Hi from central west NSW

15 posts / 0 new
Last post
Samantha
Samantha's picture
Hi from central west NSW

Hi everyone,

I've been a fairly regular user of the Bird Finder facility on this site, but have just signed up today as a member.

I've been enjoying reading through the introductions thread, and felt a pang of recognition when I saw Woko's (tongue in cheek?) reference to NEIS (neighbourhood environmental insensitivity syndrome).

Unfortunately I suffer from NEIS too, which can be extremely distressing on occasion.

I live on half an acre at the edge of a small town, on a creek which all of my neighbours treat with outright hostility (they spray and burn the vegetation on their portions of the creek, dump grass clippings and other junk in there, and when we complained about one neighbour creating some extra parking spaces for himself by filling up part of the creek with mine tailings, he retaliated by pouring motor oil into our frog pond. We also have an ongoing problem with wandering cats and pig-hunting dogs.)

Nevertheless, we still have surprisingly abundant bird life on the 60 metre stretch of creek that we are able to protect. We have reed warblers, fairy-wrens, and buff-banded rails, who all live and breed amongst the dense cumbungi reeds on our block, and we receive regular visits from white-necked and white-faced herons, as well as little cormorants, who come to eat the yabbies (I'll try to attach a few photos of some of our residents and visitors below).

I live within cooee of the Capertee Valley, which I guess some of you would know as a hotspot for bird watching.

Some of the threatened/vulnerable species that I often see on my walks around town include the diamond firetail, gang-gang cockatoo, brown treecreeper, and scarlet robin.

Anyway, it's nice to be here, and I'd like to extend my thanks to everyone who makes this website and forum such a useful and enjoyable space. (One of the reasons I joined was to pick the collective brain for an ID: peregrine, or hobby?? I will post my grainy and out-of-focus pics of the bird in question on the ID thread shortly).

Night Parrot
Night Parrot's picture

Welcome Samantha. I had to look up Capertee because I hadn't heard of it before. I have often been through Canowindra, Cudal and Molong so I have some idea of where you hang out. Its distressing that people can treat a creek so badly; it always seems to be the waterways that suffer first when really those areas should be the most protected. It shows up the need to have a "whole watercourse" protection plan instead of isolated stretches looked after by aware and caring people like yourself. Have you read Patrice Newell's book "The River"? I am not a bookreader myself but I believe it addresses the issue of caring for the whole watercourse and the value of the water itself. Its not as if Australia has so much fresh water that we can afford to abuse our watercourses. Great photos, I like the rails especially.

Samantha
Samantha's picture

Hi Night Parrot, and thanks for complimenting my rail photos - it took me about three years to get those shots! Our rails are *extremely* shy, and prior to the rainy day on which I snapped those pics, I'd only ever heard the rails calling, and caught the most fleeting glimpses of them through the reeds (once with a clutch of chicks following closely behind).

Thanks for the recommendation of Newell's book - it sounds like one I should read (although I haven't read "The River", I have read her earlier book, "The Olive Grove", which I enjoyed, although it left me wishing I had some of Patrice Newell's problems - I vaguely recall some drama surrounding shipping a large, historic, and very valuable statue to their property from somewhere in Europe, among other dramas about planting hundreds of acres with the wrong olive variety, and so on.)

As coincidence would have it, I've met the person (a guy called Knut) who used to press Newell's olive oil before he retired: his "Lakelands" olive grove and oil press is just up the road from my place, and, in fact, I believe the property is currently for sale - an absolutely gorgeous place with lots of water (including an 18 acre lake), trees, and birds. The kind of place I buy every night in my dreams  ;-) 

http://www.realestate.com.au/property-mixed+farming-nsw-clandulla-7437925

Anyway, I couldn't agree more that we can't afford to abuse our waterways, so I always welcome hearing about ideas for protecting them. Thanks  :-)

Woko
Woko's picture

Hi Samantha. Both you & the birds which visit seem to very tolerant of the disease Rednecktitis which seems to be afflicting your neighbourhood. A good point to begin combatting this dreaded malady is to care for your own stretch of creek as you have done. It must surely be a shining beacon midst the dross of environmental vandalism surrounding it.

It would be interesting to see the reaction of those suffering from Rednecktitis in your neighbourhood to a montage of your bird photos complete with identifications and distributed in their letter boxes. Given the season, perhaps Christmas cards with photos of your birds distributed likewise might produce some interesting responses both short & long term.

