Posts Tagged ‘Local birdlife’

image from keithferrazzi.com

I’m ready to admit to having a little brain fog today. Well, if you insist, it’s a lot of brain fog today and I can’t really explain why today is any different from hundreds of others, except, I only had an hours sleep and since I had suggested an outing today I’ve been staggering around like a zombie most of the day. In fact Lucy (above) just about fits the right picture when I opened Word Press and got to my  ‘page’ and saw…..

Like the Three Bears in Goldilocks, “Whose been messing around with my page?”

Stunned surprise and bafflement. I haven’t seen anything to tell me any changes were coming. That’s not to say there hasn’t been a notification, I’ve been really lax with my emails today too. Bright lights hurt my eyes which in turn laser into my frontal lobe. Very unpleasant. Thinking is a painful suggestion. It’s a strange concept, but I need to think to put fingers to keyboard.

So, getting back to Lucy. I could never understand how she became so famous for making such exaggerated faces and having so many foul ups. I think I’m beginning to understand. It’s all a matter of experience. When she was a byword on National television I really wasn’t into slapstick comedy very much.  Very serious person indeed. It almost went with the career I think, or at least it did for me. Until today.

image from araneus1.wordpress.com Singing sweetly in the Jacaranda he looked so beautiful.

We went to visit one of my favourite haunts, the Crystal Castle. It is filled with hundreds upon hundreds of crystals, as you might expect, but in such a display that it takes your breath away. Just wandering through the rooms gives you a heady feeling. Of course it wouldn’t be quite the same if I didn’t pick up one or two little treasures, but that’s just an added perk. Yes, I could easily get carried away.

However, I wasn’t feeling too chipper so we decided to have a light snack and a nice latte at their organic cafe. All produce locally grown, much on the property itself, so I was sure it was going to be yummy. It was, a beautiful spinach and four cheese roll with salad. Delicious.  There are signs everywhere asking the patrons not to feed the birds since it isn’t any good for them. There is also a delicious carrot and walnut cake with cream cheese topping on offer, a favourite from the way it disappeared from the counter.

Yummy carrot and walnut cake, cream cheese topping

This was delivered to the next table to us, a delicious piece of carrot cake. The temptation to take photos is almost overwhelming since the views are incredible and that is what distracted this couple. They moved away from their table to take some photos. In a swoop reminiscent of a diving magpie after a cyclist, a magpie floated down from the Jacaranda tree and landed on the table and promptly set to with gusto.  Of course the first peck into the cake filled his beak with cream cheese! He couldn’t swallow it, he couldn’t open his beak and he couldn’t get rid of it.

He banged his beak left and right on the plate and then the table and all the while the couple were happily snapping away. I couldn’t stop laughing at the sight. It doesn’t sound that funny, but it looked hilarious, so much so I couldn’t hold the camera to get a photo. So the carrot cake will have to do.

So Lucy, I understand all those comic faces. I pulled one when I suddenly saw my page completely different and I pulled a dozen more watching this magpie, especially when the couple turned and saw what was happening. Then I had to pull more funny faces trying to hide that I was laughing so much.  Headache time here I came!

image from blogs.sacurrent.com     Yes, I LOVE LUCY now. 

So there we have it, one sober day (no alcohol included) shot to pieces by a magpie stuck on cream cheese. You simply had to be there.

Happy Sunday people.

Ciao, Susan x

© Susan Jamieson 2013

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Love is in the air

Love is in the air

The love bug bit early this year (I think) and we have had the Eastern Rosellas back in the nesting box in the front garden.   Above is a photograph of one of last years parents feeding the almost full grown offspring.  Now we have the parents, their offspring from last year, (two birds) and a clutch of new babies.

We have been trying to guess how many were in the box since we didn’t want to disturb them. Mum and Dad have been flying madly to and fro and there was lots of cheeping from inside. Excitement has been rising as the weeks passed.

It was really tempting to get closer as the bird box is right above the King Orchid which was flowering spectacularly a short time ago.  In fact it was whilst photographing the orchid that we learned it was inhabited. There was an explosion of feathers from the bird box as one of the parents left in a hurry at being disturbed.

