Thursday, 23 September 2010

The local bananabirds are visiting the flowering aloe on my balcony again. It's the second time this year. The first was back in May when this photo was taken.

For a large bird, the bananabird or blue-faced honeyeater is agile and swift. Measuring about 25cm to 30cm from beak to tail-end, they zoom onto my balcony from outside and perch precariously on the flower stems -- each flowering results in two or three bunches of blossoms at the top of a long stalk that removes the flowers away from the plant's sharp-edged leaves.

The aloe didn't start flowering until just before I moved to Queensland. That was in winter, too. I had rescued the plant from neglect when my downstairs neighbour moved house, leaving the pot sitting on their balcony between the building and the one next door. I bought a new, larger, pot at a nursery-supply business near my old flat. When the removalists came to pack my stuff, they placed the pot in a box and the plant is hardy so it survived the three-day shift which included several nights of darkness inside a container. Not all my plants survived.

The bananabirds come singly, most of the time, although today the adult arrived with an immature fellow who saluted me on departure by squirting a stream of goo onto the balcony tiles. They are the largest honeyeaters in Australia and are coloured delicately in an olive green plumage. Their faces are black-striped and bright blue and their chests are white. They are very timid and will quickly disappear if they see my head move as I turn to look at them out of the sliding glass.

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