Six on Saturday – W19/2020 – Feathered friends and other excitement

Work in the garden has been hampered this week by occasional call outs to work and the priority home project of repainting the interior of the house. The latter is a slow work in progress, one room at a time, with us using the opportunity to get rid of the things we don’t use anymore. Despite not much work being done in the garden, there have been some interesting things happening out there.

1. Last week I mentioned that we have three little helpers. When we are out working in the garden, three Pied Butcher birds (the photos are of the female and/or juvenile. The males are black and white) hang around waiting for tasty morsels.

Watching Mr S at work
You can see the sharp curved tip of their beak used to kill their prey

2. On Saturday we went on trip down along the Obi Obi Road, down a short stretch of twisty dirt road that clings to the side of the mountain range, and into the Obi Obi valley towards Kenilworth. This is one of my favourite local country drives. Our destination was a dairy farm, where, after a chat to the farmer, we loaded up a ute load of composted cow manure for the garden. What a great start to the new week!!

Obi Obi Road to Kenilworth
Jersey cows after milking

3. Once we arrived home Mr S got stuck in and moved some of the manure into the vegetable garden and beds and left a pile under the tree to use on a new vegetable bed. The three Butcher birds then arrived, delighted to find a pile of manure harbouring curly grubs and worms, and began flicking their beaks from side to side looking for more grubs.

4. Work on my winter project continues very slowly. I manage to do a few hours work on it every week. The additional garden beds have been created, demarcated with bricks and planted out with some of the plants I have propagated from cuttings. I have started to dig out the grass from what is to be the pathway to the back garden. As the pathway will be slightly lower than it is now (to accommodate the bark) I have been mixing the excess soil with potting mix and composted cow manure and using the mix to top up garden beds and fill new planting containers.

Grass is being removed from pathway to back garden

5. Over the past couple of weeks there has been a surge in the number and variety of butterflies in the district. Over at work (only 4km away) this ground cover (no idea what it is) has attracted the Australian Leafwing Butterfly. I have never seem so many of these butterflies in one place. Their outer wings provide excellent camouflage against predators, while their inner wings are really prettily marked. Their wings only open intermittently when they are feeding, so you don’t really notice they are there until you see the flash of colour.

Closed wings provide excellent camouflage as the butterfly looks just like a fallen leaf
Each wing ends in a little swish
Open wings provide a colourful contrast to the outer wings

6. Morelia spilota subspecies mcdowelli. Now I know you will all probably think I’m crazy, but I just had to share three photos of our Monday (Labour Day) visitor. Needlesss to say, social distancing was practiced!!

One of our three Pied Butcher birds sounding the alarm!!

Our 3m resident carpet snake put in an appearance at lunchtime (they are normally nocturnal) on Monday, heading for the front garden….and the road! With the recent relaxing of restrictions to visit the National Parks, there has been a steady stream of cars along our road. While most people will not purposely hurt a carpet snake, there are unfortunately those who have total disregard for nature. I was so worried that she would attempt to cross the road, that I spent a fair portion of the afternoon keeping an eye on her. Carpets do not move quickly. She knew I was there, and the only way to avoid me, in her opinion, was to go up – right up the tree fern and onto the roof! She spent the remainder of the afternoon up there and only slithered down the wall when it was dark, before heading back the way she had come.

You might recognise the giraffe statue from a previous post
Ivy keeping an eye on the snake, safe behind the glass
Snake watching me and willing me to go away

That’s it for my contribution to this week’s Six on Saturday. Curious to see what is happening in other gardens around the world? Then head over to The Propagator’s blog for more information and links. Have a lovely gardening week!


  1. Snakes give me the creeps. I am relieved your little dog was watching it from behind the glass. We had a ladder snake take up residence in our garden and it was quite agressive. It once caught me unawares and it reared up at me.

