"Trogdor and the most unnatural bird"

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June 1st 2008
Published: June 10th 2008
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eastern water dragon (Physignathus lesueurii) at the Botanic Gardenseastern water dragon (Physignathus lesueurii) at the Botanic Gardenseastern water dragon (Physignathus lesueurii) at the Botanic Gardens

I named this one Trogdor of course. You can see it in his eyes, he just wants to start burninating thatch-roofed cottages....
After writing out my last blog complaining that the rain hadn't let up since I got here, I went outside and the sky had suddenly cleared up and the sun had come out. I had nothing much else to do so I went back to the Botanic Gardens to take photos. It was quite a good decision as it turned out because I found a whole mess of water dragons around the lily ponds, a boobook owl roosting in the mangroves, and a group of six bush stone-curlews resting in a plant island on one of the lawns. Bush stone-curlews are such wierd-looking birds. I've seen them before in zoos but to see them wild, just stalking about on the ground, especially in the middle of a Botanic Gardens, they seem almost unnatural.

I also figured out today why the streets here seem so odd to me. I couldn't put my finger on it at first, but its because there are no little birds: no sparrows, or even mynahs. The only birds in the outdoor malls are ibis and feral pigeons. Its weird. Its like instead of having mice in your kitchen you've only got goats.

When I got back to my Backpackers I discovered that my previously quiet dorm-room had been tenanted by a group of rowdy English lads, the sort who each carry a rugby ball as an essential part of their luggage. I just don't get it, they're all travelling the world together in a group and they ALL need to take a rugby ball? What's with that?

The next day, with one more day to go before leaving for Lamington, I went to the Alma Park Zoo. The weather was actually fine for once (or rather, it was only spitting instead of full-on raining). I caught the train to the nearest station and then hopped on the free zoo bus that takes visitors to the zoo from there. When I first got there I thought, "wow, this place is awesome". The setting is fantastic, all planted out like a rainforest with Moreton Bay figs, stranglers, climbers and creepers. There are wild brush-turkeys running all over the place and lots of little birds up in the treetops. At first things all looked good on the captive animal front, with the native species mostly being housed reasonably well, but the further I got in the worse things seem to get. The sun bear enclosure is tiny, the fruit bat cage was far too small, and the monkey cages are absolutely horrendous. Pretty much all the cages there could do with being larger and less gloomy (and far less muddy!), but some like the monkey cages should just be bulldozed they are that bad. Anyway, after a couple of hours the rain began again in earnest, so I headed back to the city.

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