Austin Kleon, Australia, birds, christmas hampers, Victoria, Women in Business, Writers, Yarra Valley

Another Australian adventure…

Wine-200ml-sparkling_big

 

I’ve always been interested in promoting ‘Australian-made’ and so for a long time I’ve looked for interesting ways to promote home grown innovation.

Of course, Australian food and wine have a deservedly excellent reputation so with this in mind, i’ve decided to start a ‘pop up online store’ to promote Aussie products by way of Christmas hampers. This brings together my love of Australiana, creating a new online alternative and …shopping! What a great combo!

Christmas hampers are mostly very traditional so I’d like to offer something a bit different.  With my pop up store, you can choose the traditional option but also one with a contemporary slant and a luxury alternative.

So what would go into a ‘true blue’ Aussie Christmas hamper? My thoughts are some of the regulars – like Tim Tams. While not a ‘just for Christmas’ item, who doesn’t eat packets of them over the festive Aussie summer season? Then there’s wine. We have some fantastic Shiraz… just right for that family get together. And I’m even learning to love Chardonnay… the less oaken varieties have won me over so they would need to be well represented.  Living as I do in Victoria, I would need to have in my basket some of our fantastic cheeses and relishes possibly from the Yarra Valley. My mouth is watering at the idea. Perhaps a bottle of sparkling wine of the Domaine Chandon variety or something equally gorgeous to accompany that cheese platter? A Botrytis Riesling from the Yarrawood Vineyard? Or a classic Rose from Dominique Portet also of the Yarra Valley. So many choices!

show-your-work-cover1Now normally I wouldn’t share this with you so soon but I’m taking a tip from Austin Kleon and his book ‘Show your Work’ and while this isn’t about my art (as his book refers) but to a new ideas I’m developing, I still thought it a good idea to start getting things out into the world and worry less about waiting til it’s absolutely ‘ready’. It may also generate some great ideas or even some Australian producers who’d be interested in collaborating with me.  Therefore: I’ll be opening my ‘store’ in just a few weeks in time for Christmas orders.  Look forward to sharing some Aussie delights with you.  I’d love to hear what you’d like to find in your Australian Christmas Hamper? Do tell me!

 

 

Australia, birds, Birdwatching, Uncategorized, Victoria, Williamstown, Williamstown

Wild Williamstown

Happy New Year! I hope like me you had a chance to get outside and enjoy the great outdoors over the holidays. As Christmas falls at the start of summer in Australia, we have no excuse (apart from current unseasonably cool weather) to stay indoors.

We have a wonderful nature reserve not far from our our home in Victoria, Australia and we walk there regularly. So I thought I’d share with you some of the wonderful wildlife that lives at the Jawbone Reserve.  It used to be a rifle range… glad it has been saved for other purposes now! I’m a keen birdwatcher (if you haven’t noticed already!) and so I’ll share with you some of our fabulous feathered friends. Some you may be familiar with but others may be new and exciting:

IMGP3648Sooty Oystercatcher: an amazing looking coal-black bird with bright red eyes as well as legs and beak so it really stands out! Occasionally we see its cousin, the Pied Oystercatcher (Black and white rather than all black) and it’s just as stunning to see.

pelican pelicansAustralian Pelican The Australian Pelican is a large waterbird of the family Pelecanidae, widespread on the inland and coastal waters of Australia and New Guinea, also in Fiji, parts of Indonesia and as a vagrant to New Zealand.Wikipedia I love watching them land … those big feet come down and you wonder if they’ll crash land but they never do. Flying over you in formation, they are like bomber squadrons 🙂

 

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Little Pied Cormorant – or Little Shag… whence comes the term, “like a Shag on a rock” (which means when you are left on your own to fend for yourself)

DSCF5354The Little Pied Cormorant’s cousin, The Little BlackCormorant drying his wings in the sun after a morning dip

little honeyeaterOne of my favourites, Little Wattlebird also known as the Brush Wattlebird is a honeyeater; a cousin of the Red Wattle Bird below

Red WattlebirdRed Wattlebird – these are big honeyeaters which regularly visit my garden and surrounding area; they are territorial and fantastic aerial hunters – watching them chase after and almost always catch a fast moving moth or bug is a sight to behold as they turn almost 360 degrees in mid flight. I’ve never managed to catch it on video… I’ll keep trying. They are particularly active at dusk when their aerial displays can keep me amused for a long time.

white fronted chatWhite-fronted Chat – I rarely see these cheeky little guys possibly as they feed on the ground chasing insects though I often hear them. I managed to get just some blurry photos of them recently so this pic was sourced from BirdLife Australia.

crested tern

Crested Terns are sea birds with attitude. Check out that hair (well, feathers but you get the idea). They will fly over the sea, looking around for a tasty fish and then dive into the water at break-neck speed. It’s amazing to watch. Here’s a short Youtube clip as an example from RedJered.

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These little seabirds are difficult to identify … so many different breeds look similar! So after some research, I’m suggesting that this is a Sharp-tailed Sandpiper. If you know better, please let me know!

IMGP3663Around at the same time is this little guy (in fact there were quite a few of these and a large group of Sandpipers). I’ve identified them as Red-Necked Stints (non breeding colours).  They are smaller than the Sandpipers with all white breasts and shorter bills.  Again, if you can enlighten me happy to hear from you 🙂

I hope you’ve been inspired to visit a local shoreline, park or patch of green somewhere near you. You never know what you might see.  Happy 2014. May your skies be full of happy (rather than Angry) birds …

Australia, birds, Melbourne, Queensland, Victoria, Williamstown

I’ve been away too long…

I’ve been neglecting my blog…! So here is a a short but hopefully humourous and joyful look around my neighbourhood of Williamstown, Victoria with a few side visits to Tasmania and Queensland while I get back into serious blogging 🙂 I’ve been thinking we need a bit more fun around us (particularly in Melbourne… we take life too seriously considering how good we have it here!) So… smile, enjoy and let me know if you like it. BTW I’m pinning these to Pinterest.com Never heard of it? Neither had I. Another social networking site… seems to be catching on. Again, let me know if it interests you.
Ciao for niao 🙂
Who could resist these dollar deals
A litle graffiti goes a long way...
Brush tail possums are tourist attractions after 6pm in Williamstown, Victoria

No head for heights!

