Friday, 30 December 2016

Back to the movies

We have decided that we'll go to the movies once a month this year (2017).  Today was declared an honorary member of 2017 as we made our first visit to a cinema for about 20 years.

We gave Palace Electric our custom.  This is next door to Hotel Hotel in Acton, which had some interesting architecture.

 The cinema is interesting with about 8 screens and each theatre holding about 100 punters.  It was very comfortable although I was initially worried about the albedo factor of the guy in front.
The movie of choice was La La Land: apparently a reference to the dreamlike nature of life in LA.  Its interesting that in Kiswahili "lala" means "sleep".

Our overall rating of the movie was quite interesting.   Not a 10, but well above 5 - perhaps 7?  Without giving away the plot, I was expecting a musical with lots of dancing and singing, which is certainly where it starts off and continues for about 30 minutes.  Plot and character development then get in the way - although there is some good jazz perpetrated - for about 40 minutes.  The final section is again more interesting with some good dancing and interesting plot stuff.

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Mainly stuff around the house and block

This extends the snaps I put on my facebook page today.  It's a few things that interested me around our house.  The first few photos are of Frances' fuchsias that are beginning to flower on the deck.  Its surprising (not) how much better they are going in the absence of a dose of glyphosate.



In the strip below the deck is a honeysuckle, which is a Bad Invasive Weed up the block but quite attractive when constrained.
The bed outside our sun-room has a variety of tubular flowers in it, which do a good job of feeding Eastern Spinebills and other honeyeaters.
 Penstemons help out with this task.
 As I was going out this morning a full size Gippsland Water Dragon was basking above the Creek.
I find these beasts quite attractive, and very interesting when seen in close-up.
Later in the day I had a sweep round the currants ...
 .. and berries.
The strawberries are taking a break at the moment but the Boysenberries and Loganberries are picking up the slack.  The raspberries are producing a lot (in numbers) of fruit but are suggesting some additional pruning would be good to improve the size of each fruit.

Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Last Zoo for 2016

A few things lined up today.  Ingrid and Alex wanted to go to the movies so we freed them up by taking Arabella to the Zoo.  It is also just before herself:
  1. turns 4 and thus changes from free-list to an astonishing $23 per visit!  and
  2. becomes part of the education industry pretty much full time.
Wildlife viewing began in the rather full main car park.  There were a lot of pelicans there - not the attractive, white fish-eating birds, but the folk who got their driving licences by clipping a coupon on a Weeties packet.  The Jetta's horn got a bit of work.

Not only was the main park full but so was a fair bit of the overflow park where we went.  So there were lots of people in the facility.
 It was good to see that several of the exhibits had misters going to cool the animals down.  In some other cases punters were commenting how the poor animals were feeling the heat - for example hyenas.  Which naturally occur in places like the Serengeti where today's high of 32oC would be considered pleasantly mild.

The first animals we saw were the Painted Dogs which were being rather active ....
 ....
 .. but then wandered to assume the position under a tree and stack several zeds.

A Lemur had a similar idea.
 So did this tiger ...
 ... and this one (please excuse the ghosted grill left in by manual focussing through a fence).
 Tigers were a target species as the Fat Elf had left one of them with Arabella.

Lions were also doing a fair imitation of a carpet.
 As were the Spotted Hyenas.
 Fortunately they were advised of the sluttishness of their initial poses and achieved a little decorum.
 In the Aquarium an Iguana was remarkably inactive ...
 .. as were the Reticulated Pythons.  I have never seen them move a muscle but do not charge that they are actually stuffed trophies!
 This cute Otter had just been for a swim.  It then decided to emulate most other species by diving into its cubby house and make a nest as a prelude to some intensive sleeping.
The Dingo, which we have previously met walking through the zoo on a lead (the Dingo was tethered, not us) was somewhere between alert and comatose.
 This Emu was one of the more alert specimens we came across.
 A posing Penguin.
 A dozing Tree-kangaroo.  This was one of the species with a mister, but it seemed to prefer the far end of its enclosure: you can lead a Tree Kangaroo to a mister, but can't make it bathe!
 I was very pleased that Arabella got quite excited by this former Cicada and that she identified it straight away.  She realises that animals don't have to be exotic to be interesting.
 By the time we got back to Civic Mr Barr had had a whip-round the Cabinet and was able to cough up for a bit of power to be applied to the Cook Water Jet.  The first time I have seen it working for years.

Monday, 26 December 2016

Birding gets interesting as the year winds down

IMHO birding is usually interesting, but the recent period is perhaps a tad more so than average.

Taste alert: one of the images that follows is a bit gruesome.  That comes with the territory when looking at raptors!

My first comment is that I have had to update the comments about Frogmouths in yesterday's post,  All 4 of them are now present!

I am sure that we have had Collared Sparrowhawks nesting close to our property.  However I have not been able to find the nest, nor see the adult feeding the young.  Today an adult was calling a lot down by the Creek and, apart from a couple of flights between trees when I first got there, was very obliging in posing.
From the size I am confident it was a female.  Each time she landed with the prey she'd call loudly, but no-one answered.
Here is the prey - you were warned - and I think its avian.  If pushed I'd rate it as a headless chook, but it isn't running around.
Later in the day I went to see what was going on in some of the Bungendore wet places.  In essence, return of waterfowl is what is going on.

Bungendore Meadow Dam, which has been almost devoid of ducks recently had quite a good crop, amongst the cattle.  There were about 20 Shelduck with the biggest number being 97 Australian Wood Ducks.
Moving round the corner I was initially disappointed with Plumed Whistling Ducks.  Then I heard an odd noise and discovered 31 of them up against the roadside fence.
Another 2 were out on the edge of the water, apparently gleaning corn from the cattle crap.  (David McDonald has written this unusual behaviour up in Canberra Bird Notes.)
 There were several fowl on the Bungendore poo pits and quite a lot on the Big Dam on Lake Road.  It still has a lot of water!
So does Lake George, but the heat haze was so bad I had trouble seeing anything in detail.
Joe Hockey will be pleased to see the wind farm is still there and looking attractive to rational people.

An excellent Christmas (Brianmas?) Day

The day began well with the return of Tawny Frogmouths.
I initially thought this was Dad and the 2 chicks,  However on Boxing Day they adopted a slightly different position which led me to conclude it was both adults and a single chick.  Given that one of the chicks was a complete Gumby in leaving the nest, it is not surprising it had trouble dealing with a continuing existence.  While not resiling from the Gumby call, while collecting the washing today I found all 4 of them.  Mum was perched on another branch (actually a bit of fallen timber) somewhat lower down and I hadn't spotted her in the first check!  Really good news.

Our first engagement for the day was visiting Ingrid, Alex and Arabella.  Arabella is very keen on drawing things so we had taken along lotsa equipment for her.

 I must buy some equity in a wrapping paper manufacturer!
 I can't remember what Frances was being painted as ...
 .. but know I was a leopard!
 In the evening we went to our friends - Rob, Carol and Shevaun - place for dinner.  We took Tammy along as usual.  Here is Tammy (3.5kg) getting inspected by Boson (20kg).
 Boson pounces.
 Tammy displays her usual level of terror at such attention.
 There were a few scraps of turkey to be shared.

 Here we have the well known Matador, El Corblimey, dealing out a veronica to Boson.
I concluded that had Boson been a Miura bull, the toreador's femoral artery would have very soon been in about 6 separate pieces.  El Perro Loco would definitely have been awarded two ears for his performance!
 In conclusion: