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Hi, welcome to my blog. I'm a writer of poetry, prose and plays but my best known work is children's fiction. My most popular books are the Selby series and the Emily Eyefinger series. This blog is intended as an entertaining collection of thoughts and pictures from here in Australia and from my travels in other parts of the world. I hope you enjoy it. (For more information have a look at my website.)

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Accidental Animals

I could never be a nature photographer. I'm just not patient enough to wait in a hide at night for a mother Eurasian Eagle Owl to return to the nest with a freshly-killed mouse, or to crawl around a malarial swamp photographing the mating habits of a False Gharial, or to spend my life searching for last living Night Parrot or Tasmanian Tiger. But I do walk a bit both here in Australia or wherever I might be and I often have Canny the 3rd, my trusty pocket camera, with me. While I could never work for David Attenborough I've had my share of the gadget-bag essential---good luck.

I was with some birdwatcher friends in their backyard in Massachusetts and, while their binoculars were trained on their bird-feeder, I looked down on the ground and saw this baby Striped Skunk. It let me get very close before raising its tail and running away. Fortunately it was too young to spray me. It was incredibly cute, as I hope you'll agree, but not old enough to make scents.

These Rainbow Lorikeets were in a park near where I live in Sydney. They let me get very close before flying away. They are very common but so strikingly colourful that I can never resist photographing them when they give me a chance.

This New Zealand Fur Seal was warming up on the rocks at Kaikoura on the South Island of New Zealand. Its mother, behind me, wasn't as happy about my informal photo-shoot. She made a quick movement towards my legs and I legged it very quickly out of bite-range.

While I was walking on a country road in Maine some young relatives of mine called me over to their backyard. They showed me these baby North American Raccoons in a hollowed out apple tree. Once again, I had a camera in hand---rather, in pocket.

Royal Spoonbills are not uncommon here in eastern Australia. This one was in a park near me rummaging through the water plants in a pond and allowed me to get close to it before it flew over to the other side of the pond. It was clearly annoyed that I'd interrupted its dinner.

I can't claim this photo as my own. Near Boothbay Harbor, Maine, this whale suddenly surfaced. I was at the helm of the boat and quickly cut the engine. I couldn't get to my camera in time but my cousin, Johnny, obligingly took this photo. We thought it was a Minke Whale but this is all we saw of it. It dived and we didn't see it again.

On another boat, this time on a trip up the Ord River near Kununurra, in northmost Western Australia, this lizard was sunning itself. I don't know what kind it was but it was big, fast and loved the water. If you know what it is, please leave a comment.

I was walking around Iron Cove on Sydney Harbour when I spotted this Australian Spotted Jellyfish. They're common here but I'd never seen one before. Jellyfish don't race away when you try to photograph them which is fortunate as it took a while to get a photo that didn't show the clouds above better than the jellyfish itself.

Closer to home, this sausage-size caterpillar (species unknown) appeared in our tiny back garden. I watched it for a while carving great chunks out of some of our favourite plants. I'd have loved to see whether it eventually turned into a butterfly or a moth but by then we wouldn't have any garden left. So I took it for a walk to the park where it would have more to eat. I can't identify it so if anyone can, please leave a comment.

Huntsman Spiders make guest appearances in our houses here in Sydney. They don't actually come in to the house but just magically appear inside on a wall or ceiling. Their bite isn't deadly but they can bite and they are memorable to look at. This one is the span of a child's hand. Okay, a smallish child's hand. They have two speeds: deathly still and frighteningly fast. 

I'm the designated spider-catcher-in-chief because I'm not quite as terrified of huge spiders as my wife is. I use the bowl and magazine method and then release them in the park across the street closer to the neighbours' houses. Huntsmen (Huntsmans?) aren't always easy to catch. Just when I'm about to clap the bowl over them they often shoot off. Perhaps the screams of, "Catch it, Duncan! Catch it! Get it out of here! Oh, yuck! Horrible. Horrible." disturbs them.

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Jeroen said...

Some great shots Duncan, another one of your talents that I wasn't aware of yet. That baby skunk is adorable, are you sure it's a real one?


Duncan Ball said...

Yes, Jeroen, it was a real wild skunk and it certainly was adorable. It ran off just after I took the picture.