Thursday, August 30, 2012

SkyWatch Friday - Stormwatch

After a long drive in the car I was ready for a walk.  But first we had to get settled in to our accommodation and play a few games.  These included "Hunt the mains power switch", "Lets guess why the hot water does not work" and "I wonder what all these levers on the fire do?".

Once we had had our fill of party games were headed to the beach.  For about five minutes we had a fine view of the headland the flanks the bay of Waratah Bay - but then it started to disappear under one of the better weather fronts I have ever seen.

If you looked one way the sky was an almost cloudless blue; if you looked the other way it was completely shrouded in dark clouds.  Eden one way, Ragnarok the other!

This front rolled over the bay and then dumped some rather heavy rain on us as we fled back to the house.  

The contrast in these skies from left to right is really rather remarkable.







You can find more pictures of skies from around the world at SkyWatch Friday.

You can find the latest post to my other blog by clicking on the Paying Ready Attention Image on the RHS of page.

Enjoy the skies.


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Wild Bird Wednesday (07) - Flame Robin (and a story)


As a kid I used to love a set of four books about the wildlife you could find at different seasons of the year.  They were called “What to look for in Summer” and such like.   I found one in a book second hand bookshop last year and I bought it in a heartbeat.  When I opened it was like walking back into the past.

The pages were full of illustrations where wildlife was abundant under every hedgerow, in every stream and in every patch of woodland.  The sky was not always blue, but it always contained birds.  It promised a kind of abundance that I never did find – but it encouraged you to keep looking, because you never knew if that next field would be the one that looked like the book.

A good number of the books I have read about birds in Australia mention has been made of the migration of robins down to the coast in winter.   There are descriptions of flocks of these birds working their way through sand dunes, over beach wreck and coastal heath lands.  As far as I was concerned they took on the same status as the fields in the books I read as a kid – nice stories, but probably a little exaggerated.

Then last week I went to the coast in winter and the place was heaving with them - Flame Robins. Well heaving may be a bit of an exaggeration, but that seems OK under these circumstances.

These are small birds – only about 13cm long.   That’s a couple of cm smaller than European Robins and about half the size of an American Robin.  They were also very flighty – flicking away from me as I approached. I struggled to get close to them.  Standing still did not work, walking slowly did not work, they were spooked by the car and generally not all that cooperative.  But they were there!

I did manage to get a few worthwhile shots – but better than that I saw the kind of things that were described in the books – which just goes to show, that if you keep looking sometimes you do find the things that people write stories about.



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And sorry if I did not manage to get back to you last week – I was watching Robins!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Our World Tuesday - Eastern Grey Kangaroo

There are not very many places in the world where you can claim animals like this are part of your own world.  If you fell from space and found yourself looking at a wild kangaroo you'd know where you were!

I was playing tourist  guide this week (between the rain anyway!) and generally came up with the goods.

These are Eastern Grey Kangaroos.  We found them in Wilson Promontory National park, in southern Victoria  - which is just about as good a place to find them as there is.  The guests were well impressed - and also slightly surprised at how un-phased the 'roos where as we watched them from the car.  But once the door opened off they went.





You can find some more words and pictures from an earlier trip to The Prom here - it really is a remarkable place.

You can find more images from around the world here at Our World Tuesday.

Enjoy the pictures (and if you have time, take a trip over to my wordy blog!)

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Macro Monday _ Rock Layers

I just come back from some time away - so normal service on comments and replies will start over the next few days!

I found these rock layers in a exposed cliff face on the beach at Waratah Bay to the East of Melbourne.

The amount of time that it must have taken for these rock layers to form and then be twisted by the power of the Earth is just unimaginable.  Such considerations of deep time do tend to put the damage we have done to the world in perspective - such a short time, and so much damage.


On the other hand, it does show that there are still wonders to be found!

More macro shots can be found at Macro Monday.

The latest post to my other blog can be found by clicking the Paying Ready Attention image on the RHS of the screen.

Enjoy the close ups!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

SkyWatch Friday - Dark Sky




Just a quick post for SkyWatch today!  I'll get back to the replies soon!

