Saturday, December 24, 2011


A pair of Wedge-tailed Eagles, a Crescent Honeyeater (summer visitors to our high country), Pilotbirds, a Superb Lyrebird, a Black-faced Monarch, several Copper-tailed Skinks (I've never seen them in Bundanoon), a Sword-grass Brown, a Snail Parasite Blowfly, a few Red Eye Cicadas (I think), a lone Green-headed Ant (maybe - the ant was iridescent green, with red legs, and was close to two centimetres long) & a few Golden-tailed Spiny Ants were some of the species that came out of an hour or so at Bonnie View, late morning, for my son and I. The weather - shock, horror - was warm and still. Clouds were lethargic.

My son was entranced by everything. We sat for a while, eating biscuits and drinking water, and immersed ourselves in the sandstone cradle and hypnotic view. Bonnie View is my favourite spot in Bundanoon. I could gaze at the seemingly immeasurable gullies/valleys below it, forever. I'm surprised more folks don't get down there. And glad.

LJ, December 24 2011.

Friday, December 9, 2011


I donned a beanie, jumper and jacket to walk my Cocker Spaniel earlier this week. So, is this chill a symptom of a sick planet?

LJ, December 9 2011

Wednesday, November 30, 2011


The local Pied Currawongs, Australian Magpie-larks and Australian Magpies were less than impressed with a Grey Goshawk darting from tree to tree late yesterday afternoon, close to home. They all took turns harassing the raptor, which probably posed no threat. The Goshawk's plumage perfectly matched the storm-wrapped sky.

LJ, November 30 2011.

Monday, November 28, 2011


What tremendous weather at 6:30 this morning. Not a cloud, anywhere, as I hung out the weekend's washing. Just stillness, punctuated by the odd burble and fluting of Pied Currawongs and Australian Magpies. Mild, tranquil mornings like these are uncommon in Bundanoon. They are a tonic when they come.

I wanted to take a day off (even though I treasure my teaching job in south-west Sydney) and wander down to Bonnie View and chill there all day. To just sit or lie down and watch the sky and valley. To see what the land wants from me. To learn from it. To return home, restored.

LJ, november 28 2011

Monday, November 21, 2011


A week later. The young Tawny Frogmouth is fine. Its parents have been looking after it at night. No cat has had a go at it.

My neighbour called the Kangaroo Valley branch of WIRES about the bird. They said they couldn't take it due to lack of money. How sad. To one day live in a world where not-for-profit animal charities received more money from governments than they do.

LJ, November 21 2011.

Monday, November 14, 2011


A neighbour called me early Saturday evening saying he had a young Boobook Owl in his backyard.

I headed over immediately with my son, finding a juvenile Tawny Frogmouth, which, I guess, are moderately common in Bundanoon (I've seen a family in the gums lining Gullies Rd). The Frogmouth was sitting on the ground - it had been squatting there all day, wide-eyed. My neighbour was concerned a local cat that has a particular enthusiasm for injuring birds, might maul it.

The Frogmouth appeared to be uninjured. I touched its delicate, mottled grey tail and got it flying a bit. We considered calling the local WIRES workers (bless 'em), but gave the bird the night to work itself out.

When my boy and I were crouching by the Frogmouth, it opened its yellowish mouth as wide as possible and let out a low hiss.

I wonder whether the night was congenial to the bird.

LJ, November 14 2011.

Monday, October 31, 2011


I had the privilege of watching - with family members - a gargantuan storm front to the north-east, last Saturday night. There were several stacked pink-grey cumulonimbus clouds, wracked by lightening, that gradually moved towards the coast. It was formidable. Younger members of my family either freaked out and ran inside my house, or scaled a ladder and video taped the storm's Academy Award winning performance.

Last week, after dark, at Gambells Rest, I lured a trapdoor spider from its deep burrow with a leaf tip. The beastie was thicker-set than I thought it would be. I'm not sure if I've seen a live trapdoor before. The spider back-peddled when it realised there was no prey and it was exposed.

A Dollarbird and a White-throated Gerygone were calling close to home, yesterday, in sterling summer weather. I've only heard gerygones in the cow and roo paddocks next to Ferndale Reserve.

When barbecuing in the backyard on Saturday evening, I found a black praying mantis, about four millimetres long. I didn't think God made them that small.

It seems the morning frosts are gone. Earlier in the year, a Wingello resident who dropped off a ute tray-load of firewood to me, said he remembered frosts from his childhood that used to hang about until midday. He wondered whether global warming had changed things. I think 9:30am has been the latest I've seen frost in Bundy.

Waiting for my 130th Bundy bird species to show itself. Will it be an Eastern Shrike-tit, Straw-necked Ibis, White-naped Honeyeater, Glossy Black-cockatoo, Brown Falcon or Nankeen Kestrel? Paradise Parrot? Or something completely unexpected?