Have you ever had a surprise sitting there, waiting for the right time to be opened and you are so excited waiting to find out what is inside? That’s how I’ve felt for the past few weeks.  When the chirping became louder we started seeing the parents and offspring almost stripping my Sandra Gordon Grevillea of the nectar. I thought it was beautiful that the young from last year returned and helped raise the next generation.

The only time there was any concern was the arrival of the local Currawongs. They are predatory birds and love getting the eggs from nests if they can. One particular day there were six hopping all over the tree during the day. I spent more time shooing them away than doing anything else.

So, we finally saw our little family, the fledgling, peeping out of the box. One quick shot and the head popped back inside again. We still had no idea if there were more babies inside and didn’t want to scare them  away. Peering through the bedroom window each time the chirping became load was an occupational hazard.

You can imagine our surprise when we found out we had more than one baby inside the box. We caught several beautiful shots of two heads popping up and down at the ‘mouth’ of the box.

Success – we finally got a great photo of the babies!

We have two!

We have two!

It was really difficult to get an idea of whether we were seeing the same two heads or perhaps more. Parents and young from last year seemed to be dashing to and fro so often we thought there may be more. The Currawongs were now no longer a problem and we had to be patient to find out exactly how big a brood was hiding in there.

Yet as always, the path of love, and life never runs smoothly. I was loathe to leave them because we thought they might be venturing outside at any time, but my doctors appointment was scheduled and I had to go away.  Peering through cross eyes at a bird box through a camera is a challenging task so I had to content myself with making sure they were there and waiting. But there was a mishap to come.

To remind you of the orchid in the tree…. and for Laurie, our Green tree frog who serenades us at the laundry door every night.

I couldn’t resist showing our Butcher birds who come caroling every morning.  We are Blessed to have such an abundance of beautiful wildlife at our doorstep.

I hope you enjoy the photos as much as I enjoy taking them. I love sharing the amazing life we have around us, especially when there may be a struggle going on inside. At least I can see straight, talk sensibly and have my fingers do the walking.  🙂

Next – An unexpected development.

Ciao, Susan x

© Susan Jamieson 2013.

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Sunrise, tranquility hiding a fiery combat

Sunrise, tranquility hiding a fiery combat

The past few days have been quite busy, for me at least. There are times it is difficult to reconcile the reduced activity level from days past. Now I am an observer of life as it passes me by, or as happened today, in front of me.

It had been a quiet day, quiet apart from the cacophony from the building sites and the ever present noise of vehicles scooting past.  The peace and tranquility of the Crystal Castle seemed a million light years past. Ray had just brought a beautiful cup of French Earl Grey tea in for me. It has the most beautiful of aromas if you like the slightly perfumed teas.

Suddenly there was an ear splitting noise from outside my window. It sounded like a cross between a cats howl, dogs growl and a thunderous rumbling from some devilish creature. I have never heard anything quite like it before.  Curiosity drew us to the window to see what was making this deadly racket It had doubled in intensity so we knew two creatures were locked in a fight to the death. The sight that met our eyes was totally unexpected. All the photos of the fight were taken through the window, hence the diffused appearance.

Kookoaburra 1 (Copy)

Here you can see the dominant bird has almost a death grip on his opponent.

The Laughing Kookaburra is well known as a symbol of Australia’s bird life and is also known as the “Laughing Jackass”.  I have seen then sitting atop aerials and tall posts, our balcony rail and flying around. They are territorial birds and the largest member of the Kingfisher family. They have a beak which can reach 4 inches (10 centimeters) long. It has a wicked looking hook on the top beak. They are known for attacking even Brown Snakes. As you can see, at the beginning of Spring, in a fight for territory they will fight each other.

Kookoaburra  2 (Copy)

With a lunge the challenger tried to get away but there was no going until the duel was over!

Kookoaburra  3 (Copy)

Flung back to the ground the noise became even louder.

Kookoaburra  4 (Copy)

One beady eye was all we could see but it had death deep inside its black depths. As the challenger was pushed towards the front porch it seemed a matter of time until there was only one bird left standing.

Kookoaburra  6 (Copy)

With the end possibly in sight I couldn’t stand by and watch it happen. (I know, its part of life in the wild).  Being the brave soul I am, and also wielding the camera, I sent Ray outside to see what would happen. Usually, as soon as humans appear most birds will fly away. The Kookaburra doesn’t seem to have this fear of people. He knows he is the “King”  in his arena.