More skies can be found at SkyWatch Friday.

Cheers!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Wild Bird Wednesday 06 - Australian Brush-Turkey

I thought I'd go with a rather more conventional looking bird this week.

This is an Australian Brush-Turkey (Alectura lathami).  It can be found on the east coast of Australia basically from southern NewSouth Wales north.   This bird seemed rather stressed at the time I saw it - it was early July and it was clear that some of the other people watching the bird were American, and they may have been thinking about traditional feasts.

They make a strange set of grunting noises as calls - I could hear them behind our accommodation and for  a while I had not idea what was making the noise.

Possibly the most remarkable thing about this bird is the way that it incubates its eggs.  Instead of building a nest and sitting on the eggs this bird (and a few other in Australia) builds a huge mound of leaves, twigs and forest floor litter and lays the eggs in that.  As the plant material rots away, heat is released and the whole heap warms up.  (Think about how warm your compost heap gets if you have one).   The bird adds or removes dirt from the mound to regulate the temperature.  All in all this is a bit of a performance!  Some of the mounds are huge and seemed to be used over generations of birds.

What is also remarakable is that the chicks hatch from the eggs while buried in the mound and had to dig their way out unaided.  Then they have to survive with no help from the parents - I can only assume the Brush-Turkey chicks are tough little individuals!

Now its your turn to join in with WBW!  Please remember to create a link back to WBW so that others can join in the community.  You can use this badge if you wish.


PS: Replies and visits may be a bit thin on the ground this week - we have migrants from the Northern Hemisphere visiting!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Our World Tuesday - Angry Birds?

If like millions of other people you have played Angry Birds - you will know why this post is named as it is!

If not, let me explain!   Angry Birds is a hugely successful game for pods, pads and tablets.  You fire little birds with a catapult (see the link?) at crazy buildings built by pigs!

If you have read more than half a dozen of my posts you will already know that that finding a huge catapult on the beach - with a ready supply of coconuts to hand - is highly likely to bring out the child in me and my children!  But I did manage a picture before it got really silly!

So, we played Angry Birds on the beach - and I have to ask, is that any less of a made up game than the ones I (we?) played as kids?  I don't think so.


I also like the composition and tones of this picture!

You can find more pictures from around the world at Our World Tuesday.

You can find the latest post to my other blog by clicking the Paying Ready Attention image on the RHS of the screen.

Enjoy the pictures.

PS:  Visits and replies to comments may be a bit think on the ground this week - we have guests!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Macro Monday - Ghost of a Crab.

Are there really many better things to do than explore rock pools?  The mystery of the next pool, or the next patch of sea weed is so appealing that I'm surprised that it does not rate as the worlds number one pass-time!  (Well, I'm not surprised really, but go with me here!)

During one of my last few hours of rock pool searching I found this crab shell.  Given how perfect it was I reasonably sure that this is a cast off shell rather than the remains of a dead crab.  Its a crab ghost!


You can find more macro shots at Macro Monday.

You can find the latest post to my other blog by clicking on the Paying Ready Attention image of the RHS of the screen.

Enjoy the close ups.

PS: Visits and replies may be a little thin on the ground this week - we have guests!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

SkyWatch Friday - Evening Reflections.

This is a little bit of a blast from the past.  But I have wanted to post this image for a while and keep forgetting!

We visited Lorne back in June of this year.  During an evening walk I found the sky reflected in these pools of water.  The water was left by the retreating tide, and the orange glow was made by the retreating sun.  I have to say I like this combination.


I consider this to be another in my occasional series of Sky Shots with no sky!  You can tell what is happening in the sky, even without being able to see the sky itself.

You can find more shots of the sky - almost certainly including ones that actually have the sky in them at SkyWatch Friday.

You can find the latest post to my other blog by clicking on the Paying Ready Attention image on the RHS of the screen (and by the time Friday arrives the second post about our trip to the Daintree will be there - go have a look!)

