Tuesday, 31 May 2011

One of a pigeon pair

More rain; 70mm yesterday on top of saturated ground has left everything very sodden, so I did not expect to get a photo today, but late this afternoon a Brown Pigeon Macropygia amboinensis arrived to feed on the small berries of the Native Peach shrub Trema aspera (its common name due to its leaves resembling peach tree leaves) that is growing next to our verandah. Until recently we also had a wild tobacco tree growing near this position and the brown pigeons are particularly partial to the fruit of this weed and have been responsible for spreading the weed through the bush. The brown pigeons are regular visitors, particularly when their food sources are in plentiful supply. They are noted for their loud repetitive Whook Whook call that was responsible for giving another common name of Brown Cuckoo Dove but as they are not doves or related to cuckoos that name usage is discouraged. They are one of the 19 species of native pigeon found in Australia and range down eastern coastal regions.

Saturday, 28 May 2011

In a rut; almost

The rut is not as yet underway but the bucks are out of the forest and starting to gather their females for the mating season. This is the period when they become a major problem as the bucks create damage to the trees and shrubs through antler rubbing and marking their territory with aggressive bush bashing.
This buck Rusa deer was quite happily grazing near the house until he caught sight of me and made a hasty retreat with the few females that were nearby.

Moth highlight

A visit from another moth I can't identify, although I think it maybe of the Anthelidae family.

Friday, 27 May 2011

Raven around

A pair of Australian Ravens Corvus coronoides and a youngster are spending a lot of time around here at present, as they discovered the remains of a pumpkin in the compost bin and have been busy devouring what they can dig out. The young bird is still in the begging to be fed stage and is spending a lot of time calling on the parents for food. They are the most wary of birds and generally take flight as soon as they see you and move off to a distance considered safe. However I did manage to get close enough for a couple of photos. The adults have a striking white eye with a blue inner ring which tends to give a blue colour to the whole iris whilst the young birds have a brownish iris. We are keeping a watch on them at present as the citrus in the orchard are starting to ripen and Ravens love  ripe oranges. They snip the fruit off the tree and then proceed to get every bit of flesh out of the orange. Netting the trees helps keep them off but the net has to be fairly secure as the will bounce on the net until they can reach through and nip off an orange which falls to the ground and rolls out under the net; very smart birds.

Monday, 23 May 2011

Tiny Mosquito Orchid

For the past week or so I have been watching a patch of terrestrial orchids which has a number of developing flower stems and today a few of the flowers had opened.
With the flowers opened I have been working on the identification as there are a few of the genus Acianthus that are quite similar. Having been on the web and compared a number of photos I am reasonably confident that this is the Tiny Mosquito Orchid Acianthus exiguus.

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Black & White minstrel

A visit today from a family group of magpies or more specifically Black-backed Magpies Gymnorhina tibicen, birds that are much loved for their beautiful warbling songs that are so much a feature of the Australian bush. There are three species of magpies in Australia with the Black-backed having the widest range. Noted not only for their songs but also for their aggressive behaviour in the breeding season when they will swoop on dogs, cats people and other birds that came near their territory. Their behaviour is also exacerbated due to people feeding them and making them more demanding. Unfortunately this has lead to numbers of birds being culled in suburban areas when people have been injured through their attacks.


This moth attracted by the house lights was resting above the verandah door which enabled me to get a photo. As for identification can't find the species but think it is of the  looper Geometridae family and the ENNOMINAE genera possibly fisera sp. 

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

If the name fits.

Three characters today with common names that seem very appropriate and all to do with their appearance. First off we had a visit from a Willie Wagtail Rhipidura leucophrys, a fantail flycatcher that gets its name for the constant sideways movement of its tail each time it lands. They are found throughout Australia and are much loved for their chatter and call which seems to say "Sweet pretty creature".

Then a little latter in the day the warmer weather brought out a Yellow-faced Whip Snake demansia psammophis to take some sun, before winter keeps it hidden away. The thin whip like body identifies the whip snakes and the yellow comma marking around the eye gives this one its distinguishing name.

Finally when I was cutting some firewood a Jewel beetle caught my eye and its metallic shine makes it worthy of its name. Jewel beetles (Family buprestidae) is a major family with over 1200 species in 78 genera in Australia and I don't know the specific species of this one.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Blue Wren not so blue

With the breeding season over and now with expanded familys, our fairy wrens are very active around the garden feeding on insects and nectar building reserves for winter. The males have lost their beautiful breeding plumage and are now a good match for the females with only small variations in colour. A family group were very busy in one of our grevilleas and gave me the opportunity for a couple of family shots.

