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Archive for the ‘Animals’ Category

Carol and I travelled to Sydney for the weekend earlier this year and spent quite a lot of time at Taronga Park Zoo. Here’s the pick of the photos.

The elephant calf is Pathi Harn, whose birth is a fantastic story that can be found at http://www.taronga.org.au/animals/asian-elephant/pathi-harn-miracle.

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The plan was to head to the Red Hill Brewery for lunch and a taste of some fine ale. The plan was thwarted by this thing called Easter. “We can get you a table at 2:00pm tomorrow” wasn’t really what we wanted to hear, but so be it. The dining rooms at three wineries down the road were all full as well.

So we headed to a cafe in Flinders for lunch and then went for a drive over to Hastings. That was where we came across the headless pelican.

And the swooping gull.

The pelicans and gulls were being fed by two small girls, with scraps from the fish shop at the jetty. It was the first time we’d been to Hastings – I can definitely see a weekend coming up down that way in the future.

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How stupid would I have to be, thinking that no one in Melbourne could be bothered going to the zoo on Good Friday!

It’s been nine months since my last visit to the zoo. I wanted to see Mali, Melbourne Zoo’s new baby elephant. Mali was born on 16 January – you’ll find more details here.

In the period leading up to the birth and after her arrival, Melbourne has been captivated with her progress, and that of Dokkoon, her mother. It probably wasn’t surprising then that, when I arrived 45 minutes before her display was scheduled to open, there were already 200 people in the queue in front of me.

Was the wait worth it? Absolutely! Here’s the pick of the 620 photos I took. Camera is a Nikon D40X with an 18-135 Nikkor lens.

It wouldn’t seem fair not to include a photo of Dad, Bong Su.

The other thing I was keen to see was the new Wild Sea display, comprising mainly seals and penguins. As usual, it was really challenging getting good under water photos of the seals, but I managed to get some when they were basking in the sun. Interestingly, the seals have been victims of marine entanglements who have been rescued and placed at the zoo. The scars are quite obvious on some.

The apes and monkeys are always fascinating, but presented the usual photographic challenges, mainly from glass and wire.

Last step on the visit was at what I reckon is the best display at Melbourne Zoo, the Sumatran Tiger. I could seriously turn up at the start of the day with a folding chair and sit, watch and photograph this animal all day. It is absolutely magnificent.

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Damn I had a great day today, on what I think was my fourth visit to Melbourne Aquarium (http://www.melbourneaquarium.com.au/).

I love trying to take good animal photos. You’ll find other attempts in other posts in this blog. Unfortunately the aquarium always presents some significant challenges. One can’t use a flash because of the reflection off the glass of the tanks, so there is a heavy reliance on a steady hand and fish that don’t move around too quickly.

For anyone who hasn’t been recently, the new penguin display is just brilliant. They have two varieties on display – King and Gentoo. There is a large area of ice where they walk around and a tank where they swim. In both cases, the viewing areas are great and it’s possible to get right up close – just on the other side of the glass.

Poor Carol! I spent a large chunk of time there as we entered, and then did it all again after we’d seen everything else. Apparently they have nine staff members there to just look after these fascinating birds.

The rest of the aquarium was great as well, albeit very much the same as when I was last there four or five years ago. The large shark and ray tank is great, although not as good as the one I remember from the Sydney Aquarium (that comment is only there for my Sydney-based brother, Ian – he gets sick of me talking down Sydney).

On leaving, I was delighted to find out I could upgrade my entry ticket to a twelve-month membership for an extra $32.50. Given I work just across the river from the aquarium, I can see myself spending plenty more time trying to get the perfect penguin photo.

Anyway, here’s the pick of the shots. Camera is a Nikon D40X with Nikkor 18-135 lens. Some photos have been cropped, but other than that, there’s been no digital enhancements.

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Farewell Wolfie

I spoke to my brother Ian tonight. He, Josie and the boys returned last weekend from a month-long holiday in Europe. They had a ball. Unfortunately, the joy of that trip was tarnished yesterday when they had to make the decision to have Wolfie put down.

Wolfie was a beautiful collie. He had a wonderful 14 year life. What a lottery it is for pets. It is pure fate whether they will be mistreated like so many are, or whether they will come into a family where they are embraced as an integral part of the family. Wolfie was certainly the latter. Ian was saying tonight that he and Josie hadn’t realised what a reference point he was for them – whenever they looked into the backyard, Wolfie was the point of reference.

Carol and I have two dogs – Ned, who we think is a cross between a labrador and a cocker spaniel, and Spike, who is a labrador / rottweiler cross. Spike was the first and is no doubt the apple of both Carol’s and my eyes. Our vets tell us he has one of the most beautiful natures of any dog they’ve seen. It’s so frustrating when people see the rottweiler in him and head the other direction when we’re out walking. You can see the big boy in my profile picture on Facebook.

Ian’s news got me thinking about how much I value true friendship and loyalty, qualities that Spike demonstrates every day. Loss of friendship has been the event that has thrust me into the greatest depths of depression in the past. Still does.

I did a quick search of the web to try and find out the source of the reference to a dog being man’s best friend. I didn’t find it, but I must admit, I didn’t try too hard, because as far as I’m concerned, I don’t care who said it. It’s just so damn true. Dictionary.com nailed it – “A dog is more faithful than most other animals — and more faithful than many people.”

I know that, when Spike’s and Ned’s times come, Carol and I will be absolutely distraught. As Ian, Josie and the boys clearly are at the moment.

Farewell Wolfie! You were a legend!

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Eastern Water Dragon

I was lucky enough to be on the Gold Coast this week, staying at Jupiters Casino for the Microsoft Partner Conference. I managed to sneak a bit of time in the spa and pool at Jupiters – very relaxing.

The pool area is absolutely crawling (literally speaking) with these guys, the Eastern Water Dragon.

I sat in the spa and there was one immediately opposite me, soaking in the warmth from the rock surroundings. I tried to out stare him – absolute waste of time.

They love swimming as well – there were two of them swimming across the width of the pool, with six feet of water underneath them.

Cool!

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