Black Breasted Buzzard (juvenile)
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Focus on Feathers

Alice Springs Desert Park - swooping Hobby (a type of falcon)

Alice Springs Desert Park – swooping Hobby (a type of falcon). Look at those gorgeous feathers!

I visited Alice Springs Desert Park a couple of weeks ago and saw some amazing demonstrations of free flying birds. The Hobby is a type of falcon, very swift and agile, and I was thrilled to get a fairly well focused shot of it swooping down, every feather clearly visible.

Another impressive bird display involved a juvenile Black Breasted Buzzard. These birds are known for their ability to use stones to crack open eggs, including the very large, thick-shelled, green eggs of emus. At the park, the buzzards open imitation eggs with meat inside.

Close-up of buzzard's wing feathers.

Close-up of buzzard’s wing feathers.

Here, the bird has both wings outstretched for balance.

Alice Springs Desert Park - Black Breasted Buzzard (juvenile) cracking open an "emu egg"

Alice Springs Desert Park – Black Breasted Buzzard (juvenile) cracking open an “emu egg”.

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week has the topic of feathers.

Random Fridays: Worshipping at the Cathedral of Light

Cathedral of Light, Vivid

Cathedral of Light, Vivid

Another shot from this year’s Vivid Festival of Light. This exhibit was called Cathedral of Light. I like how the phones are held aloft as if they are offerings to whatever god inhabits this cathedral, and how the people’s arms mirror the peaked shape of the exhibit, which you can see on the phone screens.


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gin!
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Random Fridays: Gin

Not just tasty, but gorgeous to look at!

Not just tasty, but gorgeous to look at!

So, did that post title get your attention?😉 This is a boutique brand of gin I encountered at a wine festival recently, from Baker Williams Distillery, est 2011 and based near Mudgee in Australia. Botanicals include juniper, pepperberry, cinnamon myrtle, traditional herbs and spices, and local cumquat [sic]. This stuff is wonderful! I can’t imagine sullying it with tonic or anything else, and am savouring it (even as I type) with just a couple of ice cubes. A bit like a martini but without the vermouth.😉


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Bees bees and more bees!
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Random Fridays: Busy as

7,000 bees doing their thing.

7,000 bees doing their thing.

I know there are 7,000 bees in these jars because I asked the keeper. He added that 10,000 bees weigh about 1kg, so there is your interesting factoid for the day! I saw this display at a pop-up market in Martin Place, and couldn’t help imagine the shrieking chaos that would ensue among the hundreds of browsing office workers if that display was knocked over and the glass broke.


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The view from the window: Tenacious in Sydney

The view west from my office building on George Street, Sydney. What's in the red box?

The view west from my office building on George Street, Sydney. What’s in the red box?

I know what you’re thinking: why is Kaz inflicting this very dull view of office buildings on us? Look closer at the object with the red box around it.

It’s a tall ship!

Tenacious Maritime Museum Darling Harbour Sydney

Aha, there’s an enormous tall ship parked in front of the Maritime Museum in Darling Harbour!

In fact, it is MY tall ship, Tenacious, operated by the Jubilee Sailing Trust of Southampton, England. I helped to build this beautiful ship in the late 1990s when I lived in London, so feel quite proprietorial about her. I was one of 1,500 volunteers who pitched in over three years to sand and epoxy and paint and sweep and whatever. I’ve crossed the Atlantic in her twice, and in June this year spent two weeks sailing around remote Fijian islands in the ship.

Tenacious has now made landfall in Sydney on her first around-the-world voyage, and will be spending the next nine months in Australia.

And there she is!

And there she is!

I find it absolutely surreal that I can look from my office building in Sydney’s central business district and see this ship that holds so many memories for me.

(This is the first post in an occasional series to be called “The view from the window”.)


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Trains and Tracks

Pine Creek Railway Museum, Northern Territory, Australia

Pine Creek Railway Museum

Disused tracks, Pine Creek Railway Museum. You can make out the name “H Pooley & Son, Liverpool, London”

I have two sets of railway-related photos for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge with this week’s theme of trains and tracks. The first is from Pine Creek in northern Australia, where enthusiasts and volunteers maintain a small museum dedicated to the area’s railway history.

Locomotive at Pine Creek Railway Museum

Locomotive at Pine Creek Railway Museum

The narrow-gauge North Australia Railway ran south from Darwin and reached Pine Creek in 1888. By 1929 it had reached its farthest point, Birdum, a distance of some 509 km (316 miles). The line’s busiest period was during World War II.

The locomotive was built in 1877 in England, and rebuilt in 2001 in Australia.

This locomotive was built in 1877 in England, and rebuilt in 2001 in Australia.

The line closed on 30 June 1976, overshadowed by more effective means of transport, but in its time was important carrier of goods and people.

Luxurious travel in its day, but uncomfortable by our standards!

Luxurious travel in its day, but uncomfortable by our standards!

The Grand Canyon Railway, Arizona, US

The Grand Canyon Railway

The Grand Canyon Railway

The first train to carry passengers the 103 km (64 miles) from Williams, Arizona to the south rim of the Grand Canyon ran on 17 September 1901.

Old locomotive, Grand Canyon Railway

Old steam locomotive, Grand Canyon Railway

As with the North Australia Railway, competition from cars led to closure of the Grand Canyon Railway in July 1968 (only three passengers were on the last run!). Three unsuccessful attempts were made to resurrect the line, until in 1989 services resumed under different ownership.

Current locomotive, Grand Canyon Railway

Current diesel locomotive, Grand Canyon Railway. It may be more efficient and more environmentally friendly, but it doesn’t captivate people like the steam locos do!

The train today offers seating in various classes, from all-inclusive food and drink luxury carriages to high-domed viewing carriages to straightforward seating.

Going around a corner, shot from the platform at the end of the train

Going around a corner, shot from the platform at the end of the train

At the end of the train is an open platform that offers uninterrupted views back at the tracks, or forward if you lean around the corner of the carriage.

Looking back at the tracks from the platform.

Looking back at the tracks from the platform.

I think you can guess which class of seat I opted for.😉

Access to the rear platform is through this door.

Access to the rear platform is through this door.

Time to relax, enjoy the scenery and decide which beverage to have.

Time to relax, enjoy the scenery and decide which beverage to have.

(Information about these reailways was taken from Wikipedia)


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Fish
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Random Fridays: Fish

Schools of fish 'swim' among crystal curtains.

Schools of fish ‘swim’ among crystal curtains.

A hotel in Brisbane has given guests in rooms with windows that face a dark inner courtyard something to look at besides the windows of the rooms opposite. It was quite hypnotic to watch the slight, languorous movement of the fish in unseen drafts, and the wink of colour from the crystals.


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