Saturday, February 23, 2008


Tonight, at about 9.30, our dogs went crazy! My eldest daughter feared they were attacking Monty, so we launched a rescue mission. Instead, amongst the hedges we found this:-

Now "this" is not a blue tongue because it's tongue is not blue. It was very cranky, hissing, with it's mouth open.

Which is not surprising since it was attacked by two dogs and then I picked it up.

Now, I need help to identify it. It has longer legs than a blue tongue, and the toes are long and spindly too. David wanted to keep it as a pet. But we chose to put it back. Can you help??

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Lets go boating

I work for the best boss anyone could have, and have done so for the past 12 years. He has been supportive, encouraging and has a unique style of management. Rarely seen in "formal" work gear, he is happiest when in boat shoes, shorts and a Rip Curl tee shirt. His one weakness? Boats! My boss loves boats and has just purchased a Key West 50 footer. This is 28 Tonnes of serious vessel and replaces his Bertram.

We spend days on his boat, our corporate outings are just the best. The new vessel runs twin marine Mercedes Benz turbo diesels at about 800 Horse power each. The fuel tank holds 4000litres of diesel. Which it burns at an alarming rate, although "economical" in view of the size and weight. This replaces the 475HP Caterpillars in his Bertram.

This is one serious boat. Despite being offered more money to work for others, I simply would not.

So, a few days a year I get to enjoy the best harbours in the world and we will be bringing the vessel up from Eden in a few weeks ( Maalie has been there!). I will keep you posted on this trip. Should be fun!.

Monty Python Pt2

Ju's little sister asked to see some more photos of Monty and her habitat. So here goes

Returning from a sunbake

Moving her so I can trim the hedge

Checking us out

lifting a roof tile and returning to sleep
So, this is where you will find her most of the time, or sunning herself on the gutters above the table.
Sometimes I find her in other gardens but not often.

Saturday, February 16, 2008


Today I got the Troopie ready....

Drove and parked in the Blue Mountains here.....

Looked at this view through the rain....

And spent two hours riding to here......

To sit, have lunch, and look at this view through the rain...

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Breakfast with a Diamond Python

I like living in the mountains because you just never know who might drop in for a morning cup of coffee. Over the years we have had a wide variety of animals eg Wallabies, snakes, lizards and birds. We have had a resident Diamond Python for over two years. "Monty" is a part of the family. She lives in the roof of our home and is often found in the gardens, in the hedges or on the back deck.(see photos)

We never seem to have a mouse,rat or possum, problem here. Not only that, but she provides a great education for my children, who have grown to respect the bush, the insects and wildlife.

So, a cup of coffee on the deck, as the sun rises, with Monty.....

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Dunns Swamp

Situated in the beautiful Wollemi National Park, Dunns Swamp, provides a picturesque place to camp, walk, kayak, picnic. For a day or more. Maalie and I did some serious Birding here in 2006 and I was keen to return and do more. The weather in NSW has been stormy and this weekend was no different but to sit around was not an option!

The drive there is pleasant and easy. From Sydney you simply head towards Mudgee, keep an eye open for the Rylstone turn off and, once reaching Rylstone, turn right after the hospital. The road is mostly tar with about 15km of dirt towards the park. A standard vehicle will do this trip with ease and apart from some floodways and potholes, only the usual precautions are required.

The rock formations, farms and bushland are simply stunning and with recent rain everything looks green and lush. Dunns Swamp has been damed and provides the water source for Rylstone. Well maintained and with firewood supplied it is popular regardless of the time of year. This particular weekend the local fishing competition was on so a large contingent of 4x4s with tinnies began setting up for the weekend.

Fortunately we had arrived just ahead of them and found a great spot to pull up. Not only is there excellent camping and canoeing but also the walks are superb. Following the waters edge, up pagodas and down into creeks, the walks are an easy grade, and provide some of the best views available. This is well suited to the family or the avid bushwalker alike.

This time I had taken my eldest daughter, Rosalie, to do some bird spotting and to "play it by ear" when it comes to staying overnight. With thunderstorms all around we chose to set off for our walk immediately and were greeted by Brown Thornbill, Sacred Kingfishers and Brown Treecreeper. This is what I like about bird watching- It makes you stop, listen and look. The air was a mixture of cool breezes, eucalypt and warm air, it felt incredible. Lightening could be seen at the same time as blue sky. The thunder clouds looked like ink that had been dropped into a glass of water.

