Monday 31 December 2012

Our World Tuesday - Tern Banding

Happy New Year!

It has become a bit of a tradition that I go wader banding (ringing for you in the UK) for a couple of days between Christmas and New Year.  This year I could only manage a single day - and at first we caught no waders!  There were lost about, but they never seemed to be where the nets were!

However, we did find a flock of about 100 or so Whiskered Terns (Chlidonias hybrida) in a catchable location, so we ended up with a catch of about 70 of these splendid birds.  We also trapped a single Fairy Tern (Sterna nereis), but it was banded and released before I got a chance to photograph it (sad face!)

If you get a chance to become involved in a banding session I would recommend that you give it a go - the chance to see the birds close up is remarkable.

So, our birds were banded, measured, weighed, aged and given an orange let flag.  We also had a group of vets with us who were collecting samples from places on the birds that are best not mentioned in polite company! This was all if the name of science and the monitoring of avian flu.

Strangely, the banded birds often hang about close to where they were banded, sorting out their feathers and regaining their dignity, before they fly off.

As you can see the birds are not always that pleased to be helping expand the frontiers of human knowledge.  The whole finder bite is not a problem, but it can be a bit sharp if they get hold of the fleshy sections between your fingers - or worse, if they get hold of a small cut!

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

Enjoy the pictures.

Sunday 30 December 2012

Macro Monday - Kitchen Chemistry

H was rather pleased to get a Chemistry set for Christmas and today was his first adventure in Chemistry!

I do wish that the manufactures had let me read the instructions first, and maybe given them a few hints on how to write - but there you go.  (They dont even have the excuse of the materials being a translation).

The first set of "experiments" end off with the cleaning of a penny with a mixture of vinegar and salt.  Australia gave up "brown money" years ago, but lucky enough I had some copper coins from the UK stashed away in my "random currency" bottle!

So here is a before and after shot of  Two New Pence.

And here is a question for anybody in the UK:  How many of your coins still have "New Pence" rather than just "Pence" on them?  They have not been New since 1971 (I think?)

Cheers and Happy New Year.

You can find more macro shots at Macro Monday.


Thursday 27 December 2012

Sky Watch Friday - Christmas SKy

Greetings from Australia.

We had great weather over the Christmas - and for those of you who long for a blue sky and some sunshine, here is my gift to you.

I your Christmas was wetter, colder, greyer or damper than you would have wished for, remember the World will turn and the sun will shine again.

Cheers and best wishes for the New Year.

Stewart M - Australia

Wednesday 26 December 2012

Wild Bird Wednesday 24 - Christmas Birds

Just a brief post for this weeks WBW.

Christmas Birds seems an appropriate title for a turkey and a robin!

This is a Australian Brush-Turkey.  I took the pictures in the Daintree rainforest.  Further south  in Queensland these birds can become rather too bold for some people, and in the past I assume a good number would have ended up on the table!

The second of our topic birds is a Flame Robin - this bird is not really closely related to the famous Robin of European Christmas cards - but you can see why it got its name.

I managed to get this picture of the Flame Robin on a windy day at Wilsons Promontory NAtional Park. 

Life can be rather hectic at this time of year - so I am "scheduling" the post well in advance of its due date.  Replies may also be rather slow!

But do join in - lets see how many Boxing Day links we can get.

Thanks for all the links to WBW in the first 24 weeks of its life and lets keep going in 2013.


Monday 24 December 2012

Our World Tuesday - Unwrapped.

I wanted to post something about Christmas, but not with trees and lights and such like.

My wife told me about some old painted wall advertisements that had been revealed by the demolition of a shop in a nearby shopping strip.  So, I went off to have a look.

And they got me thinking - and I realised that these old paintings has just been unwrapped - like the presents many of us will be getting.  And really, what's the best part of unwrapping a present?  It has to be finding something unexpected, but none the less interesting - just like these advertisements.

The real shame is that I think these paintings will be covered up again when the now empty building block is filled.

As I was walking back towards my car, I found this small street tree.  It was shedding it bark - as many Australian trees do in early summer.  And, once again, I though that this tree was being unwrapped to reveal the surprise inside.

I hope you have a great Christmas!  Thank you to everybody who has visited, commented and encouraged me during 2012. 

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

Cheers and have a good one.  SM

Sunday 23 December 2012

Macro Monday - Seasonal

The kids had a lot of fun - and we had a lot of cleaning up to do afterwards - and the annual Gingerbread making marathon got underway!

On a year by year basis the amount of flour that ends up on the floor does go down I sure - but at the time its hard to believe!

Hope your preparations are under control.

You can (may) find more close ups here - Macro Monday.