For the longest moment there was no reaction to a human presence. I was beginning to doubt that there was anything except one end, the death of the loser. The dominant bird must have eased his grip slightly which allowed, with a sudden flurry of feathers, the downed bird to take off. With a squawk of fury, the other bird flew after him. Through trees and round bushes they disappeared into the distance to continue to the struggle or until he had chased his competitor out of his territory.

DSCN3624 (Copy)

Once more secure in his territory he reappeared to sit, keeping a wary eye out for interlopers, on our balcony railing. Once more he was the Laughing Kookaburra, “merry merry king of the bush”.

For those who like information:-

The Laughing Kookaburra gets its name from its manic laughter-like call. Its early dawn and dusk cackling chorus earned it the nickname “bushman’s clock.”

Laughing kookaburras are monogamous, territorial birds that nest in tree holes. Females lay one to five eggs, which are tended by a collective unit composed of parents and elder siblings. Fledgling kookaburras generally remain with their parents to help care for the subsequent clutch.

Who can forget the Children’s nursery rhyme? I might add that this is thew first time I have seen the full lyrics.

Kookaburra sits on the Old Gum Tree

Kookaburra sits on the old gum tree
Merry, merry king of the bush is he
Laugh Kookaburra, laugh Kookaburra
Gay your life must beKookaburra sits on the old gum tree
Counting all the monkeys he can see
Stop Kookaburra, stop Kookaburra
That’s not a monkey that’s me

Kookaburra sits on the old gum tree
Eating all the gumdrops he can see
Stop Kookaburra, stop Kookaburra
Leave some there for me

Kookaburra sits on the old gum tree
He fell down and broke his knee
Ouch Kookaburra, ouch Kookaburra
Glad tha was not me

To end I’d like to add one of my favourite quotes:

I never saw a wild thing sorry for itself. A small bird will drop frozen dead from a bough without ever having felt sorry for itself.”
D. H. Lawrence

Ciao, Susan x

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image from sweetsuite10.com

Now I debated long and hard about making this picture a little, well perhaps a lot smaller so that I could write more at the side.

However, as soon as I saw the picture in all its glory, I thought, “No Way, I can’t do that”, this is part of an age-old dream.

I can really imagine myself sitting in that beautiful tub of steaming water, the fire roaring in the fireplace, soft, fluffy towels warming close by as I relax against the headboard, luxuriating in the bliss of mellow candlelight and soft music, the tantalising scent of essential oils and bubbles swirling in the air around my head and relaxation seeping into every pore and brain cell. Isn’t that something to stir the emotions and bring romantic thoughts floating to the surface of your dreamlike state?

Right, the scene is set and the statement made. I adore baths. They are the most relaxing way, I find,  of winding down after a cold, wet, miserable day running around getting things done. You can even read a book if you are so inclined. You can have a glass of bubbly and nibble strawberries and chocolate and not have to worry about dribbling chocolate – not once! You can even share the bath if you are of a mind to be generous.

“The truth is, you know, we need our anodynes. You know that word, anodynes? We need that in life some times. A good warm bath can be one for you, or a whatever.”  Al Pacino

I may not have an old copper bathtub, reminiscent of bygone days, but I do have a lovely bath, surrounded by candles, essential oils at the ready and soft music available. It’s all in the preparation. I even have hubby organised to pop my towel in the dryer for ten minutes when I’m suitably wrinkled by the water and ready to step out and dry off in sensuous delight. Bliss, hmm.

DSCN2769 (Copy)As you can see the weather slowly became socked in and the view from the back verandah disappeared. I was lucky to get this picture before I became too bedraggled to slide inside. The deck is like a skating rink when it gets wet. Makes for interesting navigation!

We have two pairs of mating wood ducks who have claimed our garden as their day time feeding pasture. They arrive during the morning and spend all day eating and depart on dusk, Apart from today. As the rain increased they departed, looking at us very reproachfully. Never seen a duck look reproachful, it’s worth the wait. I wish I could have captured it but I was too amazed to get the camera.  This is what they looked like before I was ‘chastised’ for the rain. I mean, rain and ducks, they go together, don’t they? DSCN2798 (Copy) Perhaps they missed their rain coats and wellington boots? I certainly missed mine.

