Around this time every year our huge poplar gum bursts into flower, producing a bonanza for the birds which come from miles around to feast on its nectar. We delight in the display, too, even while we deal with the mess the tree and the birds make. Thousands of flowers pop their caps, which litter the lawn like miniature caltrops, then the rainbow lorikeets arrive to squawk and squabble, and to drop flowers, leaves and whole branches as they feed (sigh). But they are beautiful (sigh).
Butterflies – Chocolate Soldiers and Jezebels, mostly – visit the flowers for nectar, too, but this male Chocolate Soldier dancing above a feeding female is more interested in her than in the flowers.
The tree sheds its old, rough bark when it flowers, revealing a new, smooth, white skin beneath and I did notice one Blue-faced Honeyeater diving underneath a sheet of peeling bark to snack on woolly caterpillars.
The excitement is nearly over now, for another year. The remaining flowers look very battered and the lorikeets didn’t stay long when they came back this afternoon.
By next week we will be back to normal, with a small but varied resident population of birds visiting the tree for lerp and any insects they can pick up. Non-residents such as Sulphur-crested Cockatoos will visit, too, and we’re looking forward to seeing our first Torres Strait Pigeons for the year quite soon; they have already been seen around Townsville.