Wednesday, October 30, 2013

A quick WIIW

It is Wednesday so: what on Earth do you think this might be?

I suspect this is a tricky one :-)

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Kinda' Cute, Kinda' Ugly and Damn Cute

In a shameless exploitation of Oz wildlife tonight's post is of some of the wildlife I "captured" while on our recent weekend with our girls at Yamba.

First up is a tiny hermit crab I found while we were exploring a tidal rock-pool.
I would never have seen it other than as I walked past its shell "ducked" in a way that these common sea snails never do. The odd movement made me look closer.

Second is these two Australian Pelicans (Pelecanus conspicillatus) which were lazing around by the water. 
I think they are rather beautiful, but it is a kind of beauty that is very much in the eye of the beholder!

Finally in the nearby Yuraygir National Park I snapped a few shots of this lazy mob of Eastern Grey Kangaroos (Macropus giganteus).

No that isn't a six-legged Kanga'.

She has a joey who is nearly too big for the pouch.

As she obligingly stood up to have a scratch baby 'Roo swivelled around to pop his/her face out.

He/she must have been hungry because when mum bent over to graze again baby picked at the grass too.

Like I said damn cute

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Fishing and High Drama

This week three people had a stab at WIIW.
There were a couple that were close-ish
Linda G guessed: “Hmm. My first thought was a shadow. But it could also be some sort of niche cut into a ... I don't know, maybe a stone wall?”
Your first guess is pretty close, it is a silhouette rather than a shadow so I guess that earns 80%.
John guessed: “A musical instrument”
It isn’t, but that is a creative guess I could see the gold as a finish on a guitar or some other wooden instrument.
Marcy was with Linda on the shadow: “it looks like the shadow of a cross. On what surface I'm not sure...”
As I said above it is a silhouette, and it isn’t exactly a cross, but it is a cross-beam, so I guess you hit 95%!
So what is the mystery object?
Well last weekend Deb and I headed down to Yamba to spend a couple of nights on the coast with our girls. Did I mention that our baby Lu has heard the call of the beach and has moved in with the other two for the next couple of months?
Anyway her plan is to spend the summer break with the girls and then take up her studies again but enrolling in Brisbane, which is an awful lot closer to the rest of us than Melbourne.
Lu is a mad keen fisher-person so we decided to spend Saturday evening having a BBQ on the bank of the Clarence River and casting a line in.
So the mystery image is part of a fishing platform. The two fishing people silhouetted by the evening light are Deb and Lu. We only caught a few Flatheads, which are beautiful eating fish, but they were undersize so we threw them back.
There was a moment of “high drama” when this honey-eater got carried away by E’s (E is our eldest) bright flower print dress and tangled itself in her hair trying to get at what it thought were the best flowers around!
As the sun continued to set a shower came across from the ocean creating a rainbow.
 As the sun set it turned the sky and river gold
We stayed until well after dark with the play of the light changing on the river
and then gradually fading away…

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

A quick WIIW

A little late tonight so without further ado - what on Earth do you think this might be?

Monday, October 21, 2013

The Giants Return

Three people had a shot at my WIIW this week.

Marcy guessed:  “I think it may be the splash of a large mammal like a whale or dolphin.”
Bingo you are right on the money 100%.

Linda G adopted a barrack room lawyer approach with: “This week's WIIW is easy-peasy: water.”
Well you aren’t wrong, it is water so I guess that earns a good 80%.

Linda was with Marcy: “Gracious, how in the world did you learn how to do all of these things? For a guy from the city, you've become remarkably self-sufficient in the wild!
Whale tail hitting the water?”

Although my most recent incarnation has been as a city slicker, I am in fact a country boy from way back, and a bit of a “Jack of all trades”.
And yes the WIIW is a splash from a whale’s tail hitting water.

I shot this a few weeks ago at Yamba, not a great shot because the animal was so far off shore but I couldn’t help myself.
This was one of a dozen or so Humpback whales we saw breaching that afternoon. When I was in my late teens you would only see the occasional whale migrating along the shore to their winter breeding grounds at Harvey Bay in Queensland (or on their way back to Antarctic waters in summer). 

But since the introduction of the international whaling moratorium in 1982 the Humpback population seems to be climbing back from the brink. So now an hour or two on a headland will usually reward you with the sighting of several of these wonderful creatures at this time of year.

Now to a closer encounter, I caught this Brown Falcon (Falco berigora) on the way down our track on Friday.
She was positively camera friendly, posing front-on
Before showing me her “better side”
Finally she bobbed her head at me and shot off through the trees.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

First Fire, then Water and a WIIW

Well only one person guessed WIIW last week.

Marcy guessed: "looks like dirt stairs to me.
Or is it roots that look like stairs?"

Right first time! 100%

I cut these rough stairs in the creek bank way down our hill.
Well usually we rely on a spring higher up one of our hills to gravity-feed water to our little house.
But all the dry weather we have had has not only led to an early fire season, but it has also dried our spring up.
So Deb and I  had to begin pumping from the main creek for our domestic water. The pipe up from the creek has been there for forty odd years, but has not been used for many years. This area is a high rainfall area but we seem to be heading into drought.
So I had to get a pump down there. Over most of the 400 metres (1/4 mile) and 50 metres (170 ft) vertically I can take the pump in a 4x4 vehicle, but the last section I have to hump it.
And while that bank is not too steep to climb unladen, I was not going to try it with a heavy pump.
So out came the pick an shovel to cut temporary stairs...

