Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Pictures from the book: Page 19

Isn't she stunning? This is a Galah - what in the US is called "Rose Breasted Cockatoo". Up until the last six months, we didn't see them around much; they flew through our yard, but didn't stop. But - since about the start of this year, there have been a few around, usually in pairs.

(Click the photo above to view a larger image)

The Galahs I saw in the US never had the depth of colour the wild ones we see here have. The grey is more pronounced with (as you can detect in this photo) a tinge of blue. The breast is a deep pink. The ones I'd seen in the US were lighter coloured.

I remember a woman in Ohio who kept a cardinal. It was missing a leg and had wing injuries which prevented it from flying (it's not legal to keep wild birds in Ohio - she had some kind of special license). Her bird, a male, was definitely red, but his colours weren't the brilliant red of the wild birds. His keeper speculated that there was probably something missing in his diet. Perhaps that would also explain the muted colours of Galahs in the states.

Anyway, we're seeing Galah's more and more now. They are certainly less trusting than the other wild parrots; we can't get near them. But we're happy to have them around to add to the variety.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The National Rhododendron Garden - Winter

We made our first trip to the National Rhododendron Garden last year, taken there by Gay, a neighbor and friend.We fell instantly in love with it. It's hard not to like this place, so beautiful and easy to walk.

It's been raining here quite a lot (typical Mount Dandenong winter weather) and we're missing the sun. But Sunday the rain held off (although it was very cloudy) and so we decided to get out of the house and go for a walk. I'd seen some rhododendrons blooming down in the city, and wondered if there might be any in bloom in the national garden - so we headed there for our little bit of exercise.

There wasn't a lot in bloom, but even so, a few brave bushes are sporting some lovely flowers, like this one:

Even in winter, the gardens are lovely. There are a few small ponds and a lively stream running through. The sound of gently trickling water merges with the twitter of robins and finches to produce a calming atmosphere, even on a cloudy day like this one.

All of the rhododendrons not blooming now are loaded with promising buds. There's no mistaking the signs that there's going to be an explosion of colour very soon.

We'll be returning throughout the spring, cameras in hand, and hope to capture some lovely images to share with you here.  Stay tuned!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

A mid-winter "Wolfgang" (unusual, to say the least)

During the cooler months, we don't see much of Wolfgang. He (she?) stays pretty much out of sight, hibernating, I guess. But this week, lo and behold - one showed up in the middle of the day. It's been raining quite a lot the last three days or so, and I guess that might be what brought him out. The strange thing, however, is where he was. Normally these critters stay up high on the wall or ceiling. This one, however, clung to the baseboard at the top of the stairs on the second floor (I set my shoe just in front of him so you have a sense of his size):

(Click the photo for a larger image)
Here's a closeup:

He wasn't especially huge, as huntsmen go, but a healthy size all the same. Wolfie just hung out there in that same spot all day long, never moving. I was hoping he'd eventually head on downstairs (very few bugs ever show up on the 2nd floor, so there's not much to eat up there). But he didn't. Normally I just leave the huntsmen alone, but this one, well, I just didn't like where he was hanging out (right outside the master bedroom). It was too easy to imagine him skittering around the floor at night and possibly getting stepped on. Around 9 or 9:30 pm, I'd had enough and ended up evicting him. I took one of Laka's cast off feathers (a long one) and used it to coax him down the stairs and flicked him out the door.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Pictures from the book: Page 16

It was the realtor's photos of the cockatoos and other wild parrots hanging around the house that first caught my attention when I was "house hunting" back in 2006. I was enchanted, not understanding how destructive these guys really are. Here's Buster and a few pals hanging around outside of my office window.
(Click the photo above for a larger image) 

They look placid, eh? Harmless enough, or so you'd think.Unfortunately, they have a real penchant for chewing wood - including the railing they are sitting on and the deck floor! Even the wood siding on the house shows evidence of their attention.

I just love them, however, even though we've learned to chase them off whenever they show up. They are so personable, cheeky, intelligent and full of personality.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Australian Ballet: "The Display"

A couple of years ago I attended a meeting of the Ladies Probus Club of Emerald. Each month they have a speaker come in to give a presentation - and on this occasion, the speaker was Barry Kitcher - a retired ballet dancer who was with the world-famous Australian Ballet. He was an excellent speaker who fascinated us with his stories about what it was like to be part of the ballet.

Part of his talk included telling us about one particular piece: "The Display" - a ballet that was, in part, inspired by Australia's Lyrebirds. Mr. Kitcher was the first to dance the part of the lyrebird, a role which called for him to wear an amazing costume (shown in this photo).

As part of his talk, he told us that "The Display" was going to be revived by the Australian Ballet this year, and would be performed here sometime during the year. I've been eagerly looking forward to this, and recently learned that it is part of a performance named "Icons" (which includes The Display, plus two other Australian works) that is coming to Melbourne in September.

And, yes.... we've got tickets!