22 November 2005


Sorry to keep my fans waiting so long. Things have been busy around here. I have completed my Overseas Trained Teacher Program, and am now eligible to be a casual (sub) or temporary (long-term sub) teacher in NSW. I will be back at Canterbury Boys High School, where I completed my observation portion of the OTTP, for my first casual assignment tomorrow. It appears my extended vacation is coming to an end.
This week's pictures are of some of the wild animals we have encountered here. Enjoy.

The first picture is of an IBIS. I think they look like creatures out of a Dr. Seuss book. They have long curving beaks, and a little head bob when they walk. They look very awkward, both walking and flying, and they are everywhere in the parks downtown.

I'm sure you are familiar with the "Fosters—Australian for Beer" ads*. Well, FLYING FOX is Australian for "huge scary bat that stares hungrily at your neck while hanging in a tree above you." There are thousands of them in the Royal Botanic Gardens. They are about half a meter long, and their wingspan has got to be a meter and a half. There are signs posted that claim they are trying to get rid of them, but they are apparently failing miserably. The signs also warn to stay away if you see one hurt on the ground. All together now—DUH!
*By the way, most Australians don't drink Fosters. It is nearly impossible to find here. As it turns out, Toohey's and Victoria Bitter are Australian for beer.
In a different part of the Gardens you can find lovely COCKATOOS that are more than happy to perch on your arm and eat bread from your hand. There are nearly fifty of them around, so there is more than enough for everybody. It's fun, but they are very large birds. As you can see, Heather is kind of nervous in the third picture. But having done this twice now, I have a few bits of advice to offer:
1) Wear long sleeves. Their claws will leave a mark.
2) Bring an endless supply of bread. They
aren't very happy when you run out, and might resort to eating you.
Seriously. Some of them will nip almost playfully at your hand. Others get more aggressive, as seen in the fourth picture. This particular bird had already bruised my arm with a bite, and nipped at my ankles after I shook him off. As you can see, he wasn't afraid when I threatened to kick him—he would actually bite my shoe.
In the fourth and fifth pictures, you see me with two LORIKEETS. These birds are
much friendlier (and more importantly, smaller) than the cockatoos. They have a nice, soft chirp, while the cockatoo's call is more like holding a microphone up to someone's fingernails on a chalkboard, and the soundman is having feedback issues. But the lorikeets are very gentle, and they look like velvet. As you can see in the fifth picture, they don't necessarily need to perch on your arm, either. Once they finish your bread, they are more than happy to chirp away on top of your head. Heather likes to point out my eyes cut to the side. What you can't see is that I am keeping an eye on the evil cockatoo.

I hope you enjoyed our pictures of the wild animals we have met. Perhaps you were expecting pictures of people riding kangaroos to the Opera House? Silly American. I had a student at the school ask me if I had a horse when I told him I was from Texas. I responded by asking if he had a kangaroo. But do not despair: we will make it out to the bush and find some traditional Aussie wildlife in our time here. Until then, I hope these pictures will do.