Yesterday, Friday, here in Victoria we went back into lockdown.
Only five days hopefully, enough to let the contact tracers get on top of the outbreak.
So, fully masked, I went to our local supermarket to do some shopping for the weekend.
The car park was the usual Beechworth mix of elderly Subarus, battered Toyota pickups, the more day to day Kias and Hyundais, plus a leavening of Porsche and Lexus four wheel drives – one of the things I love about Beechworth is the social mix – everything from gnarly old farmers to ladies dressed as if they were going to lunch at the Hyatt, rather than getting long life milk at the IGA.
Despite being the first day of lockdown, the supermarket was pretty well stocked – the only thing that seemed to be in short supply was long life milk – and while it was busier than usual it was by no means rammed the way it would have been at Christmas.
I’m guessing that living in a rural area people are used to stocking up in case they can’t get into town because of bad weather, and now, fifth time around, view a lockdown as something to take in their stride, just like a bad winter storm.
This time lockdown has coincided with days of incessant rain that would have kept us inside anyway – too wet to go for a walk or ride my bike, too wet to work in the garden or indeed do anything outside.
Normally, I don’t feed birds in winter – having been a cat keeping household for years I simply don’t believe in putting temptation in the way of resident felines, but since we’ve been catless for a few months now our garden has become a refuge for native finches and parrots who come down from the mountains in bad weather to feed on our birch trees.
This morning, when I got up, there was a solitary bedraggled parrot feeding in the birch trees in the back yard, and he looked simply buggered. When I went out to get a fresh bag of coffee from the outer fridge in the workshop he hardly stopped to look up and kept trying to cram in as much birch seed as possible. Later on, he was joined by a pair of lorikeets and some rosellas, and they just simply sat together in the tree, no squabbling or fighting, all trying to find enough to eat.
That decided me. The birds are obviously struggling this winter, which so far has been unusually cold and wet.
Next time I go to the supermarket I’m going to get some wild bird food. As I’ve said this isn’t something I normally do, but the birds are struggling.
And it’s not just the parrots – the native finches are taking advantage of any break in the rain to root around in the leaf litter for something to eat.
So at the risk of encouraging magpies and currowongs it’s time to give the native birds a little help …