Rainbows always make me smile; no corporation has found a way to despoil them yet, or to capture and sell them.

In less-than-bright times, with less-than-visionary (!) leaders, I need all the bright spots Nature can offer to keep my spirits up.

And then I realised the rainbow had a second fainter image, a pale double of itself. I choose to to take that as an arc of hope: next time Australia will vote for action on climate change, and not be fooled by the spin.

It is winter at last and still very dry here but a few plants like that, and are giving me great pleasure from their abundant blooms. This beauty has been moving with me though various homes and stages of my life for over 50 years!

These orchids came from one large overgrown clump, a gift from my cousin Kerrie, who has many varieties, about five years ago,. They made six pots, and right when I most need colour and beauty in life, their graceful arching stems are offering both.

And while not at all colourful, as so perfectly camouflaged in their casuarina tree, these two Tawny Frogmouths make me smile every time I see them. Not every day, not always in the same fork, and not always as a pair, although lately they have been. I think they are beautiful.

But a bright spot in my day — and my life — whenever they choose to inhabit my place.

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From my kitchen window, I spotted an unusual blob in one of the casuarinas in the yard.  We’d had a windy night, so it could be a broken-off branch.

In fact it was both. The Tawny Frogmouth had wedged itself behind a broken limb, and was there for two days.

Then it appeared in the slimmer neighbouring tree, actually the tree where the ‘nest’ had been in 2017, from which two babies had hatched, to my great delight. The prodigal returns?

Next morning it had moved to a fork in the same tree, but seemed much fatter. Fluffed up to keep warm?

From the front, I was not sure if it was one or two birds. It looked very broad; was it pregnant, returning home to lay those eggs? But if so, where was the nest or stick platform? Inadequate as that had seemed, it had served its purpose, but had long since broken up.

As the sun warmed the yard,  it moved from the fork and perched on a broken branch. Definitely one bird. And definitely fat.

I’ll be keeping a close eye on any stick activity in that home tree.

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Here on the coast, we lack the crispness to create stunning avenues of Autumn colour as in the Southern Highlands or Canberra.

But my Glory Vine, or Ornamental Grape, does its best. It has been moving with me via cuttings from the Mountain original. It colours differently here, but then our Autumns are not the same under global warming. Mid-day is still too warm here.

Despite the stunning cyclamen pinks and burgundies of leaves up close, surprisingly, overall it creates a more orange effect, as the still green leaves mingle with their fellows further along towards their deciduously bare winter fate.

Here’s an explanation of the colour change process from the ’www.sciencemadesimple.com’ site: 

‘During winter, there is not enough light or water for photosynthesis. The trees will rest, and live off the food they stored during the summer. They begin to shut down their food-making factories. The green chlorophyll disappears from the leaves.

‘As the bright green fades away, we begin to see yellow and orange colors. Small amounts of these colors have been in the leaves all along. We just can’t see them in the summer, because they are covered up by the green chlorophyll.

‘The bright reds and purples we see in leaves are made mostly in the fall. In some trees, like maples, glucose is trapped in the leaves after photosynthesis stops. Sunlight and the cool nights of autumn cause the leaves turn this glucose into a red color.

‘The brown color of trees like oaks is made from wastes left in the leaves.’

Veins of green chlorophyll amongst mottlings of the other pigments like the carotenoids, responsible for the oranges, with the subclass xanthophyll responsible for the yellows and the sugar-making anthocyanin favouring the reds.

A chemical riot!

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I inherited a perfectly neat and serviceable but boringly plain shed when I moved here.

It happened to be green, with a reddish trim. I fancied a Virginia Creeper might suit, but doubted it would creep up smooth tin like this.

The nursery couldn’t guarantee it would.

I took the chance.

But very slowly, those little sucker paws struggled up, with a bit of support from wires to start with, as guides.

After one year, it had managed this much.

And yet now, by its second year, it has taken over the shed beautifully, the colours matching. It gives me great pleasure to see it.

Colour aside, I do know why it has done so well, because when I emptied a compost bin nearby I found its roots had found their way in at the base.

Compost well spent!

The greyheaded flying fox colony in Wingham Brush is enormous: about 200,000 at peak times.

As the sun hits their trees in the morning, the chatter and activity sounds like every bit of a peak time.

I am fascinated by these creatures, watching their deft acrobatics as they stretch a wing or hang by one ‘foot’. Their soft fur looks like golden peach fuzz in the sunshine, and their pointed ‘foxy’ faces dare anyone to call them ugly or scary.

