Posts Tagged ‘Australia


A year, a marsh and a painting

On the 14th February, this Sunday, it will be exactly a year ago that Tania and I tied the knot and became husband and wife; our ‘paper’ anniversary. What a year it’s been. A strange year to say the least. We’ve been together; that’s all that matters. It could have been so different if we had delayed the wedding. In fact if we had put back Tania’s move from Australia, it could have been catastrophic. We count ourselves as fortunate; lady luck dealt us a good hand.

When we have been able to get out we have made use of the time to let Tania see a little of the Norfolk countryside. One place we have returned to time after time is Cley. We both love the marshes there.

John Hurst is a Norfolk landscape artist of impeccable quality who produces watercolour paintings I have admired for years. ( He captures just the right quality of light for than unique combination of sky and reedbed Norfolk has to offer When we saw his painting of Cley Marshes looking east towards Walsey Hills we knew we had found an ideal joint 1st anniversary present.


Fires and Eucalypt loving marsupials

It’s been a pretty mild winter here of late. Maybe that’s something to do with the furnace in the basement of the planet. :0) With the highest temperature ever in Australian history to hit the record books this week it seemed appropriate to highlight the plight of some of the Australian wildlife.

The bush fires which are an inevitable part of 45 degrees centigrade plus temperatures are a devastating event for many Australians and our heart goes out to those fighting the fires and those who are suffering loss of family and property. Seemingly sometimes wildlife also pays a price. Many birds and mammals can escape however particularly at risk are Koalas. Although they can move relatively quickly over short distances a speed necessary to escape a wide firefront can’t be maintained. They inevitably perish. Some populations of this unique mammal are at high risk and with the total number of wild Koalas numbering less than 80,000 the survival of the species could be in the balance.

One charity directly helping the situation is the Australian Koala Foundation A nice Christmas present in someones name rather than an unwanted gift this Christmas.

This is one of the Koalas Tania and I found last November on Raymond Island. We had such a good time there and the wildlife was so accommodating. We had a great half hour just watching this individual.



Whales, Stone Forests and Waving Tails

I was daydreaming about Australia the other day. I was carried back to a headland, Cape Bridgewater, close to Portland on the south coast of Victoria. We went mainly to look for whales, which we found … well actually Tania found in good numbers; but there was also a petrified forest there too that was worth visiting. As we walked along the sparsely vegetated cliff top this little fella jumped out and started shouting at us. A Striated Fieldwren. He had the amusing habit of waving his tails as he sang. The way he greeted us and appeared to be saying “Hi”made me smile.


Falling for an Emu

I wanted to photograph Emus. They are just about as close as a bird gets to a dinosaur. Having been told Tower Hill on the Victorian coast was a good place to see them we made an early morning visit in July.

We saw one almost immediately. Several more followed. I pursued one up hill through the Wattle bushes to watch it where it it fed peacefully. I had been told not to get too close to Emus by several people; apparently they can be quite vicious.

As I was happily photographing ‘my’ Emu I became aware it was paying more than a passing interest in me … or more likely my camera. I’m guessing it saw its reflection in the lens. I took a step or two back to bid a retreat when I lost my footing. Down the hill I went. Not a soft landing! Luckily the bird didn’t treat my horizontal repose as a sign of weakness; have you seen the size of the claws on these things!

When I recovered it was feeding happily again; …but I’m sure I heard it laugh!



Towny Eagle

Much building is taking place over farmland around the Western suburbs of Melbourne. On the edge of a building area I was intrigued by some distant large dark objects in the middle of a field as we drove out of town last week. They were nothing more than blobs really. However, staring at them from the moving vehicle I was sure one of them moved. I beckoned Tania to pull over. It was a busy road. A kilometer later we found a safe place to stop.

Viewing them through bins I decided to walk back along the road edge. I was still unsure what they were. It wasn’t until I got within 500m or so I could clearly see they were Wedge-tailed eagles; a pair, right on the edge of town. As I got closer they both moved to a nearby pylon so I took the opportunity to fire off a few shots.


Ghost amid the trees

30 years ago walking over the marshes it was easy to get excited by something white amid the heat haze in the distance. Little Egrets were rare then and Great White Egrets were even rarer. More often than not after a trudge through calf ripping sweda it was a white plastic bag flapping in the wind. So every time I see something white now it’s instinctive to have a really good look at it just to eliminate anything inanimate first!

Walking down the Werribee river last month we saw in the distance something white among the branches of a tree on the opposite side of the river. As I lifted my bins to look at it I was half expecting it to be a plastic bag or at best a Sulphur Crested Cockatoo. I was surprised to see it was a raptor. It had yellow legs and a yellow cere so I knew it wasn’t a full albino; maybe it was a bird lacking some pigmentation. It had the look of an accipiter hawk about it. However it was Tania that put a name to it. Pale phase Grey Goshawk. What a superb looking animal.


Blue Velvet

Looking for an entrance into a reserve in the Blue Mountains I pulled us into a dead end street. I parked up and we consulted the oracle … Google maps. As we mused over which way to go next a bird flew low over the road in front of us; we disagreed as to its identification. It had settled inside a low thick pine. We waited. When it eventually made a reveal it has spontaneously multiplied into three birds. When we finally got a good look we decided they were female/immature Satin Bowerbirds.

We’ve all seen wildlife documentaries showing Bowerbirds collecting blue objects. Satin Bowerbirds are no exception. Blue items to match their saphire blue eyes.



No room at the Inn

The one thing I never ever tire of is the mammals of Australia. Last month I managed to get quite close to a mother Eastern Grey Kangaroo carrying a Joey. Just how big can these guys get in the pouch!


Wash & Brush up

Looking towards the end of the beach I could see birds roosting on distant rocks. They were far too far away to photograph.

Tania and I were visiting friends to the east of Port Phillip Bay later in the day and had decided to take a look along the coast in the afternoon to see what we could find. The tide was coming in and I knew the roosting birds would have to move or they would get their feet wet. All we had to do was wait and the encroaching water should push them closer to us.

There was a selection of species that settled a little nearer. This Crested Tern was among them. It was enjoying a wash and brush up after a hard days fishing.


Fancy a bite?

Walking along the Werribee River a couple of weeks ago I struck up a conversation with a ground worker who was, with colleagues, trying to eradicate brambles – they are considered an invasive weed in Victoria. We had something in common in that the guy was a ‘Pommie’. He’d been in the state for around 20 something years. When I told him I was photographing wildlife along the river he asked ‘Would you like to see a snake?’ Never one to turn down a chance to photograph anything remotely wild I stated I would. He pointed to the branch hanging over the path and calmly stated that the entwined reptile was a Tiger Snake.

Now I know a little about Ozzie snakes because I’d prepared myself up-front when I started visiting Australia. The main thing you need to remember when walking through the bush in Victoria is keep an eye on where you’re stepping and what you’re brushing up against. It’s no good skipping along with gay abandon as if you’re on a path from  Larkrise to Candleford. All snakes in Victoria bar one are poisonous. There are things lurking that can kill. The Tiger Snake is the third or fourth most dangerous snake in the world. Even this youngster deserves ultimate respect. … I used a long lens!!

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Jun 2023


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