Enjoy the skies.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Wild Bird Wednesday 05 Papuan Frogmouth

These birds an Papuan Frogmouths (Podargus papuensis) - the largest of the frogmouths found in Australia.  I saw these birds on an early morning river trip on the Daintree.  There is no way I would have found them with the help of the guide on the boat, for these birds have remarkable camouflage.

With their heads pulled upwards they bear more than a passing resemblance to a chunk of wood! Although commonly mistaken for owls these birds are actually more closely related to Nightjars.  They are a nocturnal bird they feeds on moths and such like.  By day they roost in trees, where their camouflage can make them very difficult to spot.




These birds are about 50 - 60 cm long and at night make a far carrying and rather strange sounding call.

We get a different species of frogmouth at home some times - you can see a post here and here.

You can find the latest post to my other blog by clicking on the Paying Ready Attention image on the RHS of the screen.

Now its your turn to get involved with WBW 5.  Click on the link below to add you wild bird image to this collection.  Link back to this page and visit the other birders out there.

Cheers - Stewart M

Monday, August 13, 2012

Our World Tuesday - Beach Cast

As we walked along the beaches on your last trip away I was truck by the amount of debris that was washed up on the strand line. Thankfully most of it was natural.  Leaves, sticks, fruit and most noticeable of all, coconuts.

My kids collected them into piles, rolled them about on the beach, threw then back into the sea and occasionally dropped them on their own feet.  I can safely say that this last activity was the least popular.

I got down low to the beach to take this shot, trying to make the strand line fill the frame to start with and then disappear off into the distance.  I would have liked to use a smaller aperture, but the light was not great and my tripod was in Melbourne.

But I like the colour and the way the strand line takes on a wave form.  It was born of the sea and seems to mirror this on the land.

You can find more shots from around the world at Our World Tuesday.

You can find the latest post to my other blog by clicking on the Paying Ready Attention image on the RHS of the screen.

Enjoy the pictures.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Macro Monday - Not quite perfect

One of the things I have been thinking about for a while is the way we let perfection get in the way of having a very good time.  We search for the perfect sunset, the perfect shot of the sea, the perfect day or evening.  And it can be rather dispiriting to discover that perfection does not come along all that often.  But by concentrating on it we miss the extraordinary things that are around us - but somehow fail to reach perfection.

We find foot marks on an empty beach, a footpath through a sun dappled woodland, the distant silhouette of a person on an otherwise empty mountain.   I was thinking about these things as I was walking in the rain (!) on a beach in Queensland, when this butterfly flew out of the trees and land on the beach.

I like the way nature can sometimes take you thoughts and turn them into a single event that seems to make sense.


So here is a Bordered Rustic which is very far from perfect, but is wonderfully attractive none the less.  It seemed to be able to fly strongly, although it did land on the beach a few times took shake water from what was left of its wings, and then it would be away again.  On a day where the cloud seemed to strip the colour from the world this was a perfect reminder of the beauty you can find if you just pay attention to the things around you.

You can find more marco shots at Macro Monday.

You can find the latest post to my other blog by clicking on the Paying Ready Attention image on the RHS of the screen.

Enjoy the close ups.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

SkyWatch Friday - Winter Sky

At times you really can tell that the next landmass south of us is Antarctica - and this was a week in point.


The wind pushed through patches of cloud and heavy driving rain.  But between the rain you would sometimes get a flash of sunlight.  I was walking to get a sandwich for lunch when the sun cut through the dark clouds.  It seemed to catch this leafless tree as it waited for spring.  Maybe it the contrast between the tree and the sky - but this seems a typical Melbourne winter scene.  Rain, clouds, some sun and most things waiting for spring.

You can find more skies here at SkyWatch Friday.

You can find the latest post to my other blog by clicking on the Paying Ready Attention link on the RHS of the screen.

Enjoy the skies.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Wild Bird Wednesday 4 - Eastern Reef Egret.

Greetings and welcome to WBW 4.

