On an island

A few weeks ago, we went boating for my sister in law’s birthday – putting down the Pumicestone Passage and anchoring (ie. beaching the boats, and hurling the anchors onto the sand – does that count as anchoring?) on a little beach on Bribie Island.

There was fishing:

And a grand total catch of one flathead, which was promptly barbecued and eaten. I also made a birthday cake – a Chai Cake with Honey & Ginger Cream. A three layer cake, as ever since making the wedding cake I can’t seem to move away from triple layer cakes for celebrations. It was a nice cake, but it didn’t blow my mind – I thought the honey flavour in the icing was a little strong, and the cake itself was the teensiest bit dry. The chai spices are gorgeous though, and it held up well, despite being transported on a boat and cut on a beach.

The excitement of boating and birthday cake was topped off by the discovery of a horse skeleton.

Isn’t that the most picturesque horse skeleton you ever saw? I presume that there are some wild horses roaming over Bribie Island. It seems more likely than someone galloping romantically down to the shore, having their horse expire under them, and shrugging to themselves, “Oh well – guess I’ll have to walk home.” But I suppose anything’s possible.

Down by the sea

We just spent a few days staying by the sea at Bargara, which is a small town near Bundaberg, about four or five hours drive away. We stayed in an apartment looking out onto the ocean, slept with the windows open to the sound of the waves, and spent a lot of time walking along the shore. I also played a lot of ukulele, which is really the perfect instrument to play on a balcony looking out to sea. It’s the right setting. Possibly not while playing Hotel California though.

We went and checked out some wetlands in Bundaberg, which didn’t have a huge diversity of birdlife to my amateur eyes, but did have lots of ducks, a family of swans, and a darter drying its wings in the early morning sunshine.

I am finally getting used to my new glasses, which have thicker arms than the ones I’ve had for the last 15 years or so, and initially made me feel as if I had blinkers on. I love them – I quite disliked my old glasses when I was in high school, and didn’t get any fonder of them as time passed. So it’s nice to finally have a change, after putting it off for so long.

Apart from occasionally throwing admiring glances at my spectacled reflection, I spent the rest of the holiday trying to perfect those pesky jazz chords, reading Gail Carriger’s Soulless and Robin McKinley’s Chalice, watching the first season of Six Feet Under and re-watching Sharpe episodes. The Sharpe series is where Sean Bean is charging around in the Napoleonic wars being northern, despising most of his fellow officers and having it off with just about every woman who happens upon the British army. Most entertaining.

We also set up a new recording studio area in the granny flat, so that my poor little laptop will no longer have its processing powers pushed to freezing limits. The flat has been dubbed the Rat Room, due to its current residents. They have had several lovely snacks out of my live trap without triggering it so far, the little bastards. They must think I’ve decided to provide them with a regular nightly buffet, which just happens to be plated up in a cage. I’m going to adjust the sensitivity of the door and try it again. One day, my ratty friends. One day.


One of our little kookaburra family has got all territorial prior to breeding season, and has been attacking our windows. There’s nothing more relaxing than being woken up at 6am on a Sunday morning by a crazed kookaburra hammering its scarily large beak against the glass, like it’s trying to break the window, get into the house and kill us all. Well, there probably are more relaxing things, but I can’t think of them right now. I’m sleep deprived.

In an effort to stop the kookaburra attacking its reflection, I have taped alfoil on the outside of the kitchen windows (which is a great look, and has transformed the kitchen into a dark alfoil cave), which was somewhat successful, but has just forced the kookaburra to move onto other windows. Including the one in our bedroom. I suppose I could cover the entire house in alfoil. Or wait for the breeding season to end. One or the other.


Looking back over a year’s photographs, I can usually tell when my mother and her partner have come to stay – I generally take a lot more bird photographs. It’s a lot easier when Mum and Allen are pointing them out for me so I can take the photo, and then identifying them for me. Effortless birdwatching.

Mum was sporting a new camera this time, the Nikon D90 with that beautiful 18 – 200mm lens, which I was particularly envious of every time my birdwatching lens, the budget 70 – 300mm, groaned away trying to focus. I feel a bit sorry for that lens, everything is such an effort for it. But I do appreciate the distance you can be from your subject with the 300mm reach, as well as the $150 price tag. And if I take enough photos, and the light is right, I can still get some gorgeous shots.

That’s a grey fantail in the backyard – a lucky shot, as it was perched so nicely in the light, and flew away a moment later.

