Beasts of Brisbane, Australia by da-AL

It’s impossible to snap a photo of beautiful Brisbane, Australia without it looking like a postcard!

Brisbane, Australia, is even more gorgeous than it looks in this photo.

There’s some incredible wildlife at the Queensland Museum (Brisbane is in the state of Queensland).

Just us monkeying around.

Australia’s names for animals can be as unique as the critters…

These little ‘Red-Legged’ cuties are Pademelons.
This Bandicoot is Northern and Long-Nosed.
The Papuan Frogmouth is aptly named, ay, mate?
A Playpus always defies imagination.
Barramundi, a.k.a. fine Australian dining.
Moreton Bay Bugs are also delicious to Australians.

Brisbane was just one day in our fun vacation that began with a whirlwind tour of New Zealand’s beautiful Auckland / Rotorua / Redwoods / Huka Falls / Craters of the Moon / Waitomo Glowworms Caves / Taupo / Pirongia / and Hamilton Gardens. For the second portion of our vacation, we flew to Australia, where we began our visit with Gold Coast. There we met terrific family, observed these exciting birds — and these too, hiked breathtaking views, enjoyed delicious eats at the beach, and saw this and this unique wildlife at Currumbin, had fun with Rita Rigby, and saw the beauty of Brisbane.

By the way, there’s lots of good food to be savored in Brisbane besides ‘bugs’…

I’ve yet to eat an actual bug (that I know of). Have you?

Part 2 of 2: Wild Things at Currumbin by da-AL

My gorgeous cousin took us to see koalas!

For our vacation to Australia, I knew I’d have a great time — but I kept my expectations low when it came to meeting the thoroughly cute animals I associate with the country.  Fortunately, as evidenced in these photos we shot at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, those ultra-charming creatures fully deserve their endearing reputations!

Turns out that Koalas…

… are truly as endearing as their koala reputations!
And koalas love trees.
And koalas love to nap.

When it comes to kangaroos…

Kangaroos don’t mind much heat as long as they have fresh water.
Also, kangaroos know how to lounge in style.

In the case of ring-tailed lemurs…

Lemurs are born photographic models!
These two lemur brothers love to play!
Lemurs are social animals.
This lemur and I pose in — sort of — the same way.

The first part of our amazing trip began with a whirlwind tour of New Zealand’s beautiful Auckland / Rotorua / Redwoods / Huka Falls / Craters of the Moon / Waitomo Glowworms Caves / Taupo / Pirongia / and Hamilton Gardens. For the second portion of our vacation, we flew to Australia, where we began our visit with Gold Coast. There we met terrific family, observed these exciting birds — and these too, hiked breathtaking views, enjoyed the beach, and saw this wildlife in this post with this unique wildlife at Currumbin, had fun with Rita Rigby, and met the beasts of Brisbane and the beauty there.

Is there an animal you’re eager to see in person?

Guest Blog Post: The Happiest Animal in the World by katrinature

My favorite blogs are written by honest individuals who broaden how I look at life. In photos as well as words, blogger Katrina of katrinature shares her experiences of travel, nature, and wildlife. Have you ever heard of a quokka?…

Katrina of katrinature smiles with a new friend.

“The Happiest Animal in the World” by Katrina of katrinature

It is well-known that animals can bring people happiness. Whether this is being greeted by your pet when you come home, an exciting day trip to the zoo, relaxing in a cat cafe or even participating in goat yoga! For me, I’m happiest when I encounter animals in the wild. The thrill of spotting a hornbill flying overhead, searching for sleeping koalas in gum trees or swimming with whale sharks: this is what motivates me to travel! So imagine my excitement when my travels led me to meet the happiest animal in the world…the quokka!
Katrina’s travel buddy, Rachel, enjoys a selfie with a quokka.
Quokkas have often been referred to as the happiest animals on earth because they literally look like they are smiling. They are also very inquisitive so getting close to these happy little creatures is easy if you know where to go. Quokkas can be found in scattered populations along the very south corner of Western Australia and on several of the islands. By far the most popular place to see them is Rottnest island, off the coast of Perth. 
A quokka smile is infectious.
Rottnest island was named by Dutch explorers, meaning “rat’s nest” since they believed the quokkas were some sort of giant rat. They are in fact marsupials, which means if you visit you may be lucky like I was and see a mother with a joey! They are also far cuter than rats.
Quokkas look happy all over.
I 100% recommend visiting Rottnest Island if you are in WA. Ferries run daily from Fremantle and it is well worth your money as these cute, smiley marsupials are hopping around all over the island. You literally can’t miss them!
DO NOT feed them as despite being friendly they have been known to bite, and they also prefer foraging for berries and grazing anyway. 
DO take a selfie!
Click here to read more by Katrina at katrinature.

Happy Sounds Video, New Zealand Redwoods and Corrugated Pets by da-AL

Turn your sound up high to listen to the ASMR happy sounds of redwood trees creaking in the wind, sounding like old-fashioned rocking chairs…

Most people know of the redwoods of California, where trees are so awe-inspiring that they’ve got names and their Avenue of the Giants. But did you know that New Zealand has its own redwood forest? For our New Zealand vacation, we’d seen a bit of Auckland, then Rotorua, later Huka Falls and Craters of the Moon and Waitomo Glowworms Caves, then Taupo and Pirongia and Hamilton Gardens. Later in Australia’s Gold Coast, we visited family and birds of Australia Part 1 of 2 plus Part 2 of 2, and then we marveled at the Spectacular Views in and Around Gold Coast, enjoyed a delicious meal on the beach, saw some wild things and cute things at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, had fun with Rita Rigby, and met the beasts of Brisbane and the beauty there.

