This sizable insect is commonly known as a bark-mimicking grasshopper (Coryphistes ruricola) and even its eyes look like they are actually made of wood. They are common in Australia and depending on location and surrounding environment, appear in various colors from grays to browns. Collectively they are an interesting view of natural selection at work. This grasshopper which was photographed in Western Australia was in an area where there weren’t many trees at all, but blended in very well with the sand it was sitting on. If I was a bird I would certainly think twice about whether I was about to eat a grasshopper or a piece of fallen tree branch.
Once while sitting on a Western Australian beach, I was very amused by the appearance of a few seagulls which looked like they were wearing a black toupee. It was also funny because they were having as bad a hair day as I was and were looking quite frazzled (WA is well known for becoming increasingly windy in the afternoon). It turns out that the ones with hair are not seagulls, they are a different kind of bird called a crested tern. Obviously both gulls and terns are quite happy to have each other as company. Also, if this photo is at all representative of these populations… seagulls are lazier and prefer to sit down.
Can you spot the emu? This photo was taken on a Western Australian highway on a road trip from Exmouth to Monkey Mia, with a stop at Coral Bay. Coral Bay is a beautiful area where the Ningaloo Reef stretches along the coast just a short swim off the beach – a must see location for snorkelers. Monkey Mia is a famous location in WA where dolphins swim into incredibly shallow waters to get fed and interact with humans. On this remote stretch of road you will witness a very dry landscape with expanses of red dirt to either side. You may see small leafless shrubs with adorable tiny goats huddled underneath trying to seek refuge from the hot sun. Closer to the coast the shrubs get larger and slightly greener, and you may be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of some emus running across the land, darting in amongst the shrubs after being spooked by your car. They remind me of the Looney Tunes character the Roadrunner (with Wile E. Coyote), except that real roadrunners run at a speed of 20 mph (32 km/h), whilst emus can run at 31 mph (50 km/h). Below is a close up photo just in case he ran so fast you missed him!
Today is an extra special Friday… the one year anniversary of my blog!!! I want to thank everyone (all of my followers) for your support which has made blogging the wonderful experience it has been so far. Today I am breaking Friday tradition, and instead I want to share with you an alternate photo of one of my earliest posts. The original photo below (click here for original post) was of a peaceful Western Australian seascape with well behaved, black and white cormorants. Todays photo above was taken just moments before that one, the cormorants squabbling over a territorial dispute involving expensive waterfront real estate. Together these photos are the perfect metaphor for how quickly life can change in a mere moment, and that no matter how ugly a current situation is, the calm will eventually arrive.
Early on in my blog I also had a post on my battle with anxiety, especially bad when I travel on airplanes (click here for post). I am proud to say that two days ago I was courageous enough to fly alone for the first time in about 10 years. It wasn’t a great experience with definite moments of panic, but I calmed myself down and I made it. I did it by myself and I can be very proud of that! So here is to the incredible changes that one minute, one hour, or one year of time can bring to someone’s life. Happy Weekend Everyone!!!
This relaxed goanna was photographed in Western Australia, warming up on the sand in the morning sun at the entrance to a gorgeous beach. In Australia we have 25 of the 30 known goanna species. This one would have been about a meter and a half long (about 5 feet). Considering that some goanna species such as Varanus giganteus can grow over 2.5 meters (8.2 feet) long, this one is only medium sized. Even still, goannas can be one of Australia’s more intimidating lizards. I remember once walking along a narrow bush track and in front of me was a large goanna, slowly lumbering in the same direction that I wanted to go. I was not bold enough to overtake him on such a narrow path, nor spook him into hurrying up, so I had to patiently follow until he decided to eventually get off the track and let me pass. These huge lizards can give a very nasty bite which often bleeds profusely. The bleeding was thought to be caused by bacterial infection transferred from their teeth upon biting, but recent research suggests that they may in fact have oral venom-producing glands. If true, this would add another venomous animal to Australia’s huge list of venomous creatures… as if we needed any more!
Pelicans can be found in many countries around the world, but none of them quite compare with the strikingly beautiful, black and white feathered, pink billed features of the Australian Pelican. For a medium bodied pelican, it actually possesses the largest bill size of any bird in existence. Quite common in Australia, these birds are a icon of the Australian coast. This photo was taken in Western Australia, and this pod of pelicans are patiently waiting for a feed from a local fisherman who is cleaning his recently caught fish to the right of this photo. These graceful birds which are usually quite polite and not overly aggressive for their size, feed on fish, insects, yabbies and shrimp, but should not be underestimated, for even small dogs have been swallowed by these large billed birds.
Click here for other posts from Western Australia.
The Pinnacles Desert in Nambung National Park, Western Australia is a unique and bizarre landscape marked by incredibly yellow sand. The Pinnacles themselves (in the top photograph, and seen in the distance of the bottom photograph) are ancient limestone formations, which range in height from only an inch to 16 feet tall (5 meters). They formed millions of years ago from broken down shells, but exactly how these limestone towers came about is still debated. A three hour drive north of Perth along a picturesque coastline of stunning beaches is a wonderful journey to this alien landscape. In the early mornings or late afternoons you even have the chance to see emus and kangaroos amongst the shrubs. Different times of day can completely transform this landscape, with the sun and pinnacles creating large, interesting shadows all around them. Most definitely a landscape photographers dream. It might have been a very different photograph to the middle of the day in summer when I went, dripping with sweat in a dessert with no hope of shade! Perhaps the feeling of being on another planet was just a delusion from heat exhaustion, but either way, a very cool place to visit.
This photograph took quite a few tries to get it perfect. Animals don’t always behave the way you want them to, and so one must have patience. This was clearly the rock of choice for these Australian Pied Cormorants, and they sat there every day at this beautiful beach in Dunsborough, Western Australia. This was the one photo where they weren’t sleeping with their heads tucked under or noisily squabbling at each other. Sitting on a platform that is barely big enough for the five birds, they were constantly trying to push each other off to gain more space. The sleek black and white look of these birds is a wonderful contrast against the wavy turquoise waters, and makes for a beautiful picture.
Photographs of birds are always tricky and the smaller the bird the shorter the time it stands still. This gorgeous little bird is fittingly named the Splendid Fairywren. One of the common visitors of Cottage Café at The Berry Farm in Margaret River, Western Australia. A beautiful little spot to sit outside surrounded with tranquil garden, whilst drinking tea and enjoying delicious homemade scones with jam. I was lucky enough that this particular bird was not shy, and sat on my table happily eating the crumbs of my scone. A photograph of stunning blue bird to eternalize a beautiful memory.