Sunday, August 8, 2010

Rosella roost

The golden elms are anything but at this time of year. They are leafless if not lifeless and although rather beautiful in a kind of twiggy way they're hardly decent cover and have no food bearing fruits or flowers at all. Surprising then when a group of rosellas decide to sit there all afternoon.

These particular elms are in a rather sheltered part of the garden, sandwiched as they are between 70 year old pear trees and an ancient ash. They're smaller than both and perhaps they provided a still spot in an otherwise windy treescape for the birds. The rosellas themselves were subdued. They're usually a noisy lot. Not raucous and monochrome like the corellas but chattery and singing with several different colours and sub-species like they're always having a party.

They are probably always partying given their diet of fruit and young buds. So much sugar makes them a bit hyperactive and they wheel and play in groups, daring each other to fly like arrows in front of cars and low down over our pathways. In this district they dine on all kinds of tree fruit; apples, pears, quinces, cherries and loquats as well as the young buds of flowers including roses. They're not actually welcome in the orchards but they cheekily invite themselves all the same.

Their native diet includes the buds and flowers of eucalyptus trees which they hold with one claw and nimbly nip off with their little curved beaks. Lately little butter-yellow and pink eucalypt buds have been raining down when the rosellas are having a meal. Certainly a continuous feast like that would make for an energetic crowd, but not this lot. Not today. It's too cold. They sat, only occassionally hanging upside down and quietly twittered among themselves.