Fairy toodstool

short art

Australia, birds, Birdwatching, Melbourne, Photography

Twitch away!

Blackwinged StiltFebruary 5th, 2012

I am rather taken with birdwatching at the moment and as such I have turned into a ‘twitcher’. The Oxford Dictionary defines a ‘twitcher’ as …. well, ‘someone who twitches’ (not that helpful I would have thought if you went to the dictionary to find out what the word ‘twitch’ meant!) I didn’t really understand why that moniker was used for bird-watchers until I became one and started to ‘twitch’ my head in the general direction of any movement in a bush or shrub that might turn out to be a species of bird that I havent seen before. Hence the Oxford Dictionary’s second definition: ‘British informal: a birdwatcher whose main aim is to collect sightings of rare birds.’ That’s me.
Of course, becoming a bird watcher is a relatively simple thing as there are birds around us all the time. Most are very common and not particularly exciting to view such as Indian Miners or pigeons. But others are so glorious that I want to tell everyone I meet after I’ve had such an encounter about what they missed by not being with me at the time. This does not normally have the expected effect. In fact, mostly once people realise that the ‘rare sighting’ I am describing does not involve the latest celebrity or at the very least some random footballer, their eyes glaze over and they mutter the words ‘twitcher’ (or at least I think that’s what they’re say, it could of course be ‘twit’. but I choose the former).
Australian birds are fascinating. I particularly like the raucous calls of wattlebirds outside my window in the morning. Add to that they are aeronautical wonders able to catch their prey (moths, flies, butterflies) on the wing with some amazing manuevers. I have two regular visitors to my garden. A red wattlebird (red wattles under his chin and a yellowish lower breast) and a little wattlebird and sometimes they’re out there at the same time.
Magpies warbling are a joy to listen to. I really wonder what they are saying to each other.
Honeyeaters of all kinds enthrall me and seeing a spinebill honeyeater or a new holland honeyeater, makes my day.
Red Wattlebird FeedingOf course, becoming a bird watcher inevitably turns you into something else. An amateur photographer. Because no-one believes you’ve seen your wonder unless you can show them a picture. Sad but true. The wild albino fairy wren at Werribee Open Range Zoo is like a mystical creamy coloured fairy that NO-ONE but those who have seen it believe in. I have seen it and my blobby, blurred photo proved nothing (the average fairy wren is only about 3″ high and I was photographing it from about 15 metres without a tripod… and with my shaky hands (excitement!) no chance!) So in order to gain greater pleasure from my hobby I must collect proof. Not in the way of actual birds or eggs or even feathers: but photos. So I’m an amateur photographer and birdo. Add that to keeping my blog up to date and having a social life, one wonders when I have time to work….? I’m wondering about that too 🙂 Royal Spoonbill

birds, Birdwatching, Melbourne, Photography

The Cycle of Change

I’m an infrequent but enthusiastic bike rider and I tend to take my bike out to combine two of my other interests: photography and bird watching so I was pleased to see two ideas to help the world of cycling and its riders and those of us who stop along the ride to take photos of the scenery, interesting birds or just general randomness!
If you like to buy biking accessories – you know who you are you lycra-clad enthusiast you – you may be interested in the Rider+ loyalty programme created just for bikers. I havent used it but its being promoted by Bicycle Victoria and looks like a good idea. Rider+ is a joint initiative of the Bicycle Network which is a network of premium bike stores. Of even more interest to me is the Tripod Bike! Yanko Designs describe it as being inspired by the camera tripod, and provides a unique solution for custom fitting a bike to individual users. The bike features a camera mount located between the handle bars! So all your photo-cyclists, visit www.yankodesign.com for more info. If you’d like to find out about Rider+ visit www.riderplus.org for more info.

birds

Great ocean road

A lively cormorant drying his wings

losing our birds

One of the many birds on the beach at Airies Inlet

On a cloudy but welcoming day we wound our way down to the beach at Airies Inlet amidst cavorting swallows and piping fairy wrens. An angler untangled his line as we walked the shoreline. Then we saw a dead bird, a cormorant of some kind. A small bundle of damp black and grey feathers nestled unnaturally into the sand. Then another. And another. As we walked we must have seen more than 2 dozen small sad wet and still bodies, all the same kind of bird. Was it the recent storms of which they had fallen foul? If so why only cormorants? Bird flu crossed my mind. Is that likely and again why one species only. As we walked I felt useless. I couldn’t do anything for these beautiful creatures.

The tide was coming in. One after another they would be taken back by the sea.

All through Australia bird populations are crashing. We may not always see their small broken bodies like I did today; the loss is not always that obvious. But from Victoria to Queensland, Adelaide to Perth we’re losing a silent battle. Our birds are ever-increasingly the victims of over development causing loss of habitat. Just having what trees remain situated too far apart can have a devastating impact on small birds who can only fly so far.

Imagine a world without birds. No morning songs. No magpies guarding their nests. No laughing kookaburra. No colourful chatty parrots. No seagulls to steal our chips. No cheeky tree sparrows. No regal eagles and hawks. All gone. Our footy teams would be named after extinct animals.

Is civilisation worthwhile if it means we kill off everything that makes us civilised?

I’m sad for the sea birds. I’ll miss them.