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Mole Cricket

I always get mixed reactions when I post pictures of creepy-crawlies. ¬†Some of you are quite squeamish! ūüôā ¬† I must admit, I am not particularly brave with critters that have six legs, especially if they’re the jumping, flying, leaping-about kind, but I do think they have as much right to be here as anyone else does, and they are all quite fascinating in their own way. ¬†Creepy, but fascinating.

Take, for example, Mr Mole Cricket. ¬†A fairly ugly son-of-a-gun, let’s face it. ¬†But look at those little moley-mole front legs! ¬†They use them for burrowing, of course, and do so in gardens across Western Australia (but they are found all over the world). ¬†They have a loud, shrill song which many people confuse with the chirping of frogs. ¬†The males even make special burrows to amplify their song, to attract the¬†ladeez.

One of the more unattractive traits that mole crickets posses is that they can (and quite happily do) squirt a stinky brown fluid at potential predators. ¬†If you’ve ever dealt with anal glands of any species (and I have, having been a vet nurse for ten years in my younger days) you want to avoid this happening. ¬†Don’t pick up a mole cricket unless you have to. ¬†And I really don’t know why you would ever HAVE to.

They’re not very jumpy so they don’t tend to leap out or suddenly land on you while you’re minding your own business. ¬†They are, by all accounts, pretty pathetic at jumping. ¬†Which makes other crickets and grasshoppers look scornfully at them and snub them at parties. ¬†These guys are not winning any popularity contests or prizes for athleticism.

They are a reasonably large insect – this one I photographed was about 5-6cm long – and can cause damage to people’s lawns, with their constant burrowing. ¬†They eat roots and leaf matter, and some are also predatory, consuming grubs and worms and other squishy delicacies. ¬†I apologise I don’t know which type this one was…I’m gonna go ahead and say he was a vegetarian. ¬†He was also sitting on a bike path so he may well have become quite squishy himself shortly. ¬†I wasn’t going to move him…y’know, the anal gland thing.

I see lots of different critters on my walks.  Mr Moley is probably not the prettiest of them all, but he deserves a spot in my blog as much as a beautiful swan or dainty duck.

Hope I didn’t freak you out too much ūüôā

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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! ūüôā

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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 ūüôā

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Mini Road Trip

As I mentioned in a previous post, Mum and I recently took a little road trip to Bunbury  for some much-needed rest and relaxation.  It was nice to get away for a couple of days, with no schedule to follow, no work to get through, and no dramas to stress us out.  It was such a lovely weekend and I think we both really needed it.

The weather was, unfortunately, pretty dreadful.  Cold, wet and miserable.  In the middle of Summer we had torrential rain, flooding and ridiculously cool temperatures.  It was so cold, I had to buy some extra warm clothes and shoes once we got to our destination.  I had planned on spending many hours at the beach (our favourite little motel is located metres away from the Ocean) but the weather was just too inclement.  We did have one afternoon where the sun shone for a few hours, and we were able to go beach-combing at Hungry Hollow and collect some lovely shells, have a paddle and soak up some rays.

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Sunshine at last!

I love the variety of shells at Hungry Hollow. ¬†I try to take the ones I think won’t be used by ¬†sea creatures for their homes or other purposes. ¬†I like to collect the broken, smooth pieces of shell and any that have that gorgeous oil-slick colouration (mother of pearl to everyone else on the planet, I guess) on the inside. ¬†I have great plans for the shells but then end up just keeping them because they’re so pretty and I can’t bear to use them.

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Nature’s Artwork

While the weather was fine we also visited the Bunbury Wildlife Park. ¬†We’ve been there before and have been very impressed with the way the animals are cared for and housed, and how the kangaroos, in particular, have “quiet zones” where they can escape from the crowds. ¬†It’s so important for animals in captivity to have places they can go to when they want time out. ¬†They shouldn’t have to be on display all the time if they don’t want to. ¬†The roos at the Wildlife Park seem very relaxed though. ¬†They follow you around and come up to you for food and enjoy a good scratch on the chest or under their chins.

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Kangaroo – boop my nose!

I do love kangaroos. ¬†Having had one as a child for a short period of time, I love their gentle nature. ¬†Of course, the bigger males can be quite aggressive and dangerous at times (usually when a human being is getting too close or basically being an idiot) but the inhabitants of the park are all very calm and friendly. ¬†I like to see them so un-stressed and chilled out. ¬†They don’t even startle when a group of noisy children come in, which to me means they are not anxious or have any need to be afraid. ¬†Do I wish they were out in the wild? ¬†Yes, of course. ¬†But these parks are also important for teaching people about native fauna and how we need to look after them and protect them. ¬†Many of the critters in the park are orphans, hand-reared after their mothers were killed on the road, in dog attacks, and other accidents.

I love getting up close with them. ¬†My Mum was a bit more nervous than I (she was attacked, rather badly, by a large roo, years ago when I was child) and so didn’t get right in their¬†faces like me, although she did feed them and give them a pat. ¬†But I have always been annoying and like to get right in the middle of the action ha ha. ¬†I wouldn’t do it if they were weren’t so calm and friendly. ¬†One of them actually grabbed my arm and pulled me back in when I stopped scratching his chest ūüôā

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Photo-bombing!