DSCN2792 (Copy)

Anyway I’m sure they’ll be back tomorrow with the rest of the bird life we’ve been blessed with.                                                                                                    Now, although I love the rain, and if I haven’t anyone I have to see, I will happily wander around splashing in puddles. It reminds me of my carefree childhood. But today I needed to see my local vampire and have blood tests and all sorts of wonderful things done. The highlight was finding a fabulous jeweler who I could talk about gemstones with for a few minutes. There is something truly magical in how they can create incredible pieces from the raw ‘rock’, although the raw material can look stunning on its own. Yes, I am a fanatical crystal collector also.

So I arrived home, soggy and head achy and in need of thawing out. Solar hot water is wonderful, as long as it is sunny. We have had the booster going more often than not and still have problems with sufficient water. It’s fortunate we aren’t over users.  My romantic and idealised dream of a hot bath went gushing out the window, although I didn’t know it until too late.

image from billiew.deviantart.com

From a thawing out perspective it was a failure. I felt colder after I jumped in than before, (a mistake I realised.)  I literally fell out of the bath with a yelp heard throughout the house. My husband thought I was being murdered. At least I wouldn’t have been tortured by freezing water.    Yes, a light exaggeration  based on the shock to my system. I’ve never been into the ethos of cold baths, cannot understand why I would feel the need to prove how inured to the cold I might be by plunging into icy lakes, streams, rivers or whatever. I leave that to hardier and less sensitive souls. Each to his own. It is definitely not for me!

Eventually I settled for an almost hot shower. At least I thawed out and stopped feeling as though I had been assaulted. Curled up in front of the fire, listening to the rain and with a beautiful meal, again prepared by adorable hubby a semblance of normalcy returned. Civilisation has a great many benefits, but a cold bath is not one of them. In my humble opinion.

My romantic ideal is still intact, just waiting on the right time to implement it. What is yours?  Susan x

I think a lot of contemplation happens in bathtubs. It does for me. Nothing like a hot bath to ease the tension and think about what’s going to happen next.”
Sarah McLachlan

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My Zen Outlook

My Zen Outlook 

I have just returned from my escape into a little peace and tranquility. I didn’t get very far, just the back steps of my verandah. I needed a little time to find my equilibrium.  Fifteen minutes of meditation during the hectic efforts of the day so far.

So far we seem to have been tearing things down , at the old place, (not my way to describe it), boxing things up and generally creating mayhem in one place so that we can move to another.

It’s got a beautiful outlook, I have to be the first to admit that. Waking up to the sounds of the ocean waves crashing and the new bird calls surrounding me was wonderful. One might be forgiven of saying divine!

Yesterday was a day which felt like a scene from Dante’s Inferno, scorching heat, humid, sore and aching muscles, head pounding and a hollow ache underneath my ribs – I was starving. Breakfast and lunch flew past barely noticed, but when it reached 7pm I knew I had ignored my human needs for far too long. I wanted FOOD!

The ingredients for a crock pot,  (The Yummy Chicken Crock Pot), carefully prepared and which should have been  cooking before midday, providing a nourishing and well-earned repast was still in cold storage. All our carefully made plans, our schedule, had gone completely awry.

If there was ever a time you didn’t need interruptions from phone calls this was it. You could be forgiven for thinking we hadn’t spoken to anyone in months. So we were not simply behind schedule, it was out the window and the door!

Of course chaos wouldn’t be happy without company. We finally arrived at our new home only to realise that each of us had presumed the other had picked up the keys and garage remote for the new place!  Nothing for it, we had to climb, aching muscles crying, back into my car and drive back to the Gold Coast and get the missing items, then the long drive back. It’s really not that far, only an hour in the car, it simply felt as though we were travelling to the ends of the earth.

We found the least offending ” bad food”, a place which made fresh burgers with really lovely crunchy salad, and partially filled that hollow under our ribs.  Hours later we had our bed set up and made up. All we yearned for was a hot shower, a cup of tea and to slip into a deep dream filled slumber.

The bedroom, the least chaos ruled room.

