Friday/ back in Perth

We are back in Perth.
My late-afternoon walk through the little green space here (the Ron Carroll reserve), was rewarded with a sighting of a black-faced cuckooshrike. (They are actually a fairly common sight in Australian cities).

A black-faced cuckooshrike (Coracina novaehollandiae). Its mate was nearby, and these birds like to flock together, up to a hundred birds. They are omnivores, eating insects, their larvae, caterpillars or other invertebrates, and also fruits and seeds. [Source: Wikipedia]

Thursday/ last day by the Bay

Our time is running short here at the resort by Geographe Bay.
There is a nice walk & bike track that runs along the beach. For me, it’s hard to just walk, though, and not stop and investigate the sounds and glimpses of the exotic birds in the bushes.

Here’s the late afternoon scene outside our resort: a nice walk & bike track that goes on for miles, a sandy dune, and the beach nearby. That’s Geographe Bay, tranquil with great swimming and snorkeling, and not as much to offer to surfers and paddle boarders.
This is a young red-capped parrot (Purpureicephalus spurius), native to this southwest corner of Western Australia. This one still has a greenish plumage overall, but before long it will sport a bright crimson crown (same color as its leg feathers), and yellow cheeks.
Yes, this fella is an oh-so-cute little wabbit – BUT WAIT:  it is an European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus). They were first brought to Australia by the First Fleet in 1788, and have become a serious invasive species and pest, since then. They do serious damage to crops, and destroy food supplies critical to native species.

Wednesday/ who is the monster?

The big pink monster living inside the vacation villa, almost stepped on the little brown monster basking outside on the brick paving.

A bobtail skink/ western shingleback (Tiliqua rugosa) scuttling out of my way, grumpily. It has a heavily armored body and a stumpy tail, and a bright blue tongue. The creatures are omnivores, eating herbs and seedlings, snails and insects. Fat in the tail helps it survive lean times.

Monday/ Gnarabup beach & Boranup forest

On Monday we went to the beach for a bit, and then stopped at a viewpoint in Boranup forest.

Here’s Gnarabup beach (the ‘g’ is silent). The jetty in the distance is for jet skis and sea kayaks, and not for fishing boats. It was a little windy, but the water temperature was great for swimming.
This is Boranup Forest between Margaret River and Augusta. It is a karri forest (type of eucalyptus tree) with towering trees, but also with ferns on the forest floor.
It’s a long way up! Some 50 m/ 150 ft to the top of the tree canopy.

Sunday/ the Busselton jetty

We walked out to the very end of the long Busselton jetty today. There is a little train and an undersea viewing area as well, but maybe we will do that next time.

The current incarnation of the Busselton jetty. The original jetty’s construction began in 1865. Yes, that’s a little red train, that runs on tracks to the end of the jetty. It’s 1.84 km/ 1.2 mi long to the very end.
A little pied cormorant or kawaupaka (Microcarbo melanoleucos) on wood beams next to the pier. The bird is a diver, finding prey on the sea floor in shallow waters.
Looks like these silver gulls (Chroicocephalus novaehollandiae) are getting ready to turn in and get a little sleep, even though it was only 6 pm. This the most common gull seen in Australia.
Here comes the electric train called the ‘Stocker Preston Express’. It’s really not an express train. It runs only barely faster than one can walk!.
The distance sign at the very end of the pier. Cape Town is 8,647 km (5,372 mi) away. Seattle is 15,021 km (9,334 mi) away!

Saturday/ the rainbow lorikeet

I found this spectacular rainbow lorikeet in a little green space in my brother’s neighborhood (Ron Carroll Park) while walking through there on Saturday morning.

The rainbow lorikeet (Trichoglossus moluccanusis) is a medium-sized species of parrot found in Australia.  The seeds and pollen on this woollybush must have been yummy, because he allowed me to get quite close. Semi-tame lorikeets are common daily visitors in many Sydney backyards, but they should not be fed bread crumbs (does not have the nutrients they need, especially for young ones). Better to get packets of mixed seeds from a pet store. [Source: Wikipedia]

Friday/ a willy wagtail

Here’s a little black and white bird that is a long-time favorite here in Perth: the willy wagtail. They are very active (and wag their tails, of course), and voracious insect eaters – said to be able to consume their own body weight in insects in a day.  The wagtails were known to the Noongar Aboriginal people as chitty chitty, because of their trademark chattering sound. 

