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Strange internet search terms …

Jessica Accardi,the possessor of a fine ability to convey with subtlety and nuance her thoughts and feelings about literature and art and other things, and who sends my heart aflutter with her love of rhubarb, beats me hands down – I had thought “hindu cryptozoology” was a strange search term to lead to my blog, but she wins with … I’m not sure I can say it.  See the comments on my post “This title is kinda vanilla” below.  I’m interested to hear what interesting google entries may have led strangers along your garden path.

No other postings this week, but here is a picture I took a few years ago of a southern boobook balancing on a palm frond.  We have had one visiting in the night recently, but no photographs I’m afraid.  This owl was wild, but residing in a State forest is perhaps used to people getting a bit close, and was not disturbed at all:

I love the scrunched eyes

Speaking of nocturnal visitors, we had a very welcome intruder the other night.  Sneaking into my front yard in pyjamas to confront a prowler, I saw a huddled shape in the driveway.  A moment later it bounded away, and in the street lights I saw it clearly: a swamp wallaby!  (While a zoologist may condemn this description, a wallaby is basically a sawn off kangaroo.)  People may think that kangaroos bound down city streets here, but they do not.  This was very unusual for me, I’ve rarely seen a wild kangaroo, as a city slicker.  A couple of nights later, he was back.  They are dark and timid and I do not hold out hopes of much of a photograph if he returns, but I’ll see what I can do.  Very exciting, its the little things that keep us going after all!

Most excellent echidna, most spiny anteater

Don't get too close

Don't get too close ...

Another not so good photograph, but I record my encounter this evening with a nocturnal ambler 5 minutes walk from my home.   (My photographs are not as good as Mike’s, but I still wanted to brag about this meeting.)  It was an overcast afternoon, a light drizzle here.  I heard some movement in the bush and froze, hoping something interesting was about (and always cautious its not something that finds me, or more likely my wallet, interesting).  I thought there was a possibility it was a goanna.  I stayed still long enough and this fellow came along.  I was very happy to see this short beaked echidna, out and about a little early.  They are an ancient life form – the echidna and the platypus are the only extant monotremes, ie egg laying mammals, so they go back to early days of mammal evolution.

Thank you to those who comment in various places on my pieces.  A yell out this week to Thirsty Murphy, who put me onto Die Antwoord, and who has had me googling local kung fu schools to find a replacement for karate which has taken too much out of my knees and ankles.  In a similar vein, I am looking forward to the upcoming publication of “How Not to Get Hit” by Nathaniel Cooke in three months.

So: what has been happening around the Joe Chip Empire?  Here we go:

While there are some Trevor pieces in preparation, the fermentation is not complete.  A couple of alleged poems have been reblogged here recently, but you may wish to check them out in their natural environment over here.  (Of course if you prefer real poetry by a real poet, you would look here.) As well as a poem about the tragedy that is the story of Casper the tamed, hobbled, crushed so-called “friendly” ghost, the Marxian consequences of this disturbing story are considered here.  A warning to men who wish to stray because their wives do not understand them is here (speak more clearly, and perhaps brush your teeth occasionally).  Most importantly, fellow scientists, I have been wondering why we do not eat rocks, and acknowledging that I cannot eat eyes.

I’ve been reading a lot lately, but nothing has inspired me to actually say anything, so I won’t.  I’ve picked up a copy of “Basic Black”, tales of fear by Terry Dowling, and on the strength of a story I blogged about a little while back, I am very much looking forward to reading it.  I am at 75 000 words on the second draft of my own novel.  I say that out loud because it may make me have to do more work on it.

And as a reward for putting up with some not so good photographs, here are some pictures of a regular visitor to my home.  I feed them sometimes though I know I shouldn’t.  I have loved cockatoos since I was a young child, but it is not good to encourage them, they are very destructive.

very clever beggar

White cockatoo

very clever beggar

nice and fluffy

Old Tawny

Tawny Frogmouth

Tawny frogmouth - nocturnal visitor

Often mistaken for an owl, being of similar size and nocturnal habits, this is a Tawny Frogmouth.  I’ve come across them a few times.  This one was across the road from my old house, which was a nice surprise on returning home one winter evening a few years ago.

