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Lake Lovely

When I am feeling energetic (and, quite often, when I am not) I go walking after work.  I wish I could say I am diligent and do this every day, but I would be a liar.  I usually manage about three times a week, which is a bit pathetic, but it’s better than nothing.  This is what I tell myself anyway.

Some afternoons I go walking along the beach, which is lovely and scenic and blows the cobwebs of the workday away;  most days, however, I walk around the local lake, which is on my way home and provides me with a nice, easy, 3.5km route.

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Because I am generally quite lazy, it is good to have a circular route to walk – it means I just keep going until I get back to where I started.  I don’t have to think about it.  I don’t get tempted to turn around and head back either.  The lake also has multiple paths; some of them meander through the bush so you can jog a bit and no one can see you ha ha.  I don’t run in public unless I can be sure I don’t have witnesses.  No one needs to see that.

The lake is populated by LOTS of birdlife.  Swans, ducks, moorhen, and herons, as well as my favourite, the pelicans, and some long-necked tortoises, which I am yet to spot.

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As it is breeding season for many of the birds, there are cute, fluffy bundles of downy joy dotted around the lake, following their parents around and getting up to mischief.  There are plenty of reeds and other plant life to provide happy nesting spots and hideaways for the vulnerable babies.

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I am dying to see some cygnets.  I love the black swans – they are so majestic and beautiful.  There are a couple at the lake that have allowed me to get quite close – sometimes they waddle up to me of their own accord.  During breeding season, they can become a little bit aggressive and protective of their offspring, which is totally understandable.  It’s best to keep your distance at those times and give them their space.  Even if you do want to run headlong into those gorgeous, grey, fluffy cygnets and squeeze them in an adoring cuddle.  It’s not really recommended.

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There are also lots of cormorants.  I adore them.  Those funny webbed feet!  The fluffy, shaggy feathers on their plump bellies and chest!  The almost bat-like wings!  The way they dry themselves in the sun, holding up their wings like laundry!  The way they hiss at me when I get too close and annoy them with my photo-taking! 🙂

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The lone egret is a tricky individual to photograph.  He doesn’t like being bothered and you can’t get too close before he flies off.  It could also be because I have mistakenly been calling him a heron, and he’s not.  I have offended him and now he doesn’t want a bar of me, or my camera.  So all my shots of him are blurry (because I am far away and have zoomed my camera in).  It’s very inconsiderate of him, to be honest.

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Towards sunset, the lake takes on a magical quality.  I tend to keep stopping to take photos, which is not really making efficient use of my exercise time, but hey, the sky and water is so pretty at night!  It’s hard to take a bad photo, to be honest.

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I am always on the lookout for new places to walk ; it’s nice to have a change of scenery and some different landscapes/wildlife to look at.  The lake, for now, remains one of my favourites.  Easy to get to, easy parking, lots of people around (for safety’s sake) and lots of lovely birdies for me to photograph.  I am lucky to have these spaces to utilise and enjoy, and get that much-needed exercise.  That egret will just have to get used to me because I’m going to keep coming back 🙂

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Bells Rapids Hike

In my effort to lose weight, get fit, and be healthier, I have been taking part in some hikes recently.  I have always enjoyed walking, especially if it’s somewhere with nice scenery, and having a group of friends to go with is even nicer.  Makes it feel less like exercise and more like an enjoyable, good-for-the-soul activity.  If you can follow it up with a delicious brunch somewhere, all the better 🙂

I recently went on a lovely 5.5km hike with some friends (one of my friends, SR, is VERY good at organising things and puts me to shame because she MAKES THINGS HAPPEN, unlike me who procrastinates and can’t make decisions) around Bells Rapids, located in Brigadoon, about 45 minutes from Perth City.  A great spot to view the white water rapids of the Avon River while surrounded by beautiful bushland. Plenty of quiet, shady spots to take a rest, with trails for walking – some of them very steep and rocky – and glorious views.  Sitting by the rock pools was lovely and calming, especially after the vigorous hike up the hill.  I don’t have the greatest balance at the best of times, so I found it as bit treacherous at times, trying to keep my footing amid all the loose rocks and gravel.  Still fun though 🙂

There is plenty of parking and dogs are welcome.  Camping is not allowed, but you can certainly have a picnic there or hang out for the day.  The weekends are a popular time, but it isn’t crowded with people.  Room for everyone!  In the Winter months, the rock pools become swirling, white-water rapids, and (crazy) people come from miles around to take part in the annual Avon Descent.

Anyway, I will let my photos illustrate how lovely a spot it was.
I will definitely be back.

