Monday Moments: Bird’s Eye View

Cockatoos would have to be one of the least-bothered birds I’ve come across. Perhaps it is because they are usually wheeling about in large, raucous numbers, but even when spotted on their own they tend to hold their ground and show little concern for what humans might be doing around them. This one was spotted as part of a larger flock dotted throughout a chestnut tree, having a lovely time snacking. They are well-known for razing food sources, chewing away until there is nothing left.

Cockatoo in chestnut tree

Cockatoo in chestnut tree

Kookaburras are my favourite bird. A small family of them were spotted by chance during a recent trip to Wiseman’s Ferry in Sydney’s north. Their solid little bodies look too heavy for their feet but in flight they are swift and graceful. They have very sharp beaks and are fierce hunters in the bush.

Kookaburra

Kookaburra

I had chatted with a pair of emus in the Hartley Valley back when I was doing the I Spy quest. Apart from their beautiful brown eyes and inquisitive natures, I had been taken by the deep clucking sound that they make. They are so used to people stopped to say hello that they approached me without concern to see if I had anything interesting to offer.

Emu

Emu

One of my books from childhood had a rainbow lorikeet on the cover, and it still amazes me how vibrant their colours are. This one, spotted in a suburban back yard, was feasting on a large shrub in-between rain squalls.

Rainbow lorikeet

Rainbow lorikeet

King parrots got a mention recently when I was listening to background noises. They are another bird who will look you in the eye as they chew away on whatever is currently in season. This one was perched up high in a pine tree and I could hear it chomping away before I could spot it, even with the bright plumage.

King parrot

King parrot

Last but not least is this magpie, watching me closely whilst perched on a bench seat.

Magpie

Magpie

Have you spotted anything lately from a bird’s-eye view?

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My I Spy: something beginning with ‘Z’

All good things must come to an end, including this alphabetical quest. What a delight it has been to pay more attention to what is happening around me as I cast about for things to use in the I Spy game. This is what I have spotted beginning with Z.

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Zebra crossing at Katoomba

Zebra Crossing

Usually known as pedestrian crossings, zebra crossings help to get us safely from one side of the road to the other. Zebra crossings have been in use for over 60 years, and were nicknamed due to the original black and white design. This crossing was spotted in Katoomba.

Zig Zag Railway, Clarence

Zig Zag Railway, Clarence

Zig Zag Railway

This popular tourist attraction was opened in 1975, offering a range of popular train trips. Unfortunately it was devastated in the bushfires of 2013 when damage was incurred to major infrastructure and rolling stock. According to the website, it is hoped that passenger services will resume early this year. The Zig Zag runs along a line that was built in the 1860s to move people and produce from the western plains to Sydney. It is located at Clarence, which is about 10 kilometres east of Lithgow, and is run by volunteers. This photo was taken near the entrance of the station at Clarence, known as Zig Zag Station. There are lots of videos of the railway in better days, and there is a link to a short one here.

Zealous cockatoo snacking on figs

Zealous cockatoo snacking on figs

Zeal

I couldn’t resist this photo of a cockatoo, snacking on the fig tree in my yard with zeal. They are such raucous eaters, nibbling fruit and stripping leaves and branches as they go.

Zodiac scarf

Zodiac scarf

Zodiac Scarf

The origins of this scarf escape me, but I know it has accompanied me through several moves and I always find a use for it, wherever I am.

Zig Zag Brewery

Zig Zag Brewery

Zig Zag Brewery

A final Z reference as I spotted this bottle at a local cafe. A link to the Zig Zag Brewery in Lithgow is here.

My sincere thanks to everyone who has read these posts. It has been a been a joy to find a wide range of objects to include in this quest, and I have had quite the adventure as I have zipped off to track down elusive thoughts and ideas. The comments, suggestions and shared reminiscing in some cases has been a highlight. It has certainly been rewarding to spy with my little eye.

My I Spy: something beginning with ‘Y’

Yes, the end of this alphabetical adventure is just around the corner. It is tempting to write that it only felt like yesterday when I came across the idea on Pip Lincolne’s blog to play a version of I Spy. At the time I thought it was a brilliant idea, a way to make use of some of the many photos that I already have plus keep an eye out for objects in my daily life. When I reached the halfway mark I remember thinking that the alphabet was a lot longer than it seemed – the adventure takes six months from start to finish. But it has been such a treat to keep an eye out for objects, familiar and otherwise. Here is what I’ve spotted beginning with Y.