One of our kookaburras – we have three that live around the house, which I think are a pair with perhaps last year’s baby. I think the last residents of the house used to feed them, judging by the number of perching posts and feeding spots around the house, and the way the kookaburras like to sit and watch you when you’re sitting on the verandah, slowly turning their head one way and the other but always keeping you in view.

This Variegated Fairy-wren was another lucky shot, at Berrinba Wetlands in Logan. This was about the only clear and nicely composed shot of about 20 that I took as she flitted around from branch to branch. I think I really only got this because she had paused and was trying to eat the moth or insect that she’s got in her beak.

We had a great afternoon in the Berrinba Wetlands, which is a fairly new and busy park – not so much a birdwatching park really, despite the wetlands, but a great park to go to with kids and bikes, as there’s lots of wide paths for riding and picnic spots. I’d like to go walking there again, perhaps in the early morning, and see if there’s a greater variety of water birds (as we only saw a few ducks).

Sacred Kingfisher

One of the frustrating things about not having a super-zoom lens is not being able to get great bird shots – this little kingfisher isn’t really dominating the frame. Although I guess a longer zoom would mean dragging a tripod around everywhere, which I’m not anxious to do.

I waited for ages focussed on him waiting to see if he’d turn around so I could get the lovely blue-green feathers on his back, but no such luck – he wasn’t going to turn his back on the crazy human crashing about below his branch.


We went walking today at Venman Bushland National Park, intending to do the long circuit walk around the park. We did that successfully, but then we tried to do a small additional circuit while in the depths of the park and got lost for a little while. Not so lost that we weren’t on a path, but it wasn’t the path that we intended to be on. Venman is part of several parks that intersect, and at a few times we seemed to be heading in entirely the wrong direction. The signage leaves a bit to be desired.

We found this little echidna trotting through the bush, and promptly galloped after him with, I’m sure, terrifyingly loud thumping steps. He scuttled to a dead tree when he heard us, curling up firmly and waited for us to go away. We stood for a while quietly hoping he would head off again, but he didn’t seem to be fooled, particularly by my loud whispering, and eventually we left him be.

We found the correct path again, after walking around in circles for a little while, and headed back on the last part of the circuit.

This little wallaby dashed across the path in front of us, easily slipping through a barbed wire fence. I think it’s probably a red necked wallaby, as they’re common in the park. We see them around our place too, although over winter it’s too dark in the mornings to identify them – I just hear the thumping in the morning as they move through the bush behind the house.

Our goal next time we head to Venman is to manage to complete the walk we start off doing, without heading off on unintended detours.

Cooinda, NT

Excerpt from my travel diary – 29 June 2009, Kakadu

We boarded the boat in the morning dimness, surrounded by hoardes of mozzies, and headed out onto the water to watch the sun rising in a blaze of colour across the horizon, lighting the still water. Wild horses grazed near the water’s edge, covered in cattle egrets, and mated in front of our boat to the awkward commentary and eventual silence of our guide

There were so many crocodiles, swimming along the surface near the boat and drifting along the edges of the water among the egrets and spoonbills picking among the reeds.

We saw rainbow bee-eaters, whistling kites, sea eagles, nankeen night herons, jacanas, jabirus on the nest, azure kingfishers, egrets, spoonbills, many cormorants and ducks, and brolgas stalking among the reeds in the distance.

The water was so still and clear, mirror-like, with bird calls echoing through the stillness.

Eagleby Wetlands

After Mum discovered the Eagleby Wetlands while browsing through the Refedex, we headed out there for a spot of birdwatching.

And while I got a bit frustrated with my zoom lens and its very noisy focussing gear (and gazed with envy at the truly enormous lenses that the more professional birdos were lugging around) I did manage to get a couple of bird shots.

Like this Scarlet Honeyeater. Isn’t he pretty? Apparently we have these on our property, but I’m yet to see them. Hopefully the new planting that Mum and Allen helped us do, with lots of grevilleas and banksias, will bring these little birds down closer to the house.

In disguise

How awesome is this grasshopper’s camouflage? He looked just like the dried eucalyptus leaves that were lying on the verandah next to him.

Wildlife of Greater Brisbane says that he is… wait for it… a Dead Leaf Grasshopper!  Of course, why didn’t I guess that?  Otherwise known as Goniaea australasiae.

King Parrot

A block of wild bird seed on the verandah has been attracting the local lorikeets, and a pair of king parrots have been turning up recently to feed.  They’re such pretty birds, so vibrantly coloured – I keep wishing they would drop a feather or two.