'I'm always looking for the Hows and the Whys and the Whats,' said Muskrat, 'That is why I speak as I do. You've heard of Muskrat's Much-in-Little, of course?'
'No,' said the child. 'What is it?'
- The Mouse and his Child. Russell Hoban.

Go here to find out more.

Thursday, 11 October 2012


A couple of weeks ago the Tall Boy and I flew off to Australia.

Auckland Airport.

Media is the drug of the cattle class.  

First stop after escaping customs at Melbourne was my uncle's home.
We had a cuppa and then a tour of his wonderful cavern-like music room which is full of all the kinds of equipment required to create the layers to make music CDs.

Next was a stroll to a lunch-time spot, then a post-lunch walk around the local wetlands area that, since the breaking of the drought, has filled with water and has been slowly filling up with more and more birds.

I doubt we'd have seen more than one or two, but when you're with TB, suddenly they seem to appear.  Almost all were new to me.

Malcolm Creek Wetlands, Craigieburn, Melbourne.

Pretty little Red-rumped Parrots (Psephotus-haematonotus
There's a hole in my tree, Eliza, Eliza...

...and a rainbow lorikeet in it, nesting.

Red wattlebird (Anthochaera carunculata

The Australian Wood Duck with its pretty patterned plumage is common throughout, but rather special in that it seems to have no living close relatives.
There was apparently one contender that in the late C17th was spotted within 100 miles from where I live in New Zealand, but before it could be properly identified, it became extinct*.  What a sad story!  This duck (Finsch's Duck) used to be the most common duck in New Zealand, weighed about twice the Aussie wood duck, and was probably flightless.

Wood Ducks (Chenonetta jubata)
These big black birds surprised me by their sheer size and blackness, whenever I saw one lurking on the streets.  They seem so full of dark presence...  Poe chose well.
Australian raven (I think)

We had a lovely evening meal with the family, and the next day were taken as far as Moonee Ponds (where the famous Dame Edna Everage previously lived as an average Australian housewife) railway station to continue our travels into Melbourne city.

Just before we piled into the car, I noticed a spooky hairy creature on the trunk of the tree in the front garden.  I was sure it was a gigantic tarantula but on examining the camera images I was taking, it seemed to be a mass of black caterpillars huddled together.

My Aunt has identified these as sawfly larvae.  Probably the Steel-blue species.  If it is these, I'm glad I didn't climb up and get too close and annoy them, as they are also known as 'Spitfires', because they eject an irritating substance from their mouths when disturbed. 

Saw-fly larvae.  (Perginae perga?)

On the highway to Moonee Ponds.

* It's the usual story -  Most likely a combination of human hunting and predation of eggs and chicks by the introduced Pacific rat.


  1. 1. Hope you are feeling better and are fully recovered from your cold.
    2. Looks like you had an interesting trip. Look forward to hearing more about it.

  2. All that Aussie wildlife and we had to wait till the end for something that wants to hurt people!

  3. I love your aeroplane caption - "Media is the drug of the cattle class". What is the drug of Business Class I wonder? I'd guess cocaine. So pleased you didn't disturb the caterpillar orgy. Shameful creatures!

  4. Thanks Helsie. All better now. Yes, it WAS a great trip. I want to come back, tho', because it was too short!

    SP, I forgot to mention the magpie that on previous walks has dive-bombed my uncle.

    Thank you YP. The drug of Business Class is enough space to not need any drug.
    And I presume you were just thoughtfully trying to insinuate some sexual reference in your comment somewhere, least we should be concerned you were extremely unwell. Because, of course you must know that the larval form of anything cannot reproduce.

  5. Katherine, I am sorry you didn't appreciate my mischief, I shall try to be more circumspect in future.

  6. On the contrary YP. I've finally become accustomed to it, and truly, would be worried for your well-being if it were to disappear. Mischief on!

  7. Hope you enjoyed Melbourne city Katherine. I have been there twice, years apart, and enjoyed it both times. Nice open spaces and a tidy city - Dave

  8. At least you had a Triple seven with 9 seats in a row. Imagine sitting in one with 10 in a row, what also exists. (and that for 11 hours).
    Interesting music room. Is he famous, your uncle?
    Does the Lorrekeet has the capabilities of a woodpecker to make the holes?
    Funny ducks they have over there. They look like a fat Houtduif (literally Wood Pigeon) with a duck’s beak. So the name of Wood Duck is understandable.
    Glad you are healthy again.

  9. Dave, we DID enjoy Melbourne, a lovely go-ahead, friendly city, 'confident' is a way I describe it.
    But then that may be more of a statement about New Zealand ...

    Ben - I recall going to the UK with my brood aged 5, 9 and 10 yrs old, on a massive plane with seven or eight (or more) seats across the centre. It seemed there were so many people one had to disturb every time you wanted to get up to the loo with a child.

    My Uncle is still playing and singing (wonderfully), but his days of working with his band in New Zealand are over. I believe he is mentioned in a few publications covering bands of the 70's and 80's.

  10. Oh, Ben, I think Lorikeets just use holes in trunks that were there before.

  11. It looks like a wonderful visit. I'm sure your uncle was glad to see you and the wildlife, well except for the larvae, was gorgeous and interesting.

  12. Thank you Bettyl! Nice to see you here too :-)

  13. I'm always fascinated to see new birds, as if they're aliens. I don't know why I'm surprised that there are different birds in different parts of the world. And when I'm home then I'll see one of our own birds and think, "well someone from a foreign country would probably think our birds are strange, too."

  14. Yes Jan. Likewise, I'm always slightly surprised when people call my country 'foreign'... when actually it's THEIR country that's foreign. And THEY are the ones with the accent, too.

  15. I foresee a new career for you as a narrator of travelogue/avian television documentaries. Or perhaps the author of an incredibly successful series of books: Oz on $5 a Day, Touring Polynesia By Kayak and so forth.

  16. Thanks Robert. I like the idea of suddenly being the author of an incredibly successful series of books, without any effort... :-)