And by the end of the day I had the pump in place. Our 6,000 gallon tank is again full and should last for a few weeks. As a bonus the pump will double as a fire pump should the dry weather bring the fires back.

Now as it is Wednesday
What on Earth do you think this might be?

Thursday, October 10, 2013


Well I was home all day yesterday, but I worked so hard that when it came to the evening I simply didn't have the energy to post.
So given it is dawn on Thursday I will post a quick WIIT.
Because I don't have time to seek out a clever image I will post this dodgy piccie I took with my phone.

I think this will be an easyish one...
What on Earth do you think this might be?

Monday, October 7, 2013

Evening light

We had a public holiday in NSW so Deb and I had an extra day at home this week.

I used it to head into the bush and cut firewood.  It is getting so warm now we wouldn't need the fire at all except we need it to heat our hot water.

As it began to get dark the evening light was gorgeous, so I just had to have a go at catching it.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Fire Update

As I said yesterday the fire threat had eased by morning.

Just after I made yesterday's post I set out to scout down the track to see if it was safe for Deb to use it to go to work. By the amount of smoke and the still conditions I was pretty near certain it would be safe.

About half way down the track I reached the area which burnt so brightly the night before.
As you can see the fire was pretty intense here, but it hadn't crossed the track.

Further down I paused to shoot this piccie, I think it shows two things nicely: Just how narrow the track is through the forest (you can see why I wanted to check it before Deb used it); and how much smoke was still in the air.

When I reached the other end of the forest I ran into these gentlemen, two members of a Rural Fire Service (RFS) brigade. They told me they had been working along the track all night and were about to head home.
They also said other crews would be here later to work on containment lines during the day as the fire is still burning in inaccessible bush.

The wind picked up through the morning, and contrary to the forecast began blowing the fire toward us. As the day progressed the a number of RFS crews worked up along the side of our track before reaching the edge of the clearing we live in.

Up this way they turned at ninety degrees and began using a bulldozer to push a fire break  through the paddock, and along a trail the loggers cut recently.

This piccie shows a crew setting back-burn fires along the new break. By evening they had cut a break across the ridge behind us and I slept much easier last night.

This morning they were working further across and have reached an old fire trail in the next valley.
By this afternoon the wind has reversed and is blowing the fire back on itself. The RFS are now confident enough to list it as "controlled"

I should note that the RFS brigades are entirely voluntary. These brave men and women defend life and property, sometimes at considerable risk, for the sake of the community as a whole.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Bleary Eyed.

After I posted last night Deb and I went around and sorted out what we would take if we needed to evacuate.

At the same time we had dinner cooking on the stove. It was rather strange periodically stirring our meal and then going outside to check on the bushfire.

As it got dark  the fire moved across toward our track, burning in the forest to our south east.
 As I said in my last post the wind was favourable to us and although the fire grew in intensity, it seemed to only be creeping slowly in this direction.

By 9:30 it was really intense and dominating the sky to the south-east.

That was as bright and as close as it got. By 10:30 the air temperature was low and the intensity of the fire dropped. 
Just before midnight I decided it was safe enough to go to bed.
I set an alarm for 2:00am and got up again then to make sure conditions hadn't changed.

I was up again at 5:00 to check again.
This morning to the south-east the fire seems to be all but under control.
You can see smoke still coming from the forest (from burning stumps and the like) but the threat from that direction has certainly eased.

We aren't entirely out of the woods yet (excuse the pun) as the fire appears to be burning further around to the south. I can hear heavy machinery operating in that direction so presumably the RFS is putting in a containment line somewhere.
The trouble is the terrain down that way is so rugged lines are very difficult to establish. More than anything we will rely on the wind staying favourable.  The forecast for the days ahead seems promising.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

And again, Fire!

On Tuesday night I posted about a bushfire about five miles away.
Here is a piccie I took this evening.
The dirty brown "cloud" which is so nicely lit up by the evening light is the smoke from another fire.

This one is much closer, about a mile and a half away.

In fact it is burning on the back of one of our neighbour's properties.

Just before dark we had a Rural Fire Service brigade captain drive up to warn us the fire had jumped containment lines and might cut the track between us and the road.

Deb and I have elected to stay.
I think the risk is low here, mainly because the wind is again favourable and our house is quite defensible.
 As a bonus the air temperature is falling rapidly tonight.

Still it will mean a sleepless night.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013


Last week I mentioned our unseasonably high temperatures and that the dry conditions had led to a Total Fire Ban.

Last week that led to fires down south around Taree and Sydney.
This week things are different.
Different in terms of where the fires are.

This was the view out our lounge-room window when I got home this afternoon. 
 As you can see the hot weather has dried the country out.  The puffs of smoke in the distance are a bushfire burning in Eucalyptus forest. The strip of track in the middle ground is our trail down to the road (about 5 km or three miles away).

This next piccie zooms in on the fire a little. At the moment it is about 8km (5 miles) away. 
It isn't a huge fire, but because of the country it is burning in it hasn't been controlled. Unfortunately it has burnt out two properties including one dwelling.

Fortunately, three things mean we are not too worried up on our hill:
  • the wind is blowing away from us so the main axis of the fire is in the other direction.  The forecast for the next few days predicts the wind will keep favouring us.
  •  second the road cuts a line between us and the fire, which forms a good halt line for the Rural Fire Service brigades to stop the fire.
  • and finally between us and the burning bush is a band of rainforest. Even in these conditions the greener forest doesn't often burn.
Still I guess I am in for a restless night.

Especially as this piccie I took a few minutes ago shows how eerie the fire looks at night.