Things go into the band of my hat. They’re usually feathers, because feathers are bright and colourful and make me happy. They stay there for a while then fall out or blow away and are replaced by other feathers, or scraps or bits of things. I saw this gorgeous butterfly the other day and crept stealthily upon it, only to find that it was dead as a Norwegian blue.


So in it went.


A butterfly is about as perfect as Nature can get, though it’s not a competition. Can you compare a butterfly against a snowflake, an orchid, a wave breaking on a reef? A button mushroom freshly burst through the earth’s crust.


A leaf from a fig tree, even. This leaf. Absolutely perfect!


Though it might not be very good at covering the shame of Adam and Eve. Did they have different fig trees in the Garden of Eden?

This year hasn’t been perfect but it has been pretty good. As my dad would have said, every day you’re upright and breathing is a good day. Here’s a last-minute bauble to see out 2013 and usher in the new year. May it be perfect for you, or as near as damn it.


Deck the halls


I was chatting away with Old Mate the other evening about various stuff, including:

  1. The Ashes. Verdict: there’s too much cricket.
  2. The rugby league world cup. Verdict: Pff.
  3. Privacy and CCTV. Verdict: in the twenty-first century the concept of private space is a sham.

Young Mate ambled down the creek on his cycle at this point and we had a general discussion on foxes. It seems like the recent work on the gasworks site may not only have flushed the squatters and human residents but also the foxes, as Reynard and his friends had been seen in numbers around the place. The slashing of the grass had also resulted in a significant reduction in raptor numbers. If ever you needed a lesson on habitat destruction and its effect on the apex of the food pyramid then this was it.

But what was most important was the reappearance of Christmas baubles in the drain. Normally they don’t start appearing until January, when folk are pulling down the trees, packing up the decorations and somehow (inexplicably) dropping baubles into the major watercourses of Newcastle. So, with the festive season in mind, here’s a pictorial merry Yuletide from me, Jambo and the residents of Styx Creek to youse all.







Silver ball




Yo ho ho!

Start them young


The warmer weather loosens us up and brings us out into the world. Though a tip to blue-tongue lizards: while warm bitumen can be a wonderful boon to the process of thermo-regulation, like sun beds for humans, it does come with potential hazards.


The recent rains have spruced up the creek no end. The grass shoots are green where the kids recently tried to start a fire near the railway bridge (this burnt back the lantana quite a bit, but it’s recovering) and the bamboo on the eastern banking is so thick as to be almost impenetrable. Lantana and bamboo are of course introduced species but they do at least afford some level of protection for the reptiles and insectivores that have been driven out of our suburbs by our relentless demand for neatness.


Having the little stuff in place allows the big stuff to thrive. I’m seeing more raptors, or sometimes just the evidence of raptors.


And yellow-tailed black cockatoos, right overhead! I often seen small family groups commuting over Hamilton North but it’s rare to get this close to them roosting. I was trying to get up close to this fella so that I could get a nice shot with my puny iPhone. He watched me for a while, turning one beady eye on me and then the other, before growing impatient and flapping off with the rest of the family. How I’d love one of those tail feathers for my hat!yellow-tail_black_cockie

It’s not just the non-human fauna that’s on the move. I happened upon another family group in the Styx spending some quality time together. I can imagine that certain people would be outraged by a young father teaching his son how to vandalise public property, teaching him that it’s not just OK to break the law but that it’s actually cool. There could be something in that and yet I was charmed at this young dad’s enthusiasm to be with his son, sharing some skill that he, the father, had mastered. And though it might be outside the limits of what is legal I’d say that this young fella may long cherish these shared moments with dad. I didn’t see Fagin and a pickpocket apprentice; I saw a young dad (a very young dad!) who obviously enjoyed being with his son.



I’d say the boy was barely into primary school but there he was, not just with his dad but with a small group of his dad’s friends. There are entire programs centred around getting fathers to interact with their infant and young children, particularly boys, and it’d be churlish to lecture this guy on the moral lessons he’s imparting to his boy. Besides, they seemed like nice folk, and I’m sure this boy will grow up knowing right from wrong – even if his moral compass does point to a different north to mine.