Friday, January 13, 2012

Blues Skies Smiling at Me

One thing Australia does very well is Big Blue Skies.

Here are some from my recent trip back.

The sun is just starting to set tinging the clouds rose-pink.

We went to spend a few days at the beach. The wind was very strong, creating these wonderful long clouds. It was too cold to swim but the wind helped the yachts along in the Sydney-to-Hobart race. 

Fluffy Clouds.

Dotty and Rippled Clouds. Reminds me of the ripples of sand on the beach.

The sunshine in Australia is very sharp. Good for creating shadows. This is me and the Mr.

Crazy amazing sunsets we saw at the beach. When they say the sky looked as if it was on fire - this is what they mean.

The beginning of another stunning sunset.

Sunset over the island I grew up on. Doesn't get more amazing than this. The next land fall after Tasmania is the bottom tip of South America to the west or New Zealand to the east. We were on the eastern tip here looking west, so the sun sets over land. On the western side of Tasmania its just ocean for 1000's of kilometres.

Birds & Bees

Wherever I am I like to do a little Bird-Paparazzi-ing. Here are some pictures from my trip to Australia of some birds I met.

My parents continue to be friends with a flock of Magpies. They only come in to visit my parents if they have babies to feed. The bushland area near my house has shrunk by several acres in the last few years and they have trouble getting enough food when they have chicks to feed. So they come by and sing hoping for my parents to feed them.

They are such strange, intense looking birds even while balancing on one leg like this one, they can stare you down.

This is a Plover. Another strange looking bird. This year is the first time since my parents moved here 30 years ago that they have appeared in our garden. Once again, the natural wetlands and grasslands they used to live and nest in have been dramatically reduced by housing development. So they have been pushed out into new areas. My parents let them be. Plovers are not so friendly though when they have chicks nearby - they get a little aggressive.

They seem to like eating insects and wandering lonely around the garden.

A bee was busy in the garlic flowers. Apparently there will be a shortage of honey this year due to bee populations shrinking. Another sign of problems. (Though I don't think I'd like garlic-flavoured honey!).

Three beautiful little doves perched on the wires. I think these are spotted doves, similar to what we get in Singapore. It was very windy when I took the photo so all the doves were standing up trying to balance! 

Despite all the bad news, I did hear frogs in my parents garden which is a sign that at least in that little patch the garden is healthy and a good place to be (perhaps that's why the birds and bees like it so much too!). 

My parents have never used pesticides and grow everything organically. It does make a difference. Just look at these delicious berries:

I had these for breakfast almost every morning while I was home. The sunshine, fresh air, rainwater (my parents harvest their own water off the roof of the house) and organic fertilisers make such a big difference to the taste. Its hard to describe how good these are to those used to supermarket produce. Its like comparing a Suzuki Alto (which coincidentally my parents own and lovingly call the 'grocery trolley' because its called a 'GT') and a Maserati.