Sunday, August 31, 2008

Australian Flora & Fauna I - Sydney and Blue Mountains

In March 2008, we went on a three week vacation to Australia. The Aussies were wonderful hosts and we had an amazing time. This will be the first of many posts about the flora and fauna that we observed on our trip.

We began our trip in Sydney which reminded us a lot of San Francisco. We were astounded by the friendliness and warmth of the Sydney-siders. We visited the Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney where we saw an assortment of birds.

Rainbow Lorikeet in Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney
Rainbow Lorikeets

Sacred Ibis
Sacred Ibis

Sulphur-Crested Cockatoo in Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney
Sulphur-Crested Cockatoos

As we were walking through the Gardens, we were surprised to look up and see many black pouches hanging from trees. We learned that these pouches were Grey-headed Flying-foxes (Pteropus poliocephalus), one of the largest species of fruit bats in the world. If you look closely the faces of these bats bear a striking resemblance to a fox surrounded by a red fur. There is a movement underway at the Gardens to encourage these bats to roost elsewhere as they have permanently damaged many trees.

Grey-headed Flying-fox in Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney
Grey-headed Flying-Fox

Grey-headed Flying-fox in Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney
Grey-headed Flying Fox

We also took a day long trip to the Blue Mountains near Sydney. There, we spotted two kangaroos in the wild (unfortunately, this was to be our only wild kangaroo sighting during our trip).

Kangaroos in the Blue Mountains
Kangaroos in the Blue Mountains

We also observed several interesting birds.

Australian Magpie in Blue Mountains Near Sydney
Australian Magpie

Crimson Rosella in Blue Mountains
Very Tame Crimson Rosella
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Sunday, August 17, 2008

Sonoma Sunset

We spent last night at our friends' house on Trinity Road near Glen Ellen in Sonoma County. The sunset above the fog bank that had settled over the hills was quite beautiful.

And it was all over fairly quickly.

I particularly enjoyed the sudden appearance of birds just as the sun went down.


We had a wonderful time with our incomparable hosts, Charles and Marc.Tweet This

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Green Thumb Sunday - Sacred Lotus

Gardeners, Plant and Nature lovers can join in every Sunday,

On several occasions, we have visited the Allerton Garden of the National Tropical Botanical Garden on Kauai, Hawaii. The gorgeous sacred lotus (nelumbo nucifera) in varying stages of bloom and decay always is a highlight.







The sacred lotus is the national flower of India and Vietnam and very important to the cultures of India, South East Asia, Japan and China. It is fascinating that the sacred lotus is thermoregulatory -- that is, the lotus maintains a temperature of 86 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit even when air temperatures drop to 50 degrees. Botanists studying this phenomenon have speculated that the warmer temperature encourages insects to remain in the flower longer to increase the odds for successful pollination. Thus, the propagation and survival of the sacred lotus over the centuries may be directly attributable to the plant's development of thermogenesis. For more information click here.

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