Titirangi Storyteller

Telling tales from around the world

Posts Tagged ‘Australia

Yellow crested cockatoo

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Sydney -cockatoo1

I think if someone who knew about such things were to analyse my current state of mind, they would probably suggest that I am yearning for some kind of freedom that eludes me. I can’t recall another time in my life when I was so obsessed with birds. I’m no ornithologist – but I am always watching them, imagining myself soaring above it all.

I had several pet canaries when I was about 7.  One at a time. They lived and rather quickly died in a small metal cage in my bedroom. They were cheap back then – under a dollar for a pretty yellow bird. I don’t ever remember giving them food or water, though I suppose my mother would have (though I could not swear to that…) But when I was a teenager my mother confessed that Tweety had died several times and she just went to the pet shop and replaced him without us even noticing. We were shocked to actually find a dead one in the cage one morning. I don’t know what happened to it. But since we lived on the second story of a tall, red brick apartment building in the Bronx, there was no chance of a decent burial. That was the end of the canaries. The rest of the birds in my life back then were pigeons or seagulls when we went to the beach. No robin red-breast or blue-sky blue-jay in the dark and dirty Bronx.

When I got a bit older we moved out of the city – but even in the wide expanse of the countryside of Dorloo, New York, we rarely saw birds on the property since we had as many as 40 cats at a time. And no pet birds other than Ducktor the Duck. (For the complete rundown on the family pets, please go here.) I must say though – I was always fascinated by migrating flocks – coming or going – usually further north or further south, not hanging around Dorloo.

As a young adult I lived in Rochester – where I did have a wonderfully noisy woodpecker in the back yard and lots of sparrows, who loved to forage in the garden for my freshly planted seeds. But mostly I remember the crows – enormous, chicken-sized crows, shrieking and cawing and crying, a sort of sadistic soundtrack to my lamentation at having ended up in such a place. I suppose that was my caged-bird period. The wrongest thing about that was I hadn’t ended up anywhere yet. Still haven’t for that matter.

Here in New Zealand the primary wildlife is birds – there are no native land mammals other than bats and a few seals and sea lions who wander ashore to bask in the sun. And I do love the birds. Since our property is 90% bush, we have so many species – tui, keruru (wood pigeons), black robins, fantail, waxeye, rosella, and – though I’ve only heard, not seen them – moreporks, the NZ owl. A few minutes walk and I am on the beach with its oyster catchers, pied stilts, herons, terns, godwits and gulls… I foray further afield in search of gannets, takahe, pukekos, cormorants, albatross and penguins…

And as if that is not enough, every so often I climb into the belly of a big steel bird that will take me somewhere far away, where I can meet new birds that I can’t find at home… Like this gorgeous yellow crested cockatoo in my friend’s back garden in a suburb south of Sydney. What a pretty bird…

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15/01/2013 at 11:22 pm

Sydney Harbour Bridge

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Cruise01 -993 copy

For someone who had no interest in Sydney, I have to admit, I really fell in love with the place… It’s a no matter where you turn there is something interesting, amusing, slightly shocking, cute, awful, amazing… it’s just that kind of place. I’ve heard a few people compare it unfavourably to New York… That does both cities a grave injustice…

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11/01/2013 at 7:23 pm

Luna Park, Sydney

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08/01/2013 at 12:13 am

Pied Cormorants

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Pied Cormorant

Melbourne is a city full of reflections – everywhere I turned it seemed there was another version of everything. Here is a pair of pied cormorants enjoying the sunny day. The sky really was this mad shade of blue.

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28/12/2012 at 10:34 pm

Cute, Cuddly Koala

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Koala1

Yeah, yeah… I know that any shot of a cute, cuddly adorable koala is a cheap shot. But they really ARE cute, cuddly and adorable. And this is MY cute, cuddly and adorable koala, which makes him special.

Note: the laptop I am using on this trip has decided that T’s are an optional letter in the English letter and if you want one, you must pound the letter on the keyboard – so please bear with me in the even I ge carried away and forge to pound as I ype…

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20/12/2012 at 12:15 pm

Sun worshipper

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Cow1 Melbourne

Currently at sea – a blustery day, though I’ve got the ranch slider to the balcony open just cos I can… Hi Melbourne yesterday  though it was mostly with my Visa (card)… but came upon his cow up a tree. No explanation was given, and I guess, if you need to ask, you don’ deserve to know…

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19/12/2012 at 6:33 pm

One Night in Sydney

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Proper travel advisers undoubtedly cringe when they read my travelogues and commentary. I just seem to do it all wrong and get amazing results. Of course I make the necessary bookings and comply with enforced regulations – I mean the thoroughly well planned and well thought out stuff – the lists of things you are supposed to do, that I mean to, but all to often I am rapt in something else. Fortunately the dramas that arise are often wonderful – getting bumped up to business class, discovering an amazing hotel for peanuts, sipping kava with a couple of locals or… flying to Sydney for a cruise around southeast Australia and then heading over the Tasman to NZ…

I am a notoriously cheap traveller and quite often book at the last minute, taking a punt on what’s available. Whilst I MUST have a window on a cruise ship (I will not sleep in a closet, I don’t care how roomy it is) generally a bit of natural light is all I require, not expansive sea views, which cost the earth. However, this particular cruise on the Diamond Princess departed Sydney 12 days before Christmas, arriving in Auckland on the 24th of December. Not a popular travel time and we discovered we could get a balcony room for a few hundred dollars more than a bog standard stateroom usually costs. I held my breath and coaxed my hubby into going for it. (The regular stateroom cost so little, it was cheaper than staying home!)

The flight to Sydney, was three and a half of the longest hours of my life. I had never flown Aerolingus before. An Argentinian friend had warned me, but I thought she was just being hard on her own. Oh no… it was rather like being in rattling collection of cans and nuts and bolts with cheerful staff that had never heard of the word service, but they did like to tell jokes. I can survive anything for three and a half hours (though I will probably find an alternative airline when I visit South America). It was raining hard when we landed. We had thought that we’d have a nosy around downtown Sydney before we got on the ship – but no, that was definitely a bad idea.

Check in was fine, the normal production of documents, signatures, searches and assignations. At last we boarded and made our way to our stateroom. How exciting! My first balcony! The rain was lightening as I stepped outside. And there she was, the Sydney Opera House in all her splendour – I hadn’t even noticed her since she was behind the ship! Sure enough, the rain soon faded and I spent the later afternoon and evening relishing the view and photographing.

The ship departed a couple of hours late – giving me the perfect opportunity to take this shot of the great lady as evening fell.

I still haven’t been to Sydney properly – I thought I might never do it, but some close friends recently shifted over the ditch, so I will have to go and visit them. Soon. Not sure I should try to outdo this pic, though.

Written by Titirangi Storyteller

31/05/2011 at 1:47 am

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