The MoKS Residency: last post from Australia, 2013.

It is often said that the anticipation of a holiday is more beneficial than travel itself. We escape the difficulties of work by dreaming of the future, the prospect of a journey keeping us buoyant throughout the year.

With my 4 week residency in Estonia drawing closer my mind is filled with predictions of the unfamiliar sounds that will surround me there. Among other things I especially hope to be able to record the sounds of snow and ice, something not available in this Australian sub-tropical climate.

But what of the sounds that I will, albeit temporarily, leave behind? As we approach the Australian summer there are a number of animals whose calls signal the arrival of this hot and humid season.

Below are a few of the regular sounds that mark this season in this sub-tropical region. The illustrations of the birds were painted by John Gould, a British ornithologist who identified 328 new species during his time in Australia from 1838-1840:

Kookaburras at dawn, nature’s alarm clock. The call of the Kookaburra is an interesting example of the cultural nature of listening. Where Australians hear the Kookaburra’s call as a joyful laugh, visitors to Australian hear the screaming of monkeys:

Masked-lapwings, more commonly known as Spur-winged Plovers. These birds lay their eggs on the ground and viciously swoop anyone remotely walking in their vicinity. This recording is of a plover couple attacking me as I walked along my driveway:

Magpies in the morning. Early colonialists accused Australian birds of not having a musical voice, yet the vocalisation of the magpie contests this early claim:

bladder cicada
Bladder Cicadas calling from the trees at twilight. These cicadas are so loud that they are painful to the ear. They are as impressive as they are irritating:
I’m looking forward to listening to the “Old World”. For me it will be “the shock of the new”.

The next post will be from Venice, Italy. Till then …

16 thoughts on “The MoKS Residency: last post from Australia, 2013.

  1. Hi
    Have a great time in Mooste. I used to live in Estonia and my father in Law lives in that town (small world seeing that I randomly came across your site!)

    I know MOKS as well and I’m sure you will have a great time there. Just make sure to pack warm clothes, it’s getting cold there already. I hope you’ll have time to visit Tallinn as well as it’s a really stunning city.


    1. It is a small world, isn’t it? I keep hearing such positive things about Estonia, so I’m really looking forward to this trip. I think the winter temperature will be a shock to the system but that is part of the pleasure of travel,(well, in theory!). Thanks for dropping by.


  2. As I can’t get a helicopter lift to Estonia too, I just have a look across the sphere to where you live. Is that a natural reserve, something like a UNESCO biosphere?
    It looks so different from what I have as images from Australia …


    1. I hope the helicopter has enough fuel capacity to get to Australia. The images are not of a national park, they are photos of the valley where I live. Australia is a pretty big place with a lot of diversity. I’m sure the images you have in mind are true for some parts of the country!


  3. Thank you so much for this! All of favorite birds wrapped up in a beautiful blog that shows a kinship to the natural world.
    I found your blog in a serendipitous set of searches, hunting for information on a particular bird and its call…. and with your knowledge I’m sure you can put an end to my search!

    The bird in questions calls out “ooo-warhh” at regular intervals, and while I know I know this bird I just can’t seem to recall its name.

    I took a rather clumsy video this morning from my front yard, Sunshine coast, Queensland. The bird call can be picked up from amongst the others.

    I would greatly appreciate your expertise, but understand if you do not have the time.


  4. Thank you so much! I don’t think I’ve ever seen one, although I sometimes see a not so green variety around here. Thank you for all your help, I appreciate greatly. I searched the net for 2 days, on the second day recorded the bird’s call with my camera.
    Have a great fondness for birds and they seem to feel no fear of me.

    One year I visited a grey bower bird every day for a year; I watched him build his nest, how fascinating to watch as he decorated it. He seemed young and did not get a mate that year. The following year he and I enjoyed our connection, me watching him, he watching me. It warmed my heart to see a lovely lady bowerbird accept him & his nest, the second year.

    Peace & Blessed Be


  5. Hi Jay-Dea. Great website! Found your work trying to identify some of the amazing birdsong we heard on the Sydney north shore fringes of Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park during a recent stay (your magpie sings nothing like ours (!) – I love it!). Thought you might be interested in the work of a friend in London – Grant Smith: you can find him here: and . All the best. Eamonn – London, UK


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