LJ, 31 October 2011.

Thursday, October 20, 2011


I heard a cicada buzzing ecstatically before 8pm tonight. Somewhat of a shock: we had cicadas, in droves, last year. I was under the impression they didn't emerge again for another seven years. Maybe, this one slept in.

LJ, October 20 2011

Monday, October 17, 2011


A Saturday meander at the end of Quarry Rd produced an Azure Kingfisher powering over the broken creek at the entrance to the quarry. The minute bird flashed in the periphery of my vision. I was lucky to spot it. It perched for a couple of minutes above the green-brown shallows of the creek, then, when I had imitated a Sacred Kingfisher's rolling trills, vanished between a dark tapestry of tree trunks and shrubbery.

So, my first Azure Kingfisher for the Southern Highlands. I've dipped on them where some observant Highland birders have successfully located them (at both Lake Alexander in Mittagong and the pooling corners above Fitzroy Falls).

LJ, October 17 2011.

Friday, October 7, 2011


Around 5pm on the 7th, when back from a few relaxing family days in the Lower Hunter & Newcastle regions, I heard Common Koels offering up their 'we've returned' mantras at either end of Penrose Road. Such a primal sound. A mournful and brimming sound from my childhood in Sydney's Cremorne and beyond. A sound for a deathbed, another life. A sound for living, now. I'm not sure what the angels would say about these first koels. Or what shepherds might say. I'd say they have anchored me since a child and maybe they're bigger than all religion.

LJ, OCtober 8 2011.

Thursday, September 15, 2011


Last night I viewed Josh Fox's documentary about America's obsession with gas extraction, and the horrendous fallout from this obsession, Gasland. It was bittersweet, sobering, distressing, fascinating and poetic all at once. It may well be essential viewing for all residents in Bundanoon, Exeter, Sutton Forest & Werai.

LJ, September 15 2011.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


I'm no Joseph Banks. However, I've identified - with the help of Burnum Burnum's WILDthings - the following plants flowering in Morton NP:

Dracophyllum secundum
Comesperma ericinum
(Match Heads)
Patersonia sericea (Native Iris)
Pimelea linifolia (Rice Flower)
Boronia floribunda (Pale Pink Boronia)
Dillwynia retorta (Eggs and Bacon)
Isopogon anthifolius (Drumsticks)
Grevillea sericea (Pink Spider Flower)
Hybanthus monopetalus
Pomaderris intermedia

LJ, September 14 2011.


After returning home from a scrumptious lunch at Lauren's Cafe at Penrose, on September 11, I noticed a raucous mob of Sulpher-crested Cockatoos flying above Penrose Rd and a raptor near them. Grabbing my 10x50s, I found the cockies were 'mobbing' a Grey Goshawk. Interestingly, the birds sort of clustered around, or by, the raptor, but didn't make any great aggressive movement, as a collective, at the Goshawk (the odd cockie half-heartedly went for it). On a couple of occassions, the GG was actually in the middle of the flock of cockies and all the birds were sailing along contentedly.

I find this fascinating. I've seen this behaviour before, with a white morph/phase GG, at Lane Cove National Park in Sydney. I think HANZAB (big deal Australian avian handbook) authors and other birders have an inkling that white GGs do this to disguise themselves when approaching potential prey. I had a grey individual - what can this mean? Maybe, it's just birds together, celebrating their freedom. After about ten minutes of interaction, the GG was left alone to soar a long way above Bundanoon's rooftops.

LJ, September 14 2011.

Thursday, September 8, 2011


On Father's Day, I specifically left home to find a Rockwarbler (aka Origma), with my wife and son in tow. Not long after parking at Wishing Well in Morton NP, we ambled down to Beachamp Cliffs and Bonnie View to immerse ourselves in the intoxicating panorama there that can awaken all of us if we allow it.

Two Rockwarblers revealed themselves between BC & BV. One of the pair called incessantly, its fine bill opening wide with each series of shrill yawps. I was stoked - I'd not encountered a Rockwarbler in the Southern Highlands before (although they're around here and there). The bird is a NSW endemic, restricted to sandstone/limestone escarpment country within about 200km of Sydney.

In the late 90s (when I was living briefly on Sydney's North Shore) I found a Rockwarbler asleep under a sandstone overhang near The Sphinx monument in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park, whilst I was searching for the unmistakable Red-crowned Toadlet (listed as 'vulnerable' by NSW DEC). My torch beam didn't startle the Rockwarbler. The bird seemed a breathing metaphor for solace.

