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The Birds and the Bees

By Dennis Ogden


Down in my neck of the woods, broadly speaking that is, I mean, I live on the coast and not in the woods. Anyway, as a result of the severe drought in Southern Australia all the flora and fauna are going through a readjustment of their seasonal clock. Some of the foreign species of trees are struggling to survive while the native plants have gone into overdrive and flowering early to get their species-spreading pollen out there before they shut down to reserve what fading energy they have.


Now I’m not being racial here, it’s just that the home-grown variety has experienced all this for thousands of year and knows what to do and what not to do and that’s how they’ve survived. So, maybe in a thousand or so years some of the introduced species will also survive and attain the status of ‘natives’…who knows?


But this forced change in the cycle of things survival for the flora has a flow-on effect to the fauna, right? Now, when I say fauna I include birds and insects, okay? So seeing that one relies on the other, when one changes its timetable, the rest must follow or they then are in danger of extinction, right?


Stay with me on this cuz I’m getting to the point.


So, when this gumnut tree living on my little patch decides to bloom early, I had the opportunity to sit and watch what in human terms would be classed as a loud, crass, disrespectful drunken orgy.


Birds, who may visit for a very brief moment later in the year, had lost their migratory way due to the weird weather pattern and clamped eyes on the sweet, inebriating nectar-laden, bright, fire engine red of the flowering nuts.

Local birds became jealous of this invasion into their favoured, local drinking hole and their still young infants, not fully educated in the ways of social behaviour, also made a bee-line to the tree to get what they can before the invaders.


And talking about bees, they too are part of the equation. They too are forced to bring forward their natural expertise of gathering the sweet ingredient for honey making.


So, here you have this one tree, isolated far from another of its kind, in early full bloom, a happy-hour crowd fluttering and tramping through its laden limbs, and in all its bright brilliance is a sign. A sign as bright and as welcoming as a neon light to a moth and in one swift flick of the switch the sign flashes BAR OPEN!


I’ve been in many bars in my life and I’ve seen the worst behaviour brought on by over-indulgence, but nothing, I repeat, nothing could match such free-wheeling, squeaking, squawking, screeching, flapping, buzzing, bustling behaviour I witnessed in my backyard tree.


I had invading parrots singing at the top of their voices making it impossible to hear anything coming out of the radio. The local honey-eaters, who so deftly and speedily fly with astonishing skill through dense trees, where crashing into branches and only just managing to hang on while swinging hopelessly upside-down. Their young adolescents trying comically to match the high pitched squawking of their parents while staggering up and down the fence-line running beside the tree. Then there’s the bees, looking for all the world like the Hulk as pollen continues to build on their legs making it hard for them to fly, but fly they persist until falling to the ground, dead drunk! And I do mean dead!


My belief that the only god is nature itself was in question. Such sensible creatures have survived a thousand times longer than us humans but if the drought continues, climate change interferes with natural weather patterns and they carry on with such human-like behaviour, then maybe, and I never thought I’d ever say this, but just maybe humans will outlive them!


This was too much to bear. I took one last look at the vibrant activity shaking the life out of my gumnut tree, turned my back on the debauched behaviour and walked away, into the house, into the kitchen, opened the fridge and with a cold beer in hand went out to join the party!


The (hic) end


© Dennis Ogden





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