Until I fired up Google Earth I had no idea where Capertee is but I can see that it's surrounded by bushland. This makes me wonder why an oil pouring frog destroyer would want to live in such an environment. Surely an oil storage depot or refinery would be a more conducive living environment for a person of such talent as the call of the bush seems to have fallen on deaf ears.

I'm also wondering if the shire council has an interest in protecting the waterway. Grass clippings & mine tailings are not the best way of improving water quality - unless the water is filtered through abandoned car bodies, I suppose. And then there's the inevitable increase in soil erosion that will be caused by the destruction of native vegetation along the creek line. Perhaps the council isn't concerned about this. It would be interesting to know what the state & local laws are about this old fashioned treatment of the waterway.

Samantha, I wish you well in your management of your own section of the creek as it stands, I'm sure, in stark contrast to other sections & is a model for others, including council, to emulate.

Samantha
Samantha's picture

Hi Woko, and thanks for chiming in.

I live in a small mining town (although the nearby mines are now either closed, or winding down), fairly close to, but not actually in, the Capertee valley.

I haven't mentioned the name of my town because I really don't want to attract attention via Google for complaining publicly about my noxious neighbours. That might sound both nasty and cowardly on my part, but I have been on the receiving end of numerous threats and quite a bit of general hostility for trying to protect "my" creek, and the birds who live here, and I have noticed that there's a certain mentality around here which causes the worst offenders to target the things that their adversaries care most about.

Hence, for example, if you show that you care about a pair of nesting masked lapwings on a patch of vacant land, then you can be certain that a week later the nest will have been mowed over, attacked by dogs, or otherwise destroyed. This very outcome has happened two years running now, and has made me pick my battles very carefully indeed. (No one around here is stupid enough to hurt a bird or nest while I'm around, because they know I'll film them and dob them in. But unfortunately I can't watch all the birds all the time).

I have arrived at the point of having three CCTV cameras around my property, and I've made so many complaints (and submitted so much video evidence) to the council that I'm sure I'm one of the council's least favourite people too.

The council ranger, who deals with complaints about dogs, finally believed that I wasn't exaggerating when one of the dog owners I'd complained about made a death threat against him. His advice to me was to not walk down her street anymore (that particular case ended up in court, and the dog was officially declared dangerous). The dog owner in question likes people to know that she's the daughter-in-law of a notorious Aussie crim who's serving life in prison for murder, in addition to earlier convictions for rape and armed robbery. And she's not fibbing about her relationship with him, either - I was curious enough to do a title search on her house, and it belongs to the crim's son, who is, I've been told, also currently serving time in prison.

Sometimes the council does respond in helpful ways. For example, after 12 weeks of letter writing, the council finally ordered our uphill neighbour to remove the mine tailings from the creek. This caused him to promise to make the rest of my life a misery, but I thought it was worthwhile, because one of the classic problems with mine tailings in creeks is sulphuric acid leaching, which kills waterways *very* effectively - and the neighbour in question is 50 metres upstream from us. (Not long after he was forced to remove the mine tailings, the council ranger told me that the same guy was caught on CCTV dumping asbestos at one of the local mine sites).

So, I keep fighting in ways that seem achievable and worthwhile, although sometimes I do feel like I'm just fighting a losing battle. But then I see the wrens being amorous, or the warblers building a nest (pics attached!), and it all seems worth fighting for.

Hence, it's incredibly pleasant to be amongst bird-friendly friends here.

Night Parrot
Night Parrot's picture

Wow. Nothing like living in the country, peace and quiet, birds singing, friendly people, relaxed lifestyle, etc. Apparently not. My heart goes out to you Samantha. Don't give up. The fact that you are making your voice heard is a big win on its own. Hopefully, as time goes on, you will find others to join you on the battlefield!

Woko
Woko's picture

Do you have people in town or nearby who share your passion for the environment, Samantha? Fighting battles like you're fighting on your lonesome can be very isolating. I can see that you'd need to be very careful about the battles you choose to fight.

Samantha
Samantha's picture

Thanks for your compassion guys. I'd say one of the main reasons I joined this forum was to spend some time around like-minded people, and to be reminded that I'm *not* the only one who cares about birds and biodiversity, and that these things really are worth caring about, and fighting for.

I have a like-minded partner, but he works in Sydney most of the time, so I fight most of my battles here alone, and it really can be isolating, lonely, and quite depressing.