LJ, September 8 2011

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


So, the council's wombat sign has been up on the Exeter side of town since early June. I was hoping, really hoping, that that might make a difference and save a few wombats in our area. Sadly, I've counted, since the erection of the sign, 4 or 5 deceased animals between the sign and the first few houses of Bundanoon.

LJ, 24 August 2011.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


I had decent views of a White-eared Honeyeater near Bundy's sewage treatment plant yesterday (again, my new clapping technique brought it closer). Interestingly, this foraging individual (brought to ultra-life thanks to that magical conspiracy of prisms and light) had white tips to its tail. This feature isn't mentioned in any of the current field guides. Maybe, I'll declare this bird a subspecies and dub it the Bundanoon Honeyeater!

LJ, August 23 2011

Sunday, August 7, 2011


One crowded hour of birding from 4:30 to 5:30pm produced the following...

2 White-eared Honeyeaters at swamp by Ferndale Reserve (I was clapping my hands in case of flushing a rail or a quail - instead I brought these two out of the brush - unexpected and thrilling - with each of my claps the birds came closer - another newie for my list).

1 Brown Goshawk by railway tracks near Shangri-la Road (the raptor startled, then pursued, a Crested Pigeon - not sure of outcome as chase continued through blur of eucalypts).

2 Musk Duck on dam by Shangri-la Rd.

1 Cattle Egret in paddock by Shangri-la dam.

1 Little Wattlebird (heard in scrub east of Penrose Rd and Shangri-la Rd intersection; another newie!).

An Australian Magpie with a hell of a lot of white on its back (race tyrannica from South Australia and Victoria?) feeding on lowlands adjacent to Birchwood Drive.

12 Grey Teal on sewage works near Ferndale Reserve.

LJ, August 7 2011.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011


I'm loving the brilliant Big Bird-yellow galaxies of Silver Wattle in Morton NP.

Lyrics from John Williamson's gorgeous 80s number Cootamundra Wattle spring to mind...'Hey, it's July and the winter sun is shining and the Cootamundra wattle is my friend, for all at once my childhood never left me and wattle blossoms bring it back again.'

LJ, August 2 2011

Monday, August 1, 2011


The Superb Lyrebird would have to be THE most hypnotic Australian bird. It has it all: a memorable, complex and voluble call, interesting feeding habits (endless scratching in the soil for invertebrates), a mesmerising courtship display, speed when provoked, unique plumage etc. We're blessed to have them in the bush surrounding our township. As it's now their breeding season, the males are very vocal.

Last Saturday, mid-afternoon, I had the pleasure of watching a male complete part of his courtship hullaballoo, in rugged terrain, at Echo Point. There was much wing-flapping and noise-making. Unfortunately, I didn't get to witness the celebrated tail-over-the-head culmination of the courtship extravaganza, where the bird's feathers are spread into a lyre-like arrangement.

This particular male mimicked (perfectly) the calls of 10 other birds - Pilotbird, Crimson Rosella, Sulpher-crested Cockatoo, Eastern Whipbird, Bassian Thrush (or European Blackbird; their calls are similar), Noisy Friarbird, White-browed Scrubwren, Golden Whistler, Satin Bowerbird and Laughing Kookaburra - on several occasions. The mimicry was interspersed with a thread of its own classic song and various peculiar noises, adding up to a bizarre, chopped-up soundscape that musicians DJ Shadow or Trent Reznor would be proud of emulating. Interestingly, when the male was desperately trying to seize the attention of a foraging female close-by to him, he ended his mimicry, replacing it with a five-note sequence (the fifth note less clear than the previous four) of otherworldly, almost mechanical, clipped buzzes, looped over about five minutes. Once the female wandered off, utterly underwhelmed, the male fell back into his original repertoire of song and mimicry. I've never heard a male do this before.

Female lyrebirds can also use mimicry in their assembled vocal routines, but they do it far less frequently. Males tend to be the major songsters. Ornithologists believe males put so much effort into their calls so as to (a) attract a mate and (b) establish territories. Hardly revelatory stuff. I wonder whether it's really that straightforward. Perhaps the male enjoys what he does and this outpouring of noise cum music, this grand Hallelujah to the day, is a bi-product of sheer joie-de-vivre. Think a breaching humpback.

I've had several close encounters with Superb Lyrebirds out at Fitzroy Falls over the last few years. In June 2010, I listened to a male imitating twelve bird species that frequented his local area; I've not found a lyrebird to mimic more species than this. It would be interesting to note whether males have a limit to the number of species they can mimic. I will follow this up asap.

Stay tuned.

LJ, August 1 2011.

Sunday, July 3, 2011


A Sydney Funnel-web Spider (I'm pretty sure it was a SFW, as opposed to another species of FW; there are thirty-five described FW species) was lurking at my back door the other night. I think it was a female. I was somewhat surprised to see this Funnel-web, as it was very cold. I've only seen them in Sydney during hot months. Recent rains may well have flushed the spider from its burrow.

