Over the past couple of months I have been capturing the life cycle of a butterfly with the help of my iPhone. I have been trying to grow some limes as I love limes but with the extreme heat we have had over the last 2 summers and the resident possums who keep eating the fruit, it is a never-ending battle. I have planted these lime trees in pots. Imagine my horror when I came out one morning and found a big, fat caterpillar on one of the leaves. It was bad enough that I have a family of possums that eat the limes but now here was another enemy in the shape of a large green caterpillar. Anyway, I decided to check out what type of caterpillar it was before I squashed the green offender so that I didn't kill off a member of an endangered species.
Well, to my surprise I found out, with the help of Google, that this caterpillar was an Orchid Swallowtail butterfly. You can read more about them here http://www.climatewatch.org.au/species/insects/orchard-swallowtail-butterfly
These butterflies are native to Australia and lay their eggs on citrus leaves. We have native citrus trees in Australia called finger limes, Citrus australasica. Now, with the introduction of introduced citrus trees these butterflies have increased in number. They are very beautiful and one of Australia's largest butterflies. I also discovered they don't harm the tree, merely munching through a few leaves, so I left the caterpillar to observe its life cycle, taking pictures over a number of weeks.
I found it fascinating to observe it growing and then becoming a chrysalis to finally emerge into a beautiful butterfly. Unfortunately, I didn't get to see it emerge from the chrysalis but shortly afterwards saw the butterfly. Here are the results. If you look carefully you can see the tiny thread it is hanging by.
I love birds and we have a wide variety of birds in Australia. This video is fascinating and I love David Attenborough. This shows you the amazing ability our native Lyre bird has to imitate every sound it hears to impress its mate.
Well, it's been a long time since I last posted but I have been very busy. I am still finishing off my thesis, as well as completing a CELTA course which will equip me to teach English formally to adults. http://www.cambridgeenglish.org/teaching-english/teaching-qualifications/celta/
Anyway, I thought I would post about a walk my husband and I did a couple of weekends ago. It's called 'The Bloody Long Walk' because it is ;) It is a 35 km walk along the coastline of Sydney, which I have to say features some spectacular scenery. http://www.bloodylongwalk.com.au/sydney-east/ It raises money for a good cause, mitochondrial disease, a rare but terrible disease. We were able to raise money because some of our friends sponsored us.
Unfortunately, we only were able to walk 11 km as my husband's foot started to really hurt. It is a problem he has had for a while but which was made worse by the walk. We are adamant that we will complete this walk next year. Although, I think we will have to train. It is a long way and there are a lot of hills in Sydney. The photos of our walk are below.
Our daughter is getting married at the end of October, which is an exciting event that our family is looking forward to. So, wanting to make the most of my time with her before she gets married, we decided to spend a day at Palm Beach, a suburb on Sydney’s northern beaches. My daughter is like me in that she loves spending time walking in the bush, although she has a lot more energy than I have.
So, we headed off to Palm Beach, an hour’s drive from where we live in Sydney, singing along with our favourite songs at the top of our voice while driving. Great fun! It was a fabulous day. I consider myself to be blessed by God with the children I have. One of my favourite spots in Sydney is Pittwater/Palm Beach. Pittwater is the northernmost suburb in Sydney and boasts spectacular views when you climb Barrenjoey Headland to visit Barrenjoey Lighthouse.
Palm Beach, the suburb, is situated on a peninsula and at the head of this peninsula is Barrenjoey Headland. This is the most northern section of Palm Beach. You can walk up to Barrenjoey Lighthouse, which was built in 1881, and it is worth a visit in itself. There are spectacular views of the ocean from the top: Palm Beach to the left and Pittwater to the right.
The wildflowers were starting to open when we were there. We have mild winters in Sydney and although it was coolish, it was lovely and sunny with shrubs and plants displaying beautiful flowers along the way. There had been a bushfire through here a couple of years ago, which is why there is a blackened tree in the video. However, even this had beauty set against the stark backdrop of the crystal blue sea and sky. Our national flower, the wattle, is also to be seen in this video. There are many varieties of wattle and all here in Australia are various shades of yellow. I love them but if you have hay fever, you may not enjoy them.
On our walk back, we were paddling in the water and saw a baby sting ray, a baby stingaroo. Stingaroos are smaller generally than many types of sting rays and are common in Sydney waters.
We returned home refreshed and rejuvenated, inspired once again by the beauty of nature and the joy of spending time with people you love.
Last week we left winter behind in Sydney to enjoy summer weather in Cairns. Actually, they don’t really have summer and winter in the northern part of Australia, they use the terms dry season and wet season, so technically we went in the dry season. This, I believe, is the best time to visit this part of Australia. The weather is not too hot, there is not much rain, and there are no stinging jellyfish. However, there are crocodiles all year but we were told that they are fairly inactive in the dry season as it is too cold for them and they are not looking for mates. You still need to be careful though and should not swim in the rivers. People have been eaten by them because they ignored this advice and went swimming in the rivers; some at night. Crazy, I think ;) We saw two crocodiles on the river bank, whilst travelling down Dickson Inlet, so they live alongside humans. It was fantastic to see them. In one of the photos you can see the crocodile yawning.
Anyway, there is much to love in this part of the world. My husband and I have been here before and wanted our children to experience the Great Barrier Reef, one of the seven natural wonders of the world. Unfortunately, global warming is having a terrible effect on the reef but it is still beautiful. I hope we can do something before it is too late. Our daughter is a fantastic photographer and she created a video of photos she took while snorkelling. Click here to see this video.
We also visited the Daintree Rainforest, which is the oldest rainforest in the world. It is a wonderful place. During our time there, we saw a male cassowary with his four large chicks. The cassowary is a large flightless bird. Apparently, the males look after the babies. Sounds good to me :) We also went zip lining through the rainforest. Wow, what a spectacular view from the canopy!! It was loads of fun. We saw two little rainforest dragons, called Boyd’s forest dragon. They are only small and not fierce as their name suggests.
Other highlights of the trip included finding coconuts on the beach, eating ice cream made from rainforest fruits and fresh prawns caught in Port Douglas, walking through Mossman Gorge that is now run by the indigenous people, finding green ants’ nests in trees (they are edible apparently – not that I tried) and of course spectacular scenery. All in all, it was a wonderful trip and we are now having to adjust to being back home in Sydney. Although, our winter temperature is meant to hit 20 degrees today, so it is not too bad. This post helps me relive my memories.