Sunday, January 20, 2008

Tangalooma Island

My favorite bird - the Galah, so much more welcoming in this picture than when I was near its nest:

For me, the most exciting thing about our week on Tangalooma Island was watching the birds. There are such different birds here than in the U.S. and I got to go on a bird walk with a ranger and learned a lot. Here are just a few of the many birds that I stalked and photographed this week.

Here is the Kukaburra. Unlike the human Aussies, he is completely unafraid of being a tall Poppy and loudly laughs every morning and every evening in order to proclaim his territory. These birds stay in family groups(a fairly unusual thing for birds)and their territory is up to 4 acres large.

A Pied Cormorant drying his wings. There were loads of these and of pelicans in front of our apartment.

Here is the Friar Bird. They are quite ugly, and it's really cool to watch them eat. This one is about to catch a Lilac Flax Lily berry. We tried these as well. They taste like potatoes and are one source of food (bush tucker) for Aboriginals.

Jesse loved the resort schedule of events. He took advantage of lots of activities: basketball, movies,limbo, talent show, a night time search for nocturnal animals...

Kenneth is a wonderful baby wrangler, the most entertaining episode of late being on the plane ride back to Sydney yesterday when he had two rattles, a nursing necklace and the white throw up bag (that is included in every seat pocket) all making noises or being blown up to distract a very unhappy babe from wanting to nurse before take-off.

We had front row balcony seats every night to the following event, even though we weren't allowed to take part ourselves (as we weren't staying at the "resort"):
Looks like newly converted Christians being led to baptism by sea water, doesn't it? Actually, they were people staying at the resort who waited in a long line in order to feed the dolphins. Yes, dolphins! About three of them showed up every night. On the night that they didn't show (being untrained and wild), it was really fun to watch the marine staff lead the guests through hours of dolphin education and dolphin sand sculpture games. The coolest thing that I learned about dolphins was from Naomi. Dolphins never sleep. If they did, they'd be easy tucker for sharks. So instead they shut down one side of the their brain at a time, closing only one eye and floating on the surface of the water. I ended up swimming only twenty feet from one on the last morning. So cool. The following is from an evening visit.
The kids' limbo contest. I wish that I had a good picture of Jesse in the talent show. He read that they were having one, practiced his break dancing moves in the sand and confidently signed up. Unfortunately, he danced completely on the floor and it was hard for most to see him, but he was very pleased with himself which was awesome.

Gillen spent the entire week with Adam and Alfie, whom he met on the first day there. They fished, boogie boarded down dunes, and were almost swept out to sea on a surf board while trying to surf in the surfless bay one day. They must have hit a rip tide from a boat pulling out. Here I was just worried about the day he had a bit of sunburn on his face. I'm so grateful that he made it back (it took them a while) and that none of the many Moreton Bay sharks sensed their screaming. And he'll be really careful now when he actually surfs with waves again.

What a luxury to be able to stand on our balcony and see the sea this past week and then come home to Kenneth and Naomi's and look off their balcony into the bay. Looking at water is a very good thing. I'll have to sit by Gillen's pond when I go home and to visit Georgia's many rivers and lakes more often. I hear that there has even been snow in GA while we were gone! Kind of wish we hadn't missed that. Maybe there is less of a drought there now?


Tamar Orvell said...

Yiddish proverb (w my poor translation): you can't dance at two weddings with one tush/butt/bum/you-get-the-point;-) So while you are swimming w dolphins and experiencing Charles Darwin moments, we get our snow (and maybe water...). The price (including juggling schedules, luggage, etc., as you say) of travel. Cheap! Your online journal is stupendous. Worthy of a physical book?

Steph and I were wondering, when are you coming home? Or is this the new home? Many thanks for the gift of your blogging (and we miss you). Funny how knowing someone is physically far away though we hardly see them feels weird and not good. My blog friend went to Dubai three weeks, and I missed him though he lives in Montreal and we have never met in real time.

WellnessWombat said...

What a great travelogue. So well written. Wombat butts? That has to be my favorite pic! Although it was fun to see the Blue Mountains again.
Great to see that you are all having such an incredible time. Thank you for blogging it.
And yes, Atlanta has snow. Alexander, Isabelle and I built a snowman in our back yard!
Can't wait to see you home and capture the excitement of the journey first hand, from Gillen and Jesse's perspective.

Wellness Wombat

Madeline said...

I love that proverb Tamar! Thanks for sharing that. I wish that this were our new home. But we will be returning to GA in three days. Thanks for your generous comment, Tamar.

Peter, that is so cool about the snowman. We thought of you when we took the Wombat butts picture! See you soon.

Cami said...

What an amazing trip you all are having! I've enjoyed the photos and journaling you're sharing with us. You've gotten some great bird shots, I love them! It's been fun sharing this adventure with you ;)

kelli said...

I've awarded you an "excellent" blog award.

You can see what I'm talking about at my blog.

Schuyler said...

Did you have bugs? Moreton Bay bugs are my favorite crustacean.

What a wonderful trip you seem to be having! Yay!!

mindy said...

It has been so wonderful to tag along with your amazing family on this trip of a lifetime. Thanks for taking the time to share with us all. You guys have truly made the most of it! We're wishing you the very best for the journey home. And, selfishly, I am glad you are not moving to the other side of the world. It would be really hard for us to get our "fix" of you and the fellas.

Jessica said...

I loved this post, being a bird lover *and* wombat lover! Oh, and the baby pics aer to die for~that is one wicked cute baby as we say here in the Northeast.

Speaking of which, you have been in the South a long time if a bunch of people standing at the seashore makes you think of mass baptisms *great big grin*
Love, Jessica

Madeline said...

Jessica, it was the lining up and being walked into the water that brought to mind baptisms, but living down here definitely could have influenced that vision. ; ) I thought of you while reading a book about nanowrimo. I am going to try it this year, before Nov.

Schuyler, I have no idea what those bugs are. I wish I'd seen them! I did get a cool picture of a grasshopper about to be devoured by a green snake.

Hi Mindy! We miss you guys.

Cami, I am glad that you are a fellow bird lover. I never used to notice them until Gillen became a birder. Now i am always looking up.

Kelli, thanks!