February 12, 2011

Niall's blog

Our son Niall changed the address for his blog a little while ago, but busy mama here only just got around to updating the link on our right nav! You can read about our travels from the perspective of an 11 year old here.

Niall

February 11, 2011

It's a wild, wild life in the marina

It's amazing how much wildlife is around the marina, despite our relatively urban location. In addition to the previously introduced geese, Peter and Paul, there are a few regulars. Most mornings, we don't need an  alarm clock- we have the kookaburras. You know, the one from the old children's song, that sits laughing in the old gum tree? It's exactly what happens here. The laugh is crazy- it sounds for all the world like jungle primates, as if howler monkeys were hooting and calling riffs up in the green hillsides around us. We rarely see these birds, but there's not a day that passes when we don't hear them.

Among our favorites are the (extremely camera shy) Fairy Penguins. It's party the novelty of seeing penguins in the wild, but really, they're awfully cute!

fairy penguin behind Totem

At first, we thought there were either sick ducks or a dog in the marina; they make a funny barky quack that sounds like a weird hybrid between the two. They're usually seen in threes: the parents, and a chick. Lately, the juvenile has been making more solo rounds. Apparently it's time for mom and dad to push the little guy out of the nest... or in their case, burrow. All three were cruising the waters around the marina fishing one morning, when the two parents clearly blew dodge and left junior behind... the pleading bark/quack as he circled the moored boats looking for them was kind of pathetic!

At dawn and dusk, the cockatoos come out. Flocks of a couple of dozen of the birds roost in trees around the bay. I snapped this one in a nearby yard- they're stunning to look at, aren't they?

the pigeons of Cammeray

The problem is that they're incredibly destructive. Unattended boats in the marina and the mooring fields have had their masthead instruments destroyed by the strong beaks and claws of the birds, as they rest and dangle from the heights. Headsails on roller furlers have their covers shredded.

The children have taken on the responsibility of defending the marina. One of our dock neighbors, Sandra on s/v Moonraker, wrote in her blog about the "international defence force" of children who keep the marina boats as free as possible from the antics of the Cockies. When the flocks descend- and it's impossible to miss, with their raucous noisemaking- the pint size force stands guard. They advance on any boat that becomes a target, and shake the shrouds and stays until the birds are annoyed enough to flap squawking away. Niall has turned this into small enterprise, earning a little cash in exchange for keeping an eye on one of our neighbor's boats during "Cockatoo Hour" while Peter and Kathy were away for a long weekend.

One of our favorite regular visitors is Dizzy the dog. For anyone who has known us for a while... she looks pretty familiar, doesn't she?

Dizzy the dally

Dizzy lives in one of the gazillion dollar homes that front the bay. At low tide, she can escape from her backyard and comes trotting over to visit boats in the marina. For some reason, she sure likes Totem. I wonder why?  The kids play with her, then throw a webbing sail tie through her collar for a leash when it's time to bring her home. It's been appreciated enough that Dizzy's owner came down bearing gifts for the children one day! Mairen and Siobhan are plotting to deliver a query for dog-walking services the next time they bring Dizzy back.

The latest routine visitor is a little duckling, named Junior by the children. He (she?) is without a family, although he doesn't look old enough to be independent- none of his wing feathers are in. We're going to keep looking for him, and hope he becomes a long term regular too.