Birds in backyards

We live near bushland and get a lot of birds visiting our yard, especially when everything is in flower. For some reason, our Poinciana tree is flowering now after a rather lacklustre performance in December and it recently attracted the attention of a male and female pair of King Parrots. We don’t see King Parrots very often and they never stick around for long, but these two love birds preened and napped for about an hour while Hubby washed the car and I invaded their privacy with my zoom lens.

It is easy to tell the difference between an adult male and female, the male has a red head and his colouring is more vibrant. The female has more green, and she kept a watchful eye on me whilst going about her business. It was a real pleasure to see these birds hanging out in our garden, so often that tree is full of less colourful but more vocal crows and noisy miner birds.

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Wishing you a Merry Christmas

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Love and best wishes for the festive season

Sam and Bundy

xxx

PS: He is smiling on the inside

Clouds and light

November is storm season in Queensland and we’ve had a couple of loud and scary ones but thankfully the worst of them missed our place (touch wood). As a twenty something loving in Newcastle I discovered how much I loved a good storm when staying with family near the beach. From their house I watched in awe as the clouds rolled in and the light changed creating an eery atmosphere before the skies opened and the lightning let loose. It was magic.

There were pockets of storm action Sunday afternoon, mainly to the north of us so we got very little rain and only a few rumbles of thunder. We did however see some amazing cloud formations and fantastic light as we strolled around a local sports field. Bundy could not have cared less about any of it, he was too busy following random scent trails. With only my iPhone at hand I tried to capture the amazing nature of the clouds and light using the Lightoom mobile app and my phone’s native camera app. The images are a little dark, more post-processing required or perhaps there are better apps for capturing these types of scenes on a smartphone.

The year that was.

January

A relatively quiet month punctuated by time spent cuddling gorgeous shelter dogs waiting for their forever homes. Bundy celebrated his 9th birthday and unbeknown to us Australia Day was the last time we took Maxi to the beach, she loved splashing around in the surf and afterwards would sleep for hours.

February

A python and lots of cute puppies plus a lunch date with friends by the water. A short, sweet in stinking hot month.

March

Maxi’s 15th birthday is celebrated, Easter fun and games with the fur kids and a new car.

April

Sadly, we said goodbye to my father in-law who had been unwell for a couple of years. Even though he had been married to my mother in-law for a few years he was entrenched in our family and is greatly missed.

May

A much anticipated trip to Scotland. Traveling with a group of artists on a paint-along with my art teacher for two weeks was an amazing experience and provided me with lots of inspiration for my art and further travel in the UK.

June

Always lots of dogs waiting at the Animal Welfare League, I love my Sundays with them and it is hard not to fall in love with all of them.

July

Commissioned to do a portrait of Rumpole the chocolate lab in pastel, stalked by a pigeon on our morning walk and an art class focused on drawing birds. Finally winter seems to have arrived bringing with it some spectacular sunrises and the fur kids are loving their new blankets.

August

The weather starts getting warmer and Hubby celebrates his birthday with traditional fire making and drinks with family and friends. Walks with Maxi are getting shorter and she happily shares the rug with Bundy.

September

Losing Maxi broke my heart, such a vibrant and happy girl. Gone but never forgotten.

October

After losing our dear old girl, time with friends was especially important.

November

The festive season started early at work, our team heading to a winery for a long lunch to celebrate a good year with good people. There are always dogs waiting to be adopted and every Sunday I take photos of them to raise awareness on social media in the hope that it will assist in finding them a family faster. I also finished another commission, Honey the cat, sibling to Rumpole.

December

A quick trip to Newcastle to visit my brother and his family as well as meeting my new niece. So nice that the two families live in the same city, makes it easy to fit in quality time with all of them. Christmas was perfect, good company and good food. Now I am in need of a break, some quiet time at home after a busy and emotional year.

A walk in Springbrook National Park

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Springbrook National Park, Queensland

Springbrook National Park  is located in the Gold Coast hinterland, 45 minutes from the coast and not far from the border dividing Queensland from New South Wales. It is part of the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area and declared by UNESCO. The earliest humans to live in this area were the Yugambeh people, now acknowledged as the traditional owners. Throughout the park you will see signs written in English and in Yugambeh language.

