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