Story Challenge: P is for Pied Oystercatchers

We live near a remote beach on the south coast of NSW, Australia. One of our precious visitors is the Pied Oystercatcher, a large attractive black and white shore bird with a stunning red bill. Before Europeans came to Australia these birds were plentiful, protected by the moiety system of totems followed by the aboriginal people. Members of each skin group must always protect and never eat their totem birds and animals. However since the spread of Europeans along the coast the Pied Oystercatcher has lost habitat, and is threatened by development, and dogs, cats, and foxes. It is now listed as an endangered species.

Pied Oystercatcher at Mullimburra

Oystercatchers feed on bivalve molluscs, the ones we call Pippies. I love to see the open shells along the beach, where the bird has used its long beak to dig up the mollusc, prise the shell open and feed on the juicy creature. There are only 50 breeding pairs of Pied Oystercatchers on the South Coast now, and few safe breeding spots. They cant breed on our beach because people disregard the no dogs sign, and even this afternoon I saw a young kelpie with some teenagers chasing a pair away from the eastern end of the beach. Even if dogs were kept away there are always foxes and feral cats to steal the chicks. Perhaps there is more we could do here to help them survive, maybe I should contact National Parks and get involved?

Join in the P story challenge with Frizztext, add your story to the mix!

Story Challenge: I is for Instruction

Travellers all over the world are given instructions on safety every time they board a flight. We all hear, over and over again how to fasten our seatbelt, how to brace in case of an emergency landing, how to inflate our life vest and blow the whistle, what to do with the tubes that drop from the ceiling to supply oxygen, and so on. Some flights have a video, some have multiple demonstrators, some like the small plane to Lord Howe Island have only one flight attendant and she also gives all of the instructions and demonstrations. There is a card in the seat pocket in front of each person that includes diagrams and information to make sure it is all clear.

We are about to travel for five weeks from Australia to Europe and Ireland, and home via Singapore, so we will have many opportunities to hear the safety instructions, on different planes and in different countries! I expect they will all be the same. Check out other I stories at

Until our return I wont be visiting your blogs, I will miss you and look forward to catching up in October. I wont be posting on Heartfelt Images, but you might see some travel photos on dadirridreaming if you look.

PS This is my 100th post on Heartfelt Images 🙂

Story Challenge: G is for Guide

Travelling in Bhutan was an unforgettable experience, made possible only because every visitor is accompanied by a guide. Perhaps we were lucky but we had a very experienced guide, Karchung, who took care to discover our interests and planned our trip perfectly. From the time we arrived at the airport in Paro until our departure 10 days later he looked after everything. This story is also about a different kind of guide, a spiritual guide if you like. We had been attending a festival in the east of Bhutan, and our guide wanted to show us something special. He waited until all the other guides and their vehicles had left the area, then stopped by the road and encouraged us to climb up the mountainside. There was a secret cave where some of the great Buddhist teachers of Bhutan had meditated.

Understanding our weak western nature Karchung did not actually tell us how far we had to climb, we always understood it was only over the next rise! At the top of one ridge we rested near a row of prayer flags. Three large dogs appeared, walking on the trail. There was no need for concern, they were dogs used by wandering herders to guard the herds, and now it seemed they came to guard us. The dogs fell into step with us, one in the lead, one in the middle and one at the rear. I was walking behind our driver, who turned and said smiling, “Now there are seven of us!” … an auspicious number. So we all continued, the guardian dogs taking care of us on the trail to the secret cave. When we reached it they vanished, their job done.

Thank you Frizz for the Story Challenge! Pop over to read some more G stories.

A-Z Story Challenge: D is for Dragonboat

We have a Dragon Boat on the Moruya river. Every Saturday morning the paddlers arrive and carry the boat from its shed, down the ramp onto the water.

A few weeks ago I was on the other side of the water, looking across towards the Saturday morning market, when the Dragon boat came into view, they stopped and turned just out from where I was standing, then following orders from the coxon paddled smartly back upriver.

Dragon boat racing began in China, but has spread around the world as water sport, and a rehabilitative activity for breast cancer survivors.  The Australian website has lots of information about groups. Boats are often decorated with a proud dragon head and tail. My friend Buddhist nun Ani Choekyi blessed a number of dragon boats on the south coast here.

Here they go, back up the river, our mighty Moruya women, in their boat RiverDragon!


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