Aviary Update

There have recently been new arrivals in the Aviary including some little fluffy additions also. They are most gorgeous, and facinating. They are so small and trusting and just hang out in the bottom of the aviary seeming to sleep until food is brought to them or they want to feed. We are enjoying observing and learning about these little guys.
The folk at the Aviary now include:
Blue Faced Parrot Finches
Diamond Firetail Finches
Masked Finches
Painted Firetail Finches
Red Star Finches
Yellow Billed Longtail Finches
Yellow Star Finches
Zebra Finches
Some images of the aviary are below.
Painted Firetail & Yellow Billed Longtail

Yellow Billed Long Tails
Yellow Billed Longtail Finch baby (we think) hanging out so still and unmoving (sleeping?). Notice it has it’s eye closed.
Zebra Finch
Zebra Finch Fledgling (Baby Fluffball)
Diamond Firetail Pair
Red Star Finch
Yellow Star Finch
Painted Firetail

Laneway Regeneration Project 2011

This was one of our first swale experiments.
We had a huge amount of rain that eroded the laneway* leaving huge holes and cut outs. Some erosion on the property could literally fit a car in it (unfortunately we do not have photos of that section).
We decided that we needed to do something that would stop erosion and also regenerate the land at the same time. We decided on swaling the area, planting it out with primary regeneration flora, including wattles, and a variety of native trees and shrubs, mulching and watering the plants and swales we fenced the area off and left it to do what it does.
Below are some before and after images:
The swales just having been planted out 2011. (Top section of the laneway).
20130206 Photo of laneway regeneration project today
20130206 a swale with some trees doing pretty well so far
erosion after heavy rains 2011 (Bottom section of the
 erosion section after heavy rains 2011 (Bottom section)
The area we swaled and planted out, just after planting 2011
(Bottom section of the laneway)
The same section as above December 2012
(Bottom section of the laneway)

It has been really interesting observing this section of laneway. The trees have grown rapidly and well, there has not been a lot of loss of plants. There are many types of different grasses coming up of their own occurred and they are much taller than on other areas of the property.
We also observed some interesting links between plants and the people who planted them. In the top section of the laneway we planted a variety of native shrubs and trees. We noticed that the banksias in the top section were all getting eaten by animals. We couldn’t work it out as banksias are spiky and not the usual tree of choice that animals prefer, (they do not have the softest leaves). We were discussing it and found out that the person who had planted many of the trees had a favourite and those were the banksias. We found it interesting that the ‘favourite’ had been attacked and eaten.
We had another experience in a different section of the land where a similar thing happened. Many trees were planted and many of them died. It was interesting to observe that all those people who planted out the sections had the feeling when planting that they had to ‘get a job done’, there feelings were based on outcome and ‘get as much done as possible’ rather than taking time and having a desire to love and give to the trees and the land.

*A laneway is a fenced space like a roadway that links up many of the paddocks on the property and is easy for the stock to walk to and from the woolshed.

Breeding Aviary Project

Some of our smaller friends
This Project is one of Michael’s passions* and began pre ‘Octoberfest’ 2011 and has been a continuing project since. It will be an on-going project that has and will be created in stages.
Stage one consisted of converting a calf house into the aviary. This consisted of knocking out stalls, putting up wire mesh, creating perspex windows, high step up doorways and sealing up any holes that possible rodents or reptiles could enter by. Putting down a sand floor, heating for the winter months, hanging nesting ‘boxes’ and creating water baths/drinking bowls and feeders.

When This was complete some feathered friends moved in. At present there are Star Finches, a Blue Faced Parrot (who will be getting a mate in the next couple of months), Long Tailed Finches, Masked Finches and Zebra Finches. There are expected new arrivals in the coming months.

Inside of calf house during conversion to aviary.
Almost complete inside view.
Outside view holding up window that will lead to first flight zone.
Inside view – nesting bundles, food and water dishes,
heater and sand floor
A wee nest

Stage two consisted of the ‘first flight zone’. The ‘first flight zone’ has had tin dug into trenches to prevent anything from digging under it, and is fitted out with wire mesh to make an enclosure. This eventually will lead out to a greater or free flight zone with the wire mesh cut so the birds can come and go into a greater flight zone and then into the bush land beyond where they can ‘learn’ survival skills from the native non captive finch populations that inhabit the area. At present there is a small family of Red Brow Finches that come and go from bush land behind the flight zones.

first flight zone under construction
Earthworks for the ‘first flight zone’ under construction.
Digging the tin into trenches
Adding wire mesh to ‘first flight zone’ and beginnings of planting out
beginnings of planting out and construction of wire mesh zone.
The plants taking to their new environment and the beginnings of small
bird food abundance.
Same as above, different angle.

The intention is to eventually have a release programme for native and endangered finches (and small birds in particular) that educates the birds to care for themselves in the ‘wild’. We are in the process of planting a lot of spiky, dense native flora to create nesting and habitat for small birds.