Those who place their faith in the competition of ideas and the holy grail of peer reviewed science should read “Cure Unknown: Inside the Lyme Epidemic” by Pamela Weintraub.  Self interest, self aggrandisement and self promotion are as rife in medical science as any other field of human endeavour, and just as often at the expense of truth and the well being of others.  I live in a country that does not even recognise lyme disease as existing within its borders, so that sufferers are seen as malingerers and liars.  This is an issue very close to my heart, and this book was more terrifying than any of the horror stories I read, but still, a very important books to read.  70 million stars out of ten.

Something strange is happening in Glossolalia – three reports in three weeks!  This week, read how childhood used to be – riding bikes, hiking, swimming unsupervised, building tree houses, wandering zombie haunted caverns – back in the days before children were cossetted and wrapped in cotton wool by helicopter parents.  Back in the good old days before Trevor ruined everything.  (Wander down an abandoned mine in my world and you are not going to meet the Wizard of Alderley or grumpy but kindly dwarves.)

Speaking of mines, were you aware that industrial rocks cannot fall from the sky and hit Albania?  Its a scientific impossibility, proven in poem.  And speaking of rocks and science, over at the Joe Chip Laboratory (somewhere around the corner from the Ponds Institute for the Morally Disabled), we have been taste testing rocks.  All in the name of science, and all for you, dear and gentle reader.

And on that note, farewell for now, and to paraphrase Jeff French, Readers, I love you all…

Yours faithfully,

Your mate,

My mate Joe Chip

The Power

Powerful Owl

Powerful Owl

This is not a great photograph, in fact it is not even a good photograph.  The light, the bush, my camera and my skill levels were all against me.  However I have not come across owls in the wild very often, and wanted to share my encounter with a Powerful Owl.  It is the largest owl in Australia, and in my state is listed as “vulnerable”.  This photograph was taken in Sydney Botanical Garden.  They mate at this time of year and can be heard calling particularly in March and April.  I have been fortunate to hear at least one over the last few weeks at home, but not spotted it yet.  I will try to keep to half decent photographs in future, but this one was more about the excitement of finally seeing one of these beautiful animals in the wild.  Check out those talons.

Joe Chip is at home amongst the dead this week.  I appreciate the interest of those who subscribe to and visit this site.  If I could ever encourage you to click on any of the links to have a look at my other work, could I encourage you to have a look at “Not Trevor” this week please?  It is not an easy site to publicise, and it is strangely personal.  Many thanks to those who have a look.

Attempts at humour and poetry appear here and here.

If anyone comes across Edgar Edgarberger, please tell him to get in touch.

Little Corellas … of Death!!!

Privet. Must. DIE.

Little Corella gorging on privet berries

Little corella

Snap away, I don't care

Well, there’s a title for you.  They are a threat to berries.

Not an uncommon bird around here any more, they appear seasonally, following the food.  This particular privet is now gone, the tree is a weed, a real pest and nuisance.  They are widespread and have altered the ecological balance, so that former large predators, such as currawongs, that were migratory, no longer have to leave for the winter, so smaller birds are under attack all year round.  Wrens and robins have now disappeared from many places.

Your mate has slowed down his posting.  He has decided to come clean.  For years he has been working on a horror novel.  (It may be crap, it maybe at least as rubbish as all the others he moans about, but it will be his, whether it is ever published or not.  All he can promise is a monster, and that many people die.)  Along the lines of Julia Cameron’s “morning pages”, the various blogs have been a good stimulus.  Now (dropping into the first person) I need to spend more time on the actual story, as the most recent draft is more than two thirds along, so there should be less done online.

Please feel free to click on some of the links below and check out your mate’s other posts, it makes him feel good for a little while …

For the first time in a long time, there is new entry over at “Not Trevor“, in fact, it is the Genesis of the Daleks, or not quite, it is the first time Trevor notices the existence of your not-quite-a-hero, whose name happens to also be Joe Chip.  Please have a look, it was a long time coming.

Your mate has been rhapsodising poetically about his lunchtime adventures when briefly free from the cubicle of death.  First about the young Mormon missionaries keener to evangelise to pretty young Asian girls than to your mate, and then about a strange day when everyone he passed seemed to have a scar.

You may be surprised that woolly little lamb scrotums (scrota?) do not taste like chicken, but that is our function at the Joe Chip Laboratories, to expose these and other truths.  And your mate provides assistance to a wandering fool thinking that there are loopholes to life, over at What Would Joe Chip Do?

This weeks yell out goes to Mike585 who wanders about marshes at night encountering badgers and foxes and toads, and records it wonderfully in words and photographs.  The patience this man has!  This is a really cool blog.

