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Archive for September, 2016

Friday dawned bright and sunny.  My place of residence doesn’t receive a great deal of light, so it was an opportunity to go out.

I considered returning to Wattle Park and then, perhaps, walking to Aldi from there to buy some groceries.  Then I wondered what groceries I really needed, and that it required a lot of walking.  Then I considered journeying into the CBD to return to the Botanic gardens.  I hadn’t had a lot of success with bird photos there, so looked about on Google for other parks I could get to.  A general search didn’t reveal much, so I then used maps and looked at the green areas close by.

I discovered a green patch with a lake, called Lake Sanctuary, at Blackburn, just three train stops from me.  Clicking on it revealed that it was a place for birdwatching.  That made my mind up.

The forecast had clouds for later in the day so I had a cursory lunch and headed out at 12.15 for the train.  From Blackburn station it was a 15 minute walk to the park.  Lots of kids at the playground near the carpark, so I ventured further in.  I found the track that circled the lake.

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There was a bench seat facing the lake so I sat for a while, and saw no birds.  I could hear plenty – rainbow lorikeets, wattlebirds, magpies, all up in the canopy.  I did see a few magpies flying around, and then finally saw a dusky moorhen and a wood duck.  I was about to get up and keep walking, when I spied a white dot on the opposite bank.  I couldn’t really see what it was – a heron?  I got my new camera out and zoomed in.  It was a Nankeen Night Heron!  I was thrilled.

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The zoom was fantastic.

I spotted a magpie and rainbow lorikeet in branches above me and attempted to photograph them.

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I waited for a couple of women to pass.  They had binoculars so were evidently birdwatchers.  I wondered if they’d seen the night heron.  I walked along further and saw a wood duck on a log, preening and flapping its wings.

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The women were paused at a viewpoint further on.  When I approached, they passed by, back to the track.  They didn’t smile, just looked at my camera.  I thought fellow birdwatchers might be friendly (they would’ve seen me taking photos), but not those two.  They walked quite quickly, so I don’t imagine they saw or looked around much.

I crossed to the other side of the lake and walked away swiftly from a whining child who, thankfully, was going in the other direction.  I was walking slowly along one of the tracks…

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when I heard what sounded like a grey warbler.  Then I saw movement and discovered it was a fantail.  I hadn’t known until quite recently that fantails were in Australia.  It was a “grey fantail” (they even have different types) and looked like the New Zealand fantail but without the yellow colouring.  Unfortunately, it was too quick for me to capture it.  As soon as I found it with the zoom it flew off.  I continued walking and saw more movement out of the corner of my eye and a little grey bird flew past and then a blue bird.  I gasped and stopped.  There were birds everywhere if I stopped and listened and looked for small movements.  The little blue bird, a superb fairy wren, came out to the path and darted in and out of the grass, seemingly unaware of me.  I tried to get several photos, but again, trying to zoom in on it as well as follow it proved difficult.

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It then became aware of me and flew up into a branch and, like many birds, started preening so I couldn’t see its head.

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I saw no other birds after that, but did hear them, including brown thornbills.  I sat for a bit but people passed by.  I double-backed, but more people were around so no more birds except the odd wood duck and a Pacific black duck.  I got one more glimpse of the night heron, which had moved a little further along but was still visible for those with a keen eye (or zoom lens).

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It had been a very pleasant, and rewarding, walk.  I had spent two hours at the park in total.

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One to bear in mind for any visitors.

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I could’ve sworn I wrote a draft about my trip to Brisbane, but it appears not.  I won’t split this up, so it will be a long post.

It was a wet day when I left home.  I caught the train to Southern Cross, arriving about half an hour before the bus I had planned to get departed.  My original plan was to have something to eat at Southern Cross.  Instead I just bought a ticket and caught the next available bus – a double-decker one.  I had allowed an hour to get to the airport, but we were there in 30 minutes.  This meant I was even earlier than I needed to be.

I printed out my boarding pass (I had checked in online), and went in search of food.  I ended up having a muffin and a ginger beer.  Then slowly wandered down to the departure gate, idly looking in book shops.  I was pulled aside for a scan to see if there was an “explosive residue” on me.  For fuck’s sake.

Waited for the Virgin airline flight, gazing out at the rain.

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I had been able to choose a window seat for free, but all I saw was cloud – featureless white cloud as far as the eye could see.  It was so featureless that there was no sensation of movement – just the noise of the plane.  It was as if we were stationery.  Quite weird.

Finally we descended into Brisbane, beside what looked like a huge cloud statue of an elephant lying down.  Brisbane was grey and threatening rain, but it was warm.

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I wish Melbourne had trains to the airport.  It would make things so much easier, and there wouldn’t be the worry of traffic jams.

