Breakfast with the birds

There’s always plenty happening in our native gardens here at Yuruga, but last Sunday was simply spectacular. This is a story about our Sunday morning breakfast last weekend under a Sandpaper Fig tree on the edge of the Jump-up looking down over Mareeba.

Our attention was caught first of all by a large flock of Fig Birds feeding on the masses of ripe fig fruits. Female Fig Birds are plain, even dowdy, but the males are something else, with their bright red eye-patch, green back and yellow breast. Together, their mellow chortling filled the air with a delightful chorus.

As we sat quietly with our cuppa, the Fig Birds were joined by a pair of spectacular Red-Winged Parrots. They too came to feed on the figs, but instead of gobbling them down whole like the Fig Birds, they picked at the ripe fruit, separating the tiny seeds and spitting out the flesh.

Yellow Honeyeaters and Brown Honeyeaters flitted along the branches and amongst the foliage of the fig tree, foraging for insects and filling the air with delightful birdsong. A small flock of Peaceful Doves fed quietly on the ground beneath the tree, joined from time to time by a group of Double-Barred Finches pecking whatever seeds they could find amongst the leaf litter.

Then our resident Green-Winged Pigeon joined us for a while on its daily patrol through our gardens. This plump brown pigeon with glossy green wings has set up home at Yuruga, and is quite unfazed by the daily hustle and bustle.

Out of the blue the peace was shattered by the two larrikin loud-mouths of our tropical summertime. The Channel-Billed Cuckoos and Koels are back already, signally a very early start to the wet season (it’s only the beginning of October!). Perched high up in one of our taller fig trees, the Channel-Billed Cuckoo announced its presence with its unmistakable raucous din, and the Storm Bird (or Koel) joined in the deafening cacophony with its feverish crescendo call. Both birds love to feed on figs, so I guess we only have ourselves to blame if they choose our garden to screech and yell.

Yuruga Nursery is situated on the edge of the Jump-up at Walkamin. The Jump-up marks the end of a lava flow from Bones Knob, and hence our gardens are really just one great big pile of basalt boulders. Some might think that rocks are a nuisance to be cleared away, but to us our basalt rocks are a fantastic framework around which to plant all sorts of interesting plants. Piles of rocks are the perfect natural setting for figs, and as you can see, even one fig tree can be a mini-ecosystem all of its own. Every garden should have a fig tree!

No wonder we love out native gardens.

Happy gardening, and see you at Yuruga!
Peter and Ann