Major Cold: Pheasant hens brood

July 27th, 2012
by Jo Law

As the sun moves to 120º on the ecliptic, we enter the last solar term of winter. This first pentad of ‘Major Cold’ began with aptly wintry conditions with the daytime maximums reaching the mid-teens and overnight minimums hovering just above 10ºC. Persistent light rains were followed by a glorious warm sunny Wednesday. It was succeeded by a moody overcast day that ended with a thunder storm. The pentad closed with another beautiful winter’s day.

The Chinese Almanac continues to focus on bird life but these ‘observations’ appear to be more a metaphorical gesture towards the raising yang than descriptive of actual phenological occurrences. Perhaps these images of spring activities fuel the hopes that the coldest season will soon draw to an end.

Bird life does not quieten down throughout Illawarra’s mild winter. On Wollongong campus, a rather fearless large bird, possibly a pearl guinea fowl, harassed customers of the library’s cafe, jumping onto tables and sending piqued students running. She was particularly keen on the toasted panini, which is the cafe’s trademark. Elsewhere, a pair of wood ducks, more conventional in their diet, ventured afar from the waterways to graze on open lawn.

In Austinmer, three King Parrots (Alisterus scapularis) decided to try their luck and stopped briefly on our front deck to see whether any edibles have been left out for them. In Hollis’s first spring, waiting for the King Parrots was something we did in the afternoon while we have our snack. This fascination with the birds continue to this day but we no longer have seeds for the parrots as this also attracts the more troublesome Currawongs (some of whom carry the dreaded bumble foot disease or Staphylococcosis) and Sulphur-crested cockatoos (some of whom likes to eat the house as well).

When no food appeared to be forthcoming the three parrots flew up to the neighbour’s Camellia tree and started eating the flowers, apparently satisfied what the suburban plant life has to offer.


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