Poking the beastie with a long stick (I know, pure childishness) infuriated it (surprise, surprise) and it assumed its classic attack position, with forelegs held high. It struck the end of the stick twice with its fangs. After this, I crushed it with the point of a mop handle (I've got a child and a dog to think of).

It's hard to have an objective stance on SFWs. I think they're super-cool, but they do unnerve me. Maybe it's all that Hamlet-black - or the fact its venom (atraxotoxin) is the most deadly stuff in the animal kingdom.

In his detailed and attractive guidebook Spiderwatch, Bert Brunet says this about SFWs - 'All Funnel-webs should be approached with caution. Some species are now known to be among the most dangerous creatures in existence... the male Sydney Funnel-web is perhaps the deadliest spider in the world.' Brunet goes on to say fifteen people have died from SFW bites between 1936 and 1996 (the latter year was when Spiderwatch was published). Here's what Struan K. Sutherland mentions in his volume Venomous Creatures of Australia (1994), 'Children have died in less than 2 hours after being bitten.'

Here are some random points from both guides: the male's venom is five times more toxic than the female's; excessive sweat, tears and saliva result from a bite: after this, shock, brain damage and coma; they can sometimes live in substantial colonies (over one hundred individuals together); males, when wandering around looking for a mate, are at their most dangerous; they are from a lineage of rainforest spiders; sloping land near water is favoured habitat; the nest has a silk tube entrance; for most of the day, the spider huddles in the lower end of the nest in a purse-like chamber; preferred nesting haunts are under rocks and fallen timber.

I've never forgotten a moment from about twenty years ago (in north-west Sydney), when my father sprayed a SFW with Mortein. The thing, transformed into an albino spider, staggered about like some lost adventurer in the Himalayas, then died. This was comical and grotesque and sad all at once, really. Why didn't Dad just step on it?

I am privileged to have this iconic spider as a neighbour.

I think.

LJ, July 3 2011.

Monday, June 13, 2011


A Cattle Egret did it. A lone, lowly Cattle Egret. The egret was spied near feeding horses, on a paddock between Shangri-La Rd and a major dam that hosts grebes and Musk Ducks, at midday today, in icy conditions. This egret has now brought my Bundanoon bird list to one-hundred and twenty species.

That number equals fifteen percent of Australia's bird species, if we solely consider the species found on the mainland and Tasmania (not the vagrant or rare species found sporadically on outlying islands, seas and reefs at the limits of Australia's territory). This percentage is based on numbers from a Birds Australia communications and research guy, who emailed me last November; I've mentioned this person before.

So, impressive stuff for a little town and something to be bloody proud of! This one-hundred and twenty have been unearthed within about five square kilometres.

A while ago, I posted the birds bringing the town's total to one-hundred and ten species. Here are the additional species bringing the new total to one-hundred and twenty...

Buff-banded Rail
Chestnut-rumped Heathwren
White-bellied Sea-eagle
Spotted Turtle-dove
Flame Robin
European Goldfinch
Hoary-headed Grebe
Barn Owl
White-headed Pigeon
Brush Cuckoo
Cattle Egret

And I'm sure there will be many more birds to come. Rose Robin, Little Bittern, Jacky Winter, White-eared Honeyeater, Origma, Glossy Black-cockatoo, Grey Currawong, Common Bronzewing and Brown Quail are some of the species other Bundy locals and visiting birders have found. They're yet to land on my binoculars!

LJ, June 13 2011.

Saturday, June 11, 2011


I was down at Dimmocks Creek early this arvo. I'd never ventured down there before - what a stunning spot. I took a photo of canine paw prints in mud underneath a sandstone overhang. Could they be dingo prints? I doubt it. They probably belong to a local dog; someone may have been walking their pet labradoodlespoodlebadoodlecockadoodledoo (totally forgetting - or not caring - that they're within a national park).

Still, one can dream of primitive dogs, derived from Gray Wolves, brought to Oz some four-thousand years ago, can't they?

LJ, June 11 2011.

Friday, June 10, 2011


My sincere thanks to councillor, social activist and environmental campaigner Larry Whipper, as well as those peers of his at Wingecarribee Council, who helped back my proposal for a wombat sign on the Exeter side of Bundanoon. The new sign was erected a few days back and positioned well. Hopefully, motorists will slow down a little coming into town and a few wombats will be saved as a consequence.

LJ, June 10 2011.

