Thursday, September 30, 2010

Cockies, and Parrots and Lories Galore.

Now I promised absolutely ages ago that I would post my Cocky piccies (I told you Aussies like to finish every second word with a “ie” or “y” didn’t I?).

Well first I had the great internet rationing debacle. Then I had a couple of late meetings at work. Then when I got home last night my computer just wouldn’t boot up properly.
Four hours later I got it working but by then it was my bed time so no post.

So I am very sorry but the cockies went on the back burner (poor things, it must have been uncomfortably hot).
Now finally I will post as I promised except I have just one more thing to say.

Several bloggers have passed awards to me in recent weeks. I have to hang my head in shame and say I just haven’t had time to pass them on, but will try to do the right thing in the next couple of weeks.

Now for the birds.

On that lovely day when we visited the Maroondah Reservoir I caught some birds with my camera.

I’ll just slip this Kookaburra in. No he/she is not a parrot (Kookaburras are kingfishers) and I have promised parrots. But what the heck?The kookaburra looks a bit shorter than in real life but I was standing almost directly below a high lamp post to get this shot, but his shot gives a reasonable idea of their look.

Now finally we come to the parrots.

There were a flock of gloriously sweet sulphur crested cockatoos picking up seeds from the grass.These guys are a popular pet/cage bird right around the world but they are native to Oz.

In the Maroondah Reservoir park they are very used to people so I was able to get close enough to get some lovely shots.

This cocky sat and watched me for a bit before having a casual scratch.These two were very snugglish, I guess they may be a mated pair.As a by the way I should say that a “Cocky” is not only a bird it is also an Aussie slang term for a farmer. So a “cow cocky” here is pretty much the same thing as a “rancher” in the USA.

This fellow fluffed up his feathers which gave me a fantastic opportunity to catch some wonderful definition of his feathers.The cockies’ amazingly powerful beaks can tear chunks out of dry timber boards.Yet with their beak and thumb-like tongue they can delicately pick up or manipulate small objects such as seeds.Hanging back from the cockies was this king parrotI love the contrast between the glossy green and scarlet on these guys.

Also in the background of the king parrot shot, and unusually shy, were some rainbow lorikeets.

I’ve included this shot to remind people of just why they are called “rainbow” lorikeets.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Sunday Swan Watch VIII: Substitute Cute and Little Monsters.

Well thank goodness our internet service came back to normal at midnight last night.

Unfortunately, Oz doesn’t have many ISP companies and one of the ways they have come up with charging more than you should have to pay is by putting a download limit on your account. They have ‘better’ (read more expensive) accounts that have faster access and larger download limits. Deb and I have a middle range account for which we pay $79 per month. In the past the 25 gigabyte download limit was more than we ever needed (our connection isn’t fast enough for movies etc). Recently however Lu our youngest, discovered online Anime and Manga and has been pulling down so much she has used our quota.

Fortunately, there is a little more competition creeping in to the system and we will shortly (when our current contract expires) switch to another provider who will give us nearly ten times the limit for almost the same money ($89/month).

Now to the Swans, once again I have had no luck in my hunt for them. They seem to be amazingly mobile and there is quite a large area they can use. Thinking about it I guess this behaviour would be a defence mechanism to protect the cygnets. If the parents keep them moving they would be less likely to come to the attention of a predator than if they remain stationary.

As my title suggests I caught some other cute young things to share as a substitute for swanlings.

Ducklings!Two female chestnut teals have some brand new ducklings down on one of the ponds the swans call home. Unusually the two mothers seem to be sharing a single brood of eight ducklings.

Here is one of the females nervously eyeing me. They tried to urge the babies away but the ducklings are so new (I guess only hatched a day or two ago) that they weren’t very good at listening to either of their mothers.

Rather they were excitedly dabbling around in the water.I was able to get close enough to get some lovely shots with my telephoto lens.The mothers fussed around trying to lead the babies to the safety of some of the reed beds.Finally, they got the message through to the babies and the whole flotilla steamed away from me.Not far away Io pointed out something she has found recently.
A bull ant nest, not all that long ago I posted a piccie of a bull ant and recounted an anecdote about jumping around with one up my pants.

I guess I must be a glutton for punishment because I went close to get some shots. Bull ants are amazingly aggressive, but it was quite cold so they weren’t moving very quickly.

These guys are a black species (the last one I photographed was from a red species). They are huge, nearly as long as my thumb. These photos aren’t crystal clear because I wasn’t getting very close (they have a nasty sting) but I was happy enough to post them.
In the above photo you can see how large their mandibles are. They can give nasty bite, but their real weapon is their sting.

In these couple you can see how glossy black their abdomens are. Then I noticed if you look closely (I’ve blown it up so you can see) you can see me reflected in the shine as I take the pic.Now I promised Cockatoos and Parrots before my internet went on the blink so they will be my next post (assuming nothing else goes wrong).