Hope you will stop in again here too 🙂

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Sculpture by the Sea 2017

Last night, after work, I was invited by a colleague to see the beachside exhibit, Sculpture by the Sea.  I wasn’t really in the mood to go, but I’m so glad I did.  My friend was late and I nearly went home instead of waiting, but I sat in my car, huddled against the cold (what IS going on with our seasons?) and listened to the ocean while I waited for her.  Eventually she turned up and we wandered up and down the beach, looking at all the amazing sculptures, with the setting sun as a beautiful backdrop.  Seriously, the sky was a bit of a distraction – I couldn’t stop taking photos of it – it was SO gorgeous.  The stormy weather only added to the dramatic quality of the sea and the crashing waves.

It was hard to take a bad photo, to be honest.  The sky was a million different colours and provided a perfect setting for the sculptures, which ranged from objects made of bronze to a chair made out of feathers.

I have to say, this photo (below) turned out so nicely.  Except for the people who just started walking through the shot (bottom right corner).  I think it looks like a 70s rock album cover.  Can’t you just see it accompanying a Pink Floyd song?  And that seagull flying through, just as I snapped the photo?  Perfect!

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1km Tower by Song Jianshu

I really, really like this shot too.  It looks like something you’d see in an episode of Dr Who or something.  Like a portal to another world, with that setting sun aglow behind it.

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The Window of the Future, by Sang-Sug Kim

This one reminded me of something Tim Burton would design…

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Spoke II, by Kevin Draper

LOVED this one.  Probably because it has dogs in it.  But, again, the sky…seriously!

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Loyalty, by Ayad Alqaragholli

Sharks are a common visitor at Cottesloe…not usually made out of steel though…

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The Great Hammerhead, by Jordan Sprigg

I think this was probably one of the most popular sculptures.  I didn’t get a great photo of it – if I’d waited until later I might have gotten a much better shot, with nicer colours around and behind it.  But it’s still pretty.  Wonder if I could go back and steal it for my garden?  Don’t you think it would like nice there? 🙂

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Horizon, by Lucy Humphrey

Now THAT’S a big piece of litter!

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Cansumerism, by Hayley Bahr

I could imagine this one with lots of succulents growing out of it…

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Infrastructure 5, by Oliver Stretton-Pow

Took us ages to see the face in this one.  You have to be looking at just the right angle…

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Luke, by Tony Cragg

These sculptures were pretty awesome.  They were like giant alien weeds…

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Aqua Fauna, by Britt Mikkelsen

This one reminded me of licorice allsorts, which is probably not
what the artist had in mind…

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Mega Pixel Power Tower, by Tom de Munk-Kerkmeer

So, a very worthwhile visit.  I am possibly going back on the weekend to see the sculptures I didn’t get around to viewing.  There’s also a “small sculptures” section which I want to see as well.  If you’re in the vicinity, go and check it all out.  It’s on until the 19th March.

Thanks for dropping by 🙂

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Mis-Beehaving

My Mum has a gorgeous garden.  She keeps it looking lovely, but also endeavours to make it as water-saving and bee/bird-friendly as possible.  She has lots of natives combined with more traditional, cottage garden plants.  It’s not easy having a nice garden in WA.  The Summers are so hot and even in the “wetter” months things can dry out. A couple of years ago, Mum got a landscaper in to help her design an eco-friendly (but still beautiful) garden that she could maintain herself and continue to work on.  She’s only a pensioner, my Mum, so it was all done on a strict budget, saving money where possible (the landscaper was brilliant).

What she ended up with is a low-maintenance garden that is pretty all year round and makes the most of every season.  It is also very welcoming to native birds and bees and the odd frog or two.  Mum’s been very keen on attracting the native Blue Banded Bee, a cute little species of bee that lives a solitary life, with the females building their nests in singular burrows, in mud or soft mortar (or you can build them a little house, like THESE).  They don’t create large stores of honey, so they are not suitable for honey production.  BBBs don’t mind having close neighbours, in fact they will often build their nests right next door to another bee, although they still do not behave in a “colony” kind of way.

They are excellent pollinators, using the “buzz” method, which means they grasp the flower and basically give it a good shake, by shivering their flight muscles, or banging their head on the flower (yes, really).  This releases the pollen, which is hidden in tiny capsules.  Many flowers require this type of pollination, so blue banded bees are very necessary to the continuation of several plant species.