Sunday, June 5, 2011


1. It's winter. May there be snow. In July. Perhaps when the day wants anything but predictability.

2. I approached Fairy Bower Falls from a different access point this morning. The world enveloping this path to the Falls was ringing with water. Each boulder passed seemed an event (I'm such a sucker for boulders, particularly those wearing feathery moss; I'd love to see the birth of one). The terrain seems inviting for Greater, and maybe Yellow-belled, Gliders.

3. Is there much more satisfying than cleaving wood cleanly with a new axe?

4. Woodsmoke from our chimney often blurs into one with open galaxy.

5. There were Brown-headed Honeyeaters down at Gambells Rest today. I love their weird grating/mechanical calls. The call lies somewhere between a woodswallow's and a cicada's. No other bird around here sounds like them.

6. Our imported trees have become skeletons; our natives are grand survival totems.

7. The Origma is still an enigma.

8. I now greet my car (circa 6:30am, when work-bound) whilst holding a kettle filled with warm water and the look of a man who only wants to dance with the dawn.

9. Forget arrows of desire and chariots of fire... bring me my one-hundred and twentieth bird for Bundanoon!

LJ, June 5 2011

Tuesday, May 31, 2011


Of late, work, family engagements, illness and other things have all distracted me from truly letting nature in...

This will be corrected.

LJ, 31 May 2011.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


A Barn Owl called close to home, at 4am today - another new one for my Bundanoon list. I was too exhausted to get outside and look for it (and I call myself a birder). It's been a long time since I've seen a Barn Owl. I heard one make its sharp otherworldly hissing, one night when I lived at Moss Vale, in 2009. Seeing one floating above the flying buttresses of St Mary's Cathedral in Sydney, close to midnight, about ten years ago, was most unexpected and tremendously gothic. Happening upon five in skeletal trees various on a cold Leeton (NSW Riverina) back road, years ago, was also momentous.

Now for a Masked Owl...

LJ, May 4 2011.


The contrasting orange-red chest feathers, ash-black wings/back and white stripes of a male Flame Robin make it one of the most stunning and mesmerizing of Australia's birds. I was fortunate to see one last Saturday, down Shangri-la Road, where cow paddocks give way to riverine habitat. With the aid of my 10x50 binoculars, I showed the robin to my son, who was suitably impressed. One is truly blessed if they have seen a male Flame Robin. It is a holy thing, a beacon.

LJ, May 4 2011.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


By God, I felt Australian this morning, when I pulled away from home, a little after 6:30am, cruised down Penrose Rd and had an Eastern Grey Kangaroo burst from left-field and fling itself out onto the road ahead of me. Seemingly spooked and disoriented, the animal meandered all over the place, hopping along bitumen, grassy roadside and embankment. I slowed the car and followed the roo around the bend of Penrose Rd to where it meets Anzac Parade. The roo sped up and disappeared between the Country Inn Motel and the railway lines.

On another note, I found fifty-three Eastern Greys (inc. a joey in its mother's pouch) in a paddock near Ferndale Reserve a couple of days back - the largest mob I've seen in Bundy.

LJ, April 27 2011.

Friday, April 22, 2011


I just found a Yellow-throated Scrubwren's scraggy, pendulous nest near the entrances to Erith Coal Mine - a cool discovery. I'll keep an eye on this nest from July, when it's the bird's primary breeding time. I located another YTS's nest a couple of years back at Fitzroy Falls and had the great pleasure of watching a bird coming to and from the nest's side entrance hole one morning... I came across the same nest weeks later, lying on the forest floor, a cold egg in its central chamber.

LJ, April 22 2011.

Sunday, April 17, 2011


A Powerful Owl, down in Morton, emitted its resonant double-hoot, just before 8pm. I heard this from my front verandah. Perhaps it was calling for its lost mate.

LJ, April 17 2011.

Thursday, April 14, 2011


Strolling home from the bakery and chemist with my son and my spaniel, on a breezy, warm, clear school holiday (yahoo) morning, I was thinking of White-bellied Sea-eagles, as bird nerds do. I considered whether a White-bellied Sea-eagle could appear in Bundanoon. I dismissed the idea due to our inland location and the lack of extensive nearby waterways.

Two minutes later, I gazed into the wide cyan sky to the east of Penrose Rd and... unbelievably... a distant Sea-eagle appeared! I was completely floored.

At first, I had a fleeting view, as a row of pines soon obscured the raptor. I wondered whether it was a Pacific Heron (old skool terminology). Luckily, it came into view once again and I could easily pick up the distinctive V-shaped wings and soaring flight, as well as whites and greys, without binoculars. This WBSE is another new bird for my Bundy list. I've seen WBSEs at Wingecarribee Reservoir and over Chevalier College in years gone by.

Is there any connection at all between the conscious mind and what nature brings us? Can we push away coincidence and reach for something else? I'd love to think so.

