Sunday, 18 September 2011

Things you don't see in the UK #1 - Magpie Swooping Season

Apparently the magpies of Canberra are aggressive, or at least the males are when it is nesting season.  (See the defensive head-gear worn by the cyclist to the left) and amusing article from the Canberra times:

The bush capital's swooping harbingers of spring are upon us and the ACT Government is warning residents to be aware of the black-and-white menace from above.

And while plenty of new magpie warning signs have been erected around nest-worthy suburbs, they weren't enough to save Erica Laurente from one particularly aggressive bird in Palmerston yesterday.

 Full newspaper article can be read here at the Canberra Times website.

Monday, 5 September 2011

Geocaching

A friend of mine recently got me into Geocaching. Put simply, Geocaching is a geeky treasure hunt. Geocachers hide treasure (caches), containing - as a minimum - a paper log so that finders can record their visit.  Once the cache has been hidden, the co-ordinates of it's location are published on a website (Geocaching.com) for others to find.

Other Geocachers then use their GPS' (these are surprisingly cheap, alternatively some smartphones can also do the same job) to track down the co-ordinates and find the cache.  Amazingly, there are over 500 caches hidden within a 10km radius of my home.  Even more amazingly I (unknowlingly) passed by two each day on my walk to and from work.  With the aid of my GPS and a good deal of heading scratching and poking about I was able to score my first finds.

The inventiveness of the folk hiding the caches is to be believed. Hidden in fence posts, children's play areas, I even heard of one hidden inside a snail shell.

The next stage was to involve my pre-schooler, as it is a good excuse to spend some time with daddy. I also look less of an idiot on my hands and knees if their is a little one alongside me.  Geocachers are mindful of the adult / child connection and the larger caches are used to exchange proper treasure between the kids.  At our first find together he was over the moon to swap a plastic soldier for a yo-yo.

It is also a great excuse to go exploring parts of Canberra that I would not otherwise be visiting.  Just watch out for muggles!