ARE BIRDS TELEPATHIC?
By Sheila Tierney
In 1969 my family bought a six acre block of land from a farmer. After a lot of hard work we turned it into a family home with orchard, workshops, stock paddocks and a dam nestling in a natural valley. This dam covered one acre when full and, from the air, looked like a fish and was used as a navigation point by pilots.
One acre of water is a lot of wasted space so I decided to put waterlilies and fish in it. We wanted fish that we could eventually eat, so I got a book from the Australian Government's Department of Fisheries describing the various types of fish which could be kept in farm dams, what they ate and the stocking rate.
We decided upon golden and silver perch. The golden perch are carnivores (to get rid of the nuisance insect populations) and the silver perch almost vegetarians (to keep under control the rampant oxygenators). We had to order these fish from a fish hatchery in Victoria as there weren't any in our state.
In case the golden perch were going to be hungry only feeding on mosquito larvae, we spent several weekends sitting in the river with a net and a bucket between our knees catching native fish to put into our dam as potential food for our golden perch. The neighbours and picnickers thought we were mad!!
After three months we got a phone call with details of the flight our fish would arrive on. After work, off we went to the airport to collect our packages. We took two eskies to put them in for the one hour return journey.
When we got to the airport we had to hang around with all the other excited people who were meeting visitors. We had to go to the unaccompanied baggage area after our flight arrived and wait for our packages to come off the plane. Finally we signed for two plastic bags with the smallest fish you have ever seen: 2,000 fish each about half an inch long.
By the time we got home it was dark so we went down the paddock by torchlight and put the bags on the edge of the dam. After half an hour I went down again to put some dam water into the bags. After another half an hour we went down and released them into the 250,000 litres of water in our dam.
The next morning as I was standing at my kitchen window surveying the world I noticed movement down at the dam. Taking a cup of coffee I went closer, and closer and the dam was ringed with water birds all having breakfast!!! This had never happened before. We'd put the river fish in that dam 3 months ago but, now that imported fish had arrived, so had the scavengers. Each fish had cost us 25 cents, how many fish does a cormorant, heron, kingfisher, duck or ibis eat for breakfast? Will they be back for lunch and tea?
How did they know that under cover of darkness, just the night before, we had released 2,000 fingerlings into that dam? This experience has convinced me that there are more things happening in this world than what you can see or hear.
Twenty five years later that dam got flooded from the local river. One day soon after I saw my neighbour sitting beside his new dam, fishing. He caught 3 large golden perch and 2 silver perch about 15 inches long; he was marvelling that such fish could 'appear' in his dam from nowhere. We can only surmise they were our fish who had swum there during the flood. Well, its good to know at least some survived to grow up.
We had never fished our dam supposing none had survived the bird onslaught; how wrong can we be. Have you checked out the price of fish these days?