi Karen, I'm glad the Copperheads and Cottonmouths aren't in your back yard! As for bears! I'd love to see some but not up close. It sounds as if, even though you're in a built up area, there's lots of wildlife around. Thanks for sharing.

Annie West said...

Kaelee - a heated birdbath sounds so luxurious! I've never heard of that before but now I think about it it makes so much sense. I have no idea what half of your birds look like. Actually, when I've travelled overseas that's one of the things that always makes me realise how foreign I am - the fact that I don't know the birds!

Fascinating about the squirrels. I wonder why they'd take the nuts if they don't eat them?

I'm glad you like the sound of 'Undone'. It was a teal treat to write.

Annie West said...

Anna, aren't bearded dragons a treat? I'm sure I saw one cast as Godzilla in an old Japanese film. They've got such character. My parents had one who lived in their yard for years and could usually be found sitting on top of a fence post trying to look like the end of a tree stump. Hm, I've never thought of lorikeets being able to chase out a kookaburra. Maybe your kookaburra's just prefer other territory. I wonder.

Shelley B said...

My classroom is next to the woods. The other day it was raining, so I raised the blinds and opened the window. It has a calming effect on my kiddies. As I looked out, I saw a rabbit and one baby bunny hop out after her. That sat in the clearing for over an hour, eating and hopping around. I pointed them out to my students and asked them to approach quietly so to not scare them off. My students would walk to the window and silently watch them. It was a really touching scene to see. The kids are super hyper with school only having a few weeks left in session, but for those moments, a calmness decended on us.

Annie West said...

Hi Shelley, how interesting that the open air calms your children in class. I love the story of them so quiet and attentive watching the two rabbits. There's something fascinating about an animal mother and child, isn't there? Thanks for sharing.

Di said...

We get lots of animals (deer, skunk, possum, squirrels, ground hog, fox, rabbit) and many birds (cardinals, sparrows, blue jays, chickadees, yellow finch, buzzards, crows), but none as multi-colored as your visitors. There are also bears in the surrounding areas, but I've never seen one in my yard. Something does turn on the motion detector light, but I think it's either a cat or deer ... I hope. I'd really rather not run into a bear.

Annie West said...

Di, these posts sound very exotic to me. We get get rabbits, foxes and possums in Australia (though the latter are very different to yours). Our motion detector light goes off sometimes but I think it's usually from a brush-tailed possum. Definitely no deer or bears here. I'd love to see some of those birds of yours too.

TashNz said...

Hi Annie, love the post. My daughter has done a bit of research on pets and decided that a Rainbow Lorikeet was going to be it, mainly because at the moment we're in a apartment style area so you're limited to pets. The Rainbow Lorikeets as pets apparently need a lot of handling and very responsive, which is what my daughter would like, she's very hands on. We havent done it yet. while they fly around in Oz like sparrows here, they cost a bit of money to buy and their cages are quite expensive. One day :) When my kids went to Currumbin Wildlife Sanctury it was just after the rains so that part was closed and they missed out on all the birds landing on them during feeding time :)

I love your posts about Australia :)))

Annie West said...

Tash, I'm glad you like the post. Yes, Rainbow Lorikeets are common here (actually I've just been for a walk and noticed a couple of cheeky ones just a metre away, eating nectar off flowers - too busy to move just because we were there. What a shame your kids missed out on the bird feeding at Currumbin - that's such a treat. Good luck with the new bird. Will she get two as company for each other?

Beverley Eikli aka Beverley Oakley said...

We had a resident Blue-Tongue lizard in our garden when I was growing up in South Australia - as well as a couple of "Twenty-Eight" parrots saved from an illegal smuggling racket. Beautiful birds! Love Beauty and the Beast stories. Hope it does well!

Michele L. said...

Those birds are gorgeous! I love all kinds of animals. We live close to Lake Michigan in Indiana, so we get all kinds of deer, racoons, wolves, pheasant, turkey vultures, etc. We do have a lot of birds too. We have cranes that nest close to here and it is awesome to watch them fly. I would love to see any kind of african animal in its wild habitat. My niece had the rare opportunity to go to Africa for her work and saw the animals on a drive. She was so excited to see them that up close and personal!

Annie West said...

Hi Beverley,

I don't know 'Twenty Eight' parrots. I must look them up. It's sad to see so many birds and reptiles smuggled, isn't it?

Thanks for the good wishes for 'Undone'. I'm hoping readers will love it. So far the feedback is lovely.

Annie West said...

Michele, how exciting for your niece to go to Africa and see some of the animals there. That would be such a treat. I have to admit to being fascinated by what I've seen of racoons on film and wolves too. I gather wolves are making a bit of a comeback in some areas. We don't have any big carnivores in mainland Australia now except for dingoes.

TashNz said...

Oooh I'm not sure, yes if that's what it needs to be happy :)

Annie West said...

I'm no expert, Tash, but they always seem to be in groups. They seem to like each others' company.

Eli Yanti said...

Hi Annie,

hem... i think it's only butterfly and dragonfly visited :)

Annie West said...

Eli, I love butterflies and dragonflies. The iridescent colour on dragonflies is so gorgeous.

Annie West said...

Thanks, everyone, for sharing about the wildlife where you are.

I've drawn the random winner of my book giveaway. The winner is Karen H. Congratulations, Karen! If you email me at annie(at)annie-west(dot)com with your postal address, I'll post UNDONE BY

TashNz said...

Ok, thank you Annie. I'll look into it if we get one. It makes sense, they're quite social birds. :))

Karen H said...

Hi Annie,

Thanks so very much! I've sent you email with my mailing address.

Annie West said...

Thanks, Karen. I haven't opened my mail yet but will do so soon and package up your copy of UNDONE. I hope you have fun with Declan and Lucy.