Sunday, 8 December 2019

Fantail splashes

We had a visit from a pair of birds that we see infrequently as they are generally found norh of our area but do migrate to southern regions through summer. It is also found in a number of countries in the near north of Australia. This pair were around the garden for a short time in the morning and making the most of the bird bath for a drink and then a splash.


As you can see from the photo the name Rufous Fantail Rhipidura rufifrons is most appropriate and it is one of the small flycatchers. Its relative the Grey Fantail is one of the resident species on the property.




 

Thursday, 5 December 2019

Bee shines

Posted a photo of this species some time ago but the photo today does show the iridescent colour better.
This large bee is one of the carpenter species Xylocopa (lestis) bombylans  Green or Peacock Carpenter Bee.
Found in eastern Australia they are solitary bees and as their name suggests work in wood, as the excavate a tunnel into the trunk of soft dead trees or the stem of grass trees to lay their eggs.

 
 

Tuesday, 19 November 2019

Too hot for whip cracking

Much of Australia is in the grip of severe drought and even here on the coast we have experienced the driest 11 months in 25 years. The hot dry conditions are also very hard on the wildlife and there has been a noticeable drop in the numbers seen around the property.
Water is important in helping the wildlife cope with the conditions and we have many water sources available for their use. 
One bird species that is quite shy and heard more than seen is the Eastern Whipbird Prophodes olivaceus and we have a resident pair that keep to the dense understory and only occasionally come close to the house. The calling voice of the pair is one of the quintessential sounds of the Australian bush as the Male produces a loud whipcrack with the female quickly answering with a sharp 'choo choo'  and the combined call is often mistaken as the call of the one bird. They range from the mid coastal forest of Queensland down through NSW to coastal eastern Victoria.
Today the hot start to the morning brought one bird to the bird baths first to drink at one then to another for a quick splash around.



 

Saturday, 5 October 2019

Nest of pain

I realised when looking through my observations that there was one fairly common species found on our property that I had not recorded and I had been carefully avoiding getting too close to in the past few days.
Jumping Jack Ants Myrmecia nigrecincta have a nest not far from our front door in a garden
where I have been working. This species is one of the smaller Bulldog Ants of which there are some 90 or so species in Australia, but what they lack in size they make up with aggressiveness. If the nest is disturbed they will swarm out and attack any intruder delivering extremely painful stings, which for a small proportion people provoke an allergic reaction that for a few has proved fatal.  


 





This species is found in woodlands, open forests and rainforest along the east coast of Australia from north Queensland to Victoria.

Friday, 27 September 2019

Swallowtail and the river

We had a visit from a butterfly that I had not previously seen at our location, it was very distinctive with bright colouring but I didn't have the camera and didn't think to use my phone.
However I did look it up in my reference book and identified it as a Macleay's Swallowtail, although disappointed I missed getting a photo.
As chance would have it the following day I saw a butterfly on a bush near where I was working and dashed over to see if I was in luck. Very pleased to see that I was and I did think to use the phone this time managing to get three photos before it fluttered off.
Two were hopeless and one looked OK but the distance and blending in with the bush it was hard to see without heavy cropping.




 So not the best but enabled definite confirmation as a Macleay's Swallowtail Graphium macleayanus macleayanus. It is one of the smaller swallowtails with a wingspan of about 8cm in the PAPILIONIDAE genus of the 17 found in Australia. It is found from mid Queensland through NSW and Victoria to north and eastern Tasmania


Not far north of where we live is the Macleay River and I wondered at the naming of the butterfly and the river. My research found that both were named after Alexander Macleay who at the time of naming around 1814 was a world renowned entomologist and chairman of the Linnean Society of London.
He later emigrated to Australia together with his extensive insect collection which he used to found the Macleay Museum at the University of Sydney where his collection is still.