PS: Im posting this well ahead of the due date just to keep the decks clear

Thursday 20 December 2012

SkyWatch Friday - Last Omani Sky

Just about think that I am ready for the end of the world  Christmas but the camera has stayed in the study most of this week.

So, it's one last shot from Oman.  I took this on the last evening I was there, so this will round off my pictures nicely.

Hope you are all ready for what ever happens next - and by that I mean the holidays, not the Mayan thing!

You can find more skies here at SkyWatch Friday.

As with most people, family will be the focus for the next few days - so posts and replies may be a little thinner on the ground than normal.

cheers  SM

Wednesday 19 December 2012

Wild Bird Wednesday 23 - Dusky Moorhen

Just to show that my life is not just one long trip to exotic locations, full of strange and wonderful birds I have never seen before, I give you this weeks Wild Bird - the Dusky Moorhen!

I managed to find the time to visit my local lake this Sunday - the rather fetchingly named Surrey Dive.  The last time I visited a few weeks ago I sat between two reed beds and and a great hour or so with birds all over the place.  This time I discovered that the place has become a worksite!  More than half of the lake has been fenced off and much of the vegetation on the far side removed - this is all temporary so I am told - but (as they say in Yorkshire) "I was not best pleased".

I sat with the picnickers and model boat enthusiasts and saw some very nice Dusky Moorhens - well they were as nice as Moorhen can get.  This species is Gallinula tenebrosa. Its about 40cm long and looks pretty much like all the other moorhens I have ever seen.  There were a few birds with chicks, and these little balls of grey fluff are rather amusing - although I think that the splodge of red on their heads is faintly silly!

For all my sarcasm about them, they are busy little birds that are rather fun to watch.  And they were much better to watch than the model boats!

Now it's your turn.  Click the link below to join in WBW.  Visit as many WBWers as you can and don't forget to invite any bloggers you know who would enjoy the meme.

Monday 17 December 2012

Our World Tuesday - Reflections

This is traditionally the time of year when peoples minds stray towards the next year and they start to plan for the future.  Its a time to dream.

Under these circumstances I can't help but think of all the plans and dreams that have been destroyed in Connecticut over the weekend.  I also can't help but think this is not the way things should be.

I am not used to guns and find the desire to own them mystifying.  I come from a country where the police are not routinely armed and where the owning of guns is the exception rather than the rule.  With a few exceptions I do not see my old home descending into anarchy.  It strikes me as odd that I now see police officers at football games, pacing the boundary of cricket matches and directing traffic,  with a gun on their hip.  I cannot see the link between guns and safety.

I hope that somewhere the political leaders in the USA find the strength to really do something about the types of gun that people can own and the ease with which they can be obtained.

If nothing else it may help some families see their dreams and plans come to life.

With all else that is happening we need to remember that there is also beauty in the world.

"We do not get to choose the times we live in - we only get to choose how we use the time we are given"

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

Sunday 16 December 2012

Macro Monday - Low to the ground.

Thought I'd try a different sort of macro today.  Put a wide angle lens on the middle column of my tripod - this means the camera was upside down!

Moved the lens to about six inches from this "button" of flowers - and here we have it - a low down close up!

As you may be able to work out, the wide angle lens was an early Christmas present - I'll have some fun with it I can tell!

You can find more close ups at Macro Monday.

Enjoy the close ups.

Thursday 13 December 2012

Sky Watch Friday - Hay Bale Sky

Hi there - this is not a completely new image.  I took a (very large) number of pictures in this hay field over a year ago - I've posted a few of the before, but not this one.

I liked the series of images when I took them and nothing has changed in that regard.

I thought that the busy Christmas weeks were over - which shows how much I know!

So, this is a post and run!

Hope you have a good week.

You can find more skies at Sky Watch Friday.

Enjoy the pictures.

Wednesday 12 December 2012

WIld Bird Wednesday 22 - Rose-ringed Parakeet

These parrots were common around my hotel on Oman - and while these birds are not truly native to Oman they have become established in a large number of places.  They are wide spread in the Middle East, but apparently any birds "outside of Iran probably originate from escapes".  If that is the case they are doing very well because there were dozens over them!

This bird is also known as the Ring-necked Parakeet and goes by the scientific name of Psittacula krameri.  Its about 42 cm long and likes to make a lot of noise.  They seemed to gather in flocks in the evening, and could often be seen flying off to locations unknown - presumably to roost.

I had only seen this bird once - in Australia a few week before, where it was an obvious cage escapee.  So, this is another life bird - although seeing a bird from a feral population never really feels the same as  seeing truly wide native bird.

So, now its your turn!

Click on the link below to join in WBW!  Visit as may WBWers as you can and say hello!

Now - here is a request:  why not send a link to WBW to a blogger who you think would like to be involved but is not yet in this "club"!  The bigger the better!