We would also like to design and implement in future portable aviaries that can be taken to regeneration sites near food and water, with birds in them where they can create nests and ‘living’ quarters and be safe from predators while they get established. Once ‘educated’ by ‘wild’ finches (- to avoid attack and not be totally dependant and domesticated) the flocks established and flourishing we will remove the portable aviary and begin the process again.
In the mean time we are planting out seeding grasses that small bird and finches like and that attract insects, shrubs, bushes, trees for nesting and food near to permanent water sources to create habitat and as ideal conditions as possible to encourage breeding and support large populations of bird life.
For more information or details feel free to contact us.

* Though we all gain much joy and excitement from it.
Some of the small birds that are in the Breeding Aviary at this time

‘Octoberfest’ – Namoi CMA Project 2011

panorama of part of ‘Octoberfest’ site


panorama of part of ‘Octoberfest’ site



panorama of part of ‘Octoberfest’ site

‘Octoberfest’ was a project that Teams from the The God’s Way of Love Organisation (now disbanded), gave their time and energy too in order to prepare for and plant 10,000* trees.

We (the Lytton-Hitchins’ family) had a grant from the Namoi CMA to create a wildlife corridor. 
It was a fun filled week of activities consisting mainly of tree planting, building a breeding aviary*, working with draught horses, mediumship, karaoke, singing, dancing and sing-a-longs.
Our objective was to create a wildlife corridor, linking a highway bushland travelling stock route (TSR) with a timbered ridge line some 3km from the TSR. The nature strip follows along two creek lines which already had ample water and some established trees. 
Activities of the week:
  • Preparing and planting 10,000 trees in total (we planted 5,000 over Octoberfest)
  • Built swales to improve hydrology (on a large scale with a crawler – already in place)
  • planted bushes, shrubs and trees for bird habitat, insects, bugs and creatures.
  • mulched to help feed and retain water for all the new plants
  • Our intention was to start the rehabilitation process in one planting.
  • Enjoy each others company and have fun
We wanted to give to the land rather than continue taking from it constantly. So we encouraged anyone planting to plant with love or to not plant at all. 
‘Octoberfest’ was also an experiment about how our soul, Love, emotions, expectations, demands affect the environment around us (in this case plants). 
The objective was to give love to the land in areas that it felt ‘tired’ and had been overly and excessively used for many years. 
Looking up to the swale site (Oct 2011)
Walking to ‘work’ (Oct 2011)
Swales ready for planting (Oct. 2011)
Working on Swale projects (Oct 2011)
Swale Site (Oct 2011)
Pre-made swales ready for planting out (Oct 2011).
Some of the trees to be planted out during the week (Oct 2011).

Another part of the ‘Octoberfest’ 2011 Project was a very ‘tired’ paddock that lacks fertility and has been heavily grazed for many years. Hundreds of years ago this paddock was full of huge trees, a stump and some large holes (scars) are all that is left of it now. We swaled and direct seeded the area with wattle seeds (to regenerate the land and soil).

Some amazing things have happened over a year. The land has begun healing itself with a whole variety of different plants (weeds). Fleabone came up rapidly all over the place in abundance, amongst this was also thistle, dandelions and some very delicate flowers and other plants.

Swales just dug
Swales just dug
volunteers seeding the area
a year on from a distance you can see the colour of the fleabone
healing the area
fleabone beginning to do it’s ‘job’ a few months after seeding
fleabone at the end of it’s cycle
A Year on we have noticed that many trees have died in certain swaled areas. We feel that they received a large amount of emotional projections in the form of expectation and demand upon them during ‘Octoberfest’ 2011 which caused them to die.
This can be seen clearly from swale to swale in that every plant and tree had the same planting conditions, the same amount of minerals, water, mulch etc, yet some trees have flourished and grown 6ft in a year and others are totally dead. The only difference in the planting on each swale was the people, so by process of elimination we feel that it has something to do with us the people.
We also noticed that the loss rate of trees from ‘Octoberfest’ was far higher than some of our ‘commercial’ plantings of the past and we feel that the ‘commercial’ plantings had much less investment from those that did the planting. Those who do ‘commercial’ planting are paid and contracted to plant, they don’t really mind what happens to the plants after they have done their ‘job’ of planting the trees.
We found this observation interesting and have been experimenting with it on smaller scales and other projects. An example is Peter’s asparagus planting and cucumber experiment.
Swales a year on – grass and ‘weed’ cover over them now
Swales a six months on
swales a year on in a very dry season
Swaled area a year on – we are beginning to add
dead matter to the swales to create living fertility systems
in the swales themselves. We feel this should have been
done at the time of the project last year.
Some living system ‘food’ Thanks Bunnings!
Some more food, Thanks Bunnings and Munzies!
A swale a year on with Living Fertility systems added
A flourishing tree six months after planting
some trees doing well in the swales
Swales dug and filled with water soon after
A year on swales grassed up and can hardly be seen
in the paddock they are now supporting.

*See blog post on ‘Breeding Aviary Project’