I've made a few attempts to connect with various local groups and organisations that focus on environmental issues, but mostly their efforts are focussed on the largest town in our council area (which is ~70km from here), or else there is way too much politics and hot air involved.

I do have some unlikely allies though: most notably two older men (aged 60s and 70s) who, somewhat bizarrely, will actually use violence to defend native birds. I'm not really advocating any kind of violence, but these guys are salt of the earth, who will cheerfully harm any cats or people who interfere with a bird. I was initially horrified to hear one of these guys proudly tell me about the knife on a pole that he made to stab cats who were after some nesting wrens in one of his trees. But apparently the local cats *very* quickly got the message, and give his place a wide berth now.

The same guy has a running feud with a neighbour who keeps a menagerie of poorly-cared for animals, including some unfortunate and very smelly pigs. Bird Man dobbed Pig Man in to the council for the stench, so Pig Man came after Bird Man with a chainsaw. Bird Man just laughed, and pulled a rifle on Pig Man (true story!!!).

I understand that kind, thoughtful, and well-educated people have absolutely the best intentions when they suggest that I try talking with and educating my neighbours, but I think most people have no idea what it's really like living in a small, poor mining town, with astronomically high levels of unemployment (according to the Bureau of Statistics, our town's largest source of income is government welfare).

Last year, two parents in town were charged with murdering their 11 year old son - an autistic boy who reportedly died from hypothermia and malnutrition. I don't know the parents, or where they lived, and I'd like to think that I would have done anything within my power to help such a child. But apparently he was helped by *no one*. Which makes me think: if people will let a *child* live and die so miserably, why would they care about some birds?

http://www.mudgeeguardian.com.au/story/189573/man-and-woman-charged-with-childs-death/

Prior to that, a month after I moved to my current home, a woman living in the street I moved out of was shot and killed during a break-in:

http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/shot-dead-in-her-home-two-charged/2008/12/04/1228257174617.html

I've driven behind young guys in vehicles with mine logos who will think nothing of throwing bottles, cans, and bags of McDonald's rubbish out of the car window - which I found shocking, until I remembered that they spend every day surrounded by utter environmental devastation at an open-cut mine, so what difference does some litter on the side of the road make to them?

These are questions that have no obvious or easy answers, and at the end of the day, I benefit from coal mining too (I'm typing this very post using power from the grid).

Anyway, enough complaining I think. I'll make a happier post soon about the two eastern rosella chicks who have recently fledged from the nest box under our eaves! smiley

Night Parrot
Night Parrot's picture

I did a response to this post but it disappeared. I will try again on similar lines.

You live an interesting life Samantha and you show up the reality that there are two different types of people in this world when it comes to the environment. Unfortunately those who don't care are the vast majority.

Those old geezers you talk about (I am one myself) have probably learnt over time that its no use waiting for authorities or the community to take action on wildlife protection. We can't support violence to animals, even to cats, on this forum or Holly will censure (and censor) us, but I applaud the initiative of those codgers.

Don't apologise for the litterers; working/not working in a mine is no excuse for being absolute a***holes.

I'm sorry that you occasionally feel isolated and depressed. I'm sure you will always have the support (and cyber-company) of members of this forum.

pacman
pacman's picture

A belated welcome to the forum; I am currently working in Parkes, NSW and recently sent a weekend in Mudgee birding but did not get further east or to Capertee Valley; that is on my list for the new year

Peter

Woko
Woko's picture

How go the eastern rosella fledglings, Samantha?

Samantha
Samantha's picture

Firstly: Hi Pacman, and thanks for the welcome. Sorry, I missed your comment! If you plan that trip to the Capertee, I'd love to hear about it, and maybe meet up if it's possible. I have no idea how social the folks on this forum are, but maybe we could entice some Sydney members along for a day trip or something? To be honest, I'm really not au fait with the etiquette of birding expeditions, but I'm looking forward to learning more this year (for example, I can see that large groups could potentially be distinctly counter-productive). But anyway, I would **love** to see a Regent Honeyeater this year, and (as far as I can gather) there's nowhere better to see them than the Capertee Valley.

And Woko, thanks for reminding me! I really must make a separate post on the subject of fledglings, because I've been in bird-watching heaven these past few weeks. As far as I can tell, two rosella babies fledged fine and are out and about in the world. My goal for next breeding season is to keep a closer eye on the nest box via a bird cam setup (the box is on the south side of the house, where it's mostly out of sight).

