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Mole Cricket

I always get mixed reactions when I post pictures of creepy-crawlies. ¬†Some of you are quite squeamish! ūüôā ¬† I must admit, I am not particularly brave with critters that have six legs, especially if they’re the jumping, flying, leaping-about kind, but I do think they have as much right to be here as anyone else does, and they are all quite fascinating in their own way. ¬†Creepy, but fascinating.

Take, for example, Mr Mole Cricket. ¬†A fairly ugly son-of-a-gun, let’s face it. ¬†But look at those little moley-mole front legs! ¬†They use them for burrowing, of course, and do so in gardens across Western Australia (but they are found all over the world). ¬†They have a loud, shrill song which many people confuse with the chirping of frogs. ¬†The males even make special burrows to amplify their song, to attract the¬†ladeez.

One of the more unattractive traits that mole crickets posses is that they can (and quite happily do) squirt a stinky brown fluid at potential predators. ¬†If you’ve ever dealt with anal glands of any species (and I have, having been a vet nurse for ten years in my younger days) you want to avoid this happening. ¬†Don’t pick up a mole cricket unless you have to. ¬†And I really don’t know why you would ever HAVE to.

They’re not very jumpy so they don’t tend to leap out or suddenly land on you while you’re minding your own business. ¬†They are, by all accounts, pretty pathetic at jumping. ¬†Which makes other crickets and grasshoppers look scornfully at them and snub them at parties. ¬†These guys are not winning any popularity contests or prizes for athleticism.

They are a reasonably large insect – this one I photographed was about 5-6cm long – and can cause damage to people’s lawns, with their constant burrowing. ¬†They eat roots and leaf matter, and some are also predatory, consuming grubs and worms and other squishy delicacies. ¬†I apologise I don’t know which type this one was…I’m gonna go ahead and say he was a vegetarian. ¬†He was also sitting on a bike path so he may well have become quite squishy himself shortly. ¬†I wasn’t going to move him…y’know, the anal gland thing.

I see lots of different critters on my walks.  Mr Moley is probably not the prettiest of them all, but he deserves a spot in my blog as much as a beautiful swan or dainty duck.

Hope I didn’t freak you out too much ūüôā

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Lake Lovely

When I am feeling energetic (and, quite often, when I am not) I go walking after work. ¬†I wish I could say I am diligent and do this every day, but I would be a liar. ¬†I usually manage about three times a week, which is a bit pathetic, but it’s better than nothing. ¬†This is what I tell myself anyway.

Some afternoons I go walking along the beach, which is lovely and scenic and blows the cobwebs of the workday away;  most days, however, I walk around the local lake, which is on my way home and provides me with a nice, easy, 3.5km route.

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Because I am generally quite lazy, it is good to have a circular route to walk – it means I just keep going until I get back to where I started. ¬†I don’t have to think about it. ¬†I don’t get tempted to turn around and head back either. ¬†The lake also has multiple paths; some of them meander through the bush so you can jog a bit and no one can see you ha ha. ¬†I don’t run in public unless I can be sure I don’t have witnesses. ¬†No one needs to see that.

The lake is populated by LOTS of birdlife.  Swans, ducks, moorhen, and herons, as well as my favourite, the pelicans, and some long-necked tortoises, which I am yet to spot.

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As it is breeding season for many of the birds, there are cute, fluffy bundles of downy joy dotted around the lake, following their parents around and getting up to mischief.  There are plenty of reeds and other plant life to provide happy nesting spots and hideaways for the vulnerable babies.

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I am dying to see some cygnets. ¬†I love the black swans – they are so majestic and beautiful. ¬†There are a couple at the lake that have allowed me to get quite close – sometimes they waddle up to me of their own accord. ¬†During breeding season, they can become a little bit aggressive and protective of their offspring, which is totally understandable. ¬†It’s best to keep your distance at those times and give them their space. ¬†Even if you do want to run¬†headlong into those gorgeous, grey, fluffy cygnets and squeeze them in an adoring cuddle. ¬†It’s not really recommended.

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There are also lots of cormorants. ¬†I adore them. ¬†Those funny webbed feet! ¬†The fluffy, shaggy feathers on their plump bellies and chest! ¬†The almost bat-like wings! ¬†The way they dry themselves in the sun, holding up their wings like laundry! ¬†The way they hiss at me when I get too close and annoy them with my photo-taking! ūüôā

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The lone egret¬†is a tricky individual to photograph. ¬†He doesn’t like being bothered and you can’t get too close before he flies off. ¬†It could also be because I have mistakenly been calling him a heron, and he’s not. ¬†I have offended him and now he doesn’t want a bar of me, or my camera. ¬†So all my shots of him are blurry (because I am far away and have zoomed my camera in). ¬†It’s very inconsiderate of him, to be honest.

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Towards sunset, the lake takes on a magical quality. ¬†I tend to keep stopping to take photos, which is not really making efficient use of my exercise time, but hey, the sky and water is so pretty at night! ¬†It’s hard to take a bad photo, to be honest.

