This arvo, while soaking up the sun and reading a novel in the back yard, I
became aware of groups of little birds - about six at a time - whizzing overhead
five metres above the ground. They were flying from a gumtree a couple of houses
away and heading west.
I was not at all motivated to get off the banana lounge, so I yelled for
Younger Brat to fetch my binoculars. I had to yell twice. I don't know about
these kids of today, they can be so tardy to obey. Anyhow, YB eventually
appeared with two pair of binos and grumbling about not being a servant girl or
a trained retriever puppy dog.
"Be quiet Lassie! And check the birds!" I commanded. She stamped her foot,
got over her pique, and we were able to identify the birds as Yellow-faced
Honeyeaters. We watched for ten minutes until the flow of honeyeaters petered
out. At a very rough estimate, I guess some 50 Y-f Hs passed over as we
Then,YB returned indoors, and I returned to my latest James Lee Burke novel
and read about goodies and badies, wolves, bears and guns in western Montana.
Ah, bliss. Then, my peaceful literary pursuits were shattered as YB hollered
from the kitchen window, "Popsie, come in for afternoon tea. Pumpkin scones and
black tea flavoured with Leatherwood honey!" So, I goes indoors. It's handy to
have a little pinafore who's just completed an apprenticeship in commercial
At 4pm we went for a drive down Parkwood Road, Holt and saw a raptor
perched on an electricity pole. It was backlit by the westering sun and
impossible to identify. We sneaked around until the sun was behind us, but we
were still nonplussed until the penny dropped. It turned out to be a light phase
of the Brown Falcon. First light-phase Brown Falcon we've noticed.
Back home, I prepared dinner. Apricot chicken casserole on a bed of steamed
Basmati rice accompanied by snappy, lightly-steamed, green vegies. And for
desert, blueberry ice cream.
"Ah!" a satiated YB announced, "Great kai, Popsie, good birdwatching
tucker. Where did you learn to cook? And where did you learn so much about
"I learned a lot of things when I was a boy in the bush outside Wagga Wagga
and we'll never stop learning, dear girl," I answered.
If you find this lengthy email irritating, please let me know, and I'll try
to write some more.
Must go now, because YB is hollering from the kitchen. She seems to think
I've sneaked off from helping wash the dishes. Actually, I was trying to dingo
out of it!
John K. Layton.