The black cockatoos visit McCarthy Park regularly, both the red tailed and white tailed, and they never cease to impress with their noise and size! Usually it is quite small flocks that come by, but occasionally we get a very big flock like this one. Check out our post on Instagram here! Or on Facebook here
The Carnaby’s Black- cockatoo is endangered, so we are thrilled they feel at home here, even if it is only for short visits.
The warmer summer weather brings a lot of native insect activity, particularly the many native bees we get here in Western Australia. We have seen quite a few different kinds over the years, blue banded bees, resin bees, leaf cutter bees and these masked bees. Today, I set the camera on a tripod n front of the latest bee hotel, pressed record and returned 15 minutes later to find the top hole completely sealed. The video is amazing, really showing the perseverance of this small insect (it is alas too big to post, so a snippet of the end is all that we can post).
Video of masked bee sealing nest
We had a good harvest of silver perch from the swimming pool, using an adapted prawn net. We netted 8 fish, all of which were over a kilo, but the biggest of all was this one- an amazing 2.7 kg! We assume it was one of the original perch we put in 5 years ago, to get to such a size……… either that or it is a real greedy guts!
Over the years we have seen the circular holes made by the leafcutter bee, but for the first time we had the camera on hand and photographed this amazing native bee in action making a nest inside a hole in the mortar between the bricks of our house. the location is a surprise, as it is right by the spade and tap that we use regularly in our front garden!
Heading for the hole with its neatly cut piece of leaf
Entering its nest
Twisting upside down to get into position
Leaving the nest ready to cut the next piece of leaf
It was a fascinating process to watch! It took about 5-10 minutes to source and cut the leaf (not sure where from as it seemed to fly over the house). This is despite a rose bush being right next too it, which is often used and had some of the tell tale circular holes cut in it already. Once it entered the nest, it took about a minute or two before it flew back out.
It has been great to have some free time over the Christmas break to wander around our block with camera in hand. Here are just a few photos of what we have seen this past week or so……
Rainbow bee eater amongst the greenery
Pair of Red-capped parrots
Bee fly (a native fly that mimics bees)
bird of prey
It is so important not to just work, work, work- even though there is never ‘nothing to do’! Sometimes, it is great to just wander around the garden, camera in hand or not, and see what there is to see. This Painted Jezebel kept hanging around the mistletoe on one of our wattles. After watching it for a while, it settled in laid eggs! It was fascinating to watch, and a really good reminder to just enjoy the moment.
There are a few different native bees around too, especially now the weather is warming up. They like the old nail holes in wooden beams!
Native bee peeping out of the hole
We have seen a few different types of case moth- this is the latest:
And of course there are always those we see with no camera at hand- like the Blue Banded Bee. One day we will get a nice photo of it!
We have the most amazing orange tree- it fruits prolifically and the oranges are delicious. Only problem is, there are SO MANY oranges we can’t possibly eat them all so we need to preserve them.
One days picking
Another day’s picking, after giving loads away!
One of our favourite ways is to make Orange Brandy Liqueur. It uses up lots of oranges (and brandy!) and tastes divine, however we still had plenty left from last year so really didn’t need to make more with this year’s harvest.
Last year we also froze a load of whole oranges so we could juice them when we wanted- except we didn’t and they were still in the freezer! So out they went, and after a search of the recipe books we settled on:
- Litres and litres of orange juice- some to drink straight away and plenty for the freezer.
- We also cut heaps of orange wedges for the freezer- these are great to add to a drink instead of an ice block and are great to suck on on a hot summers day.
- Orange chutney (18 jars!) – this is delicious, and while it took ages to peel the oranges the result was worth it.
- Orange, coconut and apple crisps-we happened to have some apple sauce left over, so whizzed up some with oranges and coconut in the Thermomix to make a paste. This was then dehydrated and broken into pieces for a delicious snack!
Orange crisps and orange, coconut and apple crisps
- Orange crisps– we did this last year too, and is well worth maintaining a supply for quick snacks or to add flavour to cold drinks or tea. The oranges are sliced with a mandoline and then dehydrated.
- Orange infused vinegar and oil- the dehydrated orange slices give a great flavour to white wine vinegar or a light olive oil. Great for cooking with or for salad dressings.
Orange infused vinegar and orange infused oil
- Marmalade- it is hard to not make marmalade with a surplus of oranges, so 20 jars were made, which is more than enough for us and for gifts!
- Orange paste– by now we were wondering what else to do with so many oranges still. We kept giving them away, the last basket was starting to linger, and we love the fruit pastes that go with cheese so decided to try Orange Jelly (paste). It is quite a simple recipe and really delicious! We made 16 jars, so plenty to last a long time!
Orange jelly- a fabulous paste to have with cheese
And that, finally, saw the end of the baskets of oranges. Now we can enjoy the wonderful flavour in so many different ways for many months to come, and we have added to the shelves in the produce room!
Here in Perth, we have had an incredibly slow, cold, wet start to spring…….. but yesterday was a beautiful spring day, and the day one of our hives swarmed. The weather had been so awful, we hadn’t managed to check the hives for a couple of weeks, and we still don’t know which of our three hives may have swarmed (all look full and active).
Swarm in a tree
After some discussion, we decided we would keep it, but locate it down near the orchard and ‘dam’ rather than near the house like the others. We had a spare super, lid and plenty of frames so we just bought a bottom board and we were ready to go!
We placed a white sheet under the swarm, climbed the ladder and trimmed the branches around it. It was good to have the white sheet down as quite a few bees dropped in the process. There were two main ‘clumps’ of bees which we carefully placed in the hive box, with four centre frames removed. When we felt we had as many as we could, we did a quick shake and placed the lid on, then wrapped up the bees on the white sheet, and took the hive (in a wheelbarrow) to the area we had chosen.
It all worked well, fingers crossed the bees like their new home and stay there!
so far so good….
Just love this time of year when the greens are growing prolifically both in the aquaponics system and the vegetable garden! Lettuce, kale, chard…. they just grow amazingly before it starts to get hot and they all bolt. We are getting so much we are sharing with family and friends as well as eating plenty ourselves.
Endless supply of fresh greens!
The waiting was worth it- the pineapple growing in the aquaponics system was finally ready- at the end of July in a Perth winter! Who would believe it? But, all who have tasted it agree it is the most delicious pineapple!
Juicy and sweet!
The other pineapple growing in a pot (see the May post), should be ready in a couple of months or so, it will be interesting to see if there is a difference in the taste (aquaponics vs dirt). When this one is finished, the top will be prepared and planted ready to grow another pineapple!