Saturday, 25 March 2017

Nature's Beauty and Fury

Our summer has been long, hot and steamy. Until 2 weeks ago, rainfall was scarce. Thankfully we have seen some wonderful deluges and all is green again.

My sunset view of one set of clouds retreating after dropping their load.

A night later we watched the full moon rise, only to see it quickly engulfed by dense cloud.

Many early morning walks had to be cancelled, but on this morning it was a joy to see fresh raindrops  still clinging to leaves and spider webs.

We have a garden bed of azaleas immediately outside our bedroom . Several mornings ago I woke to see these pure white fungi, emerging from the mulch.

24 hours ago, a low off the north Queensland coast developed into cyclone Debbie. It is slow moving and as a result gathering strength, with the possibility of being a category 5 event. 

Our Queensland newspaper - the Courier Mail, wrote:
"Up to 300,000 people from Townsville to the Whitsundays are in the line of the monster storm as it tracks towards the coast with destructive winds possible as early as today.
Disaster experts warn the cyclone, predicted to be a category 5 or even the highest rating of a category 5, looms as a catastrophic event capable of destroying homes, buildings and power lines in the 400km-long stretch of coast."

My brother lives to the north of its landfall. Top arrow.
Our neighbours are staying with family right in its path. Middle arrow.
The bottom arrow is where I live.

Cyclone Debbie isn't expected to cross the coast until tomorrow or Tuesday. The waiting must be harrowing. I just hope the predictions will not be realised.

I would love to read your comment.

Monday, 20 March 2017

The Birdlife of No 16

The past 3 weeks has seen me itching to get out and about, but the removal of 2 more skin cancers [leg and arm] put paid to that. It has however freed up some time to sort and tidy my photos. Time has been wasted revisiting favourite places, but overall, progress made. In the process, I came across this video of kookaburras laughing on the power line on the footpath. Then, this morning's dawn chorus was particularly loud and beautiful, hence the decision to share the variety of birdlife we see and listen to regularly, in or near our garden. Some of the photos you may have seen previously.


Laughing kookaburra - a large member of the kingfisher family.

Small blue kingfisher - not a regular visitor, but such a delight when he does.

The blue faced honeyeater regularly visits our native grevillea trees to feast on their nectar.

The rainbow lorikeet is also a nectar and pollen lover, along with fruit, seeds and small insects. They are daily visitors to our garden. Living near the golf course, we constantly hear their continuous, sharp, screeching call to one another, as they flock to feed in the eucalyptus trees, especially in the early morning and late afternoon. 

The pink galah being a seed feeder, is more often found in rural areas, but it is not unusual to see them grazing in the 'rough' of the golf course.

These two are saying, "What's your problem?" 
No 1 - they raucously arrive at dawn, in our cypress tree.
No 2 - enjoying the seed pods, they manage to decimate the foliage. 
No 3 - These 2 are alone, [unusual], but the golf course is the haunt of a flock of 100's. At times the din they make is tiresome, but watching them swarm, especially at dusk, is fascinating.

A small flock.

The pelican is one of my favourite birds. About 3 years ago, large numbers suddenly appeared on the golf ponds, below our home. Their uniform feeding motion was like watching ballet. We are now back to only seeing one or two.

The blue wren, or suburb fairy wren, has decided to frequent our garden regularly. They flit about in the dense, leaf cover of our shrubs, announcing their presence with their repetitious melodic chirping. Their sound constantly draws me outside with the camera, but rarely do I have any success in spotting them.

Female wrens - thank goodness for the 30X zoom on my point and shoot.

We have lived here almost 10 years and only twice have we had the black swans visit. Interesting to see the tag attached to their leg.

The very regal looking cuckoo-shrike is neither a cuckoo nor a shrike. They are so named because their feathers have similar patterns to cuckoos and their beak shape is similar to that of a shrike.
Sadly not a regular visitor.

These are the male and female storm birds or Eastern Koel. I have just discovered that this bird is migratory and arrive back in Australia in September, which is the beginning of our storm season. They are rarely seen, but their short haunting call is heard often. When I took this photo, I had no idea what these birds were. And of course I now understand why their song isn't heard all year.

