In Spring 2019 two White-faced herons build a nest high in one of the pine trees on the roadside near Wimbourne. After one unsuccessful try, eventually two young birds hatched. As they grew and became more daring they could be seen walking along the branches of the tree. At this stage they were still being fed by their parents. Soon they were flying short distances to other trees, and eventually came lower and lower and down to the ground in Whistlewood.
Twelve months on the frog ponds have been expanded and are flourishing. I have seen Common Eastern Froglets and Brown Tree Frogs in the vicinity of the ponds although I think some of them may have have provided sustenance for some visiting juvenile White-faced herons.
The tank overflow goes into the slightly higher pond, and then into the lower one.
A third pond is also flourishing but needs to be refilled after hot weather and the water level is not deep and soon evaporates.
When we moved to Whistlewood 2 years ago, one of the garden challenges was what to do with an unkempt area that passed for a lawn.
A rock circle, two frog ponds, a tank and more 100 plants later a new garden is emerging. More to come including paths and more plantings.
As part of the redevelopment of the lawn area, we decided to build a small pond tucked in behind the raised vegetable bed.. We'd already found a Marsh Frog hiding under a birdbath, so we knew they were present in our garden. So we
1. dug the hole, lined it with pond liner, and decorated the edges so there were nooks and crannies for small creatures to hide in;
2. added water, and water-loving loving plants; and ...
3. ...the frogs will arrive. That's the theory anyway.
So far it has been used by magpies and currawongs and other birds, with the occasional damselfly making also an appearance, but we are hopeful of one day finding tadpoles.
When we moved to Whistlewood 18 months ago we soon discovered the 'lawn' and I use the term loosely was a collection of weeds, violets, daisies, and, in winter, moss (picture above). Some investigation revealed that the lawn was sown over what had been the original driveway, and about 4 cm below the surface was gravel. When it rained the water ran off the surface and ended up on the driveway. None seemed to penetrate.
After some contemplation we decided much of the lawn would go, and be replaced by plantings of low native shrubs. The lawn being retained is an area with the lovely Weeping Mulberry at its centre. First stage of the rehabilitation was to dig up the existing lawn as much as possible, add top soil, and compost before planting.
It will be at least a year or three before we see any real results,
And in the lawn that's left, I'm encouraging the daisies.
The Weeping Mulberry, and the daisy lawn.
A beautiful Enamelled Spider, green form. Apparently the Gippsland form is green, while the rest of Victoria and Canberra form is yellow. Thanks to Melbourne Museum for identifying it for me.
Laughing Kookaburra, possibly contemplating his next song, on the tennis court fence at The Barn.
From the pre-dawn chorus of the Kookaburras to the Tawny Frogmouths calling to each other at night, Bickleigh Vale has a rich soundscape of birdsong.
It is my intention one day to list all the birds I hear in 24 hours. However, I haven’t been that organised yet, nor up early enough, but it will surely also include, depending on the season
Drainage .. not the most exciting of topics for a blog post, but something that is necessary to protect the property, and it documents some history.
Fred and I were aware on purchase that we would need to address the drainage at the back of the house, because the concrete was sloping in such a way that forced all the rain up against the house causing rising damp.
The advice we received was that the concrete close to the house needed to be dug up, drainage installed, and then the channel filled with stones. All easier said than done because the back of the house is difficult to get to with the digging equipment.
One week and lots of noise from the jackhammer (sorry!) later, the new drainage system was in place, and works! No longer does the wall of the house get wet even in the heaviest of downfalls.
and muddy There were enough stones left over to provide a good cover for the churned up back pathway.
We recently had some solar panels installed ... hopefully not too visible from the street. The initial plan included a battery to store excess power, but we were advised by the supplier to monitor how much power we were able to generate over a year before making that additional investment. The issue is, or course, trees, and the lovely shade they provide which is generally desirable, but not for solar power generation. We have 2 arrays, on different parts of the roof, and they manage to take turns being able to generate power as the sun moves across the sky.
One of the lovely aspects of Bickleigh Vale village are the property names, with most houses having a sign displaying its name. Whistlewood is no exception. However, the sign that has probably been in place since the 1960s when the house was first built couldn't be read because it was pointing to the sky, and its chain was threatening to ringbark the tree it was placed on.
One of the first things I did when we moved in April was to loosen the chain and a few weeks later I took it down. The timber was rotten, so we decided to replace it.
At the same time we discovered that having a address in one street (lane), while the driveway was on a different one confused just about everyone who came visiting, and apparently had done so for a number of years.
So... some research into sign makers lead us to have a new bright and shiny sign made out of recycled Australian cypress, leaving no doubt about the address, and the property name. We are expecting it to last the next 50, if not 100 years!