While they do have a mild sting, BBBs are not very aggressive.  They move very quickly and can hover, unlike most other bees.  They are a total pain to photograph (ha ha) because they don’t stay still for long, and move at a much faster pace than regular bees, zipping around in a blur that causes the photographer (ie me) to swear a lot and dance around the garden, yelling “Keep still, dammit!”

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If you look VERY closely, you can just see the bee, hovering about, in the centre of the photo.

They are attracted primarily to white or blue flowers (possibly because it is better for camouflage) and are particularly good at pollinating tomatoes, eggplants and kiwifruit apparently.  So much so, there are plans to use them as greenhouse bees for large-scale tomato production.

BBBs are small critters, about 11mm in length, and have bands of iridescent pale blue-almost white on their abdomens.  When they fly, they look like a little flash of blue.
At night, the males cling to  plant stems, like tiny little chickens roosting for the night 🙂

Bees, in general, are so important to the well-being of the planet.  We should look after them and give them happy habitats and clean environments.   I personally love the little critters (probably because I have never been stung!) and enjoy watching them and their behaviour.  I find if you just let them get on with their business, they will stay out of yours.  Blue Banded Bees are really nice to watch and because they are not aggressive, you can get up close and personal with them, plus there is no risk of being attacked by a swarm!

You can find out more info about the Blue Banded Bee HERE

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Finally – a perfect shot!  It took me probably an hour to get this little guy to stay still long enough for me to take his photo.  Look at those amazing antennae and perfect stripes!
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Bandy-Cute

Hello, everyone 🙂  I meant to post this a few weeks back but got sidetracked… My Mum turned 70 in November and she had several little get-togethers to celebrate.  On the Sunday afternoon, we met my brother and his family for afternoon tea at a large garden nursery, which also has a delightful cafe and children’s playground.  It’s a very popular spot and can get very busy so we were lucky to get a table for all of us in a nice sunny spot.

As we drank our tea and baby-cinos (obligatory for the four munchkins) and scoffed cake, we were joined by another guest – a Southern Brown Bandicoot  (or Quenda).  These little guys are normally quite shy and tend to come out at dusk, to forage.  Our visitor is was well known to nursery staff, apparently making guest appearances on a regular basis, in order to pick up any table scraps and crumbs left by lunching customers.

img_4257He (I’m going with “he” for now) was happy to wander around our table, under our feet and chairs, and wasn’t the least bit disturbed by the children or my attempts to take photos of him.  I even got to stroke him, which he didn’t seem to mind at all.

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He was wiry to the touch, and very solid (he eats well :)) and about the size of a small cat (with albeit shorter legs).  Bandicoots have long claws, used for digging out underground food items (they are omnivores and will eat insects, fruit, lizards, seeds, mice – pretty much anything they can get their paws on!) and are marsupials (meaning they have a pouch that they carry their babies in).  They live alone, rather than in social groups, and have a running style described as a “gallop” rather than a hop or a scurry.

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We were delighted to have his company and hope to see him again if we visit the nursery. It’s so nice to see wildlife, of any kind, and I’m always very grateful to be able to experience them close up and in a non-captive way.  I guess these little guys are learning to adapt to being part of our community and losing some of their shy ways.  Survival is survival, after all.  I just hope that this particular fellow is healthy and protected and doesn’t come to any harm, being around human beings so much.  He seemed happy enough though – very fat and not stressed at all.  He’s probably living the dream and wondering why other bandicoots are bothering to hunt for their own food in the bush.  As his “people” are solitary creatures, it’s unlikely he’s going to let anyone else in on the action.  This territory is his and his alone!

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Have you had any close encounters with a wild critter lately?  I’d love to hear about it 🙂

Thanks for stopping by x

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A Visitor at Last!

Quite some time ago I got a couple of bird baths to hang in my garden.  I have a lot of birdlife in my neighbourhood and, with the Summers being so hot, I wanted them to have access to water.  I thought I would have lots of happy birdies availing themselves of the amenities I provided.  But no.  Not a one.  I figured maybe they just chose to turn up when I was out or at work or whatever.  As the months went by I came to the conclusion the local bird population was snubbing my water station and frequenting some other location for their hydration needs.

I didn’t take the bird baths away, but I did forget to refill them regularly (possibly the reason the birds chose to stay away).  Wally, my garden Wattlebird (cranky guardian of my grevilleas) sits near them every day and watches me eat my breakfast through the window (I mean he watches through the window…I’m not eating my breakfast through a window – that would be strange).  I’ve never seen him partake of any water though – even on the hottest days.  He is a quite large bird though, so perhaps doesn’t feel safe perching on the swinging bird bath.  He’s also quite territorial so it’s possible he has been warning all the other birds away.