The ducks are almost daily visitors to No 6 green, in front of our home. I just love watching them as they earnestly go about their business of foraging for worms, as if they have not a care in the world.

Yes, even when the floods had all but engulfed the sixth green, [immediately in front of our house] in 2013.

Now to share nature's magical ability to recover. This has been our view for most of our long hot summer. As you can see the ponds were rapidly evaporating.

A week ago the summer rains finally remembered how to fall. Over the week we have had 183 mm 
[7 1/2 inches] fall, with 100 mm [4 inches]in the past 24 hours. As you can see below, the result is the magical return of a sea of green and the ponds overflowing.

I would love to read your comment.

Saturday, 11 March 2017

The Story of the Ladybirds

Early 2012, my sister-in-law Michelle, suggested I make cards, using my photographs. She felt the photographs were worthy of such an endeavour and that people would love to buy them. I couldn't get my head around selling the cards for my profit so to speak, so did nothing. A few months later it was my birthday, and my gift from Michelle was a kit to create 20 cards. My friends snapped them up. Soon after, my son was involved in a charity bike ride and had to raise $2500.  This gave me a purpose and I raised over $800 for him. I continued selling the cards and regularly donated money to the cancer fund. 
A colleague and now good friend, mentioned that if I could make cards with ladybird photographs, she would be able to sell heaps. There was a very sad cancer story attached to this reasoning. 

Collage of some of my cards sold.

So I went hunting for ladybirds, but the Australian ladybird is quite small and elusive. My attempts to photograph them, were poor to say the least.

I needed the skill of 'Linda's Lens' to capture a shot good enough for a card.

Not long afterwards, I was in our local hardware store and found the ladybird below. Given her size, I thought she would be would be perfect to use as a model. Often there is too much shine on her wings, but I have captured some lovely snapshots. 
Alas I had to sell all my cards that were already made, before creating the ladybird cards. The result is that, although the cards are sold, I've yet to find time to create more. Sometime soon I hope.

Ladybird and the bromeliad.

Joining us on a hike at the beach - ready for some dune jumping.

Delighting in the beauty of some rarely seen autumn leaves.

Accompanying us on a rainforest walk.

Unexpectedly having a horse ride.

About a year later, a smaller ladybird was found in a craft shop. Much easier to pack, she has enjoyed some overseas jaunts.
Canadian fir tree.

Swiss snow.

English soulmate.

Attending the Ladybird summit in the Lake District of England.

On our return home from overseas, my ladybird family grew. A lovely friend brought a tiny Murano ladybird, from Venice for me.

Being a little shy and fragile, she rarely leaves the house.

July 2016, saw me visiting my brother in North Queensland. The lovely Michelle [his wife] welcomed me with this cute, wooden ladybird for my collection.
He is very adventurous and hiked the the thick northern rainforest and lovely sandy beaches with us,

2 more ladybirds have arrived from wonderful friends. The tiniest, on the leaf, flying all the way from Terrace, Canada.

Having made such a long flight, he quite happily sits on my hat, when we are out and about.

Slightly larger than his Venitian friend, this ladybird only likes the bromeliads.

On special occasions, this little fellow likes to ride along on my earrings, another lovely gift from a friend.

When I first photographed the ladybird, I added captions to the photographs and included them in my blog. I happened upon these recently and decided to include them again.

So that is the story of the Ladybirds and why they keep appearing in my blog and on occasion, tricking people into thinking they are real.

Recently, I have had one or two more successful photographic attempts.

Kneeling down to take a lake view, I discovered this tiny one in Banff National Park, Canada.


Alpurjurra, Spain.

This was a heart breaking find amidst the lava of Mt Etna.

Some of you may have noticed that the Ladybirds have a new friend when they go exploring.

I wonder if you can guess what is special about this gorgeous ladybird?

So that's the story of my ladybirds. Keep your eyes open to spot them in your garden.

I would love to read your comment.