Friday, 31 December 2010


At the peak of insect activity and one of our more unusual visitors are the Mountain Grasshoppers acripeza reticulata, and in particular the female of the species. The male is small, can fly and is generally insignificant. On the other hand the female is a robust insect and is generally found wandering through the leaf litter with slow steady steps or little hops. The colour suits the suroundings and they can be hard to spot if not moving, but when disturbed you cannot miss the display that is designed to frighten wouldbe predators.

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Lace Monitor portrait

Our resident Lace Monitors varanus varius (second largest lizard in Australia growing to around 6') are now seen at least a few days a week, particularly on the warm days.The younger ones come closer to the house than the big characters who generally stay further away, as they are generally more wary. This afternoon one of the younger ones with full breeding colour, wandered past, just outside the office and stopped long enough for me to take  a portrait.

Monday, 27 December 2010

Horsefly times

This is the time of year when the insects reign supreme, awake to the sound of the cicadas,  that as the day warms up becomes a non-stop background noise. However it is the biting insects that are impossible to ignore, mossies, midges and horseflies. The horseflies give a painful bite that at times can draw blood so when you are outside in the garden you are always on the watch to give them a swat when they land on an exposed bit of skin. They also bother the wallabies and kangaroos which can be seen flicking their ears & tail and swatting with their paws. Our resident wallaby, that sits just outside the office on many mornings and afternoons, is being pestered at present whilst she is doing a bit of cleaning. The biggest of the horseflies Erephopsis guttata, is fortunately a slow flier and as it has a very noisy buzz you can keep a watch on them. They also seem to lack the sense to find the skin easily as they more often than not land on your shoe/boot etc and spend some time looking for a spot to bite, this gives you a chance to swat them or if so inclined chase them away.

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Christmas flowers

We have two of the flower species that we associate with Christmas in NSW, being Christmas Bush Ceratopetalum gummiferum and Christmas bells Blandfordia nobilis and grandiflora. Usually our Christmas bush has just about finished by now, whereas in Sydney it is coming into its peak, but this year we have a wonderful display.
However our Christmas bells are just in bud, so it will be well into January be for they are in full bloom.

Christmas bells from a previous year
NSW Christmas Bush

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Moon eclipse

Last night we were fortunate to have a wonderful view of the partial eclipse of the moon as it rose in the east, althoght we missed the start as it was behind a bank of clouds on the horizon.However by about 8.30 it cleared the clouds and we were able to see the shadow gradually leave the moon. I have been lucky to get a new camera from the family that has a wonderful zoom, so tried out and the following is the result.

Monday, 20 December 2010

Dingo in the backyard

11am on the tractor to do some slashing and spooked a dingo that was chasing a red-neck wallaby, so lucky day for the wallaby and not so good for the dingo, that looked to be in need of a good feed. Think it was a young one and must have been fairly desparate to be out hunting so late in the day.

Friday, 12 November 2010

Emperor in the orchard

Working in the orchard today checking the trees for pests and came across a magnificent Emperor Gum Moth Opodiphthera helena resting up amongst the foliage. They are not a problem for fruit trees as the food source for the larvae is eucalyptus leaves

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Snakes on the move

With the weather warming up our snakes are starting to get active, but seems like we will not have that many around, as by now I would have expected to see lots of Yellow Faced whip-snakes that are resident in the rockeries around the house, but so far only a couple sighted. Saw the first of our Common Green Tree-snakes yesterday as it was moving into the bushes in front of the house, but as yet have not sighted our Diamond Python, although its shed skin was caught up in the bush behind the house. We hope we don't have a visit this season from the Red-belly Black Snake that gets into our pond and eats the goldfish, and so far have only seen one young one. Photo Common Green Tree-snake

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Fox in the backyard

Yesterday morning sighted the first fox on the property this year as it casually trotted across the paddock south of the house. We were thinking the number of foxes had been reduced due to the increase in dingos in the area and that is still likely to be the case as we haven't heard foxes much either.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Outside the office

One of our regular visitors was happily grooming whilst sitting in the garden outside the office, when I went to check the emails this morning. Sitting on the tail is a common position for the Red-necked wallaby when grooming yet it is not one often seen in photos so thought I would pop this on the blog. When grooming was finished she had a nibble on one of the wallabies' favourite treats, our Wonga vine, Pandorea pandorana, which they keep trimmed to the level as far as they can reach.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Parasite beauty and ugly children

Doing some pruning in the garden and noticed a mistletoe in flower in amongst its host acacia and then noticed the caterpillars feeding on the mistletoe. The question should I kill the caterpillars or maybe the mistletoe? What is the result of my decision? If I kill the mistletoe the caterpillars will lose a food source; If I kill the caterpillars will the mistletoe eventually kill the acacia?  I will leave leave the caterpillars as I know they will soon turn into beautiful butterflies and will continue to keep the mistletoe under control in our backyard.

Dendrophthoe vitellina
I will remove the mistletoe after flowering and the caterpillars are gone, as I want to keep the acacia and we have lots more mistletoe on much larger trees that can resist the mistletoe attack.  
Delias nigrina larvae

Common Jezabel Delias nigrina