Walking further we observed what is perhaps the most unusual orb weaving spider I have ever seen. About the size of a thumbnail, with short legs, and spines on its back, she looked more like an unusual button or beetle. She did not like to be disturbed and when we returned found she had eaten her male suitor! Large Golden Orb weavers had made their usual huge webs as well, with web a true golden colour and as strong as fishing line!

A short climb up well prepared ladders and we are greeted by one of the best views. In the distance the rock formations look like ancient cities, lost in some jungle. Again good birding was to be had. Spotted Pardelote, Yellow faced Honeyeater and Wee bills flitted about. Only falling silent when the thunder and rain came. Bursting into song and activity again when it stopped.

The walk takes you passed the dam wall, and along the track, through the long cave, and back to the top. The entire walk is about 6km. I was pleased to see the creeks full, trees bursting with new shoots and leaves, and the birds enjoying the "wet season." A careful lookout for Rock Warblers failed to find any but certainly we were not walking in spring time, nor at the best time of day.

A cup of soup and the tranquility of the swamp was a welcome reward for a few hours bushwalking. With the further arrival of the fishing club ( outboard motors and beers flowing), we decided to head home and continue the lookout for interesting birds.
We were rewarded with a superb look at Swamp Harrier, Spotted Harrier, Straw Necked Ibis and Golden Whistler. By the time we headed into Rylstone we had observed about 30 different species.

If you choose to visit Dunns Swamp, take the time to do the walks and you will be rewarded, also take the time to visit Rylstone. Great pie shop, great pub and the town has that sleepy historic feel to it. If you like wine, there are some great vineyards in this district too. I hope you will take the time to expand the photos too.

Bird list:- Brown Thornbill, Brown Treecreeper, White Faced Heron, Yellow Faced Honey Eater, Spotted Pardalote, Sacred Kingfisher, Australian Wood Duck, Straw Necked Ibis, Plover, Striated Thornbill, Nankeen Kestrel, Weebill, Golden Whistler, Welcome Swallow, Coot, Magpie, Galah, Currawong, Wattlebird, Kookaburra, Pee wee, Swamp Harrier, White Necked Heron, Spotted Harrier, Crested Pigeon, Wonga Pigeon, King Parrot.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008


Today I quit work, went home and went for a walk in a thunder storm.... Why? because....

I needed the fresh air!

and I saw a HUGE bull ant- closely related to the wasp and about an inch long!! OUCH!
I love these ants. They don't care how big you are they simply want to bite you!

Then I saw a family of red browed finches that took a great deal of interest in what I was doing (which was trying to photograph them) ;o)

Bird list:- Magpie, Kookaburra, Red browed finch, Tree Creeper.... & highway patrol on motor bikes.....

Monday, February 4, 2008

Desert Elephants of Namibia

I have a relative, Dr Keith Leggett, who has spent the past several years doing valuable research on the wonderful Elephants of Namibia.

These elephants live the harshest conditions imaginable:-

Quote "Hoanib and Hoarusib River Catchments, Northwestern Namibia — Running from Etosha National Park in the east to Skeleton Coast National Park in the west, 12 ephemeral rivers form linear oases through this semiarid stretch of the Namib Desert.

Populations of elephants have increased in the region, where less than 6 percent of the land is protected as wildlife habitat, spurring more frequent conflicts with humans. A growing system of community-level conservancies is the best chance that wildlife here has for survival in the harsh environment. Communities are learning to view elephants as economic assets, but they need information about their local ecology to manage them effectively and avoid conflicts".

Namibia has been described as the land god created in anger and this is probably a pretty fair description of the environment. Drought is a common event here in Namibia's northwest and can have devastating effects on wildlife and domestic stock populations. However, throughout this unforgiving environment there is the miracle of life and surprisingly, a variety of large mammals have adapted to it. You can help contribute to the long-term sustainability of both human communities and wildlife here.

Funding for this valuable work has runout and is not secured for next year. If you would like to help then you can contact Keith via myself.

Dr Keith Leggett at work.

Photos courtesy of Earthwatch.