A Little Australian Springtime on a Snowy Cape Cod Day

The wind is blowing and the snow has just begun here on Cape Cod. We are supposed to get more rain than snow but LOTS of wind and some coastal flooding…

So, I’m warming up with a second cup of coffee and perusing more photos from our trip to Australia from last fall. It was spring there, and beautiful.

One of the most striking things about Australia for me, was the commonality of birds we would never see here. There are cockatoos, lorikeets and parrots everywhere. When I first saw one of the these galahs, also known as pink or rose breasted cockatoos, I nearly swooned. Big, boisterous and beautiful birds, these guys can be seen all over. They feed on seeds and can be found on the ground, in trees, or in one instance, lined up on a fence by the side of a road. They are big and stocky birds, measuring 36 cm or about 14.5 inches.

Australians use the word gallah–with an extra l–to describe a fool or idiot, often in joking terms. “You silly gallah, they might say, or don’t go acting like a crazy gallah… My first sighting of a crimson rosella took my breath away. I was walking along a grassy trail heading up a hill when this one flew down and landed not far from me. They are quite large, about 36 cm or 14.5 inches, but slimmer and longer looking than the galahs. I was so excited to see one of these that I couldn’t wait to tell my traveling companions…who reported seeing a whole flock. Over the time of our visit I ended up seeing quite a few but never got over thinking they were amazingly gorgeous birds. They look like a huge parakeet, right? The sulphur-crested cockatoo is another common park bird. Noisy and communal they are often found in flocks. This guy is 50 cm or almost 20 inches long, a good sized bird. A female king parrot was found hanging out with other females. I longed to get a peek at the red headed males but alas, never did see one.Rainbow Lorikeets were everywhere and I never tired of seeing them. One of the wonderful things about traveling is being exposed to so many new things, both in nature and in culture. It reminds me that the world is large and I am small. There is always something new to discover, something new to wrap my head around. Living with parrots and cockatoos is so different than living with chickadees and blue jays. But then, the opposite would be true for an Australian I suppose.

The world is a large and fascinating place…I’ve been lucky to see what I’ve seen and to have been where I’ve been. Next stop? Who knows?

Visiting Australia

Last November my husband and I were lucky enough to go to New South Wales, Australia to visit his sister, Emily, who lives there. She lives in a small beach town north of Sydney called Woy Woy. There is a large inlet and estuary nearby and we spent a lot of time walking around, looking at birds, flowers and other signs of spring. Yes, that’s right. November is the beginning of spring in the southern hemisphere. Sort of a disconnect for people from New England!

After leaving the Sydney Airport we drove for many miles through the lovely jacaranda trees that look like puffy clouds of lavender bliss all through the landscape.

We traveled to the Blue Mountains, visited Sydney itself and many other cool places. It’s much too much to put in one post so I’ll be posting more over the next few weeks. This is a quick overview.

I didn’t expect to see pelicans in Australia but they are there! These are huge pelicans and are called….wait for it…..Australian pelicans. Go figure.
Magpies, called maggies by many Aussies, which is what magpies call Australians, by the way, are everywhere. These smart relatives of crows are noisy, assertive and clever. Many of the ones we saw already had young ones that were chasing their parents for food. One of my target birds for this trip was the kookaburra, the largest kingfisher. These are crow sized birds and have a call that sounds just like a cackling laugh. This one I photographed in my sister in law’s neighbor’s yard. Turns out they come in for bird feeders and are frequent park visitors. We did see and hear them in the woods as well. Lizards were everywhere. We didn’t see any snakes, however, which was just as well since so many of their snakes are poisonous. There may be no bird as ubiquitous in this area of Australia as the lorikeet. There are several different kinds but this one hung out in the bushes by the front porch daily. At night they gather by the thousands to roost in certain trees. The racket they make is unbelievable. Although koala bears can be seen in the wild we did not see any wild ones. This lazy koala was taking a little nap at a reptile park we visited. We did see wallabies and kangaroos in the wild. This guy was grazing in a field that was part of a ranch, hence the fencing, but it was not a pet or livestock. Ranchers and farmers in Australia are not overly fond of these trespassers but it did give us an opportunity to see them. The best time to go looking for them is just past dawn and just before dusk. This was an early morning shot.We came home and it was time for Thanksgiving and then all the holiday madness so I never got around to posting any of my photos, etc. Over the next few weeks I will post more about our trip as well as the drawings I did in my journal while we were there.