A praying mantis, innocently lurking on one of my Just Joey roses caught my eye Tuesday morning. I got my camera and tripod but the breeze was a little too much to get a decent photo with the macro lens so I clipped the rose, put it in a vase, brought it inside and photographed it inside. My houseguest, Susan, helped by holding the flash and I took a few shots but I was worried that the mantis might fly off or crawl away. The mantis was quite active during the few minutes he was inside but he did stop long enough for me to determine that it has a compound eye, with a grid-like covering. After the portrait session, Susan took it back outside and it climbed back onto the rosebush to continue its quest for prey.
My brother John grows lovely roses in the perfect-for-roses clime of Santa Rosa. Here are just a few of the varieties that were in full bloom at his house on Monday.
This “Cat” tore up my friend Honora’s driveway and sidewalk Monday morning.
My dear, long time friend Susan has come to California from Wisconsin to celebrate our High School graduating class’s 70th birthday bash held Sunday at Armstrong Redwood State Park. Susan misses the magnificent California redwoods and wanted a photo of herself hugging a tree.
The only regret I have about my recent Australia birding trip was that I failed to make an audio recording of the Eastern Whipbird. This bird, more than any other, was constantly with us, hidden in the dense foliage, but we knew they were there by their distinct call and response; the sound of a cracking whip, was unmistakable. The male makes the loud whip cracking sound in response to the female’s call. Sometimes they were so close to us, probably within just a few inches, and the sound was so resonant, that it made your ears ring. Click the right arrow to hear a brief snippet of the Eastern Whipbird’s call and response. This is an audio file I downloaded from a site called FreeSounds.
And here are three views of one of the birds we saw early in the week. They are about the size of an American robin. This bird was very curious about something in the road and was not disturbed by us or put off by our cameras. Later in the week, the whipbirds were much more difficult to photograph because they kept out of sight in the dense cover of the rainforest. But we could still hear the snap of their whip cracking through the trees.
I’m home from Australia but I haven’t quite recovered from flying across the International Date Line. That does something to your brain. I wasn’t affected going to Australia but returning home has been a challenge. Although I’ve been home about 48 hours, I’m still trying to acclimate. I lost a day going and I got the lost day back coming home, but that hasn’t yet registered with my body. Hopefully, I’ll return to normal soon.
Because I’m still a little loopy I’m not quite yet ready to concentrate on editing the thousands of bird photographs I took in Australia. I saw thirty seven species of birds, most of them new to me, and I photographed twenty-four different species, sadly not all successfully. However, I got enough good captures that I’m very pleased with the results and it was a fun and rewarding trip.
I took this photograph at sunset the evening I arrived at O’Reilly’s. I loved the layered look of the distant hills.
We encountered these colorful rainbow lorikeets on a masonry wall along a residential street in Sydney on Sunday morning. Apparently the homeowner put out a bunch of grapes for the neighborhood lorikeets, parrots who thrive on fruit and nectar.
The tiny blue Superb Fairy Wrens were among the first birds we encountered at O’Reilly’s in Queensland’s Lamington National Park. We saw several and I photographed this one foraging on a field by the resort.
I am afraid of heights. For as long as I can remember, the thought of climbing a ladder or step stool, clamoring up a tree, or approaching the edge of a cliff have all caused me to shudder with anxiety. My photography buddy, Richard, is also afraid of heights and I think his acrophobia is even more severe than mine. So, it was a ridiculous notion to think that either one of us would even consider “The Bridge Climb” let alone go though with it. But, go through with it, we did! Along with a group of 12 other similarly acrophobic tourists, we braved the cool temperatures, impending rain, and ridiculous and scary heights to climb to the summit of the Sydney Harbor Bridge in Sydney, Australia on Monday afternoon. Built in 1932, the bridge rises the equivalent of one and a half football fields above the water. We walked up and down 1337 stair steps (some were steep ladders) and traveled close to a thousand feet in horizontal distance over a six lane roadway and two train tracks. A train screamed by me with a deafening roar as I descended one of the ladders. We were dressed in special body suits and equipped with fleece jackets and rain slickers, both of which we had to don during the walk due to the chilly temperatures and the rain that began to pelt us. We were given radios, hats, and handkerchiefs and we hooked onto a continuous cable that kept us from pitching off the bridge.
The climb turned out to be exhilarating, exciting, heart-pumping, and just plain fun. We were both so happy that we decided to go through with the three hour adventure, and, I think it helped to conquer, or at least temporarily alleviate, our fear of heights. We weren’t allowed to carry anything with us. I had to lock up my camera and remove my earrings, but Harry, our guide, obligingly photographed us at various stages of the walk.
Below is a photograph I took of the structure afterwards when we took a ferry across the harbor to a place called Manly. We climbed from the granite supports at the left of the photograph, up across the top of the structure to the center, walked across to the other side and descended back to where we started.
This is Richard and me about halfway up the structure.
And, here I am almost to the top with the iconic Sydney Opera House in the background.
At the center span, I’m giving a victorious thumbs up after reaching the pinnacle of the bridge. The attachment strap and the cable to which it was hooked are both visible.
I like Jimmy Buffett but I hadn’t considered myself a Parrot Head until I visited Australia and found my head covered with parrots. These parrots are Crimson Rosellas (red and blue) and Australian King Parrots (red males and green females) who live in and around O’Reilly’s in Lamington National Park. They are wild but they are accustomed to people and take advantage of the sultana raisins and walnuts offered by staff and tourists.
Moose Peterson took “official” portraits of each member of our group bedecked in parrots. The day before, we all practiced a little portrait photography with our 600mm lenses. I was first up so Moose took photos of me using my camera and the first shot below is one of the test shots. During the official portrait session the next day, Moose used his 24-70mm lens and a soft box to improve the lighting. Moose’s wife, Sharon, documented the chaotic and fun photo shoot and I took a video of Richard’s portrait session using my iPhone [click here to view video] ; it features Moose, Kevin, Sharon, Eric, and Richard. The birds spent quite a bit of time frolicking on our lenses and camera bodies (not to mention our own heads and bodies) but there was no permanent damage to us or our equipment although a couple of parrots tried to nibble on my lens hood.