Todays WBW is brought to you by the Eastern Reef Egret (Dark Morph). The other morph of this bird is your classic white egret. I found this rather uniform, but none the less handsome, bird picking around in the water just off shore from a patch of mangroves near Cape Tribulation.  What I like about this bird is that in one of the pictures it is almost perfect example of the pose shown in my most thumbed field guide!  If only birds always did that.

This bird would dash about in the water for a few minutes and seemed to be catching tiny crustaceans of some sort, which it would swallow as soon as its beak hit the water.  It would them walk to the nearest rock and just sit about for a while.  I did rather hope that it would get something rather larger, but it did not.

So here it is, a rather smart study in grey, with just hint of a pale neck thrown in for good measure.

To add you link to WBW just click the link button below and follow the prompts.  Please link back to this blog - you can find a badge on the WBW tab above.

Cheers - Stewart M

Monday, August 6, 2012

Our World Tuesday - Signs

The fog is clearing a little with my new machine - so I'm starting to come up to speed!

On a number of occasions I thought that I need to post something about the nature of nature.  While we all love the images of chocolate box sunsets there is more to the nature of nature than just beauty.  Most of the things we look at and admire exist because of competition with other living things - and I don't think we should shy away from this.

The world is remarkable because of what it holds and the way it world, not because of how it makes us feel (although I'm very glad it makes me feel that way!). We can't admire the power of hawks without acknowledging that they eat rabbits.


So here are a couple of images to remind me that some of the power of nature rests in the fact that it can do us harm!  Thinking of this is the best way I know to remind us that we part of nature, not just separate observers.

I found these signs on my recent trip to North Queensland - it was not summer so there were no stingers, and I managed to avoid being eaten by the crocs!  Even with crocs and stingers it is a remarkable place - and all the better for having them!

You can find more pictures from around the world at Our World Tuesday.

You can find the latest post to my other blog by clicking the Paying Ready Attention image on the RHS of the screen.

Enjoy the pictures.


Sunday, August 5, 2012

Macro Monday - Wall Moth.

I am not really brave enough to try to start identifying moths yet, too many species for my poor old brain!

This is going to be a brief post today - new computer, new software packages and such like have taken a bit of time.


So, here is my moth.  Those of you with an eye for colour may be able to detect that this has a certain familiarity to it!  If you have used any of the toilets that are maintained in far north Queensland you may recognise it!  I thought it was prudent to check there was on one else about when I took this!


You can find more macro shots at Macro Monday.  I sure most of them will be a far more natural setting!

You can find the latest post to my other blog by clicking the Paying Ready Attention image on the RHS of the screen.

Enjoy the close ups.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

SkyWatch Friday: Reef Sky

While floating about, with the occasional duck dive for luck, on the reef I tended to just look downwards towards the reef floor – understandably given the amount of life really.
At one point I looked up and was greeted by this seen – the sea, the thin strip of MacKay Reef and the sky.   The sky was still overcast (it was that sort of holiday!) but the combination of shape and colour caught my eye.  I really like the colour in the water, the dark and the light showing the split between reef and sand.
This is the last picture in my “reef week” special.  Hope you enjoyed them.
You can find more skies from around the world at SkyWatch Friday.
You can find the latest post to my other blog by clicking on the Paying Ready Attention image on the RHS of the screen.
Enjoy the skies.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Wild Bird Wednesday 3: Brown Booby

These rather pointy looking birds are Brown Boobys (Sula leucogaster).  They are resting on and having a small domestic dispute about the ownership of a marker buoy at Mackay Reef on the Great Barrier Reef.
For those of you with an eye for such things you will have noticed how similar they are to Gannets – in fact they are in the same genus.
I tried to sneak up on these birds in the water – but (surprise, surprise) they were rather suspicious of a large wet suit clad object heading towards them.
So in the end I had to be content with taking pictures from a rather rocky boat – oh the joy of digital!
You can find the latest post to my other blog by clicking on the Paying Ready Attention image on the RHS of the screen.
You can add more bird pictures of birds from around the world by clicking the link below and becoming part of the Wild Bird Wednesday 3.
Enjoy the pictures  from around the world.