Category Archives: Marina adventures

Duck, duck, goose

I seem to have a thing for bird stories at the moment. This next one is an interesting tale. A tale of how I ended up being the goose!

Can you see the rainbow lorikeet?

Can you see the rainbow lorikeet?

But first a bit of context. Orbit and I regularly walk along the Wynnum/Manly/Lota Esplanade. One of the most interesting sections is the mangroves. I have lived in the area for over ten years now and never noticed how much life was in the mangroves, until I started walking past them with Orbit.

During any adventure, I try to keep a look out for things that Orbit may find interesting, fish, birds, the moon, the travel lift moving a boat, kite surfers or a funny shaped stick. And now, he does the same for me. With probably the same strike rate for interest!

A few weeks ago, we were walking past the mangroves when Orbit said, ‘bird, bird, mummy bird’ while pointing at the mangroves. The further we walked, the more insistent he was. I hadn’t seen any bird, but to keep the peace I turned around.

There is a duck in this photo, somewhere ...

There is a duck in this photo, somewhere …

I knew we reached the right spot on the path, when he started to point more vigorously while saying, “mummy, bird, bird”. I still could not see the bird. I walked up and down the path, looking at the same area and still could not see the bird – until it moved. Once I saw it, it was so obvious! It was a rainbow lorikeet, a native Australian bird. I am used to seeing them in eucalyptus or wattle trees, not mangroves!

For the past few weeks, at a different part of the mangroves, Orbit has been saying ‘duck, duck’ and pointing to a particular tree.  Based on the ‘lorikeet experience’, I have been trying to see this duck. I thought I had seen a duck, but it looked like it was nesting in a mangrove tree. I mean when do you see a duck in mangroves and I am pretty sure ducks don’t nest in mangroves … do they?

The duck!

The duck!

I must confess, I was starting to doubt that there was a duck. Given the Orbit had been saying it for a few weeks and I had still not seen the duck, I had stated saying “duck, duck, goose”, whenever he said ‘duck’. I even started to question my hearing, was Orbit trying to say truck, stuck or other multiple words that rhyme with duck?

But then this week, I saw the duck! There was a duck!

I think its a pacific black duck. I have put in a photo of what the mangroves actually look like, plus a photo that I have zoomed in and has had the light enhanced.

So I guess I am the goose after all!


How do you know if you have pissed off a pigeon?

‘How do you know if you have pissed off a pigeon?’ is not one of the conversations I thought I would be having with Orbit.


A towel stuffed in the end of the main sail cover and a bunny cord around it to secure it

It all started a few days ago, when to my horror, I heard a pigeon happily cooing on Medina’s solar panels. “It’s just a pigeon” I hear you say … Unfortunately, pigeons are like cardboard – they look harmless, but deeper, darker, more sinister things can come from them. In the case of cardboard it is cockroaches and other creepy crawlies. In the case of pigeons, it is nests, eggs and more pigeons.

So, on hearing the pigeon, I jumped up and told him/her to go away. But alas, not in the politest of terms. I must have looked like a crazy lady, waving my arms, using expletives and threatening the poor bird with a boat hook.

I have to confess it was not my finest moment. You see, I had just recently cleared a swallow’s nest from our boom and I didn’t want to repeat the process. I’m sure a good dose of bad karma is coming my way from the swallows whose home I destroyed. And I don’t want a another dose from the pigeons!


The little fella is starting to get aggressive

Anyway, quite happy with my ‘go away and don’t come back performance’, I got on with life. Until the Skipper (as he was stepping off Medina to go to work), let me know that he had seen some pigeons coming out of our mainsail cover early that morning. And as he was speaking, one of them was sitting on our solar panels with a twig in its beak.

So, without any consideration of what I had to do or where I needed to be, I set about ‘pigeon proofing our mainsail and its cover. First, I checked that there wasn’t any sleeping pigeons or eggs, luckily there was only the beginnings of a nest. I then popped a towel in the end of the sail cover and wrapped it together with a bungy cord so the little buggers could no longer get in. My task was complete in under 2 minutes, thanks to my work of preventing the swallows from remaking their nest in the boom.

It may not be pretty, but I think it is working because I had two very, very pissed off pigeons. How do I know they were pissed off?

