Sunday, July 31, 2011

A Birder's Paradise

Galahs on a fencepost in Kingston
As we walked around the city this first week, I found myself captivated by the birds.  Not only are there plenty of exotic birds here but most of them are large and hard to miss.  Australia has about 800 species of bird and though we've only seen a handful, we're already impressed.

During the first two weeks here, we stayed in a hostel in Kingston, which is south of the city center, and were awakened every morning by the eerie sound of flocks of Australian Ravens.  Near Drew's office, which is close to the downtown area, we often see Sulphur-Crested Cockatoos and Galahs, both of which are massive birds compared to American standards.  Near our house we don't see very many cockatoos or Galahs which I find interesting since we're only about 20 minutes northwest of the city center. Instead, we have lots of Red Wattlebirds. At first glance, they appear to be mostly brown and white but if you look closer, you'll notice that they have yellow bellies and a small red wattle on each side of their neck. And of course, there are colorful parrots all over the city but I have yet to take a good picture of one.

Last but not least is the kookaburra (picture below).  We've only seen one so far.
~Mandy

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Australia: First Impressions

We've been in Australia for a week now and are starting to settle in to life here.  In some ways, I really do feel like we are living on the opposite side of the world.  People drive on the left side of the road, light switches turn on by flipping them down, and walking down the sidewalk can be an adventure (like cars, people stay to the left sidenot a problem til you space out and have an "American moment" and veer to the right side).  There is also a totally different set of flora and fauna here.  I have found myself becoming obsessed with the birds...a longer post on that later.

In other ways, Australia is a lot like the States.  Everyone speaks English, people like to go out for beer after work, malls are everywhere, and the currency is still in dollarsalbeit it much prettier ones.