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Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow (Brunfelsia)

Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow (Brunfelsia)

This is one of my favourite plants. The shrub appeared in several spots in my grandparents’ garden on the northern beaches of Sydney. One of my best memories is of walking around the extensive garden in the late afternoon with my Nan, and with endless patience she would tell me the names of plants. They had a wide range of camellias, gorgeous shrubs and trees with a variety of flowers that lit up the garden in the cooler months. The blooms of a brunfelsia bush were modest in comparison, but I loved the mixture of dark purple, lilac and white blooms said to represent yesterday, today and tomorrow.

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Yellow

Yellow

As noted earlier in this quest, my favourite colour is green. In recent years I’ve started to gather red objects around me with yellow also starting to appear. There is something about the vibrancy of a sunflower or a bright yellow pot. This lovely glass bowl looks even lovelier with a small candle flickering within.

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Yellow Tulips, Carrington Hotel

And above are some lovely tulips spotted in the gardens of the Carrington Hotel, Katoomba in early spring.

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Platform Y, Temora

Platform Y

Passing through the central western town of Temora earlier this year, I detoured to take a photo of the old railway station. It was beautiful and ornate, and tucked up the end was Platform Y. I took a photo and continued on, discovering later that this part of the railway station has been repurposed as a youth centre. A brilliant idea and great to see the building have another life.

Have you spotted anything worth yearning for beginning with Y lately? Join me next week for the final instalment of this alphabetical extravaganza as I spy something with my little eye beginning with Z.

[Photo: yellow teapot spied at Bygone Beauties, Leura]

My I Spy: something beginning with ‘X’

X is a useful letter. It can be used to denote a person or thing or place – Mr X, X marks the spot. It is also depicts 10 when used as a Roman numeral.

Of all the letters in this alphabetical quest, X has definitely been the most challenging. I perused the dictionary and thought about the likelihood of a chance encounter with a xylophone or a xerophyte. Not terribly high in the circles in which I move. So I decided to approach it from a less literal angle. By widening the lens, I could spot X’s in all sorts of places. This is what I found.

Exposed tree roots

Exposed tree roots

X Shape in a Tree

This tree was spotted at Nambucca Heads on the mid north coast. The lower roots are aerial and some form the shape of an X.

Axe

Axe

Axe

Would an axe be an axe without an X? I think not. I have used axes occasionally for chopping firewood, but that’s about the sum of it. To see a professional woodchopper in action is a treat. Axe handles are sometimes used as a rough unit of measurement for width.

Clock

Clock

X Time

One of my earliest watches had Roman numerals which helped to reinforce X in the context of time. This clock was spied in a cafe and gift shop.

Relax cushion

Relax cushion

Relax

This cushion summed up my approach to X. After all the eagle-eyed spotting, it was refreshing to take a different viewpoint and, well, relax. One of my favourite words and aspirational pastimes.

Have you spied anything starting – or featuring – an X lately?

My I Spy: something beginning with ‘W’

Wintery thoughts are a distant memory as I write this on a warm summer’s day. The outside world is whirring with bird calls and distant traffic as I ponder on what I’ve spied beginning with W.

Whale tail at Victor Harbor, SA

Whale tail at Victor Harbor, SA

Whales

Lately I have come across several references to whales. On a documentary there was footage of a beautiful horseshoe-shaped bay in Tasmania where Southern Right whales congregated for their breeding season until the enthusiastic whaling economy of the 1800s nearly wiped them out entirely. Whaling stations are dotted around the coastline and a whaling museum I visited years ago at Albany at the bottom of Western Australia had a blubber tank that still exuded the scent of decades past. This whale tail was spotted in Victor Harbor in South Australia. There is an excellent overview of the history of whaling in Australia here.

