Do you know the origin of that word ‘saunter?’ It’s a beautiful word. Away back in the Middle Ages people used to go on pilgrimages to the Holy Land, and when people in the villages through which they passed asked where they were going, they would reply, “A la sainte terre,’ ‘To the Holy Land.’ And so they became known as sainte-terre-ers or saunterers. Now these mountains are our Holy Land, and we ought to saunter through them reverently.
I was looking through my ‘Favourite Quote‘ folder for something suitable to pair with my recent Sparrow photos and could find nothing.
It was then I did some Googling and discovered there was such a thing as World Sparrow Day – on the 20th March. I’ve just missed it but decided to share the images (without a quote) anyway.
The male House Sparrow below seems to be staring straight at me. Could it see me sitting at my desk, camera in hand? Who knows. Probably not as the exterior windows had been cleaned recently and it was probably looking at its own reflection?
Next up are a couple of images of the smallest/youngest sparrow I think I’ve ever seen.
Note: These images were made directly through the louvred windows located on the right-hand side of my lounge and computer screen. It’s been raining for a couple of days and will continue for the next 3-4 days so I can’t open the louvres wide to get a clear shot without the glass edges showing in the photo. I watched it for quite some time and felt some sort of connection with its vulnerability.
Next, a male, just after the bird quenched its thirst.
Then a female (with another young female waiting its turn to drink and bathe in the lower left).
…..and another male.
I’ve never been able to get close enough to these flighty birds as I did the Spotted Turtle-doves in my previous apartment balcony on the north-east side of the city (below). These doves became so tame that I could (slowly) step onto the balcony and edge up to the birds and photograph them from only 12-18 inches away. There was one dove with a feather tuft over its right eye that became so friendly I could almost hand-feed it (but not quite).
Here are some more sparrows taking a bath in April 2020. They’re highly amusing to watch as they splash and roll their heads around trying to wash and dry themselves in sequence. I rarely have time to alter camera settings or try for a well-balanced composition. Its a matter of shoot with the camera on ‘general’ settings with a relatively high ISO in case they go to the shady side of the birdbath(s). Sometimes the autofocus stops short of the birds in favour of dirty dust patterns, but move the camera slightly and the autofocus can latch onto the bird’s head or eye.
I’m so lucky to have their company on rainy or housebound days. But I tend to devote far too much of the morning to their antics.
I love watching the birds. They’re wonderful company. They sing joyfully as I wake in the morning and very companionable when singing for a mate.
Here’s another shot from back when I still had my balcony garden set up. I’d emptied the plant trough and stirred up the soil surface with a fork so that they could rummage around for some tasty titbits to eat.
Commensal with humans, sparrows inhabit most continents throughout the world. They were introduced to Australia in the 1860s by acclimatisation societies and are now abundant in cities, towns, rural areas and around farm buildings, particularly in the south-east of Australia.
When the mouse laughs at the cat, there’s a hole nearby. Nigerian Proverb
Despite being told there was a mouse plague in Melbourne, I liked the whole idea of field mice living under my Rosemary potted plant, but after disposing of the 3rd dead mouse from my apartment balcony tiled floor in as many weeks, I had to take action.
I let the potted herb dry out to make it lighter in weight and then wheeled it down in the lift in my shopping trolley, though the ground floor car park and out the back ‘gate’.
The field behind the building seemed to be the ideal place to empty the Rosemary pot.
I’d pulled the plant out the previous week so knew there was a ‘spiral staircase’ from the bottom of the plastic pot’s largest drainage hole right up to under the soil level where the Rosemary’s roots splay out to catch any moisture or nutrition.
The ‘spiral staircase’ starts in the lower left of the image above and rises (unseen) around the back of the soil and ending up near the base of the plant.
I gave the plant a good shake to dispose of any loose soil clinging to the root system and out popped another dead mouse.
I felt more than a little sad at destroying the tiny critter’s home. But decided the mice just had to be removed from my 1st floor apartment balcony before any more residents on the ground and (my) first floor apartments, which are built into the steep hillside, are baited by the maintenance team who look after the housing estate’s 5-6 buildings.
After I removed the pot, I caught a glimpse of a Spotted Turtle-dove on the balcony fence rail and wondered if it approved.
I haven’t got any fresh bags of potting soil at the moment, so some old dried up soil remaining in another pot will have to do for re-potting.
Hopefully, I can find that old tiny bit of netting to line the Rosemary pot’s base before refilling it with soil and the Rosemary bush (to ensure no more mice make homes there).
I’ve disposed of dead birds who’ve crashed into my floor-to-ceiling lounge windows 3-4 times but this is the first time (I remember) disposing of little critters.
BIRTH. DEATH. IT’S THE LITTLE EVENTS THAT COME IN BETWEEN THAT OCCUPY MY DAYS.
Melbourne, we have a problem.
The city is currently in the grip of a mouse plague.
This issue has left Melbourne residents and businesses struggling to cope with this widespread rodent infestation, the likes of which have not been seen since Western Australia’s similar mouse scare in 2010. Recent reports regarding Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS), an extremely dangerous disease commonly carried by rodents, has led to escalated health & safety concerns statewide.
A perfect storm involving weather, food and timing has provided the ideal conditions for a mouse population explosion.
Earlier in the year, the CSIRO issued an advanced warning to farmers, since the mice could potentially have calamitous effects on their newly sown seed. This pre-emptive action allowed farmers to take preventative measures and avoid a repeat of the devastation caused by a similar plague in 1993.
Let’s have a look at the reasons behind the current plague and discuss ways to prevent or minimise its impact on homes and businesses.
The opening rains of the season saw the mouse population burst into action. A bumper harvest this spring exacerbated the issue, escalating the problem to another level, for obvious reasons.
Initially reaching plague numbers in country Victoria, they have since fast tracked their way down south to Melbourne. These mice can now be found in booming numbers throughout the CBD. Worse still, unusually low temperatures across the state have resulted in mice seeking shelter indoors, with inner-suburban householders and businesses regularly being overrun with these pesky pests.