LJ, April 14 2011.

Monday, April 4, 2011


A Blue-tongue Lizard in the vege patch hissing and showcasing its tongue as if it was a flare from a purple sun... a resplendent male Superb Lyrebird bathing in a rockpool above the falls at Erith Cole Mine... migrating mobs of Yellow-faced Honeyeaters... a single Grey-headed Flying-fox cruising over darkened paddocks... new high-pitched frog-notes where the Southern Highlands rail-line intersects Shangri-la Rd... twenty-three Eastern Grey Kangaroos romancing the grassland outside Gambells Rest... stillness... stillness... and that incredible, lost sunshine, returned to us.

LJ, April 4 2011.

Sunday, March 27, 2011


My son and I found a Powerful Owl hanging from power-lines just outside the entrance to Morton National Park, yesterday. I pretended it was a piece of bark(!) for my son. He replied, "It doesn't look like bark." I had to go against my nature and tell him it was a dead Powerful Owl. Promptly, he started crying; this crying continued for almost ten minutes. It was a great shame his first Powerful Owl was deceased. I imagine the poor bird was electrocuted.

The owl is listed as 'vulnerable' by DEC. This death will obviously affect the breeding and numbers of Powerful Owls in Bundanoon. By what degree, I'm not sure. I don't think there are many of them in the area.

LJ, March 27 2011.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


Edition 64 of JCG, with a splendid shot of Fairy Bower gracing its cover, is both a fascinating and important read.

I feel flattered (and almost embarrassed) that I feature so prominently in this edition. Many thanks to editor Pam Davies for her enthusiasm when it came to me putting together an article on Bundy's birds, as well as running with a 'Wild Bundanoon' theme for the issue. I'd also like to thank Graeme Whisker for his detailed profile of my family and I, the Stantons for their super-kind words (wait until we get out into western NSW guys - I'll know little!), my friend Edwin (uberbirder) Vella for his black-cockatoo photo on p.27 and Ben Mawston for his graphic flair and acceptance of visuals.

It's tremendous to be part of a magazine which has such a strong focus on community, history, sustainability, conservation and growth.

What did you think of Edition 64?

LJ, March 9 2011.

Sunday, March 6, 2011


The Gullies Rd., between Grey Gum Lane and Church St, often asks my Cocker Spaniel and I to walk it. In one sense, it's an unspoiled, fecund wonderland, and in another, a tarnished, tattered spot that needs serious reinvention. In between the imposing, sentinel-like trunks of eucalypts and a rich variety of native flora, there are imported, invasive species such as cotoneaster, wandering jew etc. In certain sections, crippled trees have fallen on others. From a strangled thicket, a barbed briar lashes the pathway like some sadist's whip or Triffid. Blackbirds (forget the Beatles-infused romance - should they have stayed in England?) utter their sharp scoldings in the weed-ways, whilst ravenous Brown and Striated Thornbills map and celebrate the reaching, expansive, native canopy. The Gullies Road is a gorgeous corner of Bundanoon, yet it is a riot of contradictions. In turn, it is fascinating, eye-catching, disappointing and bleak.

LJ, March 6 2011.

Sunday, February 27, 2011


I was just out with locals, Jenny and John Shepherd, chasing Masked Owls in Morton NP.

J&J are convinced they saw a pair of the birds not far from Gambells Rest in early February, right on dusk. The three of us didn't see or hear any nocturnal birds whatsoever (even with my solid call imitations). Maybe the overcast conditions were to blame. Or perhaps the owls were hunting on the other side of our world.

I would dearly love to see a Masked Owl. I've dipped on them over the years (saying that, I haven't put a lot of hard work into finding them). Perhaps Morton will offer me a gift one day.

To be continued.

LJ, February 27 2011.


A big shout out to Tahnae Goldsworthy, journalist with Southern Highland News, who kindly interviewed me a little while ago about the 110 species of birds in Bundy, then put together a piece for the paper's 'Lifestyle' section, published online and in print, last Wednesday.

LJ, February 27 2011.

Saturday, February 12, 2011


You beauty! I've now recorded 110 species of bird in Bundanoon - that's about 13% of the species found on Australia's mainland and Tasmania (based on numbers from Birds Australia, our premier body for bird conservation/information; a publicist told me there are some 799 species on the mainland and Tassie combined). Here are the additional 10 birds...

Buff-banded Rail
Collared Sparrowhawk
Little Lorikeet
Brown Gerygone
Fairy Martin
Australian Reed-warbler
Golden-headed Cisticola
Black Swan
Dusky Woodswallow
Indian Mynah

When I get to 15% of Australia's birds for our town I'll be truly stoked. Onward and upward...

