Monthly Archives: November 2015

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.

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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!

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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.
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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!

The box that keeps on giving

The other week Orbit went shopping with the Skipper. It was the usual “boy’s shopping trip” to the chandlery. A chandlery is to a boat what a hardware store is to a house. They are a treasure trove of boat goodies with everything from anchors, navigational equipment, toilets and clothes through to safety equipment, and door handles!

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While the Skipper and Orbit were out shopping, I managed get my head down for a nanna nap. I was woken by a not so little voice yelling, “mummy, mummy, pump, pump” then “up down, up down, up down” … You can imagine what my first thought was in my half asleep nanna nap haze.

Luckily my nanna nap haze lifted quickly, because the next thing Orbit was on the bed, brandishing a new pump for our toilet. I say luckily because in his excitement of trying to get the pump to me as quickly as possible, Orbit got caught in the bedding, tripped and swung the pump into the pillow where my head had just been peacefully resting!

How fortunate are we to have a child that gets excited about a new pump for the toilet! (Am having flash backs to last week’s post …). Why was Orbit so excited? Who knows?! But he is learning to use the toilet on Medina and the old pump was rather hard for him to use, the new one would make his life a lot easier.

What kept the excitement going (even before the Skipper had installed the pump) was converting the box the pump came in, from something pretty bland into into a car garage. I thought it was a great example of reusing before we recycled. The garage is a great addition to Orbit’s toy car paraphernalia, not much of which was originally designed for cars, but he doesn’t know that and I am not about to tell him.

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“There has to be a car in here somewhere”

Another unexpected gift from the box that keeps on giving, is because its a lighter colour and a matt finish, its great for Orbit to draw on. Its slowly getting more an more colourful as the days go by.

Am not sure how long this box will last. I am quite conscious of having cardboard on Medina. You see, cardboard and boats aren’t really meant to go together. Insects can come onboard in cardboard or if an insect onboard finds cardboard, it is likely to convert it into its home and begin to breed. This is why we check any cardboard before we bring it on to Medina and keep an eye on it when its on board. Once we have finished with it (i.e. some form of craft activity), the cardboard is usually off to the recycling bin. So it maybe an interesting challenge to get the car garage to the recycling bin when it’s time to go!