  1. They were giving me ‘the evil eye’ and even maintained eye contact!
  2. They were ‘getting physical’, yep, fluffing up their feathers, spreading their wings, I think they may have wacked me, if they were human
  3. They would not fly away when Orbit or I went on the transom to get a good look at them (unless I had my phone/camera to take a photo – that is just Murphy’s Law)
  4. They managed to poo as much poo as they possibly poo on our solar panels – thank goodness its been raining and so hopefully its washed off.
  5. They hung around for 2 days, yep 2 days, I am not sure where they slept, but by day 2 they were starting to make me feel guilty.

I don’t think I’ll be getting a Christmas card off these two this year!

Given all the activity and hanging around, I thought I may have trapped an egg or something else of importance to them in the mainsail.  They are pretty clever birds, did you know they catch the Tube in London? So on Day 2, I removed the bungy and towel had another look (with a torch this time) and could not see anything but the same makings of a nest, which I removed the best I could.

Over lunch on Day 2, I explained to Orbit all the ‘pigeon behaviours’ that we had seen and why they were so pissed off at me. I also tried to justify my own actions by explaining that there were better places to build a nest and it was better to stop them building a nest now, rather than later.

The real message I wanted to give to Orbit was not ‘how do you know if you have pissed off a pigeon’ but rather ‘observe’ – we knew they were hanging around; ‘be kind’ – sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind; and ‘be aware’ – to watch how an animal moves, it will let you know how it is feeling, because unfortunately they don’t speak the same language as us.

So ‘observe’, ‘be kind’ and ‘be aware’, and try not to piss off the pigeons!

Living above an aquarium

Bream hanging out under Medina

Bream hanging out under Medina

One of the advantages of living on a boat is being surrounded by wildlife. In our case they are usually of the feathered or scaled variety, with an occasional domestic hairy one stopping by to say hello with its human in tow.

At the moment we have a school of bream hanging out in our section of the marina. They are easiest to see in the mornings, so a new part of out daily routine is to give them a feed. It’s also easier to see the bream from the floating walkway that runs alongside Medina than on deck, so Orbit feeds them from there, rather than leaning over the safety rails.

With my confidence in Orbit increasing and risk of him falling in the water decreasing, I am becoming more comfortable doing activities together on the floating walkway next to Medina. Orbit doesn’t wear his harness anymore (when playing on the floating walkway beside Medina) because it was becoming to restrictive and dangerous. This doesn’t mean I leave him unsupervised, he’s always within and arms length or two, and never on his own.

He’s a pretty smart kid, but still prone to moments of silliness – which is when accidents tend to happen. So we only ‘play’ on the walkway when the moments of silliness are less likely to happen and if he start’s being silly we’re back on deck or below.

Feeding the bream

Feeding the bream

Luckily, one of Orbit’s less silly times coincides with when the its easiest to see the bream. So after our breakfast, we give the bream their breakfast. We’re working on tearing the left over bread into small pieces rather than throwing whole pieces into the water, but its a work in progress. The whole adventure only lasts five maybe ten minutes but the amazement and joy it brings both of us lasts a lot longer.

Orbit hasn’t put the connection of feeding the fish and eating fish together yet. Just as he hasn’t put together the connection of watching Banana in Pyjamas and eating bananas or reading about Super Chicken and eating chicken. I am sure we are going to be having that conversation one day, I can hear the question already, “mummy, am I eating my friends?” … maybe I can divert that question to the Skipper …

MYO jigsaw puzzles

Painting the puzzle

Painting the puzzle

Regular readers would know that craft is one of our ‘go to’ activities on Medina. Craft allows both Orbit and I to feed our creative sides, develop our fine motor skills and is a great way to recycle a few things that we would otherwise throw in the rubbish/recycle bin.

I have found it easiest to try and keep most of our craft things in one box (or the messy things at least). By messy I mean things that are harder to clean up, like paint, glitter, goggly eyes etc – basically all the things that Orbit really likes to play with and the Skipper doesn’t want in the bilges. Things that don’t go in the craft box are larger items, like egg cartons, old magazines or boxes. I just ‘stash’ these around Medina where ever they will fit.