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Internet Woes

Thanks to the way our ISP provides service my internet access is almost non-existent until the 26th of September. A certain Daughter (who shall remain nameless) used up out entire quota of access a week early.
It is an odd system, but under our current service contract we get 25 gigabytes of use per month after which we are "shaped" back to a 64K speed.
The internet slows to a crawl and it basically useless for anything other than email. So I am sorry to say I won't be making a proper post for the next few days.
We are looking at a service upgrade, but that is likely to take a month or so due to the incredible efficiency (sarcasm intended) of the telecommunications industry in Oz.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Sunday Swan Watch VII: A Lazy Day Down on the Pond.

Unlike recent weeks when I have spent ages looking for our swans, this week I found most of them in the first two minutes of looking.

The mother swan and the babies were hanging out on their new nesting platform. As I posted a couple of times before someone has been building a new nest since the original one was destroyed by the pond level rising in all the wet weather we have been having.

I had wondered if it was our swans building a new nest, but I didn’t know for sure. Now I think we have the answer.

Any way when I got there mum was busying herself with adjustments to the nest, while the babies snoozed.After I had watched for perhaps twenty minutes the cygnet on the near side popped up its head to have a look around. They are growing quickly, still cute though. Although they are starting to lengthen out they are still a long way from the gawky teenager look that they will have in coming months.Some thing must have been causing an itch because he/she had a scratch.Then up periscope to look around again.He/she noticed me and stared over. I can just imagine the questions ticking: What is that thing and what is it pointing at me?If you click to enlarge this piccie you can just see a tiny bit of the other cygnet’s back poking out behind mums legs.

As to dad, I haven’t seen him around just recently. However, my daughter Io has reported seeing him hanging around on a nearby pond. So I guess he is still in the picture.

Anyway after the cygnet had watched me for a bit I must have been written off as boring and it was back to resting.
Next: the losers in the vote – Cockies and parrots.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Democracy Rules!

Well the result is in!
Fourteen good people have cast their vote.
The results:
Abstentions = 1
Cockatoos and Parrots = 2
Raging Water = 11.

Well that looks like a landslide waterslide for a post about raging water.

Sorry Cockatoo Lovers, you’ll have to wait for another time.

So here we go, on Sunday Deb and I drove out to the old Maroondah Reservoir, near Healesville in the Yarra Valley.

The reason we went was that with the flood rains we have had recently the lake has filled and for the first time in over a decade water is going over the spillway.

From where we parked the car we strolled through the gardens. Spring has sprung (so to speak) and the Rhododendrons are in full bloom.A close up.Past the blossoms we heard the roar of water.

Here was the cause, an artificial waterfall that shoots the water from the dam’s spillway back to the valley floor.
I could get very close to the bottom section of the cascade.Normally there is a path open across the weir to the base of the larger fall But at the moment it is closed because it is too wet and slippery.

Another angle on the lower cascade.Deb and I began the walk up through the gardens towards the dam wall.
We paused to grab some photos of this port-wine magnolia. Then again to have a seat in this summer house. The view back down the stairs towards the valley floor.Through a window in the garden you get a view of the larger waterfall.We crossed the dam wall, and a bridge over the spillway.This fallen tree trunk trails a finger in the racing water.We climbed the path up to the look out. You get a view down over the falls.I took some shots of wattles flowering in the bush. After Eucalyptus trees, Wattles are perhaps the next most widely spread group of plants in Oz. They range in size from small shrubs to substantial trees.

Most varieties flower in this typical yellow colour. The flowers are tiny, each about the size of a fingernail.

Some species have a white flower.I haven’t got any shots, but in spring whole areas in the bush can be golden yellow with wattle blossom.

As a total by-the-way, Australian wattles (which are Acacias) are called wattles because early European settlers used them in the construction of 'wattle and daub' walls in their first houses.

A final shot of me (courtesy of Deb) at the look out. I think I look tired, not from the walk, but from the hectic week I had at work.
Thank goodness for spaces like this near Melbourne so I can unwind on the weekends.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A Much Delayed Award

Absolutely ages ago Rayna of Coffee Rings Everywhere passed on the Sweet Blog Award to me.
Rayna was a bit concerned that I might not like having my blog called a ‘sweet blog’, taking it as a slight on my masculinity (or something). Well Rayna you can rest easy, anyone who spends hours trying to photograph cute fuzzy grey blobs is not going to blink at the epithet ‘sweet’.Now this award was passed on to me with no rules, so I am just going to do what Rayna did and pass it on to some other bloggers whose blogs I enjoy.

In no particular order, I pass this award to:

Amanda at A Library of My Own

Jenifer at Ten lives and Second Chances

Anne at Piedmont Writer

Claudia at Claudia Del Balso

and Pamela Jo at Theres Just Life

By the way Pamela Jo has passed me an award as well that I am well and truly going to have to pass on.
But I am tired tonight, so I am sorry Pamela Jo it will have to wait a bit longer.

Now for something completely different.
I took so many piccies on the weekend that I am going to have to break things into a couple of posts.
Now I am going to put you all on the spot - a quick and informal vote.

Which would you rather I post about first?

Cockatoos and parrots?Or raging water?Have a look at these two teasers and let me know in a comment.