Tiger snakes and leeches!

Trip Start Mar 18, 2011
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5
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Trip End May 15, 2011


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Flag of Australia  , Victoria,
Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Hi again from Australia:

Tiger snakes and leeches – we thought that might catch your attention!  Those were but a couple of the highlights we encountered during more wonderful days of birding with Steve "The Melbourne Birder" in the areas south and east of the city.

One week ago we left “The Mouse House” in Kyneton and navigated our way through the Melbourne toll-ways to the Mornington Peninsula, an area about one hour south of Melbourne.  Mornington is a delightful area although quite developed because of its proximity to the 4 million people of Melbourne.  A lot of wealthy Melbournians have amazing 'country homes' located in that area and there are lots of parks, beaches and beach towns to choose from. Much to Ruth’s relief, our next timeshare, in Rosebud, has been a much better experience – no mice and it is well located beside a golf course with a little lake. The weather has been mixed with quite a bit of rain but there are always wineries to duck into during the showers!

Steve has continued to amaze us with his ability to identify and locate a wide array of birds, based on just a tiny little ‘peep’ or ‘ping’ sound in the bushes.  We explored two regions relatively untouched by the typical tourist.  The first was the WTP –the Western Treatment Plant in Werribee – formerly known as the sewage treatment facility for Melbourne.  Happily for us it has been cleaned up and transformed into a lovely coastal bird refuge, where we saw oodles of birds like white-bellied eagle, zebra finch, red-necked avocet and Phil’s favourite, the Australian shelduck.  Steve tells us the variety of wading birds is down because of the huge rainfall in central Australia – they just stayed there rather than migrate to the coasts. 

 It was at the WTP that we had the encounter with the tiger snake, one of the most deadly and aggressive snakes in Oz.  Fortunately we were in the car as it slithered lazily across the road – at first glance it was quite lovely, with tiger- like stripes.  However when Steve bravely stepped out to take its picture, it showed its true nature and reared up angrily at him but then thankfully hustled off into the reeds.  Phil decided the reeds were not a great place to answer the call of nature from that point on!

Our second day with Steve was in the ‘wet forests’ east of Melbourne.  True to the description it was misty and a bit rainy but we still saw lots of new birds such as the pilot bird, rose robin and yellow robin. Robins in Oz are not related to Canadian robins – and are spectacularly coloured.  The encounter with leeches came during our adventures chasing the elusive lyre bird – we trekked down into a ‘fern gully’, which looked like a scene out of Lord of the Rings, with massive fern trees all around.  When we emerged (minus the lyre bird) we brought along a collection of leeches on Steve and Phil’s clothes.  Ruth was relieved not to have acquired any although Steve reassured us the bites are not all that bad!

We regretfully said goodbye to Steve and went back to birding on our own, armed with a much better knowledge of Australian birds.  Later in the week we took the train into Melbourne again to explore more of its delights.   The city has an area called Federation Square, with several great (free) museums and art galleries and some very avant-garde architecture, all connected to a river walk and a lovely Botanic Garden.  We have found that each city and many of the small towns have, Botanic gardens’ at their core – we suspect they are a legacy from Australia’s British heritage, when the original citizens yearned for the motherland.  Whatever the origin they make a lovely oasis to explore right in the hearts of the cities.  We also checked out the Immigration Museum in Melbourne.  Although Australia’s history is a little different from Canada’s, there are still parallels – they have gradually opened their borders, motivated by a need to populate the country, and this has led to a very multi-cultural look and feel to the country.

Now we have given up the rental car, after racking up 3200 km and are headed off to Sydney to meet our friends the Grobermans with whom we will travel for the next three weeks.

Happy Passover and Happy Easter to all!

Phil and Ruth

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Comments

Joel on

Still enjoying your blogs. Sally wants to hire you to write for our next trip. Keep them coming. Hi to the Groberman's from us.

donna sundstrom on

We are enjoying your blogs. The birds are so amazing.! You must be so thrilled. YOu are choosing a good time to be away as we have had more snow and very cool temperatures. enjoy every minute. hello to Marvin & Candace.

We have wedding news! Kyle and Adrienne are getting married in Kenya at Mombassa on the beach, all by themselves, next Thursday, April 28. He is going to meet her after her job finishes and they will do a short safari, get married and head home on the 30th. We are all thrilled! and totally support what they have chosed to do. they are moving to Paris on July 24th and the fellow from the Paris office is working at finding him a job - speeding up the process. May not happen when they first arrive. More news later. continue to have fun. Vern & Donna

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