Friday, September 23, 2016

A Very Long Walk amidst a Riot of Colour

The past couple of weeks have been busy.  We continue to work with full-time missionaries in the Melbourne area who are coming close to the end of their 1.5 to 2 years of service and about to go wherever in the world they call home.  Many need counselling in schooling or career choices, or help in English language proficiency.  These young adults have acquired many skills on their mission and have witnessed of Christ powerfully and with the Spirit.  But in regards to life, their journey to self-reliance has just started.  They understand some of the fundamental principles, such as faith in Christ and the power of prayer, but they have yet to apply these principles to most of life's challenges.  It is a pleasure to work with them and feel of their enthusiasm to enter the next phase of their life.

We have met a number of people who have immigrated to Australia as refugees, and have been impressed with the encouragement and support they have received from the Australian government and people.  Some of them have heart-wrenching stories of fleeing for their lives, leaving all their worldly goods in another country, being separated from family members for months or years, and facing many challenges while encountering a totally new culture and language in Australia.  But they seem to have flourished here - finding friends, community, churches, and jobs.  This has in turn enriched the Australian communities with a diversity of cultures and foods.  It is an inspiring story!

On a personal note, we have benefited from having many choices for unusual grocery items, as well as making good friends from various countries.  We think that the church's self-reliance teachings have a role to play in helping immigrants.

We noticed something quite odd when we first came here - some of the people who bicycle on the park paths around the city (the more serious ones) have plastic cable ties attached to and sticking up from their helmets, which looks bizarre on first sight.  It took us a while to realize that they were discouraging swooping birds who are protecting their young during nesting season.  We've been trying to get a good photo of this phenomenon, but in a reverse psychology to the car which, once you notice you see everywhere, cable-tied bike helmets are never around when you want to photograph them.  Then, just as the sun was setting today, this friendly person came along and stopped for a photo op.  He only has two cable ties - a mere pittance compared to some we have seen, but you get the idea!  We've been dive-bombed enough by nesting birds while walking in the parks to know it is a good idea.

A home-grown bird warder

Last weekend we took one of the other senior missionary couples, Elder and Sister Myers, to the airport for their trip to Tasmania.  We thought, while we near the airport, that we would find a local park and try it out.  There is a large (roughly 2 km by 3 km in size) park to the NE of the Melbourne airport called Woodlands Historic park.  We had a great walk there, clocking up close to 12 km and seeing a wide variety of birds.  One minor hitch in the walk - needing to find a toilet, we phoned the park number and were told that there was one near the Sommerton camping area, towards which we were fortuitously headed.  Only one problem, which we didn't know - it was about 4 km away!  That was one brisk hike, towards the end :>)

Spring is showing its colours with a vengeance (Woodlands Park)!

Yellow is a favourite spring colour (different flower here, though; Woodlands Park).

A shaded path in Yarra Flats Park (a little too susceptible to snakes for Sister Sobkowicz)

Well, we must finish off with a few bird photos - "tradition"!! (Can't you just hear Tavye singing that song?).  The first is a beautiful small bird we see in several parks.  This one was photographed in Wilson Reserve and it is one of many types of robins in Australia!

Australia's Eastern Yellow Robin

While out walking on a rainy day between the Yarra River and an adjacent golf course, we were bemoaning the lack of birds.  Then, glancing out over the golf course, we saw that it was covered with these magnificent Australian White Ibis:

Australian White Ibis (the black head is actually unfeathered)

I never tire of seeing or hearing the Kookaburra.  The following two photos were taken with quite patient birds that let me approach closely and almost posed for their photos.

A Kookaburra sunning itself on a cold morning (note blue on wings)

While on our "march to the washroom" in Woodlands Park, we had to stop and try to photograph this gorgeous, not that common bird.  Unfortunately, I only had one shot, as it was chased away right after the shutter snapped.

A Crimson Rosella (bright red with blue on the shoulders and on the cheeks; subspecies Elegans)

The following guy likes to hang out in one of our very local parks, feeding off the rugby green whenever it rains a lot and there are shallow puddles.

White-faced Heron (graceful and poised)

I played "hide and seek" with this fellow, trying to catch a clear view of him through the trees.  He kept hopping about from branch to branch whenever I thought I had a photo lined up.  I think he was messing around with me - don't tell me birds don't have a sense of humour :>)

Grey Butcherbird (supposedly common; this is the first time we had seen one)

This last bird is one of my favourites, simply because it has such a comical look to its face.  However, I wouldn't want to get anywhere near the business end of its beak.

Long-billed Corella (only found around Melbourne)

Final photo of the day - we wouldn't be done if the sun wasn't going down!  Not as dramatic as some, but still very pretty!

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