Monday 10 December 2012

Our World Tuesday - End of Year Red Heads

I think we have reached the peak of activity with school, karate, ballet and all the other things that kids get up these days.

H ended the year with a grading - which he passed.  While P spent most of last weekend doing the final rehearsals for her end of year ballet performance - which she loved.

I dont post many images of my kids - its not my style.  But the last week really has been about their events!

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

Enjoy the pictures.

Sunday 9 December 2012

Macro (ish) Monday - An unwelcome guest

Much as they are an ecological disaster for Australian ecosystems, rabbits still retain a degree of charm in my eyes.  Too many tales of Peter Rabbit in my childhood no doubt!

These rabbits were loafing around in the paddocks of my late mother in laws property.  They did untold damage to her garden (more Peter Rabbit!) so I was never really able to be honest about liking them! Well, now the truth is out.

Having said that, if I could find a way to remove them from Australia I would do it (and be a national hero).

I've included these in Macro Monday because I got a lot closer to then than normal - so they may not be true macro shots, but they are closer then normal shots.

You can find more macro shots at Macro Monday.

Enjoy the close ups.

Thursday 6 December 2012

SkyWatch Friday - Hotel Sky

This may well be the last of my pictures from Oman (that all depends on how busy my weekend is!).

The sign on top of the hotel I was staying at - the Crowne Plaza - was undergoing some renovation when I was there.

I liked the graphic elements of the arabic style script, the somewhat out of place looking garb of the workers and of course that blue, blue sky.

You can find more skies here at SkyWatch Friday.

You can find the first of my "wordy" blog posts about Oman by clicking on the Paying Ready Attention image on the RHS of the screen.

Enjoy the pictures.

Wednesday 5 December 2012

Wild Bird Wednesday 21 - House Crow

Crows and ravens are such great birds to watch - I think its clear that they are more intelligent than the average bird - and a good number of politicians if the truth be told!

Somewhat predictably these birds are from Oman - and they are House Crows - Corvus splendens.  They are about 40 cm long and they are pretty common wherever they occur.  On both early morning and evening strolls along the beach they were my constant companions.

As with many of the birds I saw in Oman this was a lifer.

There may be a delay in my replies this week due to end of school year musical events, ballet rehearsals and all that kind of thing.  Oh, and Christmas is approaching as well!

But don't let my hectic lifestyle put you off!  Click on the link below to join in and don't forget to visit as many WBWers as possible and to encourage new bloggers to join in. 


Monday 3 December 2012

Our World Tuesday - Fish Watching

Any regular visitor to this page will have noticed that I'm a bird watcher - but I am also a fish watcher.  This is a less well known hobby and has does not seem to have the same volume of literature associated with it as bird watching!  Equally, there seem to be less jokes about fish-watching!  Many people appear to be unable to tell the difference between fish watching and just staring into the limpid depths of whatever body of water you find yourself next to.

If you have not become involved in the sport of fish-watching I suggest you give it a try - just wander up the edge of your nearest bridge and have a look over the edge!  If you do this more than twice a year you qualify as a fish-watcher!

Here are some fish I spotted in Muscat.  I've done far more manipulation of this image than normal!

PS:  in this sport actually seeing fish is considered a bonus.

You can find more pictures from around the world - and probably less fish - 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 2 December 2012

Macro Monday - Kangaroo Paw

The Kangaroo Paw is a plant native to Wester Australia.  But these plants are not in Western Australia, but in my garden!  Some people say that they have had difficulty with this plant - but all I can say is that they gave us a magnificent display.  We must have had the perfect balance between occasional care and general neglect!

Most of the "red" you can see are the flowers buds - the flowers them selves are much smaller, and less colourful.  This plant is an Anigozanthos flaviuds for all you keen gardeners.

You can find more shots at Macro Monday.

Enjoy the close ups.

Friday 30 November 2012

SkyWatch Friday - Omani Sunset (with no sun)

This is another of my occasional series of shots with no sky - this one is bending the rules a bit as I can see some sky, but the main action is off screen.

I really liked the way that the sun was catching on the building.  I gradually underexposed the shot to get the balance between the grey of the beach and the gold of the reflection.

You can find more sky shots at SkyWatch Friday.

Enjoy the pictures.

Wednesday 28 November 2012

Wild Bird Wednesday 20 - Grey Francolin

I had the good fortune to meet another birder when I was at the conference in Oman - he pointed me in the direction of a good, birdy walk between the ocean and some mangrove swamps.

Although the light was fading the birding was good.  Working on "information supplied" I sneaked up on a large patch of open, dusty, soil and as promised there were three Grey Francolins (Francolinus pondicerianus).  These birds are in the same family as partridge and pheasants.  Grey Francolins are about 30 cm long and while the guide book calls them "rather drab" I think thats a bit harsh!