But I've also been treated to a continuous parade of other youngsters hanging around the garden and bird bath, including the usual magpies and mudlarks, but new to the bath this year is a family of fairy-wrens, including 4 (or maybe 5) of the cutest babies I've ever seen. They have been an *absolute* delight to watch, and listen to.

Oh, and I finally managed to spot a reed warbler baby, which is currently still in its incredibly well-hidden nest in the cumbungi reeds. Easy to hear; amazingly difficult to see.

Also, I let the birds have my (measly) apricot harvest this year. Following a long hot dry spell, lots of gale force wind, and then a couple of unbelievable storms accompanied by golf ball sized hail, the apricots were really miserable and tatty this year, so I left them to the birds. I expected the inevitable rosellas and cockies, but I was surprised by a dozen or so silvereyes moving into the tree almost permanently for about a week of feasting - and they were joined by a handful of drop-dead gorgeous musk lorikeets now and then, too.

I also spotted my first white-throated tree creeper on one of my morning walks in the nearby bush, which was a treat.

On the down side, I've got a new cat problem. I nearly hit the roof when I heard a kerfuffle from the apricot tree, and went to inspect, only to find a neighbour's cat crouching at the base of the tree.

My dog died in August of 2013, and I won't be replacing her. I'm sure her absence has encouraged the wrens, but unfortunately it's also encouraged the local cats, and I've spotted no fewer than 4 cats from different households in my backyard in recent weeks. They seem to be incredibly persistent (they're easy enough to scare away with a lump of clay pegged at them, but they come back, sometimes within minutes). I've been researching deterrents, such as motion-sensor sprinklers, and have actually been meaning to pick the brains of this online community on that subject (no doubt it's a subject that has been discussed on here before, but I haven't done a search yet).

How's the new year shaping up at your place?

Night Parrot
Night Parrot's picture

So sorry that you are being beseiged by neighbourhood cats Samantha. The neighbours who own these cats are inconsiderate and don't care that their animals will engage in murder and mayhem on your property. So, in turn, don't feel obliged to consider them. Will your council provide you with traps that you can use to take the animals to the pound? I am lucky, where I am at the moment, that I don't have cat problems but I have seen ferals in the bush not too far away. My bugbear at the moment is noise, resulting from bogan petrol-head parents who bought their kids dirt bikes for Xmas without a thought for the neighbourhood (or the flora/fauna of the area). It would be a nicer world without bogans, petrol heads and cat owners.

pacman
pacman's picture

Samantha wrote:

Firstly: Hi Pacman, and thanks for the welcome. Sorry, I missed your comment! If you plan that trip to the Capertee, I'd love to hear about it, and maybe meet up if it's possible. I have no idea how social the folks on this forum are, but maybe we could entice some Sydney members along for a day trip or something? To be honest, I'm really not au fait with the etiquette of birding expeditions, but I'm looking forward to learning more this year (for example, I can see that large groups could potentially be distinctly counter-productive). But anyway, I would **love** to see a Regent Honeyeater this year, and (as far as I can gather) there's nowhere better to see them than the Capertee Valley.

The Tourist Info Centre at Mudge has birding spot brochures. The Munghorn Gap Nature Reserve one says that Regent HEs breed in  the Reserve.

You almost look regularly at http://eremaea.com/BirdlineRecentSightings.aspx?Birdline=2. I note that Cicadabird, Red-browed Treecreeper, Crested Shrike-tithave been reported at Turon Gates, Capertee today.

I will message you if/when a Capertee Valley weekend is planned.

Peter

Canonguy
Canonguy's picture

Welcome Samantha

Must be tough out there with so many retarded, uncaring people that are just wasting our precious oxygen. I have a mate from my local WIRES branch who has a big property out near Cullen Bullen (north from Lithgow) and he's been battling for years with hunters and local hoons trespassing his land shooting roos etc. National Parks are apparently terrible at managing the problem and I don't want to say too much, for it could be libelous. In any case, his partner spends most of her time out on the property alone and he works near Penrith in a school and sees her a few times a week and at times on weekends.

It is truly disheartening that we live in such beutiful country and many of its citizens, including governments, are too busy selfishly claiming their own priorities regarding what's more important. It is really sick if you asked me.

Good on you for being a good human! :)

Nice pics, especially the White-necked Heron.

 and @UrbanBirdsOz  @birdsinbackyards
                 Subscribe to me on YouTube