“People trust their eyes above all else – but most people see what they wish to see, or what they believe they should see; not what is really there” – Zoe Marriot, Shadows on the Moon
I’ve discovered a rare species and as you can imagine, I’m thrilled! Here in the heart of Brisbane city I spotted the rarely seen Penguinadae deceptor-dartus, so named because of its amazing ability to transform from a roly-poly penguin…
into the streamlined Australasian darter within seconds!
At first I thought I must be hallucinating, especially since I’d just been lying on the ground inhaling the spores from these fungal treasures.
Ok, perhaps it is just the ordinary female Australasian darter Anhinga novaehollandiae but I do think it does a good impression of a more rotund species. It’s an example of how we can be deceived by the angle of shots taken. Now if only I could convince someone to work their photographic magic on me so that I look a little bit more like the darter than the penguin. More about this bird later…
Unlike many of my more organised blogging friends I don’t have a back-up stash of retro walks I can fall back on when I lack hiking experiences so I live dangerously from week to week, never knowing what I am going to inflict on you next. As each weekend draws near, the dark and chilly shadow of the blogging overlord hisses, “Write a post…write a post…write a post!” Being a little too conformist, I must obey so this week I’m taking you back into the heart of Brisbane city to revisit one of my favourite lunchtime and after work wanders.
When I began my 8km stroll last week around the University of Queensland lakes and Brisbane River paths, I had no intention of blogging about it again. I’ve written about this area before in University Daze and Riverside Ramblings and didn’t feel I could add anything more of interest. This was just a quick walk to reduce the effects of excess potato and cheese consumption while I waited for my daughter’s university exam to end. However, the paths still had a few surprises in store for me though, including the magical penguin-darter pictured above.
As I shuffled along at my usual sloth-like pace, there seemed little of interest to photograph at first. What was I to do but add to my album of native tree trunk textures and patterns? Grouping the examples together like this helped me appreciate the variation even more.
Resin or sap on a bunya pine and another unidentified tree also caught my attention.
I amused myself with leaves…
And in the process I discovered a hibiscus tree with evidence of hungry critters.
Further investigation revealed cotton harlequin bugs , empty egg cases, a butterfly chrysalis (probably Polyura sempronius), moth cocoons and tiny fly-like critters.
Buoyed by an invertebrate-induced high, I continued along until a pair of rainbow lorikeets assaulted my ears. Apparently they weren’t impressed by my close proximity to their nesting hole. My daughter has dubbed them evil clowns because of their merciless harassment of king parrots that visit our garden.
With all the shrill complaining erupting from the evil clowns, I don’t know how the possums could remain snoozing high in their boxes. I suppose after thundering over roofs all night, they’re too exhausted to be disturbed by cranky birds.
I left the distressed parents in peace and watched a little human activity for a while.
And spotted a cheeky pelican.
Further along, a brush turkey was enjoying what appeared to be the results of a student’s alcohol-fueled evening. It’s a novel way to recycle a semolina pudding I suppose. Waste not want not.
A laughing kookaburra was perched by the kitchens of a residential college. When all I offered it was a camera lens it flapped off in disgust.
At the university lakes a royal spoonbill looked a little coy…
And after its solid session of preening, I do believe this could be the world’s cleanest ibis.
A little green eyed black cormorant shunned the camera.
The ducks were not shy about showing their fluffy rears.
And a freshwater turtle tried to soak up the last of the sun’s rays.
It was then I came across the Australasian darter, of penguin morphing fame from the beginning of this post. Sometimes it even appeared bat-like.
The darker male version was not in the mood for morphing.
A solitary duckling looked vulnerable as it paddled off alone into waters turned silver by the setting sun.
From the Eleanor Schonell bridge I watched less feathered activity on the Brisbane River.
As I plodded back to the car park, I noticed an imposing statue in the darkening shadows. I’ve passed this spot many times without knowing the details. I’d always assumed it was representing an English academic or cleric. Deciding my blog friends may be interested, I ventured over and was surprised to discover it’s actually a representation of St Vladimir the Great, commissioned by the Russian community of Brisbane to celebrate the Australian bicentennial celebrations and 25 years of Russian Studies at the University of Queensland. It’s difficult to impart the intimidating size of this figure. From a distance it was too dark to capture the details. From close up it was too big to capture the size.
Even though I’ve taken this route on many occasions there were still discoveries to be made. Just when I think I have seen all there is to see at a location, I’m surprised to find more treasures. It’s not every day that one spies a “penguin” in subtropical Brisbane. I find the combined heat and humidity of a Brisbane summer difficult to tolerate, however there are few places I would rather be in winter. Glorious blue skies and mild days make it perfect for walking.
I may be taking a break from reading blogs and writing for a couple of weeks as I take advantage of ideal walking conditions, spend important time catching up with family members and finish some neglected projects. However, in my possible absence I’d like to thank my loyal blogger friends who’ve supported me over these last months with a small gift. Since I am a fan of postcards I was recently given large gift packs of stunning Australian postcards, already pre-stamped for international mail. There are birds, sunrises, Australian icons and landscapes. Since I already live in this beautiful country I would like to share these with my overseas blog supporters (and any Australian friends that want one.) Just send me your postal address via the form in my contact page if you would like to receive a handwritten postcard from Mildly Extreme Jane during the next month. Who knows, I may become a famous lost hiker one day and my hand signed cards could fund your early retirement.
Thanks for reading and for your kind support!