Travel Diary - p 1 of 2
|6 Sept 2013
Welcome to Sydney, home of the world-famous Opera House.
Also home to the $61 cab fare from the airport.. Oh well, let's have a cup of
coffee. That's $6, you say? Do I get a refill? No?
At our Sydney Harbour cruise tonight, complete with dinner & show, they
brought all those celebrating birthdays and anniversaries up to the stage. Charlotte
and I had the (dubious?) honor of being married longest - 44 years. It wasn't even
9 Sept 2013
With Charlotte off on a diving trip to the Great
Barrier Reef, I've put up at the Cassowary House near Cairns, in northern Queensland.
The lodge's namesake appears for grain put out by the owners.
Related to emus and the like, the endangered Southern Cassowary has the
roles of the sexes reversed. It is the female who is larger and more colorful.
The male builds a ground nest where the eggs will be laid.
|With one or two exceptions, there's
nothing remarkable about Australia's waterfowl. This oddly-named Pacific Black Duck
was on the Barron River near the village of Kuranda late in the day. Sunlight
reflecting off the rainforest on the opposite bank provided some color to the water at
||The places to look
for many common Australian birds are picnic areas and caravan parks. Here is where
fruiting or flowering trees are often planted; many attending birds are quite tolerant of
humans including photographers.
Other birds are just looking to cadge a handout, such as Laughing
Kookaburra here, which is a forest kingfisher. How tame was this bird? After I
photographed it, the bird flew down and perched on the metal support on my Better-Beamer
flash extender. It sat there for a while as the campers, Aussies and a mix of
Germans, Dutch, and the like, took photos of it with their smart phones.
10 Sept 2013
The main nectivores in Australia are parrots and
honeyeaters. Members of the latter group behave like hummingbirds and sunbirds,
aggressively chasing away their rivals for a nectar source.
But that is where the similiarities end. Honeyeaters are mostly medium-sized, quite
often the dullest birds around. This Blue-faced Honeyeater is in fact one of the
more colorful ones.
The honeyeaters were beginning a nest in an open
snag in one of the "gums" (Eucalyptus) trees at the caravan park.
A juvenile came to the nest once or twice, so Blue-faced may be another species
which has juvenile helpers at the nest.
13 Sept 2013
Yesterday we flew across the continent to Western
Australia - cold, rainy, windy Western Australia, this still being early spring.
Today we rented a campervan in Perth and drove north. The star attractions here are
This corner of the country is surrouned by ocean and desert, making it a
perfect "biological island." Its isolation, combined with nutrient-poor
soils, makes it a biodiversity hotspot - over half the plants here are endemic to the
Many are just plain bizarre, such as Red-and-Green Kangaroo Paw, Anigozathos
manglesii. It is the official floral emblem of Western Australia.
|With a name like Western Flora Caravan
Park, 300 km north of Perth, you'd expect to find wildflowers and folks who love them, and
this is the case.
Braving winds and the occasional rain squall, we hike out to find the common
and rare. Among the former is Milkmaids, Burchardia umbellata.
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