At the back door in Sydney, Australia

September 11th, 2022  

Currently I’m in Sydney, Australia.  In a few weeks I’ll be flying to Taiwan. 

This is the rear of our house.  Originally we had a swimming pool right out the back door, but it was a lot of work – the water used to go murky.  So my parents had the swimming pool drained and filled with dirt. That’s the patch of lawn surrounded by raised bricks on the lower right of the image.  The bird bath (that thing like an ornamental fountain to the right) is in the middle of the former swimming pool.

The view 180 degrees from the last photo.   Forty-odd years ago, my father converted this block to a native garden.   

The garden ends in a creek – Sailor’s Bay Creek.  I used to play in this creek as a boy. 

Outside the back of the house are rainbow lorikeets.  These birds are wild, only coming to the back door in hope of being fed.  I was surprised to see rainbow lorikeets in Taiwan.

My father feeding rainbow lorikeets at the back door. 

Although wild animals, the rainbow lorikeets seem unconcerned at my presence.  One took a peck at my foot.

Another visitor: a magpie.  This is a female magpie – you can tell by looking at the back of her neck.  The female has pale grey colouring, while the male magpie has pure white.

Magpies are very intelligent birds.  Our male magpie has developed a unique cry that seems to target us.  Magpies are infamous for swooping in order to protect its nest and young, though this behaviour is only present for two months a year.

My father throwing minced meat to the magpie.

Magpies are also famous for “caroling”, a gentle warbling sound that, for me, encapsulates the Australian bush.  I found a YouTube clip that demonstrates it above.

Another visitor: a Brush-turkey.   

Brush-turkey pecking the grass in the filled-in swimming pool.

I found a clip that follows a brush-turkey in the wild:

Brush-turkeys have a mound (like a nest) along the creek at the end of the garden. 

“Brush turkey nests or ‘mounds’ are the size of a car and are made up of soil and plant material. Built by the males to attract a mate, they’re essentially large compost heaps. So large, in fact, that they take the hard working male about a month to create.  Just like a good compost heap, these mounds generate a huge amount of heat and that’s what incubates the eggs — which is lucky because once the eggs are laid the mother is off, and the father only sticks around to defend the mound.”  (

My mother really doesn’t like this brush-turkey because it destroys the garden.  Whenever she sees a brush-turkey through the window she rushes outside, throws a branch, and runs the brush-turkey off.  However the law is on the brush-turkey’s side: it is an offence to kill them.

Yet another visitor – an Eastern water dragon sunning itself on the warm bricks. This is a juvenile; they can get up to twice the length. 

Another photo of the eastern water dragon in the garden.

The eastern water dragons live in the creek; when threatened they dive into the creek and hide underwater.  They are well camouflaged, and you can hear the rustle and _plop_ as they hit the water.  They hibernate in winter, coming around again in spring.  Eastern water dragons like meat, and my father regularly feeds another, bigger, one.  

Recently a pair of kookaburras visited us.

Kookaburras are a famous Australian bird; there is even a song about them (above).

The cry of the kookaburra is known as “laughing”. In contrast to human laughter, kookaburras laughing is a weird and ominous sound; it sends shivers down my spine.

Unfortunately kookaburras are carnivorous, eating the young of other birds, so my father chases them off.

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