My little Willy Wagtail, whose melodic song means Spring is only a few short weeks away, also likes to hang out NEAR the bird baths but I haven’t seen him actually perch on them or take a drink.  I think they’re just mocking me now – my water isn’t up to their standards apparently.

But, hallelujah!  This morning as I ate my very late breakfast ( I slept in – it was glorious, but now I have wasting-the-day guilts) I saw, out of the corner of my eye, a bird DRINKING OUT OF THE BIRD BATH!!!  A bird I had never seen before in my garden, was happily having a long drink out of my bird bath, swinging away in the breeze and enjoying a spot of sunshine (it’s been raining heavily all morning – hence the bird bath actually having water in it!).  I managed to get a couple of sneaky photos of him before he noticed me, peering out of the window and doing a silent happy dance.

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I think he is a Grey Butcherbird. I have seen them before, mostly down by the foreshore, but never in my garden before.  I was so happy to see him!  But then a bit sad because I will be moving soon and will have to start the whole wooing-birds-into-my-garden process all over again.  I don’t really even HAVE a garden in my new place (if I ever actually get to settlement) so will have to put in lots of natives to attract the local bird population.  A garden with no birdies is so sad!

I didn’t know a lot about Butcherbirds, so did a bit of research.  I found that they have a lovely, warbling song, a bit like a magpie (listen HERE) and that they can be quite aggressive during nesting season.  I also read that they “..prey on small animals, including birds, lizards and insects, as well as some fruits and seeds. Uneaten food may be stored in the fork or a branch or impaled. Grey Butcherbirds sit on an open perch searching for prey which, once sighted, they pounce on. Most mobile prey is caught on the ground, though small birds and insects may be caught in flight. Feeding normally takes place alone, in pairs or in small family groups…” (Thanks, Birdlife Australia)

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He’s a handsome fellow and I’m glad he stopped by.  I’m hoping he feels safe enough to come again and maybe bring a friend.  Maybe sing a song or two (now that I know what I’m listening for!).

Thank YOU for dropping by, too.  My blog is a little lack-lustre these days due to being in the midst of packing boxes and house-buying dramas and just being in a general state of disarray.  Please bear with me while I muddle through my messy life.

🙂

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Kings Park 3 (Guess That Plant)

Kings Park 3 (Guess That Plant)

Final post in my series on “Flowers and Plants I Don’t Really Know Anything About”.  Our trip to Kings Park was enjoyable, but I wouldn’t say educational because I forgot to learn anything about the plants themselves and their names.  I was going to take photos and then take a pic of any info next to the plant.  But I did that only once.  And then forgot for all the others.  So I’m just guessing from here on in.  Except for the first picture 🙂

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The Wooly Banksia. It was indeed wooly like a little sheep.  It looked like one of those microphone things news crews are always waving about in outside interviews.

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Kangaroo Paw.  If I got this one wrong, I would be in trouble.  And possibly not Australian.

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This is West Australian Edelweiss.  No, it isn’t – I am making that up.  It’s very dainty and pretty though.  You could sing about it in the Alps, I’m sure.  Wearing a dress made out of curtains – that sort of thing.

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This is the lovely Native Hibiscus.  I know this one.  It is otherwise known as the West Coast Gem.  I didn’t know that.

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This is also a Kangaroo Paw.  An underipe one.  Kidding. It’s a Black Kangaroo Paw –
Macropidia fuliginosa if you want to be posh.

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This is a Morning Iris.  I know this because I searched four million flowers on Google before I found it.  The colour is quite beautiful and is striking against the colours of the bushland.

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Pink (Lipstick) Boronia.  Know this one too.  I am a horticultural genius!  Boronia has a strong smell (not unpleasant) and these lovely bell-shaped flowers.  It is becoming more common to see it amongst flower arrangements at florist shops. 

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Another beautiful blue specimen.  I’m sure it has a lovely name.  If only I knew it!

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Grevillea.  I used to call these “Prawn Plants” when I was a kid.  Many people called them “Those bloody Grevilleas!!!” because they are allergic to them.  Coincidentally, lots of people are also allergic to prawns.  I’m just being silly now.

Well, that was the end of my playful romp through Kings Park.  You should go there yourself one day.  If you live in Perth.  Otherwise it might be a bit far.  But you could probably come to Perth for other stuff as well and make a proper trip of it.  We have a River and a City and roads and all sorts of stuff with silly people like me milling about.  Plus we have lots of sunshine, which is important.  Especially as I am always cold.

The End 🙂