Friday, March 6, 2015

Melbourne, Australia/New Zealand


I flew from Tucson to Melbourne since I didn't get there on my first trip "down under".  Drove 3 1/2 hours west to look for an Emu in the wild.  It rained the whole way but I did find Emus - Mom lays the eggs and Dad looks after the chicks.  Two koalas were in the eucalyptus trees on the road into Tower Hill Preserve.
Dad and one of his chicks
This koala was awake and looking at me
Drove back along Great Ocean Drive - they call the big rocks the 12 Apostles
Went to Phillip Island Wildlife Center to get a close up view of Australian wildlife



Got to feed the kangaroos

Grey Kangaroo

I like this little guy
Tasmanian Devil

Spent a morning at Melbourne's Royal Botanical Gardens - it was free
Beautiful flowers from all over the world and lots of bird species

Took the ferry to Tiritiri Mantagoni - it is an island that they removed all the predators from and reintroduced native bird species.  It has been very successful.  Martin was a great guide - I even saw their one species of owl called a Morepork
Brown Teal

Wood Pigeon


Swamp Hen

Red-crowned Parakeet
 Then on to Miranda Shorebird Center - had to wait for high tide to find the Wrybilll -
White-faced Heron

Wrybill - the only shorebird that is born with a curved bill
to dig for their food

Stopped in Hamilton to go to the Hamilton Gardens - beautiful roses and rhododendrons

Song Thrush very common in gardens

Mountain in snow and fog

Went to Waitmo to see the Glow Worm Caves.  They are really a large fly which mates and as soon as she emerges, lays her eggs and dies.  The eggs turn into larva - the first ones to hatch eat the other eggs and start growing - they make mucous and saliva "straws" which are sticky - other insects get caught and the worms pull up the food they catch.  nine months later they finish their metamorphosis and start the cycle over again.

Took ferry from Wellington on North Island to Picton on South Island - interesting driving the car onto this huge ship.

Went to Kaikori and an Albatross Encounter - we saw five albatross species, three petrels, four shearwaters, two gulls and one tern.  Then drove to Arthur's Pass in rain, sleet and snow.  Very tall (130') trees.

Then I drove down to the west side of the south island where there are two glaciers in the rain forest.   Could see Mt. Cook (12,218') covered with snow in the clouds.  Hiked up to Fox Glacier which doesn't look like the postcards - it is melting.  So is Franz Josef which is the largest glacier.  Gas there was $2.99/liter (there are 4.2 liters in a gallon).

Sunday, June 22, 2014



On June 3rd I left Tucson and headed north.  Drove up through Monument Valley which has some amazing rock formations that were all formed by weather.

I continued on to Natural Bridges National Monument - there are three "natural bridges" which have been created again by weather.

The next day was on to Canyonlands NP which is large and accessed from the south and the north.  I started with the south one where the most famous "rocks" are called needles.

Found the dead trees fascinating -

Wildflowers were everywhere:

Orange Globe Mallow

Prickly Pear

Common Raven  were everywhere
Bush Senecio

Another type of Prickly Pear

That afternoon I drove to the north visitor center -

Stayed in Moab over night and the next morning was at Arches NP determined to hike to Delicate Arch which is on the Utah license plates.

Delicate Arch - you could see snow on the mountains in the distance

There are 2000+ arches in the National Park

Park Avenue

Two down - off to Capital Reef NP - each one was spectacular in its own way --

I was making good time so decided to go back to Bryce NP - hit it when the light was nearly perfect.

Pronghorn grazing in the field

Hoodos at Red Canyon National Forest

So the last of the big five is Zion NP

There were seven Big Horn Sheep grazing - females and teenagers

All in all, a great trip - am so glad I finally got to do it.