Now we got out of our car and hiked up, up, up…

da-AL strolls up to New Zealand’s redwood forest.

Back in the early 1900s, New Zealand officials admired our redwoods — and then planted some of their own! — resulting in the Redwoods Forest of Whakarewarewa. New Zealand soil is so dense with nutrients that the trees grew faster there than they do in the U.S. Like California’s, New Zealand’s big trees provide homes to an abundance of wildlife, including endangered creatures.

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Trees actually talk to each other, creating an ecosystem among themselves that feeds everything from below their roots to far into the air! Redwoods can live for thousands of years — unless humans cut them down or pollute them to death. Alas, the largest was felled around 1945. The most massive tree on earth now is the General Sherman, at 83.8 meters (275 ft) high by 7.7 m (25 ft) wide. The world’s oldest tree lives in California too — a bristlecone pine that’s 5,068 years old. Let’s hope we don’t kill them or their kin.

A little further along, we stopped to pet corrugated animals in the city of Tirau!…

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What’s the biggest tree you’ve ever seen?

Part 3: What Has Your Pet Taught You? by da-AL

Newborn Black Labrador Dog
Image courtesy of nixxphotography at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Life with dogs…

The twin puppies we adopted ate and ate and ate. And pooed and pooed and pooed. Six months later, they’d grown to 50 and 50 pounds!

Plus, I’d learned nothing about training them.

One day…

As usual, for 10 deafening minutes, they barked at the mailman across the street. Later that day, they destroyed yet another throw rug.

“Bad dogs,” I snapped.

They were too busy chewing to hear me.

“Bad, bad, bad dogs!” I hollered, my voice shrill, my throat raw.

They sat. Four watery eyes gazed up at me.

Then…

Fear made them urinate on the carpet.

My thoughts reeled back. That was me! When I was only four years old!

Back then, I tried ever so hard to be good, yet I didn’t always succeed. My father would yell at me.

One time, he sounded as angry as I had when I’d hollered at my dogs. Same as with my two puppies, the big person’s anger blotted out my ability to think and hear. All I was able to do was to feel — that my father was furious at me — and that I was terrified.

All I knew was that he seemed angry enough to kill me. Out of terror, just like the dogs had, urine streamed down my legs.

Looking into my dogs’ upturned faces…

I saw how they trembled. The little dogs blinked their moist eyes hard.

Puppy Dog Eyes
Image courtesy of Tina Phillips at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Tears…

Sobbing, I sank to my knees and hugged them. It had taken six long months for me to learn that, all along, they had been trying their best to please me. Despite my ineptitude as a trainer, they had refused to give up on me. They had given me the benefit of the doubt that like them, I was trying my best.

They never gave up hope on me…

They knew I would learn to love them. Through the example of my pets, I’ve learned that the more I gaze upon everyone in my life with the benefit of a doubt, the happier we all are. We’re all doing our best, even when we could do better.

Do dogs forgive?

Here’s part 1 of this and here’s part 2.

Do you have an interesting animal experience?…

Guest Blog Post: Reconnecting via Photography by Richard Keys

Puffin (Bempton)
Photo courtesy by Richard Keys of Photosociology.wordpress.com

Fellow blogger Richard’s photos are stunning! Here he describes his process and how photography can heal…

Dandelion: Photos courtesy by Richard Keys of Photosociology.wordpress.com

Introduction
Hey, I’m Richard, and my blog is photosociology.wordpress.com. To be honest, I’m surprised that my blog is followed by others, I’m just a guy with mental health problems, which photography helps me to cope with. Initially, it got me going outside when I was too scared to do so. Basically, I’m a middle-aged guy, trying to grow up and find a way to live in this confusing world.

Close up of a fly courtesy by Richard Keys of Photosociology.wordpress.com

Reconnecting
Although I am a student photographer and use photography to explore social issues, such as inequality, mental health, and diversity (and more), I also thoroughly enjoy photography. Macro photography and photographing birds are my joy and my peace, especially when I am having a day of intense anxiety, panic attacks, and paranoia.

When photographing birds, flowers, bees, and bugs, I have to slow down. I mean really slow down. I’m not here to take a quick photo and walk on. I want to make a great photo and that means searching. Seeking out the best angle, ensuring that the background doesn’t distract from the subject, checking the focus, and making sure the exposure is correct. When it comes to bugs, bees, and butterflies, I have to slow down even further, firstly to spot them and then to ensure great focus by getting close without scaring them off.

Having a mental illness brings challenges with living, over-thinking, analyzing, being busy because I’m scared of my feelings, and being suspicious and paranoid about people. At first, I was scared of slowing down because I thought these difficulties would overwhelm me, but the opposite is true.

Slowing down is vital for my mental health, it refreshes me, recharges me, helps me to stop running from my emotions and thoughts, and allows whatever is there to be allowed to be, as it is. The process of connecting with nature means that I reconnect with myself, and all is surprisingly well.

Richard Keys

Why Does a Bird Sing? by da-AL

Photo of Ostritch Face
Thanks Ryan McGuire of Gratisography.com

“A bird doesn’t sing because he has an answer, he sings because he has a song.”

From “A Cup of Sun,” by American poet and children’s book author, Joan Walsh Anglund (born c. 1926). She’s sold over 45 million books worldwide.

President Obama and the U.S. Postal Service misattributed this quotation to Maya Angelou. All the same, it’s a great thought.

Here’s one of the sounds that ostriches make.

Do you have a favorite quote?