This bird was rather easily disturbed, and rushed off as soon as it saw me - I was glad that I had my camera on "fast drive" - these were the only three images I managed to get.

So, now its your turn to join in with Wild Bird Wednesday.  Click on the link below and follow the instructions - its as simple as that.

Visits to WBW were down a bit last week, so if you know anybody who would be interested feel free to pass on the link!  The more birds (and visitors!) the better!  SM

Monday 26 November 2012

Our World Tuesday - Omani Cat

I often wonder why we have to have the end of the year at such a busy time!  If we put the end of the year off for a couple of months things would be much easier!!

This is another shot from Oman.  As I was walking along the shore line I noticed that I had not seen a single cat (or dog for that matter) wandering about the streets of Musact - this struck me as unusual.  Of course that thought summoned up a cat that strolled across the road and looked at me from the safety of a pile of rocks.

I always had a cat as a kid - but I dont have one at
present, so I'll have to make do with this one.  I have to say that for an out and about, beach cat, it does look rather splendid!

You can find more cats pictures 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 25 November 2012

Macro Monday - A frog on the road.

This is a rather old shot of a frog - species Unknownus frogus (!).

It was jumping across the road as we went back to our accommodation in the Daintree Rainforest.  I'd seen a few shapes jumping across the road and I assumed they were frogs, but it was only when one landed in the middle of the road that I was able stop and have a look at it.

So, here it is - a frog!

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 on the RHS of the screen.

Enjoy the close ups.

Friday 23 November 2012

SkyWatch Friday - Oman Sunset 2

A quick post today due to late night yesterday.  Late night caused by new James Bond film - I would have to say I think its the best one I've seen!

Anyway, back to skies!

This image was taken a little earlier in the evening that last Fridays image.

You can find more skies at SkyWatch Friday.


PS: there's a new post over on my "Other Blog" for those of you who are interested!

Tuesday 20 November 2012

Wild Bird Wednesday 19 - Green Bee-eater

I was pleased to find another species of bee-eater during my trip to Oman.  They would feed on the overhead wires by the side of the road which made it difficult (ie impossible!) to get any images.  I also watched them in the near darkness of the setting sun.  Its at times like that that you realised how much like your binoculars can gather compared to the lens of your camera.

Eventually I found some out in the open, a reasonable distance from the ground and not too flighty! So this is a Green Bee-eater (Merops orientalis).  This is a small bee-eater, only about 24 cm long.  If you want to see a different species of bee-eater  - the Rainbow Bee-eater click here.

This image is cropped a bit more then normal as I could not get very close to the bird - but I really like the wires in the image as well.  Something about captivity and freedom maybe?

Now it your turn to get involved in World Bird Wednesday.

Click on the link below and follow the instructions - dont forget to link to you bird post rather tha just your blog and visit as many other bird sites as possible!  Have fun!

Monday 19 November 2012

Our world Tuesday - Open Garden

I think it will be a lie to say that "My World" was not dominated by the 600 or so people we had visit our garden over the weekend.............. Now, before you assume I live in some form of palatial, sweeping lawn and full time gardener type of house I need to tell you thats not the case.  The blocks of land on which houses sit are not small in Australia - but there are much larger ones next door to us!

The whole event was organised as fund raiser for a range of charities - and the company that did the landscape work get to have lots (and lots!) of people look at their work.  We also got to have our garden looked after for a few weeks before the weekend by people who actually know what that are doing!

You can see that the garden is not formal (neither am I),  it has some shade for the summer, 3 raised vegetable beds (the tomatoes are already doing well!), a cubby house for the kids (although that part of childhood may be passing), a shed (a man needs a shed), a large compost bin and last and by no means least a trampoline.

So, these picture don't have much artistic merit - but they do show the main features of our back garden.  Maybe next year I'll show you the  front!

So, if you happen to enjoy gardens - I hope you see something here to you liking!

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

Sunday 18 November 2012

Macro Monday - Hibiscus.

A quick post today - we had almost 600 people come and view our garden over the weekend as part of a garden design festival and fund raiser.  Its strange to have so many people wandering about in your garden, taking pictures and generally having a good look about!

I need a sit down and a glass of wine!

This hibiscus was a flower on the bush under which I first saw the Hoopoe (see last post!)

I dont post too many flowers, but I rather like this!

Enjoy the other close ups!

(PS: if you follow my other blog, a new post will pop up within the next day!)  SM

Thursday 15 November 2012

SkyWatch Friday - Muscat Sunset

No need for cryptic post titles here - this is a sun set at Muscat, Oman.

I took this about an hour after my baggage finally caught up with me - that and this sunset just about put the day into the positive!!

You can find more sky shots at SkyWatch Friday.

Enjoy the pictures.