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Wattle

‘Dancing, swaying, wattle’: it is hard for me to spot any of the many varieties of wattle without hearing my Mum sing this line in my head. These bright bursts were spied near an old gold mine shaft at Grenfell in the central west.

img_2745Waratahs

This bright flower is the floral emblem of New South Wales. The red blooms draw the eye even on a dull day in the mountains. There are white waratahs too, a rarer delight.

White waratah

White waratah

Wisteria at Camden Park House

Wisteria at Camden Park House

Wisteria

Stunning en masse, this wisteria was spotted just before reaching its peak wrapped around Camden Park House, part of the Macarthur family estate.

Whale hedge at Glenhaven, Leura

Whale hedge at Glenhaven, Leura

One More Whale

I laughed out loud when I first spotted an article in the Blue Mountains Gazette at the beginning of spring. There are many gardens open for viewing in Leura, and I had to admire the unconventional inclusion of large teeth and an eye to transform a large hedge into a whale in a beautiful garden called Glenhaven. Of course I had to track it down for a photo.

Have you spotted anything wonderful beginning with W this week?

Check out what Autumn has spied here, as well as atman.art.studio on Instagram.

 

My I Spy: something beginning with ‘T’

The letter T brings to mind tea for two, tricycles and teddy bears. There are T’s everywhere, it would seem. Here are a few that I’ve spotted in my travels.

Three Sisters, Echo Point

Three Sisters, Echo Point

Three Sisters, Echo Point

This sandstone formation is instantly recognisable to many people and is a major tourist drawcard in the Blue Mountains. From the early days of photography, a popular gimmick was to take photos of three sisters in front of the Three Sisters. There is an image of an early photograph by Ernest Brougham Docker here. The formations are “sheer yet crumbling, they rise a thousand feet above the forest floor. The Jamison Valley in which they are situated is fed by scores of waterfalls and cascades. The view alternates between the damp luxuriance of rainforest and the stark yellow of weathered cliff” (Martin Thomas, The Artificial Horizon: Imagining the Blue Mountains).

There was a legend that the three sisters were members of the Katoomba tribe, living in the Jamison Valley. They fell in love with three men in the neighbouring tribe at Nepean, but their marriage was forbidden by tribal law. A battle between the tribes followed and an elder turned the sisters to stone to protect them. Unfortunately, the elder was killed in the battle and no one could turn the sisters back. The legend has been subsequently revealed as an attempt to make a local landmark more interesting, although the traditional Aboriginal owners, the Gundungurra, have a legend that includes the rock formation.

Tiles, Globe Hotel, West Wyalong

Tiles, Globe Hotel, West Wyalong

Tiles

Travelling through country towns, it is common to come across tiled shopfronts, especially  on old pubs. Pubs seem to survive above all else in some places. These tiles were spotted on the old Globe Hotel at West Wyalong, a gold mining town in the central west of NSW. The original pub was built in 1894 but was rebuilt in 1908 after being destroyed by fire. The tiles below were on one of the many lovely old shopfronts along the main street in Temora.

Tiles, Temora

Tiles, Temora


Tulips at Eden Park

Tulips at Eden Park

Tulips

This lovely display was spotted in front of a large garden centre in Macquarie Park, north west suburb of Sydney. Floriade in Canberra is an annual celebration of tulips with over a million blooms carefully planted in creative displays since 1988. There is a link to the photo gallery here.

Tools at Mt Victoria Museum

Tools at Mt Victoria Museum

Tools

There is something about tools lined up neatly on a board. This collection is at the Mount Victoria Museum.

Typewriter at Mt Victoria Museum

Typewriter at Mt Victoria Museum

Typewriter

I couldn’t resist this old Remington typewriter, also spotted at the Mount Victoria Museum. My fondness for typewriters and keyboards in general was revealed earlier in this quest, and just looking at it reminds me of how clumsy keystrokes or too much enthusiasm could result in the keys mashing together in a tangled mess.

Have you spotted anything tricky beginning with T lately?

Keep an eye on Autumn’s insightful spying here, as well as atman.art.studio on Instagram.

And now I’m off to uncover something beginning with U.

 

 

My I Spy: something beginning with ‘S’

It seems like the alphabet is slipping along now as the tail end sneaks into view. With so many things beginning with S to choose from, the hardest part was deciding what to share. Here is what I spied.