    • That must have given you a fright! The snake probably got a huge fright too! The carpet snakes (pythons) are generally harmless if you let them be. They tend to stay away from noise and humans. They also have a large area they move around in. They are all looking for a place to hibernate for winter, and I guess the bigger the snake the harder it is for them to find a hole big enough to settle into. I definitely do not like having the poisonous snakes around!

  2. Love both the bird family & the snake. You share your garden w/a lovely variety of other creatures, including one of the day’s heroes, Ivy.

    • I love the variety of birds that we have here, and try and grow plants to feed and encourage them. As for the snakes, I don’t mind the pythons, but definitely do not want to encourage the poisonous ones. They are welcome to stay in the forest, not in the garden! Ivy was beside herself with excitement at seeing the snake! She has no idea that it was probably sizing her up for its hibernation meal! She was trying to lick it through the window! Obviously she thought it was a new friend!

    • I’m having trouble posting comments on your blog….I tried twice last week but no luck. Have just tried again, signed into Google, so not sure if it’s waiting for moderation. What am I doing wrong?

  3. I like the butcher bird’s attitudes! I guess they are a kind of magpie? And those are related to the crow family, which are my favorite birds. Smart and sassy. The alligator lizard last week startled me, but I guess when you get used to a resident snake it’s not startling. I am not sure what my dog, Boo, would think though. He’s pretty much a sissy! A good watch dog, but not a guard dog. Barks and runs away!

    • I had to look it up, and the consensus is that the pied butcher birds are related to the magpies here in Australia. Both birds sing beautifully. Poor Boo! Barking and running away would be the best thing he could do if a snake was around. We have to make sure our chickens, little dogs and cat are safe from snakes, and if one is around we put the pets inside. I found it interesting that my dogs did not appear to notice the python when it was in front of them. This is probably because of its wonderful camouflage.

  4. Wow what a six. I honestly don’t know what I would do if I saw a snake in my garden. Probably wonder where the hell it came from as we only have adders in the hills around here. I take it is not poisonous or did you write that. That butterfly is fantastic as well. Thanks for posting.

    • The snake is a python, not poisonous, although if they get annoyed they are know to give a nasty bite, which can become infected if not treated properly. They move slowly, usually at night, which is why I was so excited to be able to photograph it during the day. I think it had been disturbed while it was sleeping. I don’t mind these snakes at all. They are far better to have around than some of the other quick and poisonous ones. The butterflies were just amazing to watch. Many people miss the fact that they are butterflies not leaves!

  5. Lots of excitment! Wonderful. Love all the wildlife photos, although I was a little shocked by the last one, but in a good way. For the first couple of years of my life I lived in Kenilworth, in Warwickshire UK. 🙂

    • What a coincidence about Kenilworth! Our Kenilworth is a tiny quaint country town with only a handful of shops. It gets very busy on weekends when the motorbike riders come up this way for the day from Brisbane. The final photo shows the snakes face so clearly, it’s quite fascinating. That’s as close as I’ll get to a snakes head! Thank goodness for zoom lenses!

  6. Wonderful pictures – the snake (I would have wanted to be behind the glass with your dog!), that amazing butterfly, and the Pied Butcher bird. Thanks for sharing!

    • Being at home all day certainly has its advantages. I am noticing so much more going on in the garden, and it seems I’m being accepted by feathered friends too. It’s wonderful!

      • How interesting – my husband reported yesterday that he thought our birds were friendlier too!

  7. Great photos of the snake. I have to admit I’m glad we don’t any any snakes in our garden! They’re fascinating and beautiful creatures, but from a distance and somewhere else! The bird photos made me smile, particularly the one watching out for food while your husband works.

    • I have always been very wary of snakes, mainly because of some being poisonous, which scared me. These python however are fine, as long as they don’t feel threatened, and as long as your small animals are locked away. They also move slowly. Most snakes avoid people at all cost. The birds are such characters! Two kept me company this afternoon while I was digging in the garden, and then the one started singing….almost as if it was singing for its supper!

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