LJ, February 12 2011

Tuesday, February 8, 2011



Whilst sweeping out the laundry the other day, I came across a seemingly lifeless Macleay's Swallowtail. I picked it up and was knocked out by the brilliant jade/emerald geometry on its wings. The creature's eyelash-thin legs flickered. I placed it upon a rock and sprinkled some water on it... the butterfly took to the air.

LJ, February 8 2011.

Friday, February 4, 2011


A sudden storm late Wednesday absolutely brought the wild to our quiet town... A streak of electricity struck a telegraph pole out the front of my house (about thirty feet from where I was standing at the time) and consequently blew fuses various, so my family and I were left without fridge power, a set top box and an oven (not a huge deal in the face of what our poor brothers and sisters up in Queensland have faced of late; it's miraculous more folks weren't annihilated in the core of Cyclone Yasi). The lightning's crack was staggeringly loud. There was no space between lightning and thunder. Smoke drifted down the road just after the snap. I could smell burning, even the soul of God. My son wept. I've never been so close to lightning, so much in awe of lightning. Thankfully, the house didn't burn.

LJ, February 4 2011.

Monday, January 31, 2011


I love this quote from Shelley's classic work from 1818, which I'm currently reading for Yr 12 purposes...

'The sight of the awful and majestic in nature had indeed always the effect of solemnising my mind and causing me to forget the passing cares of life.'

A C19th English voice echoing Emerson's C19th American voice, highlighted on my profile page.

LJ, January 31 2011.


Exeter's ecologist extraordinaire, Steve Douglas, emailed to tell me he came across a 'very healthy' Diamond Python, above Fairy Bower Falls, on the 29th. Nice one. I'll have to chase it up sometime.

LJ, January 31 2011

Thursday, January 27, 2011


Geez, I'm sick of seeing dead wombats on the Exeter-side of Bundanoon, just near the grand, stone 'Bundanoon' sign. It's not exactly a great advertisement for the town, is it? VISIT BUNDANOON - HOME OF GORGEOUS GULLIES, PRISTINE WATER AND DEAD WOMBATS. We've all got to slow right down (hum along at 50 km) and be a lot more vigilant when entering town.

LJ, January 27 2011.

Sunday, January 23, 2011


Late Friday night, I sat in the gutter on Penrose Road (no, don't cue the violins), just near Lucas Street, and watched an electrical storm dance across the moaning southern horizon. It may well have been way out to sea. Lightning fired up practically every second over the course of an hour; ninety-nine percent of it was obscured by thick cumulus cloud (thus, sheet lightning).

It was a storm straight out of Shakespeare, Medieval England, all plays, short stories and novels carrying some cleansing metaphor. It was a storm that could end adventures, homes, towns, forests, dreams and lives, if the electricity slipped. The weird thing was the detachment from it, as my wife put it. You couldn't hear any thunder. My brother-in-law said some lightning isn't made for our ears.

I didn't feel small in face of all that electric power-play, I just felt privileged, maybe braver than before. Another storm like that would calm me in the presence of my own death.

LJ, January 23 2011.

Friday, January 21, 2011


I came across my first Hyacinth Orchids (Dipodium variegatum) today by the side of a track between Quarry Rd and the railway line. A beautiful plant the colour of boysenberry and vanilla ice cream.

LJ, January 21 2011.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


The night before last, circa 9pm, I heard a Sooty Owl let out its distinctive and mournful 'falling bomb' shriek, followed by a sustained trill, in the deep green world below Bonnie View. The night was as still as the Great Wall of China, warm (twenty degrees), clear (finally) and moonlit. Insects and microbats sliced the humid sky. The conditions for owls were perfect.

Sooty Owls define mystery and beauty. Very few Aussies have had the pleasure of their company. I've only watched them twice before, in the cool, almost spooky, limestone grandeur that is the Devil's Coachhouse at Jenolan Caves in NSW (the birds have been there for thousands of years according to scientists; Jenolan's Twitter site says the owls were roosting in the adjacent Nettle Cave during Nov. 2010) and in the steamy tangles of Katandra Reserve, on the Central Coast of NSW, near Erina. The latter sighting occurred in 2001, with good friend and uber-birder, Edwin Vella. We were fortunate to see an individual with a rat in its talons. It called for an hour, not far above our heads.

Sooties are known to feed on (aside from rats) bandicoots, potoroos, possums, rabbits (they're out at Bonnie View, unfortunately) and gliders various. They are solidly-built things, with huge black eyes and plumage as dark as the soul of charcoal - think a Barn Owl back from Hell and you're close.

The field guides say the following about their distribution: Slater: 'rare'; Simpson: 'moderately common'; Pizzey: 'probably commoner than records suggest'; Debus: 'uncommon... there may be 5000 breeding pairs in Australia.' The NSW Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) lists them as 'vulnerable', due to the threat of clearing and burning sclerophyll forests which hold trees that possess suitable large hollows for nesting.

