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.

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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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Barking mad


(click any image to view full size)

Like a snake sloughing its skin, the gum tree in front of my balcony sheds its bark in spring. Never before having lived 10 feet from a gum tree, let alone one that towers above even the six stories of my apartment building, I am fascinated when this tree’s smooth bark begins to wrinkle and crack. After a few weeks, the fresh new bark appears.

This post is my entry for two challenges: Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Bark or Leaves and Sunday Stills Shallow Depth of Field.

(post edited on 11 November to include link to Sunday Stills challenge)

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A splash of colour on a wet, gloomy day

pink and white mini gerbera
After a delightful run of unseasonably warm autumnal weather, winter has arrived in Sydney with a steady drizzle and dropping temperatures. I stopped at a local greengrocer on the way home and saw these small gerberas. They are only a few centimetres across but their cheerful pink-and-white exuberance was a lovely sight on a winter evening, when the sun has set by 5pm. Isn’t it interesting how enormous this little flower appears when shot as a macro?