Saturday was the perfect day for a walk in the Springbrook National Park, my friend and I choosing the Class 3 Purling Brook Falls circuit  which is 4 kilometres long and takes the average person 2-3 hours to complete. Add another 45 minutes if you want to visit Warringa Pools. If you’re keen on taking photographs, want to stop for a bite to eat or have a swim then add a bit longer. There are shorter and longer walking circuits plus a couple of lookouts if you just want to admire the view.

Temperatures can be cooler in the park, we wore long pants and a long sleeve shirt and felt comfortable for most of the walk although we did see plenty of people wearing gym gear but they were moving at a much faster pace than us. Wearing long sleeves and long trousers helps avoid ticks and leeches. I also recommend taking a bottle of water and a snack or two plus sunblock and insect repellant, you can still get sunburned walking through the forest and the mosquitoes can be vicious. There are a few locations that are fenced off from visitors, including the top of the Purling Brook Falls and the pool at the bottom for safety reasons and possibly to protect the immediate environment.

Springbrook provides the visitor the opportunity of seeing and hearing a variety of wildlife, we frequently heard the call of the Eastern Whipbird and Bush Turkeys are extremely common. When walking along one section of the park we heard the rustling of leaves as something moved slowly through the undergrowth. Patiently we waited and were rewarded with a glimpse of a goanna, eventually he decided that it was safe to come out of hiding so we watched him as he crossed the path and ventured up the hill and undercover. Lorikeets, kookaburras, wrens and robins are also common, but some of them are so small and move so quick that I didn’t stand a chance when it came to taking a photo. Seeing a pademelon flee from the verge and into the bush as we drove back from the ‘best of all’ lookout was a special treat, it is not often that we get to see this type of wallaby.

Having packed enough nut bars to feed a small school group, we grazed throughout the walk and rewarded our efforts at the end with a visit to The Fudge Shop. The coffee smelled too good to resist and we bought a chunk of lemon meringue and creme brûlée fudge for an extreme sugar hit. If fudge is not your thing they do serve ice cream and there is a small selection of local produce including arts and crafts for sale.

I imagine that Springbrook National Park is really popular in the warmer months, and that the creeks and waterholes fill up with day trippers and families camping nearby. At the Natural Bridge section of Springbrook you can see glow-worms after sunset, their environment is particularly sensitive so there are rules around visiting this location. The Natural Bridge is easily accessed and the walk through subtropical rainforest to see the naturally formed arch over the creek is well worth the effort.

Having been on the Gold Coast for 17 years, I cannot believe that I have not spent more time exploring such a spectacular part of Queensland. It definitely won’t be that long before I return to Springbrook, there are more walks to do and it is a wonderful way to get some exercise and experience nature.

Swell Festival 2016 – part 2

On my last post I shared some of the sculptures featured in the Swell 2016 Sculpture Festival. As promised, here is a part two of my selection of images.

Koalas, Kangaroos and Echidnas at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary

A visit to the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary in Queensland is highly recommended, for children and the young at heart it is a fabulous way to spend a day. As soon as you walk through the entry gate you will smile at the sight of koalas sitting among tree branches, munching away on eucalyptus leaves or having a nap. These beautiful creatures, like so many of our native flora and fauna are victims of progress, their natural environment destroyed by developers and their lives threatened by domestic animals and traffic. The wildlife sanctuary does a wonderful job of raising awareness of the plight of our native animals, educating children and caring for the sick and injured at their wildlife hospital.

There are plenty of opportunities to get up close and personal with some of the animals. For a fee you can have your photo taken cuddling a koala or you can buy food for the lorikeets and kangaroos and feed them by hand. We didn’t do any of that, however we did venture into the kangaroo enclosure and took great pleasure in patting young kangaroos while they were dozing in the sunlight. The largest and oldest of the male kangaroos was taking a nap near the gate, at 8 years old he has fathered plenty of kangaroos, the second male is 4 years old and not quite as large although one of the volunteers told us that his nickname was Fatty.

My friends and I spent a day there recently and we loved every minute. When our legs grew weary and our stomachs hungry we hopped on the people mover train and enjoyed a ride through the park and selected a lunch venue. The sanctuary’s rainforest environment is filled with the sound of birds calling and at times, howling dingoes, the train passes by the enclosures of kangaroos, wallabies, water birds and the Tasmanian Devil. Cameras and phones in hand we took hundreds of photos of creatures we don’t often get to see as well as a few that we will never see in the wild because their numbers are low and they are on the endangered list. I regretted not taking a camera with better zoom than my iPhone, the digital zoom on an iPhone really isn’t great and many of my photos look more painterly than photographic.