With the unpleasant weather this week, overcast and windy – low likelihood of muddy puddles, I turned to one of my guides of raising kids on sailing boats Kids in the Cockpit. One activity that Jill suggests is to make your own (MYO) jigsaw puzzles using the cardboard from boxes. Orbit enjoys doing puzzles, so out came the craft box.

After going through the cardboard options on Medina, I decided on the cardboard from one of the boxes that bulk baby wipes come in.  After cutting off the bits we could use, Orbit and I got into painting our designs and left them to dry. It was time for Orbit’s afternoon nap before they were dry, so while he was asleep, I drew some puzzle type shapes on to our designs and cut them out, ready for Orbit to ‘test’ when he woke up.

Putting our MYO puzzles together at a local cafe

Putting our MYO puzzles together at a local cafe

I learnt a few things while Orbit was sound asleep. Firstly, I am not very good at drawing puzzle pieces and stuffed up a few ‘trial’ jigsaw puzzles. Secondly, the thick cardboard from bulk baby wipe boxes is probably not the best for making puzzles as its too thick which means its really hard to cut.

But then I reminded myself that the whole point of the exercise was to have fun and to be creative. So, thirdly, there aren’t any rules when making jigsaw puzzles! So I ended up going with the flow of cutting where the cardboard ‘wanted to go’ and the result wasn’t to bad (for a first go).

When Orbit woke up he was more than happy to play with his new jigsaw puzzles and even wanted to take them to breakfast at a local cafe the next day! So we’ll definitely be doing MYO jigsaw puzzles again, but probably with a thinner type of cardboard next time.

A tale of two puddles

IMG_4345 (1)

Muddy puddles

This week was a tale of two puddles. With the rain came muddy puddles and with the low tide came sandy puddles.

Jumping in muddy puddles is such a simple but entertaining exercise for Orbit and we don’t even have to leave the marina! It’s a wonderful adventure searching out for clean puddles but also the best puddles. By clean puddles I mean those that are less likely to have any nasties in them (like run off from rubbish bins). The best puddles are those that are safely away from car parks and frequently used roads within the marina so Orbit can play freely, without me asking him to move because cars or trucks are coming past. But most importantly, they need mud – the higher potential for mud the better. As little boys know, the amount of fun is directly correlated how dirty one can get!


Why I try to find ‘clean’ puddles

Each new puddle would start out with clear water and we would examine if there was anything interesting in it (like a leaf or a stick) before Orbit jumped in, adding to the number of mud splats on his face. By the time we got back to Medina, Orbit had very wet pants and socks and very muddy gumboots and rain coat and I had a collection of ‘interesting things’ from the puddles in my pockets. While I went about cleaning up the mud, there was one very happy little boy who fell asleep contented (if not exhausted) that afternoon.

At the moment I am trying to teach Orbit only to jump in puddles when he has his gumboots on. As we only have so much space on Medina, we are limited to the number of shoes we have, so I try to keep Orbit’s shoes clean and dry. As clean and dry as possible for a 2.5 year old that is!

A few days later Orbit and I were off to one of the local parks. After playing in the muddy puddles, he was determined to wear his gumboots, so off we went to the park gumboots on.

The park we went to has a playground on one side and a small beach on the other. It was low tide and there were ‘salt water’ puddles left on the exposed sand. Am not sure what causes these depressions, someone once told me it was from the stingrays resting on the sand at high tide – but who knows, please let me know if you do.

IMG_4373As Orbit walked down the beach, he started to get really excited started to yell “puddles, puddles!” and ran towards them. I wasn’t in too much of a hurry to catch up because Orbit usually takes his shoes off before jumping in the water at the beach. But this time, after examining what was in the puddle and collecting the mangrove seeds, he jumped in – gumboots on!

Although Orbit was having trouble jumping in the puddles because his boots were sinking into the sand, he still persisted, running from one puddle to the next, each puddle getting a bit deeper the closer to the waterline he got. In one of the puddles, his gumboots finally filled up with saltwater and called me over to help him out of his predicament of being stuck in the puddle.

While I was trying to get his gum boots off, which can be quite tricky with wet sandy socks, I wondered why he still had his gumboots on. Then my words came back to me “only jump in puddles when you have your gum boots on”. Orbit was doing exactly what I had asked him to do!