Shadows, Elizabeth Farm

Shadows, Elizabeth Farm

Shadows

The play of light and dark is of interest to me, and this photo was taken on a late winter afternoon at Elizabeth Farm, Parramatta. The shadows are cast in part by the gnarled branches of a large frangipani tree, along with jacaranda branches waiting for the layers of leaves and blooms to bud.

Scorched, Hargraves Lookout

Scorched, Hargraves Lookout

Scorched

This burnt landscape is on the way to Hargraves Lookout, near Blackheath. The threat of bushfire is a constant part of mountain life. Vegetation control and back burning is used to minimise risk, but the reality is that bushfire is unpredictable, voracious and frightening. In recent travels to the northern beaches of Sydney and the mid north coast of the state, there were acres of scorched vegetation stretching into the distance. A sombre reminder of the danger of fire.

Snail

Snail at Blue Mountains Organic Co, Lithgow

Snail

I would not normally seek out snails for photographic purposes, but this giant snail, perched on the edge of a shelf, was too good to resist. It resides at the Blue Mountains Organic Co, a cafe in  Lithgow. I do have a close-up photo but it is mildly repellent so I’ll leave it for now.

Sheep

Sheep

Sheep

This blue sheep is one of many garden ornaments in my Mum’s garden. They peek out from garden beds, lurk in the midst of flower arrangements and are suspended, in some instances, from trees. Gnomes are a popular choice, and the old cement gnomes of my childhood have had various coats of paint over the years. The sheep stands out for me, not only because of the vibrant hue, but it calls to mind an image in a story by fellow blogger and Writer in the Mist, Therese. You can find Therese’s blog here.

Shark Tank, water reservoir, Katoomba

Sharks on Tank, Katoomba

Sharks

Murals are increasingly popular and prevalent in the mountains. There is a side road in Katoomba which has recently been turned into a one-way street to make it safer for the foot traffic checking out the artistry on the walls. This underwater scene featuring toothy sharks is on a water reservoir on Narrow Neck Road.

Have you spotted anything spectacular starting with ‘S’ lately?

Keep an eye on Autumn’s insightful spying here, as well as atman.art.studio on Instagram – I loved her Jenny Kee photo. Recent highlights from Autumn include quacks and quaquaversal as well as reflections on the letter R. Next, it’s time for T.

[Photo: snowman spotted at Medlow Bath last winter]

My I Spy: something beginning with ‘K’

At the start of this alphabetical quest, I knew that there would be some letters which might be a bit more challenging than others. K, Q and V seemed to be the likely suspects. Here are a couple of things that I’ve spotted in the K space recently.

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Kangaroo spotted at Hill End

Kangaroo

I have a bit of a thing for look outs. When I’m travelling through somewhere unfamiliar and there is a sign for a look out, I usually take the detour, curious to see whatever is regarded as a local scenic spot. Hill End is an old gold rush town, now under the care of the National Parks of NSW. It is a trip back in time and has been a favourite spot for artists over the decades. On an unsealed road up to a look out, we came across this kangaroo who wasn’t thrilled with the interruption.

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Katoomba Views

Katoomba Views

Living in the mountains does make the K challenge a little easier. This photo was taken from the viewing platform at the Blue Mountains Cultural Centre. I love the expanse of sky and the unfolding mountain views in the distance. Katoomba is an interesting town, and many of the shop fronts along the creatively titled Katoomba Street are worthy of photographic or artistic recording, especially some of the art deco style shop fronts. There are lots of quirky shops, too.

Kookaburra

Kookaburra on the fence

Kookaburra

Kookaburras are one of my favourite birds. I love to hear them laughing in a noisy, boisterous group. It is one of the best sounds I know. They aren’t large birds, and I’m often surprised at how compact and sturdy they are, with solid little bodies. At times they look a bit ruffled, like this one, as if just woken from a nap.

 

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Koru, New Zealand

Koru

I brought this gorgeous glass koru back from a trip to the North Island of New Zealand. I was travelling around the beautiful Coromandel coast when I started to see them all over the place, in various colours and made of different materials. I love the glass, as green is my favourite colour, and it sits on my kitchen windowsill, catching the light. It represents the unfurling new growth of a fern frond, symbolising new life, growth, strength and peace.

