Hunter Valley

When I was a child we used to travel to the Upper Hunter Valley to visit my grandmother in a small country town. Many hours were spent looking out of the car window at the landscape passing by. It was a mixture of trees and open paddocks, some cows, sheep and horses, not to mention the kangaroos and even some vineyards.

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I recently returned there for the first time in around 30 years. While there are still plenty of trees, paddocks and animals between Sydney and the Upper Hunter, I was surprised at just how many mines there are as well.  A chain of mines all along the Hunter River load coal onto trains which then deliver it to the port in Newcastle.

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World Giraffe Day

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Giraffe numbers in Africa have plummeted by 40% over the last 30 years. It is estimated that there are only less than 100,000 giraffe remaining in all of Africa. World Giraffe Day on 21st June is designed to raise awareness and support for giraffe in the wild.

The giraffes at Sydney’s Taronga Zoo have some of the best views in town of the iconic Sydney Opera House.

My giraffe photos are available for purchase on a range of products on Redbubble and Zazzle.

Thinking of summer…

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It’s the winter solstice here so the thing to do in mid-winter is to think about the sounds of summer! There are more than 200 species of cicadas in Australia and at 120 decibels some are loud enough to be painful to the human ear. Many cicadas sing in the heat of the day while others sing only at dusk. A number of their common names were initially given to them by children so cicadas have some of the most colourful common names in the insect world, including Black Prince, Double Drummer, Floury Baker, and the Green Grocer or Yellow Monday.

To spot a cicada you need to spend a bit of time outside in the garden or park and be observant but there is no skill or luck involved in finding the cast off skin from cicada nymphs that have emerged from underground when ready to become fully-winged adult cicadas. In some areas there can be dozens on a single tree. The skin usually splits at the back and the cicada emerges leaving an almost complete cast of their bodies with the legs intact. This means that they will continue to hang on the trunk of the tree in plain sight. It is not uncommon for kids to collect the cast off skins and wear them like a badge.

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The image of the Floury Baker Cicada is available to purchase on a range of products on Redbubble.

(Wild) Life in the suburbs!

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One of the great things about living in Sydney is that even quite close to the centre of the city, there is a lot of greenery and wildlife. When you get a little height and look out over the suburbs along with the terracotta roof tiles there is significant amount of green from the leaves on the trees that line the streets and backyards to the larger patches of green that indicate the local parks and sporting grounds. Our local park has views of the tops of the office buildings in central Sydney but is also a regular haunt of both ringtail and brushtail possums, fruit bats and a host of different species of birds. It is common to see a flock of galahs like this one, feeding on the grass seeds.

This image is available to purchase on a range of products on Redbubble.

Fishing Cat

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Fishing cats are small jungle cats that are famous for their abilities in and around the water as adept swimmers. They are about twice the size of a typical domestic cat. Fishing Cats are found throughout Asia from Eastern Pakistan through to India, Nepal and Sri Lanka, as well as Bangladesh and parts of Sumatra and Java. Destruction of habitat is the biggest threat to fishing cats as wetland habitats in this area have decreased by 95% as more and more wetlands are drained for farming and commercial use.

These images are available to purchase on a range of products on Redbubble.

Starling

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The direction of the light in a shot can make all the difference. From one side these birds looked almost black but from the other side, with the sun on their feathers you could see the metallic green and purple on their chest and the spots on the tips of their feathers.

The common starling was introduced to Australia in the 1850s to consume insect pests of farm crops. It was believed that they were also important for the pollination of flax. By the 1880s, established populations were present in the southeast of the country and by the 1920s, common starlings were widespread throughout Victoria, Queensland and New South Wales, but by then they were considered to be pests.

Photo taken Denman, NSW.

Centralian Carpet Python

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The Centralian Carpet Python or Bredl’s Python is found amongst the rocky outcrops of inland Australia. Adult pythons are around 2 metres (6ft 5in) in length, with captive pythons recorded at 3 metres (9ft 9in).

This image is available to purchase on a range of products on Redbubble.

World Otter Day 2017

otters 1Wednesday 31st May 2017 is World Otter Day, the aim of which is to raise awareness globally about the plight of otters.

12 of the 13 species worldwide are declining because of hunting for the illegal fur trade, habitat destruction, reduction in available prey, and road deaths.

This image is available to purchase on a range of products on Redbubble.

Cotton-top Tamarin

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Cotton-top tamarins are a critically endangered small monkey that are found in the tropical forests of north west Colombia where they are an important seed disperser. Habitat loss and the illegal pet trade have been factors in the decline of this species. Prior to the ban on international trade of tamarins in 1976, tens of thousands of them were exported for biomedical research.

These highly social monkeys live in small familial groups in trees with foliage cover. They spend the day foraging, resting, travelling, and grooming, always on the lookout for potential predators.

These images are available to purchase on a range of products on Redbubble.