Here’s a willy wagtail (Rhipidura leucophrys) that I found on a utility cable in suburban Perth today. They are found all over mainland Australia.

Tuesday/ an echidna puggle

Man! I was spending way too much time scrolling through my Twitter feed today.  Trump’s ‘I’m a tariff man’ tweet inflicted heavy losses on the stock market. And it’s official: Seattle is getting a new NHL (National Hockey League) franchise team.

But the tweet of the day for me, was of this cute echidna puggle, born in Sydney’s Taronga Zoo.  They are very unusual mammals: the young hatch out of a leathery egg in their mother’s pouch, and stay there for 45 to 55 days.


Saturday/ California’s infernos

Active fires in California on Nov. 10. [From the LA Times]
I was sadly mistaken, assuming that the summer wildfires in California had been under control.

The Camp Fire is now the most destructive fire in the state’s history. 23 people have died with 100 more still reported missing.  The fire has destroyed nearly 6,500 structures.

Further south, the Woolsey Fire has scorched 70,000 acres (130 sq mi), and forced 250,000 people to evacuate in the Malibu area.

Friday/ hey little bird, what’s your name?

These little birds like to hop around in my backyard sometimes, looking for fallen seeds.
This morning, one was finally ready to pose for his close-up. (It’s time to get a 500 mm telephoto lens, if I’m going to be serious about shooting pictures of little birdies like these!).
It took a little searching to find it online, but now I know: it’s a dark-eyed junco.

Dark-eyed juncos (Junco hyemalis) belong to a genus of American sparrows. This one is a male with the so-called Oregon coloring: black head & chest, brown back, white belly.

Wednesday/ it’s Novem-brrr

It was sunny today, but we only got up to 52°F/ 11°C.
The sunlight we got, was gone by 4.41 pm – the time the sun now sets in the Pacific Northwest. Yikes. (On Saturday night, across the United States, we set our clocks back from Daylight Saving Time to Standard Time*).

*California voters approved Prop. 7 on Tuesday, a proposal to permanently stay on Daylight Saving Time. The measure still requires a two-thirds vote from the California legislature and a change in federal law before it can take effect, though.

The squirrels in my backyard were out and about in the sun, and hey! munching on the honey mushrooms under the laurel hedge. I have the big fly agaric (red with white spots) mushrooms this year as well, but they just nibble on those and then leave them alone. The fly agaric is not deadly toxic, but it does contain psychoactive substances that produce hallucinations in humans (and squirrels?).

Saturday/ the fungus among us

This is the time of year for some mushrooms to sprout in urban gardens here in the Pacific Northwest, and I discovered a new type under my laurel fence this year.  Maybe they’ve been coming out every year, and I just haven’t noticed before!

These are honey mushrooms (Armillaria mellea) .. there are several distinct Armillaria species within the group formerly called honey mushrooms (or honey fungus). The ‘honey’ is a reference to the smooth appearance of the caps, and not their flavor, which is anything but sweet. (I am not about to try these suckers by cooking them, thank you very much. I’ll stick to buying my mushrooms in the grocery store!).
A view from the side that shows the little collar on the stem, and the adnate gills (gills fully attached to the stem). The cap is about 3 in. in diameter.

Monday/ a Halloweeny crow on my porch

I don’t have a Halloween pumpkin on my porch – but found a crow sitting there today (on the post by steps to my front door).
I like Mr Crow’s sharp, inquisitive look, checking me out, as I was snapping his picture.

Crows and ravens belong to the Corvid family (which includes jays and magpies) and are considered to be among the most adaptable and intelligent birds. Although most bird books recognize populations along the coast and Puget Sound to be a distinct species called the Northwestern crow (Corvus caurinus), some experts classify the smaller Northwestern crow as a subspecies of the American crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos). [From Washington Dept. of Fish & WIldlife].