Reading: The Science Delusion by Rupert Sheldrake; Necroville by Ian McDonald.  I like McDonald a lot, really enjoyed Cyberabad Days, The Dervish House, and Brasyl.  I am finding this a little hard to get into, but I suspect the fault is mine, the clutter in the writing is deliberate but at the moment I need some clarity and simplicity.

I finished The Moth Diaries by Rachel Klein.  Bits were good, but overall not for me.  Its on a couple of lists of all time best vampire books and many people write about it favourably.  I did not find the terror creeping, because I did not care very much about the characters.  I am not a professional reviewer and as I have said before, I am not very articulate about these things, but I did not get what I wanted from this.  This does not make it a bad book, just not a great fit for me.  However, it did have me thinking about the nature of the vampire, and our ties to time and familiar settings.  Another book on one of those lists was “Fangland” by John Marks, and that did not do much for me either.  The failure is no doubt with me and my laziness and requirement for genre expectations to be fulfilled.  If I enter a leisurely stage of life again (like the times when I could meander through Tolstoy and Dostoevsky), I will lift my game, I promise.  I would like to be like the cool kid who never likes the second album of any band, and who is ahead of the game and finds the most wonderful obscure tidbits, but my favourite vampire books of recent years have both been massive best sellers: “Let the Right One In” by John Ajvide Lindqvist and “The Passage” by Justin Cronin.  I look forward to the upcoming re-release of Kim Newman’s “The Bloody Red Baron”.

Sticky beak

 

If only the beak had been on the other side ... if only he hadn't gotten himself so blurry

My best photo of an azure kingfisher so far, I have a lot of work to do on these.  They usually fly off before I can get my camera ready, so I’ll have to be a little bit happy with this.

Your mate has been busy and has a lot of work to do, so not much in the way of commentary today.  He has solved all of the world’s food security problems here.  I am a little surprised that he has gone all tabloid on us here and provided details of his own personal Cuban crisis ( a sultry night … a chance encounter … with JFK … you join the dots, but not on your screen, the ink may not come off).  He provides well meant advice on delicate family relationships here, but one is left wondering whether he understands what understands means.  He’s even managed to pen and publish a poem about adolescent longing and sunburn here.  True art.

Your mate was in geek boy heaven this week watching Shark Harbour.  What more could one ask for from a documentary – sharks, gadgets, sharks, cameras on sharks, satellite tracking devices on sharks, shark attacks, sharks?  I got to watch people at work who are absolutely enthused about what they do.  Your mate is passionate about very little (he is a plastic doll, after all, as evidenced by his gravatar), but he so likes to see enthusiasm in others.  It was odd, I was sitting there watching it (it isn’t gruesome) and I realised that I was feeling happy.  You have to realise that in my part of the world, reports of shark sightings and shark attacks are portents of Christmas, and I suspect there was a bit of childish enthusiasm bubbling up around that, together with some excitement about “safe fear” (that will not feel so safe next time I am at the beach).  Every Christmas holidays, the newspapers would report dangers and crises – funnel web spider bite fatalities, shark attacks, “Deadly blue ringed octopus found in children’s pool”, stranger danger, and brewery strikes, so that now emergencies give me a Christmassy feel.

 

 

 

 

 

The Crimson Pimpernel

Crimson Rosella

There we go, as promised in various places, if you don’t like the words, at least there is a bird to look at.

Your mate really has no business blogging when there are so many other calls on his time, such as hiding from creditors and looking at birds, but he cannot let you down.

Looking around the Joe Chippish traps, a message has got through from Glossolalia, though it is hard to understand.  I suspect evil Trevor has been up to something.  In honour of Valentine’s Day, the Joe Chip laboratories have conducted an in depth analysis of love (scientific name: LERV), to see what its all about, Alfie.  You may be surprised at our results.  Or you may not.

Continuing with the romantic theme, you may be intrigued by the strange attraction your mate has to the Australian billionaire, Gina Rinehart, and the question he asks: does she have ninjas?

In the poetic realms, we consider the effect of the cryptid creature, the numb-bat, and those who seek its bite to remove all feeling, and why light is a bad thing.  (Who is this “we”, Joe?  I don’t know, you tell me, Joe.)

This week’s shout out goes to Osteoarch, who is a freelance osteoarchaeologist, and how cool is that?  Most interesting job description I’ve come across in a while, and she gets to wear a white coat in her pictures, which I don’t.  Check out her site.