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My cousin, H, was arriving from a work trip to Sydney, so I waited for her.  Together we got a taxi to her place in Chermside.  I was introduced to her lovely cat, Molly.

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After a meal and long chat, we headed to bed.

Saturday was a bit grey and windy, but we walked to the local mall.  H bought a few things at the supermarket, then we had a coffee.  Thankfully, we share the same views on politics and religion and could chat away quite happily.

H rang her mother, J (my father’s sister) at the retirement village to let her know we were coming, then drove round to see her.  She’s 95 and recently recovered from a fall and mild stroke, but she was as active and talkative as she was at her 90th birthday.  Amazing.  It was good to see her looking so well, and the only medication she takes is a blood thinner.

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We only stayed an hour, but I hoped I would be able to see J again.

We returned to H’s place and made lunch, then set off for the beach at Sandgate.  It was very windy.  The seagulls just hovered.

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We sat on a park bench and ate our rolls.  There were quite a few parasurfers, if that’s the right term.

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Lunch finished, we went for a wander along the beachfront to the pier.

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Shorncliffe pier, image from Flickr

We walked to the end of the pier.  The waves were very choppy.  Quite a few fishermen were trying their luck.  On the way back we saw what looked like blue plastic bags floating in the sea.  They were jellyfish.  I didn’t take a photo as I was afraid of dropping my mobile phone into the sea in the strong wind.  This is what they looked like.

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I can’t find a name for them, other than “blue jellyfish”.  A kid showed off a few fish lined up on the boards.  A few were quite small – too small I thought, and I felt sorry for the fish.

We returned to H’s place.  There was a loud thunderstorm which continued for some time.  We watched “Beck” on SBS on Demand on H’s TV.

For dinner, we got an Uber ride to Nundah and ate at a pub which served Italian food.  I was amazed at how quickly the car turned up.  It was raining but we sat outside the pub under cover.  Lovely meal, cooked and served by real Italians (a rarity in NZ).  It was wonderful to hear the accents.  After dinner, we headed across the road to a small bar called Village Social.  There was a band called Heads Hands and Feet playing – a three-piece band made up of a bearded guy in dreads on keyboard and vocals, a Maori from Chatham Islands on guitar and vocals, and an old English guy on drums.  They were good.  I enjoyed their music.

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H used her app to get another Uber ride home and it showed up almost immediately.  I was impressed.  H said that the drivers are much more polite, and if you lose something you can contact them.  This contrasts with an experience that a friend of J’s had – an elderly woman with a walker trying to get into the back of a taxi and the driver not getting out to help at all.  If taxi drivers are complaining about Uber they need to up their game.  If I ever need a taxi, I’ll download the Uber app.

H likes to go to bed early (and gets up early) so I headed to bed and watched episode 3 of “Southcliffe” on my mobile.  I didn’t sleep well that night (not as a result of the programme I might add).

Sunday dawned bright and sunny.  H headed off to her gym.  When she returned we drove to Nundah to check out the market.  Lots of stalls but H didn’t seem interested in any and walked past them all.  We sat and had a coffee (she loves her coffee), then walked back to the car.  A pointless exercise, I thought.  Not that I was interested in buying anything or watching the entertainment, but even just a browse…?  Oh well.

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It was nice not to have to wear a singlet or jacket.  You can see from the photos that all you needed was a short or sleeveless top.

H’s idea was for us to go to Southbank and meet her son who was going there with his wife and young baby.  However, he was unsure when he was going to be there and sounded reluctant to meet us, so instead, after lunch, we drove north to Bribie Island.

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It was a very pleasant drive.  It was wonderful to see the countryside.  I had never been north of Brisbane before.  I spotted a pelican as we crossed the bridge to the island.

We found a carpark by the beach and wandered down in barefeet.  It was so pleasant and seemed like summer.

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In the distance is Moreton Island (and a container ship)

H and I walked south along the beach, me careful to avoid stepping on the many bluebottles washed up.  No-one else seemed to care about them.  I spotted some seabirds and later found out they were greater crested terns.

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I had taken a camera but didn’t have a zoom lens on it.

We returned from our walk and went into the surf club for a drink.  I had a nice cool beer and H had a lemon, lime and bitters.  I found out later that there was a bush walk nearby that we could have gone on, but H seemed keen to head back.  Her son wanted her to babysit but hadn’t given a time.

So we drove back to H’s and waited for him to drop off they baby so they could go to the gym.  In the meantime, H made roast vegetables with lamb, which we ate in a bowl for some reason (and without gravy).  Eventually, H’s son and his partner turned up about 7pm!  They said they’d be an hour but it was more like two.  The baby slept for a bit, cried for a bit and H fed it some milk.  Then it cried again.  H put some kid’s programme on TV and it watched, fascinated.  Unfortunately, we had to put up with the “Wheels on the Bus” song about four or five times.  It was just after 9pm when H’s daughter-in-law showed up to collect the baby.  You may be able to tell that I don’t particularly care for babies.