The bedroom, the least chaos ruled room.

I’m cheating really, all these boxes are holding my treasures – my crystals, the ones I keep close by. I have a beautiful sun room which will eventually be set up as my retreat and have many of these treasures inside. But that comes later.

Today has been similar to yesterday, except my husband has an able-bodied helper. With the best will in the world I cannot lay claim to being much help. I can’t lift anything, can’t carry it, and bending in and out if boxes has proved to be crippling. I’m feeling cranky with myself for not doing more. I feel I should be doing more, and I’m annoyed my body will not let me do it.  So it’s great to have someone to help with the heavy work, or should I say work in general!  I am grateful, my back is grateful and life is really wonderful.

So rather than being ensconced in our new home, albeit surrounded by chaos, we have another day of the same to look forward to. Hubby and offsider are organised for another mammoth effort tomorrow whilst I am relegated to the bedroom! Out of harms way – of the workers!  I’m really mindful of the great fortune we have found in this beautiful  place.

My new sanctuary.  The sunroom with a view to the ocean above.

My new sanctuary. The sunroom with a view to the ocean above.

So, another frenetic day to come. It’s times like these I wish we had friends to call on to help – and selfishly, help me to straighten up and hobble inside! No doubt we will look back on this in a few days/weeks and laugh about it. I think?

I return to the beginning and ask “When will there be an end?”  Which of course the Pope asked  Michelangelo during the painting of the Sistine chapel.  Lets hope this wont take as long!

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image from clipart.com

“I am part of the sun as my eye is part of me. That I am part of the earth my feet know perfectly, and my blood is part of the sea. There is not any part of me that is alone and absolute except my mind, and we shall find that the mind has no existence by itself, it is only the glitter of the sun on the surfaces of the water.” D. H. Lawrence

There is something quite inexplicable about the reaction one has to such a small insect as the mosquito. I know it is responsible for some nasty illnesses, Dengue fever, Ross River fever and others. So to say the sight of one small mosquito can send me into a state almost akin to hysteria, is in itself, almost laughable. Unfortunately it is also true!

You can imagine my horror the other day, when, on looking down at my feet, I saw not one, not two, but a veritable impenetrable cloud of these voracious little monsters all over my feet and lower legs!  TOO LATE!  I stomped, I shook my legs, I swatted, all to no avail. As soon as I dislodged them they attacked once more.

After a very undignified waddle (think of a dog with something on his feet, shaking each paw as he tries, in an ungainly fashion to walk along, and you have an approximate picture of how I must have looked). Hilarious!

Back inside the house I inspected the damage. My feet and legs were already swelling with innumerable  lumps, legacy of these little critters. I itched and I knew scratching was the worst thing I could do. (Impossible to avoid in your sleep!) I headed for my emergency first aid and liberally doused the entire area with lavender essential oil. Phew! As the itch and the urge to scratch slowly dissipated I examined the pictures I had been engrossed in taking which led to my predicament.

image from fineartamerica.com      – OUCH does not come close.

The history first! Last night, just before  a shower of rain and close to dusk I had been looking out my bedroom window to see what the weather might be doing. I thought I saw a lizard disappearing into the garden. I thought it strange since it was cool and miserable, not the sort if weather our resident water dragon enjoyed. He much preferred the sunny edge of our swimming pool.

A few seconds later this tiny, fluffy little ball scooted along the fence line and up to the pool shed, promptly turned and scuttled back. Back and forth he went without pause for five minutes. He was obviously ‘lost’ or ‘ stuck’ in there and couldn’t find his way out. I called to my husband ( just to make sure I wasn’t seeing things, especially anything nasty) before we went to see what we could do for the little fellow. However, apart from a quick photo to see what we had found, the heavens opened, the sky turned dark and the corner where he was hiding became totally impenetrable.

Baby Buff Banded Rail at dusk

Baby Buff Banded Rail at dusk

Beating a hasty retreat (undignified and thoroughly vampirised by the mosquitoes), we decided we would have to wait until morning, fully expecting him to find his way out of the garden at the other end where we made sure the gate was open. Once it was light enough to see properly we checked and could see nothing from the house, so down we went. There he was huddled in the angle of the wall where the shed and pump house meet. As soon as he saw us he fluffed his feathery down and began his march to and fro once more.  He had obviously become too disoriented to find his way out.