Just finished “Embassytown” by China Mieville, the bestselling communist fantasist.  He continues with an obsession about religion.  In earlier books such as “Perdido Street Station” he wrote of demons, though they were throughgoing materialists, existing on the physical plane.  In “Kraken” he was a bit more direct, depicting a London populated by members of thousands of obscure and generally warring sects.  He has a respectful Marxist approach to religion – he does not believe a word of it, but acknowledges it as a real and continuing part of human existence.  While a complete sceptic, he does not take the dismissive approach of a Dawkins or Hitchens, no doubt in part stemming from his Marxism, in that religion cannot be reasoned away until the material conditions of humanity change and the contradictions inherent in the capitalist system are resolved and the state withers away and so on – he has his own apocalyptic agenda whether he realises it or not.  I don’t know that too many religious believers would see themselves reflected in “Kraken”, though perhaps their detractors would.  yes, they can be evil, intolerant, scheming, whatever, but they can also be loyal, devoted, selfless and self sacrificing – in other words, human.  However, religion is reduced to subscribing to an arbitrary series of postulates (unlike, say, Marxism).

Here, the theological concerns are definitely non-theistic.  In “Embassytown”, humanity is confronted with a pre-lapsarian world, with creatures who cannot lie.  This is no “Case of Conscience” James Blish world – they are not innocents – they scheme, they kill, they profit.  However, for purely Darwinian reasons, they cannot lie.  Humanity then introduces the serpent into their world.

It is all very interesting, however for all the discussion in reviews of the cleverness in its discussion of language and so on, it still felt arbitrary.  This thing happens because these creatures happen to do this when this other thing happens.  Hardly a criticism, I know, isn’t that a description of life, however I don’t know that it is justified to raise the discussion of the book as high as it has gone in some circles.  It is one of the slimmest of his books (his books are getting a lot shorter than when he started, whether that is a good thing depends upon how much you were enjoying them), but frankly I thought it could have been a lot thinner.

There are many excellent science fiction touches.  I enjoyed the Turing machine, however it left me feeling a bit stupid – its role just drops off, and I  was left thinking that I must have missed something obvious about it and its inability to adapt.  Perhaps there was a comment in there about Turing machines being a test of whether humans are conscious independent sentient beings that I missed in reading it on my daily commute.  The stuff about interstellar travel on the immer and floaking are fairly lovely for those who enjoy sf.  Philip K Dick when interviewed  said that the pleasures of reading AE van Vogt for him included that they hinted at things unseen.  There are plenty of hints in this book – interdimensional lighthouses built in the immer – leading to the irony of the narrator, existing in a world so exotic to us, being led by the human instinct to leave her humdrum existence behind and strike off into even further beyond.  Whatever we reach, there is always something further.  However, while I enjoyed these aspects, to me they were a little bit of a cheat.  When I was elbowing my way into the novel, trying to settle in and get comfortable, there was a scene of a ship returning from the immer that was insufficiently quarantined.  Suddenly, something breaks out, and reality begins to be converted into the stuff of the creature.  A monster from the true beyond, something strange, a great weird moment.  I thought this was a hint of the crisis to come, of the crux of the novel.  No, it was mostly a throw away scene.  *Sigh*

An intriguing premise, some lovely dollops of weird, but in terms of playing with words and their manifestation, I preferred the playfulness of Steven Hall’s “The Raw Shark Texts”.  Perhaps I am shallow.

Happy Valentine’s Day!  Your mate loves youse all!

I am the King

Its good to be the king

You may like to click on a few links and see what else your mate has been up to this week.  Your mate has felt very poetic, as well as very Erich von Danikenish.  He has carried out a thorough scientific but also poetic analysis of ancient astronauts and relationships with fathers here.  In a not unrelated vein, he has considered what car God drives and resolved all intra-religious bickering about the issue of evolution here.  It is good to get these things settled and out of the way.

Speaking of things poetical, there is even a ditty about Leonard Cohen picking is nose.

If you did not catch last weeks “Not Trevor”, you may be interested, given the almost psychic way your mate predicted the announcement this week by an Australian scientist that a solution to environmental problems in Australia’s Northern Territory may be to release wild elephants.

Your mate has given advice to a fellow about the marriage his parents have arranged for him.  Heartfelt.  Touching.  Emotional.  Check it out here.

Interested in China and martial arts?  WHY WOULDN’T I BE, MR CHIP? Exaccerly.  This week’s shout out goes to Nathaniel, who can tell you how not to get hit.

