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Humpty Doo | Litchfield Shire | Darwin Rural Area | Northern Territory | Australia

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Fire exclusion has bequest ideal building material for the bird hide as 2017 looks like providing a feasting spectacle at the end of the wet

January 11, 2017

The wood of Lakewood is predominantly paperbark and at Rakhi it stands straight and tall as it competes for light. Fire has burnt the reserve twice in the last 10 years, the first time with such intensity that i rushed from work towards a black mushroom cloud with fears for the property. Rakhi was spared and in the 15 years or more since the last fire there the thick crop of juvenile paper bark trees has grown taller and continues to naturally thin. There is no shortage of standing straight saplings.


What better material for a non-obtrusive structure than the surrounding paperbark that is at least a little termite resistant. Predominantly using dead trees for filling and the stronger live saplings for structure function and form are working together to make a bird hide on the causeway. At first vertical logs were intended to make the walls but it has been easier to use them horizontally.






The never forgotten rope lashing and bracing skills of a boyhood scouting returned to the fore and are holding together a structure without wobble. something closer to permanence will be achieved with some recycled stainless steel cable used and abandoned by previous owners as a flying fox. i am hoping we get ten years of life out of the structure before nature reclaims it.



The long term ecological succession plan for Rakhi is to develop some areas of monsoonal rainforest similar to Fogg Dam. This is naturally happening with some large Lophostemon lactifluss and Vitex acuminata well established. Some areas will have a few more saplings removes to create space for plantings of a range of appropriate species. we will need to make sure the fire breaks are maintained as children will be children and fire in the paperbark swamp will continue to hold its fascination for them!


The initial structure was established before the December monsoon and between the rain and festivities construction only resumed this week.

The rains fell, the frogs sang, the lagoon rose and life multiplied. the lagoon spilled back into the waterhole at Rakhi providing us with our wet season swimming hole to drink GnT in the shade of Black Wattle Tree.


The water is thick with tadpoles and arthropods and given the current lagoon height the next monsoon burst could make the lagoon overflow into the Howard River and bring the fish first for their own breeding and feasting then for many to become the feast for birds as described on the Rakhi Ecology page. This is the reason for the location of this bird hide.  


Cutting the saplings was made a little harder by the shin deep water but the floating logs were much easier to get to the lumber yard for processing via the deep area brought far less sweat than the logs carted before the rains.


Perhaps it was the act of building this first cubby house in many years that inspired dim memories of a childhood television program featuring floating harvested logs being tied together and something like a mandolin playing in the introduction. the memories remains dim. What was that program?









All the time the birds have sung and carried out their business as i worked on construction. Magpie geese inspect the forthcoming wild rice crop. A couple of brown goshawks move between their favoured perches occasionally harassed by an assortment of smaller birds. A pair of Rajah Ducks patrol their territory with occasional squabbles with their neighbours. A pair of Green Pygmy-Geese are keeping a shy eye on things. A small flock of Drongos sing with Oriels from the tree tops of the rainforest, White-throated, Brown and Rufous-throated Honeyeaters sing amidst the flowering paperbark and little friarbirds bath in the lagoon. An Azure Kingfisher gives its high pitched whistle and zooms past with a startling crimson tone to its breast but as is the way refused to turn around when i downed tools and picked up the camera. There will be a time and place for more photography once the building is done...



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