To fit so many into this colony, they are of necessity crowded, but the chatter and movement doesn’t sound irritable; it sounds like morning gossip.

‘So, how did you go last night?’

Where the sun is less strong as yet, they are tightly bundled in their leather cloaks, strung like Christmas baubles.

These two were interacting without fuss, but what was the larger one doing to its smaller mate?

In the reclaimed Brush at Wingham, Brush Turkeys abound. In daytimes, they are usually seen scratching amongst the leaf litter.

Today I entered the Brush on the still-dark side. It was too early for their routine, and I caught them napping. This was the first time I had seen them roosting on branches.

Neither of these looked happy at being disturbed.

You can see from the overall shot how dark it was in their part of the Brush — and why the photos are not great! 

But a little further on the daylight had penetrated to the ground and other Turkey families were at it already.

Amongst the gloom I was struck by this Strangler Fig in a very real pose of strangling. Can I watch that with my Jacaranda?

As a farewell treat, the early sunlight perfectly highlighted this small spiderweb in my path.


I urge you to watch this film with your family, to recommend it, to share it and/or show it to groups.

Al Gore’s film woke many of us up. David Attenborough sums it up and shakes us hard, in this excellent and comprehensive documentary.

It covers the varied causes, the current status, the possible tipping points, like the release of ice-trapped methane, and the likely solutions. 

Not all solutions are yet to be invented, like TREES! And yet deforestation, clearing and burning, is the cause of one-third of carbon emissions.

Many different experts in their fields tell us why we are at this point, and the voices of now, like Greta Thunberg, tell us why that point is so urgently in need of action.

This film reminds us with an electric jolt why we need to make this election a climate change one.

Our own actions matter. but we – and our world –  are running out of time. We need leaders to see that it is in their hands NOW to take us forward to a future that is not catastrophic.

How many election terms until 2050 when we must be at zero carbon emissions??

Mr Shorten, methane will warm the atmosphere 21 times faster than carbon dioxide; still think subsidising fracking for gas is a good plan?!I

This is no short clip; but it is no simple matter.

Again, I urge you to watch it all, with your family, to recommend it, to share it and/or show it to groups

Arranged like a tableau on stage, these fungi glowed at me from the gloom of the Rainforest Walk in the Australian Native Botanical Gardens in Canberra. Unsurprisingly, the climate of Canberra is not great for rainforest plants, so frequent misting is needed to keep plants happy.

Waiting until a break in misting episodes seemed sensible, pretty as it was.

I walked alongside the little stream, and was astonished by these giant strappy plants. A little further on, I found the name peg: their common name is Stream Lilies! Or more properly, the rather ugly Helmholtzia glaberimma.

Native to New South Wales and Queensland rainforests, they can apparently grow up to two metres high.

The misting left the spiderwebs as beautifully bejewelled as dew can. The ‘stump’ of a tree fern here provided the perfect framework for the diamond-hung strands.

Other less-ambitious spiders took advantage of even the low ground covers, with hundreds of ultra fine mini nets.

Older tree fern trunks, with their many broken-off leaf bases, were home to a stunning variety of life — unidentified, unimagined, but applauded.

And it seems fitting to end as I began, with fungi, always treasure to be sought on rainforest floors. This sole flower-like specimen of brassy gold was yet so well camouflaged I might have missed it. Again, I applaud.

Sharing a small cove

April 22, 2019

On the mid north coast of New South Wales, there are many secret small coves like this one, usually in national parks and accessed by foot. You may see another person or two there, but seldom more. But other creatures actually live there! Like this perfectly camouflaged tiny crab, who kept disappearing and then popping […]

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High rise neighbours

April 12, 2019

I am bordered on two sides by tall trees – casuarinas, camphor laurels and cadaghi (Corymbia torelliana), with lower growing myrtles and pittosporum and melaleucas. I hear heaps of birds that I rarely see. One I have often heard – or thought I had – is the Powerful Owl (Ninox strenua). Its mournful, slow ‘woo-hoo’ […]

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Fig dilemma

April 1, 2019

I love the large Jacaranda tree outside my house, even if it is an introduced tree that self-seeds rather too readily. But over the last year I have watched a Strangler Fig that some passing bird has seeded in the Jacaranda fork steadily grow larger. But eventually it will ‘strangle’ the host, as I see […]

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Flush with fungi

March 25, 2019

With rain every few days and humidity almost liquid — or it is on my person! — fungi are thriving. Nothing spectacular or colourful, some rather shy and delicate, but each different in an unassuming way. And the large colony amongst my raised garden beds is still renewing itself, growing larger and more fleshy each […]

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