Amanita, dear

Thursday, 27 August 2009
Amanita muscaria var. alba

Amanita muscaria var. alba

I took these photos of Amanita muscaria on a large estate near Berrima, New South Wales, in April 2003 with a Olympus D-450 1.3 megapixel compact camera.

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Seaside Lights: Kiama

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Kiama Lighthouse as seen from Blowhole Point

Kiama Lighthouse as seen from Blowhole Point


I drove to Kiama on Wednesday 19th August to photograph the famous lighthouse and blowhole, and came away with half the job done: the blowhole was inactive because the wind was blowing in the wrong direction.

The day was otherwise excellent: the drive was very pleasant, the sky was mostly clear, there was a light breeze and the winter’s day unseasonably warm. I dined al fresco on john dory and chips at the Saltwater Café in the main shopping precinct.

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Do you wanna date my avatar?

Friday, 21 August 2009

Felicia Day and her fellow conspirators have released a funny music video and catchy song to promote their indie web-based production The Guild (Javascript and Flash required):


Direct link.

At the time of writing this post the video has been viewed 1.7 million times.
BBC News Online notes that the video is #1 on UK iTunes chart and #2 on the US iTunes chart. Day reports on her blog that it has also reached #1 on the Amazon chart.

Watch The Guild on its YouTube channel. Here’s the official website.

ETA: The song has become a freaking earworm. Gah.


Seaside lights

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

The Sydney-to-Gold Coast trip of 2008 turned, in part, into a treasure hunt. The treasure in question was lighthouses: fascinating structures that before the advent of high-tech navigation made the difference between life and death for many seafarers.

Cape Byron Lighthouse

Cape Byron Lighthouse

Cape Byron Lighthouse, New South Wales, S 28° 38.352′ E 153° 38.156′, built 1901.
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Mouse upon a time

Sunday, 16 August 2009

Some years ago I kept mice as pets. They were lovely, affectionate creatures — but oh so fragile and short-lived. None of them lasted for more than one and a half years, and apart from Nugget who died of a respiratory infection all the others had to be put down to spare them from a ugly death by cancer. Here’s part of their legacy.

Sleepy time

Sleepy time

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A private showing

Saturday, 15 August 2009

I had the greatest of luck on a visit to the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary last October: a chance to watch a bird training session and a TV filming. It was, I think, my second day at the Gold Coast (Qld), and being on holiday and having driven up from Sydney (NSW) I’d forgotten the time difference. We ended up, exhausted and thirsty, at the free-flight show an hour early on a hot and sunny day.

raptor1

Elanus axillaris (Black-shouldered kite)

About half an hour in, a keeper appeared with a little raptor on his wrist and with clicks, soft whistles and a handful of treats put it through its paces. We were silent and the man didn’t invite us to leave, a mutually satisfying situation.
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Blue-tongue lizard

Saturday, 15 August 2009

Blue tongue lizard

This blue-tongue lizard showed up in my backyard in March 2007, narrowly escaping injury or death at my feet. I’d been getting so annoyed at the increasing tendency of a large, floppy sheet of 4mm plywood (originally left leaning against the wall) to be blown over by unusually strong winds that I pretty much gave up and left it on the ground for a week.

The sheet had to be picked up eventually unless I wanted a large patch of dead grass, so out I went early one morning, and resisting the rabid desire to take a running jump and stomp on the thing, I picked it up by one corner. And there the beast was, looking back at me. I turned around and returned to the house for my camera.

Blue-tongue lizard

The lizard was still sitting there, lethargic from the morning chill, when I emerged and started clicking away — but it hissed and disappeared slowly down a hole in the base of the fence when I touched it lightly on the back.

“Stumpy” — that tail termination is abnormal and probably the result of a run-in with a cat or a dog — returned to the yard a few months later and hid behind the rainwater tank. I haven’t seen it since.