An adventure in time (part 3)

Continued from part 1 and part 2

9 July 2008: Lacock and Glastonbury

The morning was scheduled as free so I wandered around Avebury and followed Helen’s directions to a lovely elm grove. It was raining so I had the place to myself, clooties and all. I’d like to have stayed there longer, but had to get on the bus for the next destination. We don’t have elms in Australia, unless they’ve been planted in someone’s garden, and it’s interesting to see the trees that appear in so many fairy stories I read as a kid. The entangling roots of these trees were particularly impressive.

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Elm grove in Avebury

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I can’t fly but I’m telling you …

… I can run the pants off a kangaroo! (Old Man Emu, John Williams)

"He's got a beak and feathers and things but the poor old fella ain't got no wings", lyrics by John Williams; photo by Sheree Ford

He does have wings, but they are too small for flying. We don’t have any emus in our area, but in the national park near Woody Head on the coast you used to see them occasionally crossing the road. Somehow they looked wrong there – probably because of all those documentaries showing them in the outback deserts where they look right at home.

These birds aren’t found anywhere else in the world, but rheas and ostriches are related to them, all being in a group called “ratites“. The African ostrich is the tallest ratite (about 3 metres tall), with the emu being next (about 2 metres tall). The New Zealand kiwi is the smallest ratite. New Zealand also used to have several species of flightless moas, but they’re gone, too. Australia has another ratite, the cassowary, endangered because of habitat loss in Far North Queensland.

By the way, in case you’re wondering it’s pronounced “e-mew”, not “e-moo”. And it can sure run the pants off you.

Small is beautiful

I haven’t had much opportunity to get out of the house lately, what with all this rain – 157 mL in Ballina on one day! It’s a typical Lismore January, with rivers filling up from rain in the local catchment and from the Tweed to the north. They’ve had a lot more rain than us – evacuations are taking place, but nothing extraordinary in Lismore. The water hasn’t even got to the bottom of the local town levy even though yesterday it was only 1 metre from the bottom of the bridge at the Rock Valley Post Office – that’s a lot of water pounding through! The little creek on the west end of our property is absolutely roaring.

So I’ve had time to wander around the property, looking for interesting things.

The neighbour’s sheep, who continue their daily visits through the electric fence (wool is an insulator), have brought with them these spectacular flies who group on piles of dung (must put some away for composting my veggie garden – the dung, not the flies).



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It’s worse than that, it’s dead, Jim

… to paraphrase “Bones” McCoy in Star Trek.

My satellite hardware has died after just over five years. I’m surprised to find out how dependent on it I’ve become – not only for work but for blogging and communication with friends all over the world. Once I would have phoned a friend and heard the nuances in their voice, but until last Monday it’s been shooting off email messages and blogging that’s kept me in touch – even to the extent of emailing Andrew in his studio across the courtyard. It’s amusing to think of the signal going from my computer to the magic box in the studio, then up to the satellite, back down to the box and across the room to his computer, crossing a total of 20 human steps via several thousand kilometres.

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Pretty parrots and perky wrens

I don’t know what it is about galahs – they are not the most brightly coloured birds, but there’s something nice about that soft grey and pink combination. Maybe it’s that I’m familiar with them from my childhood in South Australia, in a landscape much drier than where I live now. (The average annual rainfall of Adelaide is about 520 mm/20.5 inches a year whereas Lismore has about 1335 mm/53 inches.)

But the galahs are here, too. These are at a friend’s bird feeder …

Galahs at feeding station

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Frogs visible and invisible

The increasing showers and rain that herald the wet season bring a lot of frogs out. The male is the noisy one, calling for mates. This one lives in a flower pot. This is probably a young Litoria caerulea, with the white spots running down from the eye, although not all L. caeruleas have that.

Young green tree frog, Litoria caerulea

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