Eclectus parrots and other things

posted in: Life and things | 0

In a week of what else is new, Australia is in another conflict with China. This time, it’s over Antarctica. Australia is one of twelve countries active in Antarctica which signed the Antarctic Treaty. It covers things like catches of krill and tooth fish, and mining. The Chinese simply ignore the agreement when it doesn’t suit. And while the rest of the world’s car manufacturers are starved of computer chips, the Chinese are happy to sell you a car. They buy a brand, then market it as if it’s still the old, trusted brand you knew in your youth. That’s MG, originally made in England, since 2016 in China. Or you can buy a Haval. It’s made by GWM, which sounds a tiny bit like BMW but is in fact Great Wall Motors. Ah, the power of marketing.

In their latest move towards world domination, instead of sending actors and billionaires up to the edges of space for a couple of minutes, the Chinese have agreed with the Russians to build a moon base. Please note that China is still rated a third world country, so despite having an advanced space program, they have the world’s permission to pollute to their heart’s content. Aussie Prime Minister Scott Morrison will be attending the climate talk-fest in Glasgow, but the Chinese won’t be there, which makes the whole exercise pointless. It will be another waste of time, with men in suits making sanctimonious statements and weasel-word promises they don’t intend to keep. It’ll be like Neville Chamberlain waving his copy of the Munich agreement in 1938, saying ‘Peace in our time’.

Amid the doom and gloom, the new NSW Premier Perrottet has vowed there will be no more lockdowns in NSW. Fully-vaccinated Australians will be able to return to the state without having to quarantine in a move that I sincerely hope the other premiers will emulate.

On the home front I’ve had to wear an ambulatory blood pressure monitor for 24 hours. I had to wear one of those cuffs on my upper arm along with the monitor itself, a quite heavy little box that hung over my shoulder. It measured my blood pressure every half hour – except at night, when it takes a measure every hour. You know the drill; blow-up cuff on upper arm pumps up and tightens to measure the BP. Yes, it does tend to disrupt sleep. Anyway, it’ll prove to the doc I don’t have hypertension. Of course, the 24 hours coincided with the first major storm event of the season. And also with an unexpected visitor.

When this bird landed on the roof late in the day I hurried to fetch my camera. At first I thought it was a king parrot – we do get them here occasionally. But king parrots are red and green and this bird was mainly red, with some blue. It was clearly tame, buzzing my hair as it moved from the roof to the bird table where I’d put out a paw-paw. Then it clicked. This was an eclectus parrot, the female of the species. We’d come across them before on a trip up North (see below). I managed to persuade the bird to sit on my arm (protected by a towel). She perched on my shoulder and promptly bit my ear. It’s a big bird with a powerful beak and I expect she could have done a lot more damage than she did – but it hurt and I bled. I expect that upset the blood pressure!

We didn’t have anywhere to keep her, so I went to see if I could find the owner. Ringing the local bird club was a waste of time so I tried Facebook. For all its flaws, it has its uses. I found the owner via the lost and found pets group and sent her a message. By the time she arrived the next day, in driving rain, the bird had flown over the road to another house. But at least I’d pointed the owner in the right direction.

A pair of visiting Eclectus parrots

Eclectus parrots are native to Northern Australia and surrounding Pacific Islands. We came across a pair when we visited Cobbold Gorge a few years ago. They were touring with their owners, who had them instead of kids. The man explained the female was called Modo because of the hump on her back (as in Quasimodo). He’d bought her from a breeder who cautioned him before he entered the aviary, warning him she would attack. Instead, she settled right on his shoulder. It was a done deal. The love and trust between the man and the parrot was just stunning to see. The male was wearing a little coat because he had a skin infection. It was quite obvious he adored his Mum. They are even house-trained, telling their human when they needed to poo. The couple has a special harness in their vehicle with perches for the two birds. And the leashes are more for the bird’s protection, in case they’re spooked and fly away. (There are a lot of raptors out in the bush.) The leash is elastic so they won’t be jerked to a halt. Like many of the big parrots, they’ll live for up to fifty years, so the couple we saw would have had to make provision for them in their wills. Tap here to read more about the birds.

Yesterday’s rain came from a line of thunder showers coming along the coast from the north. We recorded 32mm in the rain gauge, a welcome drop. Of course it was pissing down when I went to have the BP monitor removed. We’d been back home for half an hour when the sky cleared. Today, it’s bright, clear, and calm, another balmy day in Queensland. Summer will be here all too soon, bringing with it the humidity. Sigh.

Have a good week, wherever you are, whatever you’re doing.

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