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I am always on the lookout for new places to walk ;¬†it’s nice to have a change of scenery and some different landscapes/wildlife to look at. ¬†The lake, for now, remains one of my favourites. ¬†Easy to get to, easy parking, lots of people around (for safety’s sake) and lots of lovely birdies for me to¬†photograph. ¬†I am lucky to have these spaces to utilise and enjoy, and get that much-needed exercise. ¬†That egret will just have to get used to me because I’m going to keep coming back ūüôā

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Mini Road Trip

As I mentioned in a previous post, Mum and I recently took a little road trip to Bunbury  for some much-needed rest and relaxation.  It was nice to get away for a couple of days, with no schedule to follow, no work to get through, and no dramas to stress us out.  It was such a lovely weekend and I think we both really needed it.

The weather was, unfortunately, pretty dreadful.  Cold, wet and miserable.  In the middle of Summer we had torrential rain, flooding and ridiculously cool temperatures.  It was so cold, I had to buy some extra warm clothes and shoes once we got to our destination.  I had planned on spending many hours at the beach (our favourite little motel is located metres away from the Ocean) but the weather was just too inclement.  We did have one afternoon where the sun shone for a few hours, and we were able to go beach-combing at Hungry Hollow and collect some lovely shells, have a paddle and soak up some rays.

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Sunshine at last!

I love the variety of shells at Hungry Hollow. ¬†I try to take the ones I think won’t be used by ¬†sea creatures for their homes or other purposes. ¬†I like to collect the broken, smooth pieces of shell and any that have that gorgeous oil-slick colouration (mother of pearl to everyone else on the planet, I guess) on the inside. ¬†I have great plans for the shells but then end up just keeping them because they’re so pretty and I can’t bear to use them.

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Nature’s Artwork

While the weather was fine we also visited the Bunbury Wildlife Park. ¬†We’ve been there before and have been very impressed with the way the animals are cared for and housed, and how the kangaroos, in particular, have “quiet zones” where they can escape from the crowds. ¬†It’s so important for animals in captivity to have places they can go to when they want time out. ¬†They shouldn’t have to be on display all the time if they don’t want to. ¬†The roos at the Wildlife Park seem very relaxed though. ¬†They follow you around and come up to you for food and enjoy a good scratch on the chest or under their chins.

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Kangaroo – boop my nose!

I do love kangaroos. ¬†Having had one as a child for a short period of time, I love their gentle nature. ¬†Of course, the bigger males can be quite aggressive and dangerous at times (usually when a human being is getting too close or basically being an idiot) but the inhabitants of the park are all very calm and friendly. ¬†I like to see them so un-stressed and chilled out. ¬†They don’t even startle when a group of noisy children come in, which to me means they are not anxious or have any need to be afraid. ¬†Do I wish they were out in the wild? ¬†Yes, of course. ¬†But these parks are also important for teaching people about native fauna and how we need to look after them and protect them. ¬†Many of the critters in the park are orphans, hand-reared after their mothers were killed on the road, in dog attacks, and other accidents.

I love getting up close with them. ¬†My Mum was a bit more nervous than I (she was attacked, rather badly, by a large roo, years ago when I was child) and so didn’t get right in their¬†faces like me, although she did feed them and give them a pat. ¬†But I have always been annoying and like to get right in the middle of the action ha ha. ¬†I wouldn’t do it if they were weren’t so calm and friendly. ¬†One of them actually grabbed my arm and pulled me back in when I stopped scratching his chest ūüôā

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Photo-bombing!

Another lovely little spot we visited was Mulberry House. ¬†Just gorgeous. ¬†Pretty things to buy and look at – room upon room of vintage-inspired treasures, in a 1900s building. ¬†Each room is themed and just so delightfully arranged with floor-to-ceiling goodies. ¬†You can also have afternoon tea there (we didn’t indulge this time) and enjoy some home-baked cakes and other treats. ¬†My Mum ended up buying some lovely fat quarters in beautiful country/cottage colours – pale pinks, greens and cream. ¬†If you’re visiting Bunbury, be sure to pop in here – you won’t be disappointed.

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I’ll have one of everything, thanks!

This is a bit random, but I had to show a pic of this beautiful Crepe Myrtle, standing proudly outside a small antique store. ¬†How gorgeous is it??? ¬†I can’t believe how bright that pink is. ¬†It was almost TOO bright to look at. ¬†I’m glad the sun came out long enough for me to take this photo. ¬†It wouldn’t have looked so spectacular if it was bedraggled and dripping with rain (which I would also have been, most likely).

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Crepe Myrtle.  Ridiculous show off.

So, a lovely, relaxing trip that recharged our batteries and gave us some respite from life. ¬†I’m looking forward to going back again later in the year, if I can. ¬†Which probably means more kangaroo cuddles. ¬†If I’m lucky ūüôā ¬†(and the kangaroos, less so, ha ha!).

Thanks for stopping in – hope you’re having a happy day x