Thursday, December 3, 2015

Xmas 2015 letter

Seasons greetings wherever you are in the world. Another year has flown by, even quicker than the last one.

So what’s news? Nicky continues to juggle lots of jobs. And there is a new one to report. For quite a while now she’s been interested in professional coaching and mentoring. So this year  she signed up for a Graduate Diploma and is coming close to completion and the business is up and running. She has just completed her first website, though the language while doing this task cannot be published in this blog! She fitted this in around 4 big overseas trips but hopes in 2016 that these will be less numerous.

Stuey continues to play the bass lots. The year fell into two halves - a contract with the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra up until late June, then one with Orchestra Victoria for the rest of the year. Plus other bits in between. Sadly we’ve not had time to organize our chamber music group this year but 2016 ‘here we come!’.

We continued to bravely/stupidly support English sport….or atleast we tried to. As the photo shows, we went to the cricket one day world cup final at the MCG but of course did not get to see England play on that day! And as for the rugby – well the less said the better! Nic was in the UK at the time and for a couple of weeks renewed her Scottish roots!

We were both back in the UK in the middle of the year as our Clifton house finally sold – 3rd year lucky. It’s been a long slog. To say that the UK housing market is "quirky" would be an understatement. We have tried to explain all its eccentricities to the Auzzies, such as chains, and they just don't get it. Neither do we. It was one of the most stressful periods we have suffered, and apparently it went smoothly!  Despite the stress of selling the house it was great to catch up with a lot of family and friends in July. Sorry we didn't get around to everyone.

So we are now finally in a position to buy a house in Melbourne - where we’re at the top of a housing bubble and properties are ridiculously expensive. At time of writing we are just about the give up and stay renting. However we are very lucky to be tenants in a beaut town house in North Carlton. Our landlords are our very good friends Sheena and Paul who periodically turn up and stay with us which is fantastic.

Woody is still alive, fine and well. He is aging, like both of us. He caught a baby rat in November and was so proud of himself he had to sleep for a couple of days!!

2015 marked our 25th wedding anniversary – yes some of you will recall that day in 1990. We are both agreed that Stuart deserves a medal. And you will never guess who writes these blog entries!! We celebrated twice, once in the UK when Stuart’s mother organized a fantastic family get together and then a second time in Melbourne with dozen close friends for a long lunch, featuring Stuart’s debut lobster thermidor!
Nicky’s anniversary present to Stuey was a 600mm lens - which has been used lots on our latest hobby, bird-watching. Yes, are aging! We have a wonderful family of tawny frogmouths (they look like owls but are from a slightly different group of birds) in a tree just opposite our front door. So Stuey has been out most days taking photos, especially the new chick arrived in early November.

But it’s not just birds - we been out bush walking in Gippsland, taking lots of snaps, some of which are OK. We came across these fighting roos in Cape Paterson. There is a small mound at the Western end of town to where we often walk from our beach house to watch the sun set while drinking a cold beer. There is a mob of 50 or so roos and this shot was taken on one such occasion. It’s a hard life down undr – so if any of you are feeling brave enough please come on down, we’d love to see youse!

In the meantime we wish you a merry Xmas and a safe 2016,

xx Stuey and Nicky

Werribee Treatment Plan - Nov 2015

OK, we are getting serious now. We have joined Werribee, one of the top bird watching spots in the country. Wow, its huge and incredibly rich. After the induction course I had a quick drive round and spotted a few interesting things. Such as a Brolga

I was guided by the insightful Scott Linane on Facebook, as I posted some photos with the wrong bird names! This is a brown falcon

Which is not to be confused with a swamp harrier

and there were many gull billed terns

This was very much a first taste - we will be back, with lots more photos to post in the near future

North Carlton Tawny Frogmouths - Nov 2015

Our landlord told us of the family of tawny frogmouths that live in a tree just outside our front door. We had seen the odd one but then just after Melbourne Cup the chick appeared with both parents

How cute is that? Last year the chicks appeared on Cup Day, so they are obvious keen on the racing carnival!

Over the month the chick has grown substantially

On Nov 21st the parents had to withstand an attack from a pair of ravens - full focus was required!

