Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Copy Edit Time

Much of the past two weeks has been devoted to dealing with the copy edit of "The Lascar's Dagger." Today I needed a break, and of course ... I went to my usual haunt over the back fence.
The Osprey nest and a looming rain shower
The young osprey and two ravens
A close up -- the ravens want the scraps
Parent birds fishing
The one that didn't get away, clutched in a claw, and another hopeful raven
Splendid Wren
And after the walk, it's back to the copy edit, refreshed.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

More morning walk pix

 A Caspian Tern flying past a Great Egret and an Osprey nest. 
Bit blurry, because it's blown up from a distant shot.
 An Ibis looking for breakfast:

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Sawyers Valley forest

Where I was today. 
On a BirdsAustralia day trip
The wonderful colour of the wandoo trees
Hovea flowers
Wandoo: peeling bark

Thursday, June 13, 2013

More from the Len Howard Conservation Area

Yeah, I know you are probably a bit bored with me telling you all about the area over my back fence... but I have another reason today. It's this: such places are good for the soul. Or, if you want to word it another way: good for one's health, both mental and physical. 

And yet, they are in danger all over the world. The population grows, mineral and fuel resources diminish -- and governments lose sight of the fact that clean water, clean air and a reasonably predictable climate are the three things that are even more important to us all than minerals and fuel. And to maintain those resources, we need natural areas, greenery not just for our personal benefit, but for the good of future generations.
Look at the picture above: the dead tree in the background contains a frequently used Osprey nest. An Osprey lives on seafood it picks from the ocean. There is a young bird on the nest, about to fly solo. His parents perch on neighbouring trees, keeping an eye on things. We are not the only life on the planet.

We stopped here for a while to watch dolphins playing, throwing a large fish up into the air repeatedly, like a cat with a mouse. Then there was the Caspian Tern, catching fish for its young, then climbing into the sky burden by its catch, struggling for height. Why? To drop the fish and then catch it again, this time the right way around so it could feed it to its fledged young.

Not far away, just a stone's throw from some fancy houses, there is this pond -- full of cormorants and nests, grey and chestnut teal, black duck, coot, dusky moorhen, purple swamphen, shovellers, hardheads... the list goes on and on.

These places are precious, not just to me, but to you too. 

And yet, here in Australia, politicians serving narrow interests and immediate concerns (rather than those worldwide and permanent) speak of allowing grazing of cattle, sport shooting*, and mining in National Parks.  So I ask you to consider signing this Birdlife Australia petition. This is a proper petition, i.e. you have to identify yourself properly.

*when I first read of the proposal to allow shooting in some National Parks, my immediate knee-jerk reaction was, "What? They want to kill tourists now?"

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Writing and publishing update...

Here is the present state of my career and my books:
The Lascar's Dagger (Trilogy name as yet undecided)
Book One has gone to copy edit. Publication date expected to be early 2014.
Book Two is being written. All being well, publication date will be no later than mid-2015, possibly earlier.
Book Three will be written in 2014. All being well, publication date not later than mid-2016, possibly earlier.
In this business, all publication dates are always tentative!

1. In Australia:  
Harper Collins Voyager paper editions of my books may possibly be scarce in the future. If you have a missing book of one of the three trilogies, now might be the time to get it.

2. Ebook editions of  The Mirage Makers
Should be available in Australia, NZ, UK,  Europe and the Commonwealth, in English. Ebooks are also available in German.

3. Paper editions of The Mirage Makers:
Published 2006-2007
Should be available almost everywhere except USA, but could be becoming scarce in Australia.

4. Ebook and paperback editions of  The Watergivers aka Stormlord Trilogy:
Should be available in English worldwide.

5. French editions of Mirage Makers:
Alas, after the first volume was published, the publisher changed hands and the new publisher decided not to proceed with volumes 2 & 3, leaving readers high and dry. My deepest apologies to French readers. I don't know what to say...

6. Havenstar ebook
Available at for various formats except Mobi (for Kindle).
Will be available shortly, Ticonderoga edition, for Kindle/Amazon. Watch this space.

7. Havenstar print versions:
Will be out soon, hardback and paperback editions, from Ticonderoga Press, worldwide. Watch this space.

8. Ebook Isles of Glory:
Will be out soon from Fablecroft, worldwide, in English. Watch this space.

9. Isles of Glory, print editions:
Getting very scarce indeed in English. Still available in French and German.

Sunday, June 09, 2013

Magic for Lunch

Yesterday, I took an old friend to explore the Len Howard Conservation Area in Erskine, Mandurah, just outside my door. After a morning birding and walking, we ended up here, where there is now an upscale marina, hotel and fancy houses. Sixty years ago when I was a young girl, it was just The Sticks area, devoid of buildings, called that because of the remains of poles stuck in the water to mark the channel. Anyway, we sat down on a park bench to eat our sandwiches. 

This was the calm scene in front of us at the time:
Peel inlet, The Sticks
A  few pelicans in the distance on the water, the odd seagull or tern or cormorant flying past. A water-logged darter climbed up from the water to the beach and hence onto that structure on the left, so bedraggled that his soaked tail swept the ground like a street sweeper's wet broom. He then hung out his wings and tail feathers to dry...

As always for beachside picnics, a family of magpies, a raven and several gulls grouped around eyeing us hungrily as we ate our sandwiches.
Male Magpie
Female Magpie

When suddenly, out of the blue:
Birds everywhere. Everywhere we looked. Pelicans, several species of cormorant, darters, several species of terns, gulls...

Diving (cormorants, darters), squawking and arguing (seagulls), plunging from a height (terns), snorkelling (pelicans)...
There must have been shoals of fish around to set this off, but it really was extraordinary.
All those white bits in the water are cormorant necks!
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Gradually they began to disperse:

Until finally, they had mostly disappeared, almost as quickly as they had arrived:
A few gulls remained for a while -- disappointed I suspect, as being unable to dive, they had missed out on most of the feasting -- until they too flew off:

And then we were alone again. But it was ten minutes of pure magic...

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Possums in the stove...

Perup, where the stove is home to Brush-tailed possums...
I went away with the W.A. Naturalists Club over the long weekend. It was aimed at fungi enthusiasts, so part of the time I spent writing  surrounded by mycologists looking at mushrooms through magnifying glasses, microscopes and camera lenses...but fortunately there was also plenty for me to enjoy. Including birds.

The place was Perup, Nature's guesthouse on Tone-Perup Nature Reserve, which manages a save-the-Woylie project, a fenced area where the predators are kept out (cats, foxes.)
Brush-tailed possums spend the day inside the fireplace...
There is a much better picture of the possum at this site here.

Perup...where the paperbarks grow HUGE
Perup walking trail, with fungi and lichens
Perup, where the hakea was flowering and the perfume was overpowering
Sundews everywhere
Mushrooms everywhere...
Woodlands: Jarrah, Wandoo, Melaleuca...
Another of those giant, twisted paperbarks...
The place also grows HUGE Xanthorrhoea, see the 3 pix below
There are some days I feel like this too...
And other days when I feel like this!
And bad hair days...I have LOTS of those