Thursday, October 30, 2008

Peacocks of Jardim Publico, Evora

I was in Evora, Portugal, two days ago and visited a garden called Jardim Publico. I took some photos in the garden and was quite glad to see some peacocks there.

The statue of Vasco Da Gama, a Portugese explorer

If I am not mistaken, this is the Galeria das Damas. There was a physics exhibition in there when I visited the garden.

Remnants of the Palacio da Dom Manuel

There also live about 20 peacocks. Some of them have really stunning plumage.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

More black swans

My bike riding with friends on Saturday turned out to be a rare meet-the-black-swans experience.

Shortly after we left the black swan with cygnets, we saw more adult black swans on the river - ten of them! It's no doubt the first time I have seen such a large group of them.

By the way, I think it would be nice to show you the guys whom I went riding with.

From the left: Sharif (Bangladeshi), William (Indonesian Chinese), Me (Malaysian Chinese), Hung Chi (Taiwanese). (In the background stands the Burswood Entertainment Complex.) Everyone had a good ride, although our backsides probably didn't like it that much.

For the sake of record, we rode for about 3 hours (not continuously though) and possibly 20 km or more based on the map.

The route we took: Matilda Bay, near UWA (start point) - the Swan Bells - Point Fraser - crossed the Causeway - Heirisson Island - back to Point Fraser - continued along the river - the WACA Oval - Peace Grove, East Perth - Graham Farmer Freeway - Belmont Park Golf Course - Burswood - Mends Street jetty - continued along the South Perth esplanade - crossed Kwinana Freeway - Mounts Bay Road - UWA.

Black swan and cygnets

The black swan (Cygnus atratus) is a native of Australia. It is also the bird after which the Swan River was named by Dutch explorer Willem de Vlamingh in 1697. The man explored the river and found large flocks of black swans living in the estuary of the river. But today, they are uncommon on the river.

I saw this black swan with six cygnets when I was cycling along the river with three friends in South Perth on Saturday morning.

As I approached them the swan started to flap its wings, possibly a gesture of aggressiveness. It didn't like me getting too close I guess.

But shortly after, it just went on with its life and ignored me. So I began to take a few nice shots of the family.

The scientific name "atratus" translates into "dressed in black". The tips of the wings are white, as you can also see in the second photo (above).

It has such a long neck that when extended makes it look like a cartoon character.

The cygnets are still covered in light grey down, so they maybe around one month's old or younger. A cygnet will start to have black feathers after about one month of age.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Heirisson Island in the Swan River (III)

Today, I visited the Heirisson Island for the third time in a month.

I was lucky (or rather my three friends and I were lucky) as we found four kangaroos all in the same spot. In each of my previous visits, I only saw three kangaroos. And as before the roos were really friendly and not camera-shy at all.

It is a nice experience to get so close to (within inches from) the roos. You probably won't get to do that even in the zoo. While you could can do the same in some parks, you would probably have to pay for an entrance fee.

I could even get a macro shot of their fur. That tells you how close you can get to the roos.

The only thing about the roos here is that you have to find them. Unlike kangaroos in a pen, the roos on the island won't stay in one same location waiting for the tourists. About one-third of the island is their home, so they can go anywhere they like. But of course, after three visits, I think I have already got an idea where would be the best spots to look for them.

Thoughts (4) - when not to start a PhD

Don't start a PhD if you think it will make you more confident as it is very likely to do the opposite.
And you might end up deciding not going on in the same career path anymore.

Don't start a PhD if you think you need a PhD before you can contribute to the welfare of mankind.
Or if you think life will be meaningless to the point of warranting a suicide if you quit your PhD one day.
Don't start a PhD if you think you need a PhD to have a happy and meaningful life.

Don't start a PhD if you have a hypersensitive personality or suffer from depression.
Your PhD might very well be a gateway into the dark side of you.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Peacock with open tail - que bonito!

If you have read my earlier posts (1, 2), you would know about the peacock family that lives on the UWA campus.

How lucky was I that I saw one of them with open tail last Sunday. He was so beautiful!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Heirisson Island in the Swan River (II)

I returned to the island the next day with a friend.

This time, we were greeted by a really friendly kangaroo, who actually led us to two other kangaroos on the island. Unbelievable!

Out "tour guide"

The other two kangaroos having a rest in the shade

Our tour guide stayed around while we were taking photos with the other two kangaroos. And when we came back to it, it was happy to pose for us too. It was as if it had been trained to meet visitors.

Naturally I took the chance to take some close-up photos of it.

And again, I took a few snaps of the lakes before we left.