North Carlton - Sept 2015

We have a wattle nest in the bush right outside our front door, and there are two chicks in it...

Cape Paterson - Sept 2015

There is a mound at the Western end of Cape P, by the Eco Village, which is also known as The Cape. A show home has been built but the rest is looking pretty slow going. Which is good as there is a mob of roos that will be disturbed once the real construction starts. We like to take a beer and watch the sunset. And today we saw this

Venus Bay - Sept 2015

Venus  Bay is a great spot. The shots below were taken at two of our favourite bits, first a male fairy wren by the car park at the boat ramp

We then headed round past the bird lookout as there are often roos just before the 5th stage. And we saw a new species for us, a fan tailed cuckoo

Wonthaggi Wetlands Walk - Sept 2015

This wonderful spot was pointed out to us by our great friend Andy, who now lives nearby. It a great bird sanctuary, but most of the good shots we post below were of bigger creatures


This echidna was enormous - busy terrorizing a colony of ants in this dead tree truck.

There were heaps of roos too, some with joeys...

The best bird shot was taken on Andys water bowl, a white eared honeyeater

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Wilsons Prom - Sept 2015

Winter, or in this case early Spring is often the best time to go to the prom. Fewer people around to frighten off the wildlife and thinner bush, so its a little easier to find them. We have never seen that many birds on the prom, except emus of course

The new lens got a real work out. So many shots. We parked a Five Mile Road car park and most of these shots were taken on the Millers Landing walk. There were lots of swamp wallabies

And on the drive out we were met by the cutest pair you are every likely to see

It was getting late when we headed up to the Prom Wildlife Walk and the wombats were coming out to play, lots of them

Bald Hills Creek Wildlife Reserve - Sept 2015

We had a day trip to Cape Liptrap, and didn't make it, as we saw the brown sign for Bald Hills Creek Wildlife Reserve, and ducked into it to check it out. Its a wetlands area with lots of birds, but we found it tricky to get good shot as the little buggers were so well hidden. But there were a few swamp wallabies

And disturbingly there was a snake out of hibernation, sun baking on the road

This is a milestone trip for us. Nicky bought me a fantastic 600mm lens and this was its first outing. Still have the L plates on but its great fun to use

Philip Island, Aug 2015

Its always good to have overseas visitors, as it gives us an excuse to go to Philip Island. The main tourist attraction is of course the little penguins, but we were not there long enough for them to come out to play. So we went to see the pelican feeding at San Remo first

Fiona and Tim enjoyed the next stop, the Koala sanctuary where there are of course....

But if you look carefully you might see the odd...

Del Richards bird watching tour, Port Douglas, June 2015

What a truly stunning day out with the resourceful Del Richards. He know Port Douglas and surrounds like the back of his hand. We noted 80 species we had seen in a day, quite remarkable. This blog entry is a short precis of the better shots.

First and Australian Bustard

We drove around the ponds in PD and saw a few "Jesus" birds, as they walk on water, or the lily pads at least. They are better known as Comb Crested Jacanas

A very common sighting, but a real thrill for us, were the numerous Forest Kingfishers, of which we saw over a dozen
And again in the town centre there were plenty of Rainbow Bee Eaters. We saw lot of these in Katherine, on the Big Lap trip in 2009
The last three on this blog were new to us. First the Stone Curlew, which was on the ground of the Sheraton Mirage hotel
A white throated honeyeater

A rather cute Diamond Dove, which got Del quite excited, as he didn't have a good quality photo of this species

But without a doubt the star showing goes to the family of Papuan Frogmouths


Yandoit Jan 2015

We returned to Yandoit while Jodie and Gordy were in Europe. We arrived on New Years Day, after Stuey's NYE gig in Hamer Hall. It was stinking hot, too warm for the poor rabbits...

The first shots were from the deck in front of the house, where we saw lots of Red Browed Finches,

which was then shooed off by a Crimson Rosella...

Out on a rather sticky walk we saw some more common birds, like the male Superb Fairy Wren:-

and a large mob of Sulpher Crested Cockies

And a couple of new birds for us, first the aptly named Red Rumped Parrot

then a beautiful White Plumed Honeyeater