17 October 2007

A long walk and some Australian memories

I took a longish walk this morning, from my flat to the forest at the foot of Mt Hakodate. Not so far I suppose, about 3 or 4 miles. I followed the river downstream. Some of the birds were reminiscent of riverside walks back home. Stonechat, Grey Wagtail, Common Kingfisher, Great and Coal Tit, Goldcrest, Teal, Tufted Duck, Mallard and Grey Heron. And only 2 Black Crowned Night Heron. At least 1 of them was an adult in full view striking a few different poses.

On the beach was pretty quiet. No offshore stuff yet and only a few Gulls. There were a few Herring type Gulls with the resident Slatybacks including this odd looking one.

There are usually a few of these around in winter. Darker backed than the usual Herring (Vega) Gulls and with yellow legs (which don't show so well in this picture). Heuglins or tamireynsis (sp?)? God only knows.

I didn't bother with Cape Tachi-machi as it was too crowded so I headed into the forest. Japanese Bush Warbler were by far the commonest bird........they were everywhere. The archetypal small boring brown bird.

Also in the forest were Rustic Bunting, 2 or 3 Grey Bunting (a pretty scarce bird in these parts), lots of Goldcrest alonside the resident paridae and Nuthatches, a few Japanese Pygmy Woodpecker, the first female Daurian Redstart of the winter and lots of unidentified stuff flitting about.

Japanese White-eye were still very common. They seem to love this kind of berry.

A great photo opportunity was foiled due to dust on the sensor of my new compact digicam.

You can't notice it so much on this shot but there's a big spot on all the photos taken with my Fujifilm F31FD. The spot is 'hidden' on the above pic in one of the parks. I seem to be cursed when buying new compact digital cameras. The 70mm end of my main camera isn't wide enough either.........as you can see from this one.

Around October 17th down the years:

1994. In October 1994 I was in the middle of a long stay in Australia. Far North Queensland to be precise. For most of October I was staying with my uncle. He lived on a patch of land on a clearing in the rainforest on the Atherton tablelands. This is where I slept, in that bus behind me.

It was full of all kinds of creepy-crawlies which didn't bother my cousins living close by but which definitely bothered me at first. It was weird sleeping in that thing listening to the sounds of the forest at night. Crazy laughing noises, hoots, screams, snakes and marsupial rats moving around under the bus (which was ancient and not sealed against any nasty things that might come in from outside). I dealt with this by getting drunk and stoned and listening to my walkman. My uncle's Fox Terrier was there to look after me anyway (I watched it catch and kill an Eastern Brown Snake.......the third most venomous snake in the world or so I'm told).

My uncle lived nearby.........he was going through a rough time in his marriage and a nephew from England into the mix wasn't really something he needed or wanted at that time. He had a serious operation this year. Get well soon Tom.

A brief list of some of the more memorable ones would include White Breasted and Wedge Tailed Eagles among many species of raptor, Sulphir Crested Cockatoo, King Parrot, Sacred, Forest and Azure Kingfisher, Grey Headed Robin, Pale Yellow Robin, Grey Fantail, Red Backed Wren, Eastern Whipbird,Lewins and Bridled Honeyeater, Red Browed Finch and lots and lots of other stuff. Best bird of all was a Cassowary. I was strolling through the forest with the dog when suddenly man's best friend bolted off somewhere in fright. I could hear a stamping noise behind me. I turned round and faced the Cassowary at less than 10 feet. No camera of course. And off it stomped.

Not an Eastern Brown Snake I can assure you.

My other uncle (Mick) lived in a nearby village and his garden had some excellent birds. In amongst all the Cuckoo Shrikes, Lorikeets and Honeyeaters I also saw Crested Hawk and Metallic Starling. It was a great place. The nearby Lake Tinaroo was fantastic for bird too. Plus there was a pub in the village.

Sadly my uncle passed away last year and my aunt is currently recuperating from a serious operation. Get well soon Janet.

I could write lots more about my time on the Atherton Tablelands but I don't want to bore the handful of regular readers to this blog more than I do normally.

Right. C'mon England in Moscow.

{Edited to add. Oh dear oh dear. Gerard missed a absolute sitter and the Russian penalty was outside the box. And I thought we'd turned a corner this season. I really did. The annoying thing is that Russia are actually pretty crap (but mind you what does that say about England?) and if England hadn't dropped silly points against Macedonia we'd still be in the driving seat. The last time I felt like this was in October 1993 when Holland knocked us out of the WC qualifiers...............for only the 3rd time since I started watching football almost 30 years ago there'll be a tournanment without England.

Bye bye Steve McClaren and hello someone else. Jesus wept but Gerard had a stinker. And did Owen touch the ball? A bit difficult when the defence was booting it upfield at Heskey to knock down. Oh wait a minute............

F*#king hell. Russia willl win in Israel and even if they don't I can't see us doing Croatia.

Well that opens my schedule for June 2008 at least. No late nights watching England struggle against all and sundry yet again. And England fans won't disgrace themselves in genteel Alpline villlages.}

1 comment:

  1. some great shots on the blog of late. having returned from my stint back in the de ol' sod, it's nice to see some birds in Japan. I connected with Lanceolated Warbler in Osaka-jo last week. Nice bird. Finally a couple of rare waders: Pectoral Sand and Little Stint, which were nice.

    Hard luck on the rugby and soccer...what the hell happened in Russia?! I can understand the rugby as SA deserve to win on form, but the soccer? We're useless so there's no argument there.

    Now, if only Liverpool could pull up their socks...


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