I headed for the gate to make sure he didn’t go past it and into the far corner (one dead-end for another), whilst my husband played sheep dog and walked towards our  baby banded rail.   Last year we saw one of these little birds avoiding magpies as he ran for shelter under the bridge across our pond. It looks as though he returned and we now have a little family in our back garden. Yippee!

The little fellow was obviously used to seeing us move around since he wasn’t frightened to see us. He trotted along, shepherded by my husband until he neared the gate. I managed to get a few photos (they are quick little birds), and then he hopped through between two posts in the fence and headed for the shrubbery around the pool. He promptly made himself at home ferreting out the insects. After watching for a few minutes we left him alone, sure that he would be soon reunited with mum and dad.

Despite still itching away, but smelling sweetly of lavender,  I’m  thoroughly pleased to see so many of last years visitors back again this year. We have a family of ducks, plus several other pairs, the masked plovers, our mystery birds, who we think may be a Pheasant Coucal (if anyone knows what he is I would love to know), the Purple Swamp Hens, plus our Banded Rails. This doesn’t forget the Crows nesting in the gum tree, Rosella and Sulphur crested cockatoos,Kookaburras and Swallows. The Pee Wees and Magpies are quite at home and one of them loves leaving presents on my bathroom window.  Still, all things considered I feel really privileged that so many have returned this year. I just wish those pesky mosquitoes  didn’t enjoy my blood quite so much!

We  are fortunate to be able to see a small part of our local bird life with so much ease. The rain which has caused so many problems for so many has made our small corner a haven for the birds. Now if only my photography skills were a match for their beauty!

Here is what all the itching and scratching was about – and worth it! Isn’t he beautiful?

Baby Buff banded Rail, safely finding his way back to his parents.

Baby Buff banded Rail, safely finding his way back to his parents.

However, the mosquitoes have had the ‘pint and a half’ so they can visit someone else from now on! Despite “loving all our creatures”, I’m afraid this one gets short shrift from me… days later I’m still itchy and scratchy due to  being very allergic to even these tiny critters. Avoidance is the better part of valor from now on.

image from snailstales.blogspot.com

Here’s the link to my mystery bird.

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“A bird does not sing because it has an answer.  It sings because it has a song.”  ~Chinese Proverb

There has been one constant in my “self-imposed” exile this past year, and that is the continuous play of wildlife outside my bedroom window.  Whilst the rain and floods have played havoc on the countryside, farms, roads, livestock and homes, I have been fortunate to see a parade of wildlife, well bird life visiting my garden, for which I am truly grsteful.

We have seen Masked Plovers and Pee Wee’s (Pee Wit’s), Magpies and Doves, Ibis and Purple Water hens, and a variety of ducks. I believe we have a family of ducks just started visiting and I am on the lookout to get a few pictures of the ducklings before they get much bigger. They are so cute!

However, last summer we were visited by a “Mystery Bird”.  Several of the  professional birdwatchers I spoke to were positive it was a “Pheasant Coucal”, but since I’m not certain, well I’m simply not sure.  Last week we were fortunate to see not one, but two! We have a mating pair and their colouring was much darker than last year, a beautiful russet colour.  Here are some of the photos I took then. The colour looks a little lighter than when I took the photo but you can see the intense black around his head and shoulders.

Is this our Pheasant Coucal?

Is this our Pheasant Coucal?

Checking out the garden to see what’s around.

You can see he has a much longer tail than the usual bird.

You can see he has a much longer tail than the usual bird.

Not taking any chances, we are fortunate the dogs next door can’t get in.

Very shy he creeps through the grass though he can fly

Very shy he creeps through the grass though he can fly

You can see his tail is longer than his body.

You can see his tail is longer than his body.

They seem to walk much more than the other birds and only take flight when they’ve been disturbed.

Hiding in the shrubbery

Hiding in the shrubbery

This is where he/she stayed for half an hour after the neighbors walked past and he took fright/flight.  Last year we saw them creeping along the fence line most often. They stayed under the shrubbery as much as possible and only ventured out if they felt safe – and unobserved.

If anyone knows what these shy birds are I would love to know.


Susan x

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