This week:  Watched Moon.  Enjoyed it very much, even though they used a forbidden idea.  Read “The Afrika Reich” by Guy Saville – the action keeps rolling, interesting but less plausible than Deighton’s SS-GB, but I get annoyed when I get to the last page and find there is a sequel coming, which is not really a sequel, but a continuation.  Reading “The Watcher” by Charles MacLean – certainly horror, and getting weirder.  Worth a read: “Things we didn’t see coming” by Steve Amsterdam.

Brown is the new black

Brown falcon - a country killer

Hello Your mate hopes that you are comfortable.  What are you wearing?  That’s interesting.  This is the Joe Chip portal, with highlighted links to the various places Your mate rants during the week, only a left click away.

In an act of repentance for writing a mean poem about her, Your mate advised Ms Thatcher that he would not be going to see that new film about her (and that in any event, she was much nicer looking than that Meryl Streep), and she was very kind in her reply.  However, Your mate did see the new fascist propaganda film “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy”, and while he enjoyed parts of it, he does not understand why they were making Kim Philby out to be a bad guy.  He was resourceful and a hard worker, what more can any employer expect?  This follows on from Your mate’s cry from the heart in favour of internet censorship (which did not meet universal approval, and left several people wondering if they were really Kate Bush.  NO THEY ARE NOT.)

There have been developments in Glossolalia, with Trevor taking action to ensure that the streets are more interesting (if not safer).

Following on from his discussion of wombats, Your mate has been considering the flavour of flags, in prose and poesy.  Mmm, yum.

The womb-bat controversy continues, with much debate in paranormal circles (is a paranormal circle a couple of wriggly lines?  Ahh, but if it is wriggly, is it a line?).

Please let the Great Lakes Socialist know that he has to knuckle down and study harder.  To twist the words of Kenny Rogers, there will be plenty of time for revolting, once high school is done.

Reading:  “Surface Detail” by Iain M Banks – I used to be able to devour these things, but I keep wandering away from it – no doubt I’ll finish it though it seems like every Banks sf novel ends in suicide*;  “The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield (via Ron Dionne), so good on procrastination; “Toward God” by Michael Casey.  Enjoyed:  “The Misogynist” by Piers Paul Read (thank you Peter Craven); “River of Gods” by Ian McDonald.

*On this, I gave up reading a lot of genre fiction ages ago because of the sameness – yes one reads a genre because it meets certain requirements, but one of the requirements I have is to be surprised, to be dazzled, to be impressed, to go, yes, that inspires me.  One doesn’t expect that everyday, but you need it once in a good while.  (Clockworm has posted on some aspects of sameness here.)  Of course, literary fiction is also a genre, and so much of it is the same, or even if it isn’t, NOTHING BLOODY HAPPENS, or it is a reflection of those aspects of the modern world I don’t like.  (You don’t ask for much, Joe Chip.)  Goodness, I was even forced to read non-fiction.  And now I keep flapping about between it all.  Perhaps I am being dishonest – I’ve read too much indiscriminately over the years, and I want the old excitement without having to think too much. *sigh* Don’t worry Joe, you’ll cheer up when you win the lottery.

Mooning about

who would have thought

Rainbow lorikeet with moon

Your mate is nothing if not judgmental, quick to use national stereotypes to avoid thinking.  For example, Germany = militarism; USA = conspiracy theories; North Korea = fun times; Russia = a desperate fight to return to democracy; Australia = interesting animals.  And the most interesting of all animals are the cryptids, the subjects of cryptozoology.  Australia has plenty of them – phantom panthers, bunyips, yowies, and most intriguing of them all, the womb-bats.  I hope to provide photographs soon.  In the meantime, you can click on a link and learn all about them here.  Society has had to develop to accommodate these cute animals, and your mate has provided some advice regarding etiquette here.  It is very important not to confuse them with the savage, woman biting wombat, so for your own safety and edification, you must read this now.

Speaking about things strange and fortean, your mate had a very interesting discussion here about UFOs with partialsceptic.  Partial sceptic suggested most ufos can be explained by the weather.  Your mate challenged him on that, forcefully putting the point that it is unlikely weather could build advanced craft to fly around space in.

Meanwhile, in preparation for the coming world revolution, your mate has provided a list of topics you are not allowed to think about here.  It is very important that you read this, otherwise how will you know whether your thoughts are appropriate and you need to report for re-education?

Your mate hopes you have a very good week.