Another lovely little spot we visited was Mulberry House. ¬†Just gorgeous. ¬†Pretty things to buy and look at – room upon room of vintage-inspired treasures, in a 1900s building. ¬†Each room is themed and just so delightfully arranged with floor-to-ceiling goodies. ¬†You can also have afternoon tea there (we didn’t indulge this time) and enjoy some home-baked cakes and other treats. ¬†My Mum ended up buying some lovely fat quarters in beautiful country/cottage colours – pale pinks, greens and cream. ¬†If you’re visiting Bunbury, be sure to pop in here – you won’t be disappointed.

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I’ll have one of everything, thanks!

This is a bit random, but I had to show a pic of this beautiful Crepe Myrtle, standing proudly outside a small antique store. ¬†How gorgeous is it??? ¬†I can’t believe how bright that pink is. ¬†It was almost TOO bright to look at. ¬†I’m glad the sun came out long enough for me to take this photo. ¬†It wouldn’t have looked so spectacular if it was bedraggled and dripping with rain (which I would also have been, most likely).

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Crepe Myrtle.  Ridiculous show off.

So, a lovely, relaxing trip that recharged our batteries and gave us some respite from life. ¬†I’m looking forward to going back again later in the year, if I can. ¬†Which probably means more kangaroo cuddles. ¬†If I’m lucky ūüôā ¬†(and the kangaroos, less so, ha ha!).

Thanks for stopping in – hope you’re having a happy day x

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Bandy-Cute

Hello, everyone ūüôā ¬†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 Рa 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 ūüôā

Thanks for stopping by x

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A Cockatoo or Two

Just a quickie post today…

I’m really going to miss South Perth. ¬†The River, the gardens, the greenery – just the general feel of the place and the lifestyle it allows. ¬†I’m also going to miss the local wildlife – all the lovely birds and the occasional dolphin – and the happy dogs playing in the park. ¬†I’ll miss the cafe strip (located so close to my house I can practically order a chai latte by yelling out my bedroom window) and the quiet neighbourhood where I go for my walks.

Yesterday I dragged myself out of the house to get some exercise, spurred on by a.) the sight of my thighs, and b.) the realisation that I soon won’t be able to walk around the River every day or play wildlife photographer with the local cockatoo population.

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The two main types of “cocky” in my neighbourhood are the pink and grey¬†Galahs¬†and the Corella. ¬†Corellas are noisy and destructive little buggers and many councils have resorted to culling them to reduce their numbers. ¬†The do indeed make a racket when they are in large groups and even one solo bird¬†is enough to send you a bit deaf. ¬†They’re cheeky little chappies though – quite comical and clown-like in their antics. ¬†The South Perth foreshore is often covered in large flocks of them, interspersed with a few galahs. ¬†Corellas tend to dig up the lawn areas, looking for tasty roots or bulbs, leaving lots of holes everywhere. They also “trim” tree branches, causing damage and leaving the tree vulnerable¬†to¬†fungus and insect attack. ¬†Many of these birds have been introduced to Western Australia from other states so they’re actually foreign interlopers!

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I was able to get quite close to the galahs – they seem to be the braver of the two species (probably as many of them are either escaped “tame” birds or the offspring of) whereas the corellas kept a safe distance. ¬†The galahs seemed to even pose for me, stopping what they were doing for a few seconds while I snapped a shot or two.

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Hopefully, wherever I end up moving to, I will be able to find some nice parkland areas or other places where there is wildlife to discover.  Because I need all the incentive I can get when it comes to exercise.

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I plan on planting lots of natives in my new garden-which-isn’t-a-garden-yet so that I can attract the local birds. ¬†I will be getting myself some cats (it will be my reward for all the crap I have gone through with the purchasing process to finally have some moggies) but they will be indoor felines – no hunting for them. ¬†Part of the reason I wanted a two-storey house was so they would have stairs to run up and down. ¬†I might join them – we shall have buns of steel together! ūüôā

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Hope you are having a happy day – enjoy some time outside, if you can x

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 ūüôā

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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 ūüôā

Kings Park 2

Kings Park 2

More pics from our visit to Kings Park.  All the yellows and golds  this time.

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I think this is a Vertichordia.¬† But don’t quote me on that.¬†

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Banksia.¬† Fairly sure it is an Ashby’s Banksia…

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A Eucalypt.¬† Of some kind.¬† I don’t know *looks sheepish*

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A Yellow Powder Puff Plant.  Ok, I am making that up. 

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Hoorah!  A Wattle.  I know this one *pats herself on the back*  I believe it is a Hedge Wattle. 

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Another Banskia.¬† A prostrate form.¬† Not “prostate” like my Mum would say.¬† It doesn’t have to have uncomfortable proctological examinations at the doctor.

So, there you are.¬† Just a few of the lovely native plants on display at Kings Park Botanic Gardens.¬† Beautiful at any time of year but even more stunning in Spring.¬† Nature is a clever clogs ūüôā