Non-book post: Spring is here!

Yesterday was our first nice weather day, with a high of 21C (70F) and full sunshine.  We’re still in total lockdown, but the government amended the rules a few weeks ago to allow us to drive to our exercise, as long as it’s within 5km, so I dragged MT out to a new-to-us park known as Willsmere Park or Kew Billabong.  For those who may not know, a billabong is a backwater or stagnant pool, made by water flowing from a main stream or river during a flood. We had no idea it was there until recently, and it’s lovely.  We got there ‘early’ by MT’s standards, a bit later than I wanted to, but in time to have the park to ourselves for about 45 minutes, before everyone else in a 5km radius descended.

I didn’t get a lot of pictures, mostly because we were busy checking out the lay of the land at first, and then, well… people.  But we did chat (at a distance) with a lovely woman for whom the park was obviously her ‘local’, and she pointed out a pair of Tawny Frogmouths sleeping off the day, though one woke up long enough to shuffle his feathers and sun himself for a moment before dozing back off.

She also pointed out a nesting box for a pair of sugar gliders and told us if we were there at dusk we’d have half a chance of seeing them depart the box.  Guess where we’ll be at dusk sooner rather than later?  (Sugar gliders, if you’re unfamiliar with them, are the cutest damn tiny possums that fit in the palm of your hand.)

We’re only allowed to be out a couple of hours a day, and by the time I’d done the circuit there were hoards of people socially distancing, and cyclists trying their hardest to thin the herds (a major bike path goes through the park), so we headed back to the lot in time to see that it wasn’t only the humans enjoying the sunshine and cavorting in the spring weather:

I suspect, if you asked the neighborhood dogs, they’d say that water bowl was for them, but I doubt any of them would try to tell the cockatoos that.

Non-book Post: What I’ve been doing instead of reading, Part 2

(Archive post moved from BookLikes)

Last weekend, we took off for 2 nights for a place we’ve been trying to visit for years: Kingbilli Estate.  ‘Estate’ might be a stretch, but to each their own.  It’s, in essence, a working farm.  A Llama farm, to be exact.  But in its previous incarnations it was a goat/donkey/horse/pony farm and a wildlife rescue hospital, so there’s a little bit of everything (except goats) rambling around the llamas, including a flock of Indian peafowl.

Years ago, the owners built two stone cottages on the property; one for international volunteers, and one to let out to tourists.  Their daughter has since taken over the property, and while the llamas, ponies and horses still have their space, she’s restored most of what was once grazing land back to natural scrub and forest.

Our Cottage

The property still acts as a half-way house for injured wildlife, and there are no limitations as to where guests are allowed to roam, so we – I – went in with the hope/expectation of seeing a lot of Aussie wildlife I’d normally have a hard time seeing: wombats, bandicoots, sugar gliders, etc.

I soooo should have known better.  They heard I was coming and took themselves off.  There were wombat holes EVERYWHERE but not a single wombat did we see.  Nothing but llamas, donkeys and ponies, oh my.  And birds, thank goodness.  So many birds, it was a constant riot of birdsong around the cottage, which sat right on a little stream (which, until the drought, had a platypus in it, dammit).

All in all it was gorgeous and as they only have the one cottage to let, we had it all to ourselves.  Three days of total peace-out bliss – and no phone reception or internet service.

I’ll only share the interesting, colourful birds with y’all as I know not everybody is a bird lover.  But everybody loves baby llamas, right?

Baby llamas!

White-faced Heron

Pacific Heron

Superb Fairy-wren (I just report the names, but you can tell, he thinks he’s superb.

Sulphur-crested Cockatoo – rocking the mohawk

Sulphur-crested Cockatoo – falling off his perch

Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo

Leaden Flycatcher

Silvereye, blending in

Golden Whistler- this one kept throwing himself against our bedroom door’s glass; eventually we figured out he wasn’t attacking his reflection, but picking spiders and bugs off the eaves and the door frame.


If you stayed with me up to this point you’re either very kind or really like birds. Either way, thank you. That’s it though – until tomorrow, when we’re off on another expedition. It’s a rather unusual one, but I promise to keep the bird pics to a bare miniumum. After that, I suspect MT is going to enforce a ‘rest period’ and my attention will be solidly back on the books. 🙂

Non-book Post: What I’ve been doing instead of reading, Part 1

(This is a post brought over from BookLikes)

As mentioned in my previous post, we’ve been getting out into nature the last few weeks (with another hike scheduled for tomorrow).  The first was a morning hike at a local park we’d never been too – an old reservoir-turned-parkland.

I was expecting primarily birds, because the park is still in a pretty urban area, and I got birds, but I also happily got a bit of everything else too.  I’ve recently become a member of as a way of keeping track of, and identifying, what I find when I’m out and about; it’s also a way to contribute to science.  So I got pictures of all sorts of flora and fauna.  I’ll limit my sharing to a few birds, some mammals and one reptile (lizard).

The bird:

White-faced Heron

The mammals:

Eastern Grey Kangaroo

Eastern Grey Kangaroo, exiting stage right

Swamp Wallaby (no swamp required)

Swamp Wallaby also exiting stage right

And the reptile:

Blotched Bluetongue – it’s blotchy, and it has a blue tongue