Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Nature at work, making new things

The Oriental Liliums in my front garden bed are back in flower. It happens every year, regular as clockwork, it seems. Checking my previous posts it is apparent that I have written about them on 17 January 2010, and then again on 15 January 2011, and now today, 19 January 2012.  There are two colour forms (cultivars, or hybrids) growing together. The pink one opens first, and the white several days later.

White Oriental Lilium "Casablanca"

Pink Oriental Lilium

This is a young plant, growing between the other two varieties. It is its first year of flowering, and, it is a naturally occurring hybrid between the other two. It is a delicate blush pink. This is noted as Part 1 of my theme for today - "making new things".
Hybrid Oriental Lilium (naturally pollinated, and self-sown)

This Grey Fantail is on the lookout for insects (which are plentiful in Robertson at present).
You can see a photo of one of these birds in the hand
from a previous post from a bird banding trip to West Wyalong.
It shows the fan-shaped tail from which they get their name.
The fan tail and round wings give these birds amazing agility in the air
which they need in order to catch their insect prey.
Grey Fantail on a bare branch, on lookout for insects

Back to the theme of today's post - "making new things".

There is a pair of Grey Fantails with a nest at my friends' house, Cloud Farm.
Celeste and I saw them go to the nest several weeks ago, 
and so I went back today to monitor their progress.
Both birds are sharing nesting duties of sheltering tiny young, 
and alternately feeding them.
Grey Fantail on nest duty, sheltering its newly hatched chicks
This bird is the male, judging by his clearly marked eyebrows and dark colour.
I love Grey Fantails nests, for they are so neat.
Made mostly of cobwebs (for binding strength)
with an inner structure of grass.
They always seem to make a "tail" under the nest, 
which gives the nest its "wine-glass" appearance.
Quite why they do that is a mystery to me.
Male Grey Fantail on "wine-glass"shaped nest.
I also have a theory that Grey Fantails use cobwebs in nest construction, to match their own grey colour, for the closely related Rufous Fantail builds a similar nest, using brownish plant fibres (and some cobwebs). But the overall nest colour matches the birds brownish body colours when on the nest.

You can see two photos of a Rufous Fantail's brown nest on a post from several years ago. I apologise for the poor quality of one of those images, but together, they serve to illustrate my point.


mick said...

The Liliums are beautiful and the hybrid is especially so. However, the birds' nests are fascinating. Imagine a bird being smart enough to color co-ordinate its home to its feather color! I went and looked at the post you linked to and that sounded such an interesting walk. Did you ever track down who used to live in the clearing in the bush?

Denis Wilson said...

Hi Mick
Thanks. Glad you followed up the old link, too. There are some people around who grew up in that area, but I have not ever really tracked down the original owners.
Many of the early settlers were "squatters" and timber cutters, so records are not easily available.

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