A humble birdbath

By Helen Corney

Much of this summer was spent studying. To escape the heat of the day and the drudgery of being glued to my computer, I set up camp in my garden under the dappled shade of the melaleuca and tea trees. My table and chair were placed near the bird bath – a humble affair – an op shop fruit bowl sitting on a sawn-off log.

As I tapped away at my keyboard, I was constantly surprised by the range of visitors that utilised that water source. A family of three Grey fantails, flitting in and out of the water and then darting to catch a tasty morsel ambushed in mid-air! These wonderful birds provided a spectacular acrobatic display of clear abandon.

Eastern spinebill taking a dip

Wattlebirds, noisy and bossy came to bathe and perched on branches beside the bath whilst they chastised the world with their rough throaty calls. A Grey currawong, bold and strong immersed itself deep into the cool water defying the summer heat. The afternoon air was often filled with the chatter of thornbills, happy and bold. So much to say.

One afternoon I had a special visitor – an Eastern spinebill. It looked to be a fledgling – tiny and fragile. The distinctive caramel and white throat plumage not yet fully developed – and so it seemed as though it was wearing a patchy mottled coat. It darted in and out of the water, throwing sparkling diamond water droplets into the air – taking my breath away with its jewelled display. I sat frozen, desperate not to startle it in any way and lessen the encounter.

Shaking off the water!

The summer days of study were enriched by my humble bird bath. Its fresh water drew feathered friends of all varieties and enticed them to shed their defences and frolic. It provided me with interludes of intrigue and a small window into other worlds. Simple pleasures from humble sources.