Monday was another sunny day.  Unfortunately for me, H had decided to go to the gym again, so I was stuck at her place without a key.  I think it a little selfish if you have a guest (surely you can forego the gym for a day) but that’s my opinion.  We could’ve spent the morning at Southbank or something, or I could have gone for a walk.  Oh well.  I ended up watching the last of “Southcliffe” and thought the last two episodes were a complete waste of time.  H returned about 11 am and we talked for a while.  Then she took me to the airport about 12.

The plane was delayed for half an hour after we’d boarded, so we sat waiting, looking at the blue sky.

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The flight was full and I had been called to the desk for a new boarding pass.  They had changed my seat to a window seat, which suited me fine.  At least this time I would get to see something.

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As we neared Melbourne the temperature dropped and the clouds got thicker.  It was ten degrees colder than Brisbane – not a surprise.

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I sat upstairs in the double-decker Skybus this time.  I tried to get a photo of the CDB as we neared it, but the bus was too bumpy.

At Southern Cross I waited for a train back home.  Again a delay but I finally reached home about 6pm, to a very happy cat.  She purred non-stop on my lap.

Back to the cold and wet.  Roll on summer.

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I had a wonderful day today.

Firstly, the sun was shining – always a bonus, and it was warm.  Windy in the morning but not cold.

I walked to Box Hill to buy a few needed food items.  When I got back I sat outside in the sunshine with Jasmine.  I took my new camera out in case some birds happened by.  Naturally, as I was prepared, none showed up.  Only when I don’t have a camera do they come and pose.  A day or two before a red wattlebird had come quite close and I could have got some wonderful shots of it.  It wasn’t to be.

I had an early lunch (using some of the ingredients I had bought) and read a book on my bed where some sun was shining through.  I then decided to make use of the sun and walk to Maranoa gardens to see if I could capture any birds there.  I wandered around, sitting occasionally in case some birds wanted to co-operate.  I captured a noisy miner and a young magpie.

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The rainbow lorikeets were noisy but, as usual, stayed up high in the canopies or flew swiftly by.  I continued wandering and sat again, trying to capture some red wattlebirds, and then some little brown thornbills.

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No real luck there.  I took a few photos of the lovely grevillea and other flowers and then headed to the exit.  Just before I left, I spied a red wattlebird and tried zooming in.  I think I got one decent photo.  Still, it was fun, and I was impressed with the zoom capabilities of the new Canon.

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I caught a tram back into Box Hill, deciding that I wanted a new bag for the camera.  However, I couldn’t find any.  Instead, I bought some wine and some curry sauce, and a jar for teabags, and walked back home.  Altogether, I’d walked over 8 km today.

Returned and had a cup of tea and some dark chocolate.  I went online to search for some storage options (I still have unpacked boxes) and a camera bag, while listening to some cruisy music.  No luck on the camera bag – I will have to go into Eastlands mall and have a look around – but did order some plastic drawers which at least look better than boxes.  Free, next-day delivery a bonus.

I cooked chicken satay and rice for dinner and watched “Who do you think you are?” which featured Peter Garrett from Midnight Oil.  Interesting.  Nothing else on TV so I returned to the computer and watched a Polish series called “The Border”.

Fabulous day.

Haven’t written about my Brisbane trip yet.  Will do so soon.

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Waiting

It’s strange, but I can’t “do” anything if I know I’ve got to leave soon.  I’m currently waiting until it’s time to catch a train to Southern Cross, in order to catch a bus to the airport, in order to catch a plane to Brisbane.

I’m bored.  At these times I wonder what I normally do, but because of time constraints psychologically I feel I can’t embark on anything such as family history research, or even watching a movie.  I’m afraid of being too engrossed and will forget the time.

It doesn’t help that I have recurring dreams of missing trains and planes.  Not recently, mind you, but often enough to be aware of that fear.

I had a cough, which I suspect I picked up in Geelong but it had disappeared.  No sign of it over the past few sunny days.  But today it’s grey and damp and the cough is back.  Interesting.  The cough mixture I bought at the pharmacy does nothing.  When I had the cough last week it only occurred morning and night.  Today it’s… during the day!  Annoying.

You see how bored I must be – talking about coughing.  I even went onto stuff.co.nz.  Nothing’s changed there.  Still really pathetic “news” articles.

Jasmine was sleeping happily in her igloo but I got up to do a few things and she stirred and followed me.  Now she’s miaowing, probably feeling my restlessness.

40 minutes to go…

Well, after that exciting non-event of a blog entry, I shall end here, probably play a game or two of Freecell, put some food out for Jasmine, and watch the clock.

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