Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Gone to the Birds!

I think it could easily be said that I love bird watching. This is definitely something I have to thank my mum for. She has a keen eye for birds and always pointed out interesting ones on our walks or drives. A lot of our bird watching was done on our drives to Edmonton (45min north of where I grew up). It's a long stretch of mostly straight highway and a great spot for hawks and occasionally owls. Mum loves all birds but we seemed to do a lot of hawk watching which she seemed to excel at even while behind the wheel (my cousin once commented that she feared mum was spending more time hawk watching than paying attention to the road!).

A lot of die-hard bird enthusiasts might disagree with me when I say that birds in central Alberta are a bit boring. Sure we have blue jays but apart from that and a handfull of other birds, they lack a lot of bright, flashy colour.

Enter Australia. Land of exciting, technicolour birds!

Rainbow Lorikeets, Brimbank Park, Oct 27th 2009

Birds in Australia are for the most part, different. They are bright and of a variety that I'd previously only seen on TV, in zoos or in pet stores. This is what I like to call the "pretend bird" (kangaroos and koalas also qualify as "pretend animals"). That's the kind of bird that as a kid you could never imagine could actually live in the wild somewhere because they were just too awesome.
We had budgies and cockateils as pets growing up. Hi! They are wild here! (they also sell them in pet stores).

Red-rumped Parrot, Brimbank Park, Oct 27th 2009

I mentioned this a few posts ago but we've been trying to get out to the park by the house (google map Brimbank Park) as much as we can. We usually only make it on Glen's days off. Sometimes we'll dart over there after Glen gets off work for a quick walk.
This park is great for bird watching (there are also wallabies and a tonne of bunnies -- bunnies aren't looked upon very favourably here though) which is one reason why we keep going back.

So Glen had the day off yesterday and after going on some other adventures (we drove out to Sunbury) we made our way to the park. The first half of the walk was fairly uneventful. We went a different way than usual (we still haven't walked all the trails!) and mostly saw magpies. Once we hooked up with more familiar trails, we found ourselves in the "Rainbow Lorikeet Area" (ie: the place in the park where there are always TONNES of them).
Rainbow Lorikeets are tricky things to get pictures of. For one, they love to be high up in the trees and they seem to always be sitting in awkward places (photography wise). Behind branches or their favourite - in front of the sun so that they're back-lit. An interesting thing about them is that the colour of their feathers absorbs light instead of reflecting it making it even harder to get a clear picture (you should see how many pictures I have where the tree/etc looks great but the bird is too dark).

So we walked along the trail and stopped every so often to crane our necks to watch the lorikeets and then we saw a kookaburra! It was sitting fairly low in a tree which meant it was a great place to stand and watch it and take pictures.

Kookaburra, Brimbank Park, Oct 27th 2009

This part of the park has a "rabbit proof fence" so I couldn't get much closer (the fence only succeeds in keeping the people out as the rabbits have found ways to get through!). Glen walked a little ways down the trail while I was taking pictures then came to get me to tell me that there were some lorikeets low in a bush/tree and they should be in good picture taking range. Sure enough they were! I took a few pictures and then they flew even closer onto a branch right in front of me! Since I've been after a decent picture of these birds, it was quite a satisfying moment.

Rainbow Lorikeets, Brimbank Park, Oct 27th 2009

After our jaunt through the park we decided to try our luck at finding some Galahs, so we drove out to a place where Glen said they usually hang out but no luck. But the trip wasn't a total bust because we saw a bird that we'd never seen before - the Purple-crowned Lorikeet. We didn't realise what they were until we did a bit of research at home. All we knew was that we'd never seen them before and they were a type of parrot. They were very high up in a tree so I got a few pictures and once we were home, we zoomed (way) in to see if we could get any more identifying marks. The pictures weren't great but it was enough to help us narrow things down and finally make an identification. Exciting!

So that's pretty much what I'm doing in my spare time! Staring up into trees with my camera and bird book. I think the next thing I need is a pair of binoculars for when the birds are too high (an extra 100-200mm zoom wouldn't hurt either... I'm coveting a few lenses!).

Temperature: +19C
Sunrise: 6:18am
Sunset: 7:50pm

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Bit of an Update + Pictures!

I've been here for just over a month now!
I've been doing a lot of hanging out while Glen has been at work. I haven't gotten too adventurous yet though. I'm mostly hanging out at home or with Glen's sister and her kids.

Glen had three days off work a few weeks ago and we took a drive down the Great Ocean Road. The weather was kind of miserable but it was a great drive and great to get away. The highlight of the trip was all the koalas we saw!

We turned off the Great Ocean Road to drive down to the Cape Otway lighthouse and along that road were close to a dozen koalas in the trees. Some had their babies with them as well!

It was really windy at the Twelve Apostles which kept the crowds down but the unfortunate thing was that all the sea spray kept blowing up onto the lens so I have a lot of pictures with water spots on them.

We stayed in Anglesea which is pretty famous for having kangaroos all over their golf course. We drove out and took a look at them (some of them had babies too!). Luckily they were close to the parking lot because you're not allowed to go traipsing through the golf course to look at them (some golf courses back home have walking trails around them).

I got a letter in the mail last week that my stuff was getting close to arriving! In the letter it told me the name of the ship my stuff was on and I'm able to track it! When I checked last week the ship had already made it to New Zealand and as of this morning it has arrived in Melbourne! I don't know how long it takes once the ship is here but I should have my stuff soon!

That's a bit of an update for now! I'm going to try to get better at posting on a regular basis!

Temperature: +16C
Sunrise: 6:23am
Sunset: 7:46pm

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Settling In!

Well, I'm here!
I arrived on the morning of the 22nd of September. Clearing customs and all that sort of thing was a breeze - I arrived on a plane full of New Zealanders so the line up for non-Australians/New Zealanders wasn't very long. From the time the plane landed, it took about 40 minutes to go through customs and get my luggage.

I've been busy doing all the things one needs when they move to a new country:
Opened a bank account
Applied for Medicare (that had to wait until I was in the country for 5 business days)
Switched my driver's license over (no test or anything!)
Applied for a tax file number (like a SIN in Canada)
Got a new phone

Glen got a job just after I left Inuvik so he's been busy working. He had three days off when I first arrived and is getting three days off in a row this week (otherwise I don't think he's had two days off in a row since I got here) so we're going to go stay in Anglesea and drive down the Great Ocean Road.

We haven't done too much otherwise. We're trying to get over to the big park near the house as much as we can (on Glen's day off and if he's only working till 6) to go for walks, we've been bowling and to see a movie. I've been into the city twice (that's what they call the downtown) and yesterday went to a craft expo with Glen's mum.

I'm hoping to get back into regular posting mode soon!

Yellow-tailed black Cockatoo
(photographed in the park by the house)

Temperature: +18C
Sunrise: 6:43am
Sunset: 7:42pm