Superb Blue Wren (m)

Superb Blue Wren (f)

Superb Blue Wrens (youngsters)

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Lacewing Larva

After I had been doing some gardening I noticed an unusual looking bit of detritus on my jacket, however on a closer inspection it turned out to be a lava of one of the Lacewing family, Order Neuropteran but I don't know the species. We commonly see the sand traps of the Antlion Larvae in the sheltered area around the house with the larva waiting at the bottom of the trap for any ant or small insect to slide down the side into their massive jaws. This larva (aprox 3mm long) looks similar to the Antlion but carrys bits and pieces on its back as a disguise and I assume it spends its life until metamorphis amongst vegetation and leaf litter.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Silvereye on bottlebrush

A small flock of Grey-breasted Silvereyes Zosterops lateralis discovered the bottlebrush flowers today and dashed from flower spike to flower spike collecting nectar. They range through Eastern Australia in habitat from coastal heath to forest understory and tend to be somewhat migratory through their range.
Also found a Common Jezabel with its upper wing surfaces on show as it rested on a gum leaf, so added it to show the contrast to the photo posted a couple of days ago.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Jezabel & bottlebrush

Jezabel butterflies are so visible on the wing with their white upper wing surface flashing like a strobe as the wings open and close. They are busily mating, laying eggs on the mistletoe and keeping up their energy with sips of nectar from our flowers. Most often they are feeding on the blossoms on the gumtree canopy but this Common Jezabel Delias nigrina (m) stopped for a brief feed in one of our bottlebrush shrubs (Callistemon citrinus cultivar "Endevour")

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Miner, Drongo, Fantail and Blue-banded Bee

Noisy Miner enjoying "Fire Sprite" Grevillea

We normally don't have many visits from Noisy Miners  Manorina melanophrys which is a bit of a blessing as they travel in a group, are very territorial and aggressively chase off other birds. However it is nice to have the occasional visit and today a group of about twenty arrived to feed in the banksias and grevilleas that are in flower. There was a bit of a kerfuffle with the Spangled Drongo that was also enjoying the nectar but they worked over the flowers for a short period then they all headed off and the Spangled Drongo was back sipping nectar. This bird is here every day at present and spends its time between feeding on nectar and catching insects particularly the paper wasps that have quite a big grouping of nests on the back of our workshed.

With lots of insects around the flycatchers have been very active and the Grey Fantails are probably the least timid of all the small birds and will swoop around you to pluck from the air any insects you disturb.
One insect that was busy collecting food was a Blue-banded Bee Amegilla Sp. (probably the Common Blue-banded cingulata but as there are at least 59 species of  Amegilla many blue and black banded accurate identification is somewhat difficult). It was collecting pollen from the flowers and then took a break and gave me a chance for a photo.
These guys are solitary bees and build burrows for their nest in earth banks, sandstone and also mud-brick houses. They are found throughout Australia except for Tasmania and the Northern Territory.

Friday, 6 May 2011

Tailed Emperor, missing tails

It seems to have been a tough time for butterflies as I have seen many worse for wear and today a Tailed Emperor Polyura pyrrhus sepronius was a prime example. Missing the distinctive tails as well as a large part of one rear wing and generally looking tattered it took a break in the sun with wings spread so no chance for a photo of the underside of the wings, so following is an earlier photo of one that was in much better condition.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Tortoise or turtle, What ever!

"Everyone used to call me a long-neck or snake-neck tortoise, but now I have been reclassified as a turtle so I am a Common Long-necked Turtle Chelodina longicollis. However some unkind people still call me a "Stinker," just because I can release a foul smelling liquid if I am picked up and boy have some people regretted putting me in their car when they have found me on the road."
This character was in the middle of our driveway when we arrived home this afternoon, so stopped to carefully move it (as we have experienced the reason for the offensive name) onto the edge of the drive. It was in the process of crossing the track, neck fully stretched out, but as soon as we stopped the neck was popped back into the security of the carapace. These guys are found throughout most of the eastern regions of Australia and are often found in the suburban backyards that have nearby waterways. As a kid I found one and had it as a pet for sometime before it wandered off to find a more appropriate home. The weather is starting to get a winter chill so I expect this one was on its way to find a suitable spot to hibernate until spring.

Monday, 2 May 2011

More spangles

The Spangled Drongo has been around every day for the past week and today I managed to get a photo that shows off the spangles so I thought it should be a portrait post.