Have you spotted anything beginning with K lately?

My I Spy: something beginning with ‘J’

J is one of my favourite letters of the alphabet. It makes me think of joy, jubilation, jesters and jazz. One of my favourite words is ‘just’; I’m always just doing something, will be there in just a minute, or am just having a bit of a think, which is code for daydreaming. When I was younger – much, much younger – I had a pair of white sneakers with bright jelly beans on them. Not sure why, it was just a thing. Here are some things beginning with J that I’ve spotted recently.

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Jumble of Jugs

Jugs

Along with an eye for fine china, shared with my Mum, I like little jugs. They are handy for holding milk for tea, a small posy of flowers or water for an oil burner.

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Journals – just some of them …

Journals

I’ve kept a journal on and off for years. I tended to write when travelling or when there were big issues in my life that I needed to digest and understand, or if I wanted to remember something that seemed significant. For nearly 3 years I’ve been keeping a daily journal as part of the morning pages routine, and this is some of the stack of journals I’ve filled with my daily scrawl. The pages are full of the mundane and extraordinary, and when I flick back through them there is usually something to smile at, ideas that I wanted to flesh out or times when I’m having a rant and getting it out of my system. They are the repository of little stories and observations and help me to connect with my writing life each and every day.

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Jigsaw Puzzle

Jigsaw Puzzle

I spotted this at Vinnie’s and brought it home although I haven’t had a go at it yet. I like the description of ‘over 425 pieces’ – it makes me wonder how many pieces there are in the box! Puzzles, like other board games, knitting or sewing, offer me the chance to do something whilst, well, puzzling over other things. If I’m trying to solve a bigger problem, doing one of these other activities seems to free up part of my mind to get to work. There is a great book on puzzles, life and creativity in general – The Pattern in the Carpet by Margaret Drabble. You can read a review of it here.

K might present more of a challenge. Some of my favourite spies so far have been the fish plate and the emus. Fellow alphabet spy Autumn’s posts can be found here.

My I Spy: something beginning with ‘I’

Imagine being here already! It has been great to feel more present as I keep an eye out for objects and images each week. I have come across some interesting things that I probably would have missed in my usual distracted and daydreaming state. This is what I’ve spied beginning with I.

cropped-img_1684.jpgImagine

This is a recycled photo, originally used as a writing prompt for a blog post a couple of months back. I happened upon this on a Sunday afternoon meander down to Mona Vale on the northern beaches. There is a bookshop there which I had passed by and was keen to explore further – Berkelouw Books – and this was across the road and up a flight of stairs. I couldn’t resist as it is one of my favourite starting points for daydreams and writing prompts. And it reminds me of Scrabble. Imagine if …

Indian Pacific

Indian Pacific, Central Station

Indian Pacific

I was lucky enough to travel from Sydney to Adelaide earlier this year on the Indian Pacific. The weekly service from Sydney travels all the way to Perth and back, and it took roughly a day to wend its way from Central Station in Sydney through to Adelaide. I really loved the dawn stop in Broken Hill, and the second photo is taken from the mining museum which overlooks the town. In the foreground the silver streak is the train.

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View of Broken Hill with Indian Pacific in the foreground

On my trip there were 27 carriages with two locomotives pulling the 230 tonnes of rolling stock stretching over 640 metres. There were 28 crew members taking care of 165 passengers with another 50 or so being collected at Broken Hill.

It was a great trip and it took a little while once I arrived in Adelaide to get my land legs back. Some Wednesdays I pass the train snaking its way through the upper mountains and I give it a cheery salute and smile. It just makes me happy to see it.

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Inspiration

A broad term, it’s true, but when I came across the collection of miniature paintings in Lithgow I was struck how each of them had the potential for the starting point for a story or musing. The paintings are a display in Secret Lane and they celebrate the creativity of new and established local artists. I love coming across visual treats like this.

Have you come across anything this week that has inspired your imagination?

Earlier alphabet blogs can be found here: A, B, C, D, E, F, G & H. You can find lots of great I Spy posts on Autumn’s blog, and I was originally inspired to start this through one of Pip Lincolne’s posts. Happy spying!