Monday/ fogged in

We had morning fog around the Puget Sound the last few days, delaying air traffic at Seattle-Tacoma airport at times.

Fog is really a low-lying cloud with tiny droplets of water suspended in the air.  And the difference between mist and fog? If visibility is reduced to less than 1,000 m (0.62 mi), it’s fog.

Fog made the spider’s web in my backyard into strings of tiny water pearls. Mr Spider waited patiently for the sun to come out, and with the drops gone later in the day, his booby trap had its stealth restored.

Sunday/ a glimpse of Morticia

I made my way down to the Amazon biospheres today to catch a glimpse of Morticia*, the name given to the giant corpse flower that is blooming there.  (Report by local TV station King5 here).

I had to be content to just check the flower out from the sidewalk. It was too late to book a time slot (all were taken), and I don’t have a friend employed by Amazon that could take me in as a guest! Aw.

*I suspect this is a reference to Morticia Addams, a fictional character from The Addams Family television and film series. A memorable quote (Morticia to her husband): ‘Don’t torture yourself Gomez, that’s my job.’

These flags are above the main entrance of the new Hyatt Regency hotel at 8th & Howell (scheduled to open at the end of the year; 45 floors and 1,260 rooms). From left to right The Stars and Stripes (of course), then the Washington State flag, and then the 12th Man flag (it shows support for the Seattle Seahawks).
Look for Morticia the corpse flower, in the lower right of the picture. She will be moved out of the spheres by the end of the week, said the guide at the spheres.
The cladding on the third Amazon tower across the street from the spheres is progressing nicely. I’m sure there is still a lot of work on the inside to be done. The new Shake Shack around the corner is open now. There was a long line of eager customers waiting patiently to place their order, on Sunday afternoon.

Saturday/ chameleon of the seafloor

I love this picture of an octopus, the ‘chameleon of the seafloor’. The skin of an octopus is like that of a pointillistic work of art: it has millions of chromatophores (cells with pigments). Octopuses have yellow, orange, reds, browns or even black pigments, and can camouflage itself against its background when an enemy approaches.  There is a complex connection between its brain, its nervous system, and the nerve cells that control the color of its skin.

Source: Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad. Picture by Stephan Junek.

Sunday/ the National Geographic Photo Ark

There was a beautiful ‘60 Minutes‘ segment on TV tonight, about wildlife photographer Joel Sartore’s quest to photograph all the creatures in zoos, for the National Geographic Photo Ark project (

The project’s goal is to increase awareness of Earth’s biodiversity and the efforts by zoos to save threatened species. He has visited 40 countries and has completed intimate portraits of more than 8,485 species so far.

Photographer Joel Sartore (sitting) and CBS correspondent Bill Whitaker (standing) with Trixie, perhaps the world’s sweetest orangutan. Her home is the Avilon Zoo outside Manila in the Philippines.

Thursday/ hermit thrush

This little bird hopped around in my backyard this afternoon, and I had to wait a little bit for it to come out in the clear, so that I could snap a picture.

I believe it is a hermit thrush. They like to hop around and forage in fallen leaves, and they can sing in beautiful notes.

Thursday/ Halloween is coming ..

Here is Wikipedia’s picture of the Wahlberg’s epauletted fruit bat. It is found in the tropical regions in central Africa.

.. and I thought this ghoulish picture below of Wahlberg’s epauletted* fruit bat is quite fitting to help us prepare.  I found it in a Mother Jones article. (Quite a mouthful, the creature’s name! .. and the bat in the picture below has a mouth full of fruit, explaining its puffy cheeks).

*An epaulet is an adornment consisting of an ornamental cloth pad worn on the shoulder, much as some military uniforms have.  I guess the bat has something that looks like an epaulet on its shoulder.

IMG_4380 sm
From the Mother Jones article. Dr Merlin Tuttle has saved millions of bats around the world through his research and advocacy, and has taken hundreds of thousands of pictures of bats.