The Sooty is probably the Australian bird that captures my imagination and lifts my heart the most. A Sooty Owl can turn the most impossibly dark night into light.

LJ, January 18 2011.

Monday, January 3, 2011


A couple of nights back, I had a Peron's Tree Frog in my hand, then perched on my thumb like some backyard emperor. The amphibian was shark-grey, shot through with tiny flecks the colour of lime-flavoured Aeroplane Jelly. His eyes were a dull gold/copper; his throat inflated rapidly. I was impressed with the Frog's ability to leap about forty centimetres with each spring, thus covering a lot of ground quickly.

I have also heard/seen the following frogs at Currabunda Wetlands, Birchwood Drive, the bovine paddocks adjacent to Lucas St and Ferndale Reserve: Eastern Banjo Frog, Striped Marshfrog, Spotted Marshfrog, Whistling Treefrog and Haswell's Froglet. I may have also heard both Smooth and Bibron's Toadlets.

LJ, January 3 2011

Saturday, January 1, 2011


I've recorded 100 species of birds in Bundanoon. This means our town has roughly 12% of Australia's bird species - pretty good for a few square kilometres. All but 4 of these have been found since I moved to Bundanoon in September 2010. I'll write more about this in an upcoming issue of Jordan's Crossing Gazette. For now, here's the list, presented in taxonomic order, according to The Slater Field Guide to Australian Birds, Second Edition, New Holland Publishers (Australia) Pty. Ltd., 2009. I'm not sure whether any birder has published an official Bundanoon bird list.

1. Masked Lapwing
2. Black-fronted Dotterel
3. Australasian Grebe
4. Australian Wood Duck
5. Pacific Black Duck
6. Northern Mallard
7. Australian Grey Teal
8. Chestnut Teal
9. Musk Duck
10. Little Pied Cormorant
11. Little Black Cormorant
12. White-faced Heron
13. Australian White Ibis
14. Dusky Moorhen
15. Purple Swamphen
16. Black-shouldered Kite
17. Brown Goshawk
18. Grey Goshawk (white morph)
19. Wedge-tailed Eagle
20. Peregrine Falcon
21. Southern Boobook
22. Powerful Owl
23. Sooty Owl
24. Tawny Frogmouth
25. Australian Owlet-nightjar
26. Crested Pigeon
27. Wonga Pigeon
28. Brown Cuckoo-dove
29. Yellow-tailed Black-cockatoo
30. Gang-gang Cockatoo
31. Galah
32. Sulpher-crested Cockatoo
33. Little Corella
34. Rainbow Lorikeet
35. Australian King Parrot
36. Eastern Rosella
37. Crimson Rosella
38. Channel-billed Cuckoo
39. Eastern Koel
40. Fan-tailed Cuckoo
41. Shining Bronze-cuckoo
42. Laughing Kookaburra
43. Sacred Kingfisher
44. Dollarbird
45. White-throated Needletail
46. Welcome Swallow
47. Tree Martin
48. Superb Lyrebird
49. Satin Bowerbird
50. White-throated Treecreeper
51. Red-browed Treecreeper
52. Superb Fairy-wren
53. White-browed Scrubwren
54. Yellow-throated Scrubwren
55. Large-billed Scrubwren
56. Pilotbird
57. White-throated Gerygone
58. Buff-rumped Thornbill
59. Yellow-rumped Thornbill
60. Brown Thornbill
61. Striated Thornbill
62. Spotted Pardalote
63. Striated Pardalote
64. Lewin's Honeyeater
65. Yellow-faced Honeyeater
66. Fuscous Honeyeater
67. Noisy Miner
68. Brown-headed Honeyeater
69. Scarlet Honeyeater
70. Eastern Spinebill
71. New Holland Honeyeater
72. Red Wattlebird
73. Noisy Friarbird
74. Eastern Whipbird
75. Varied Sittella
76. Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike
77. Golden Whistler
78. Rufous Whistler
79. Grey Shrike-thrush
80. Olive-backed Oriole
81. Grey Butcherbird
82. Pied Currawong
83. Australian Magpie
84. Little Raven
85. Australian Raven
86. Magpie-lark
87. Willy Wagtail
88. Grey Fantail
89. Rufous Fantail
90. Leaden Flycatcher
91. Black-faced Monarch
92. Scarlet Robin
93. Eastern Yellow Robin
94. Silvereye
95. Bassian Thrush
96. Blackbird
97. Common Starling
98. Mistletoebird
99. Red-browed Firetail
100. House Sparrow

LJ, January 1 2011