About Me

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I've been a Canberran since moving here from Adelaide on the first day of 1980. I now live in suburban Duffy with my partner Louise Maher, ABC 666 radio and on-line journalist. Among my early memories is following Sleepy Lizards (Shinglebacks) around the paddocks north of Adelaide, guarded by the faithful bull terrier. I have always been passionate about the natural world, trying to understand how it works, how the nature of Australia came to be, and sharing those understandings. My especial passions are birds, orchids and mammals. For much of my life I have been a full-time naturalist, running bush tours, writing books etc, doing consultancies, presenting a regular radio slot on local ABC, chairing a government environment advisory committee and running adult education classes. Recently I have eased back somewhat, but am still writing, teaching, doing some radio work and running overseas tours - as part of my fascination with our Gondwanan origins I've been running tours to South America for the past decade. I was awarded the Australian Plants Society Award in 2001 and the Australian Natural History Medallion in 2006, both for services to education and conservation. In January 2018 I was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia for 'service to conservation and the environment'.

Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Farewell to 2013!

It hardly seems that long since I was saying goodbye in this blog to 2012, via a series of sunset photos. It would be altogether too corny and unoriginal to do that again, but I'm definitely running down for the year, so have decided to settle on a few of my favourite photos from the year. As ever, I make no claims as to the quality of my pics, but rather they are selected, just one per month, as ones that bring back particular memories.
Geckoes are not common in Canberra - winters are probably too cold for a start - and the lovely Marbled Gecko Christinus marmoratus is rarely seen away from rocky areas around the urban fringes. We were delighted then when this beauty appeared on the outside wall one night last summer when we were sitting out in our little back yard enjoying the warm evening.
In February we spent a weekend at the top of Australia (yes, I know it's only 2300 metres above sea level, but it's our highest point!). The weather was very atmospheric (cold, windy, wet) but it really did make for a special experience. These lovely Alpine Gentians Gentianella muelleriana in the mist through drops on the lens bring it back for me.
More on the trip here, and in subsequent postings.
The Australian National Botanic Gardens is a favourite desination of mine when in town.
Taken in the rainforest gully at the gardens, with the misters on, on a warm early autumn morning.
In April we set off for a wonderful holiday to the dry centre of Australia. Our first camp was in Bladensburg National Park in central Queensland (which will get its own posting soon), and this dawn photo brings back memories of silence and isolation, other than the Red-winged Parrots and goannas which were among the camp visitors.
Bough Creek Waterhole, Bladensburg National Park.
Our camp, among the Coolabah trees Eucalyptus coolabah, can just be seen on the left bank.
From there we progressed into the Northern Territory, and from a demanding crowd of photos clamouring to be chosen I couldn't really go past one of magnificent Uluru, part of Australia's heart and soul.
Uluru sunset, from a long series. This is the moment that the shadow of the horizon begins its rapid rise up the wall.
To be honest I didn't have many options to choose from in June, but this one (or rather two, but please think of them of two parts of one photo!) of a tiny female Superb Fairy-wren Malurus cyaneus taking a full plunge on a very chilly winter day in our back yard bath appeals to me.

Superb Fairy-wren female, about to (re)plunge above,
and totally submerged below.

Ironically, given all the ones I've had to omit, I seem not to have taken any photos at all in July! At least I feel more justified in using two above...
We indulged in a delightful romantic weekend at a remote little one-room cottage (no power) at the edge of the Deua National Park in southern New South Wales, prior to a very busy spring. One highlight was this visitor just outside one night.
Ring-tailed Possum Pseudocheirus peregrinus in Black Wattle Acacia mearnsii.
This month I took a tour to south-west Western Australia; the task of choosing just one image from this treasure-house was almost too much, but this orchid was a special find.
Arachnorchis nivalis, bizarrely known as the Exotic Spider Orchid! Apart from its breathtaking crimson on snowy white colouring, it grows only on the edge of the sea - sometimes almost in the spray zone among the limestone - along a very few kilometres of coast in Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park.
By now I had the privilege of accompanying a group to Ecuador, so choosing one picture for the month is almost a lottery. This one however brings back good memories of hours spent in towers high above most of the canopy in the Amazon.
Purple-throated Fruitcrow Querula purpurata, a very handsome cotinga 50 metres above the ground,
Sacha Lodge, Ecuadorian Amazonia.
I do like the juxtaposition of the spider web too, though of course it was total serendipity.
Still in Ecuador and so hard to choose just one. However the memory of totally unexpected time sitting in a canoe in a little creek in Yasuni National Park, again in Amazonia, entranced by the antics of a family of Giant Otters Pteronura brasiliensis, made the decision for me.
Giant Otter, one of a family of this sadly Endangered species which gave me, and others, huge pleasure at very short range from a small canoe.
Finally, ending where I began, in our little suburban yard. Just a couple of weeks ago I chanced to look out of my study window and saw an unfamiliar shape land in a tree along the back fence, separating us from a public park. I was surprised and delighted to recognise it as a Collared Sparrowhawk Accipiter cirrocephalus, an elegant small goshawk which is quite at home in suburbia, though we don't always expect it in our yard! It was lurking under cover to enjoy its meal of an introduced House Sparrow - I'd be happy for it to come back daily for those! - but allowed me to approach quite close before taking dinner elsewhere.
Collared Sparrowhawk in our back yard - with sparrow!
I hope you have as many good memories of 2013 as I have. Thank you for taking the time to read these postings, I do appreciate the honour you do me. May 2014 bring you health and happiness and lots of natural pleasures - I hope to have the chance to share some of mine with you again.


1 comment:

Susan said...

My faves are the orchid and the otter. A terrific selection to see the year out.