November 16, 2015
Note: Australians are known for their unique way of bending and shortening the English language. Personally, I find English dialects to be fascinating and will try to share some of the relevant and/or more entertaining slang terms we come across. They’ll be denoted by italicized text in parentheses.
We’ve been in Australia (Oz) for 12 days—a fact that my brain is having a hard time adjusting to. It may be in part because the cool Mediterranean hills of Adelaide feel familiar. The rolling residential streets are narrow and winding, shaded by mature gum trees (including eucalyptus (eucalypt); native here, obviously) punctuated by bursts of vibrant color from private gardens and native flowering shrubs like bottlebrush and jacaranda. And when you venture out beyond the suburban foothills, you find rolling grassland, already turning gold in the dryness of early summer, interspersed by oak-like woodlands. And beyond that, vast vineyards yielding some of the best wines in the world. Beyond that, the Great Australian Bight bleeds into the vast Southern Ocean. This should sound familiar to many of you. Yep, almost immediately upon leaving the airport, Colin and I agreed that Adelaide reminded us of the central California coast—a place that we both have very strong ties to. After 24+ hours of travel, we had landed in a familiar land…but not quite. Like California with crazy colorful birds, a British accent, koalas, and no Mexican food. A bizarro world of sorts. Though I’m sure the we-swear-we-don’t-feel-jet-lagged style of jet lag had something to do with our skewed perception of place.
February 27, 2015
Today I felt a bird fly. Sounds like some weird form of synesthesia, right? You would typically see a bird fly, not feel it. But I did, albeit for only a moment. I watched this magnificent Swainson’s Hawk spread his wings to greet the breeze and felt the weight of his body lift up from my hand, talons releasing one by one, until eight toes hovered above my glove. Through the leather jesses that connected us, I felt the upward pull of the wind supporting his wings and the way his body shifted in response to the blustery skies. It was a beautiful moment. An incomparable feeling, to be sure.
May 17, 2014
SO. I spent yesterday morning sitting about 20 feet away from 35-40 Sharp-tailed Grouse on their lek! Yep, even on my mornings off, I get up at the crack of dawn to go look at birds. Though this was a particularly special experience; it’s not like I was getting up at 4 am to go check out some sweet Mourning Doves staring at each other or something.
In the last couple of years, I have developed a strong rule about observing first with my own two lenses, that is, without looking through a camera lens. So I spent the first half hour or so soaking in the experience first-hand: watching their comedic jitterbug dances and listening to their funny little pops, rattles, and hoots. It was tough to get good photos with my little camera in such low light, but I did my best. These were digiscoped through my binoculars. To get the full experience, listen to their calls in the player below. Enjoy!