who goes there

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P1190460.jpgI am fortunate to live on the edge of a coastal Nature Reserve with an endlessly long beach walk at my doorstep. The place teams with life and I always find something fascinating to study, like this crab, who unlike his fellow crabs that scuttled away as soon as they felt the vibration of my approach, stood very still in the age old attitude of an emu with its head in the sand. He made a very considerate model.


sacred kingfisher

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Captured eating lunch.

nankeen kestral

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A lucky shot - in the right place at the right time.
A lucky shot – in the right place at the right time.

One of the Falcons, the Nankeen Kestral can be found across the entire Australian mainland as well as Tasmania. It’s a small falcon that uses rapid wing beats to soar on flat wings while fanning its tail feathers while looking for prey. They eat other birds, mice, reptiles and flying insects like dragonflies. I was on a visit to Sydney and had walked up to the top of Long Reef, a coastal promontory on Sydney’s northern beaches (once a volcano), when this Kestral blew up the cliff face in front and hovered above me. I only managed a couple of quick shots before it moved on.

Magnetic Island

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a sleeping koala staking out his territory
a sleeping koala staking out his territory

Earlier this year I took off for a weeks R&R with extended family to Magnetic Island, an island off Queensland’s north coast. Over half the island is National Park. Being separated from the mainland (it sits 8 ks or 5 miles offshore) has enabled the island to become a rich haven for local wildlife, including the koala who is under threat in so many other locations due to environmental destruction, disease and non-native predators.

Arthur Bay
Arthur Bay

The scenery is spectacular. The island itself is fringed with isolated coves for the sun-lover, and while the water is gloriously clear and warm there are ‘stingers’ at certain times of year that require caution and/or nylon ‘onesies’ to protect swimmers. In some locations you can find bottles of vinegar on hand, an old remedy for stingers that can alleviate some of the pain until further help arrives.

granite 'totem' outcrops are common on the island
granite ‘totem’ outcrops are common on the island

There are many walking trails on the island, most meander past gigantic granite boulders and tall Hoop pines, through eucalypt forest or a patch of rainforest. Some take you on a steady climb up to old World War 2 forts where troops kept watch over Cleveland Bay, an important anchorage and assembly point for convoys operating in the South Pacific.

The author, taking in the spectacular view from a WW2 fort
The author, taking in the spectacular view from a WW2 fort

One of the highlights of our visit was to hire a four wheel drive and drive up to the western extremity of the island to watch the sun set over the water. A lovely finish to another perfect day of balmy weather and natural scenery.