Thursday, 29 September 2011

It's easy being green

That is if you're a green Tree Frog and today I found one in one of the regular hiding places; the overflow pipe from our water tank. This is the Green Tree Frog Litoria caerulea one of the largest frogs in Australia at around 100mm when fully mature, like this one.  Their colour is quite variable from a dark olive to a bright green and they have the ability to quickly make a colour change to fit in with their surroundings. As this character was in the pipe the dark colour suited very well and highlighted the white spots that are often not showing in their bright green colouring. They range across northern Australia, through Queensland and NSW. After a couple of photos it was popped back to keep hidden until it ventures forth at night to hunt insects and have even be known to catch mice. 

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

In a tangle

The Red-bellied Black Snakes have been very active, with the large one sighted every warm day  and a smaller one has been seen in the last few days. Today we found the reason why, as they were found in a tight tangle below the verandah, spending an hour or so mating. Not sure which is male or female, although the larger seemed most active whilst the smaller remained tightly coiled.

Monday, 26 September 2011

Soaring weather

A weekend of terrible weather, cold, and storms bringing torrential rain (105mm in 2 days) and hail however today the sun was out and only the strong winds remained. This was soaring weather and our pair of Wedge-tailed eagles just effortlessly floated overhead on their way.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Beard confusion

Yesterday I found an orchid in an unlikely spot, next to a pot plant on the edge of our driveway and at first glance at the unopened buds and the stem I thought it was a sun orchid. However on more close inspection there were a couple of differences that indicated a different species and today the first of the flowers opened to reveal a bearded orchid.

I have found a bearded orchid on our property once before and  identified it as a Copper Beard Orchid Calochilus campestis on the strength of bluish plates on the base of the lip. However today's orchid has red plates at the base of the lip so that sent me searching for the identification and found the best match to be the Pale Beard Orchid Calochilus herbaceous. However there seems to be some confusion as a number of sources identifying them as variations of the same orchid. I guess I will get it sorted at some stage but for the moment I will call it  a Pale Beard Orchid.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Flat black

Moving some planks of wood I came across a few of one of our interesting spiders, which is very flat an black, but actually is call a Flattened Sac Spider, one of some 180+ described species of Australian Sac Spiders. These spiders get their name from their habit of building silken sac retreats and egg sac.
The Flattened Sac Spiders are in the Family Gnaphosidae and I think this one is in the Genera Rebilus and is atypical in that it does not build a silken retreat but does have very flat disc sacs for its eggs.

These spiders move extremely fast and I was lucky to have this one stay still long enough for a photo. Their speed is used in hunting prey as they run them down and strike before the prey is even aware of their presence.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Black is black

Yesterday's very hot weather was enough to get our resident (lives directly below our verandah) Red-bellied Black Snake Pseudechis porphyriacus on the move and today it was sunbathing just outside its hole (tail still just inside).

Although quite poisonous and has caused human deaths they are actually quite a timid snake and will quickly retreat when chanced upon . A diurnal species  which grows to around 2m, is often found around waterways, dams and swampy locations where frogs, insects and small mammals are its prey. The red belly can vary from a pink through to a deep red but no red was on show with our character as it was flattened out to get maximum sun exposure.

Friday, 16 September 2011

Let the sunshine in

We have one area where a patch of terrestrial orchids appear each spring, usually about a dozen or so plants, but this year the conditions must have been ideal as we have at least a few dozen. The first year we discovered these orchids we didn't see a flower and wondered why; then the next year we had flowers and were able to identify the orchid as as Slender Sun Orchid Thelymitra pauciflora.
As the botanical name suggests prolific flowering is not one of its strong points; it is one of the Sun Orchid genus which has about 45 species, with around 35+ found in Australia. All the sun orchids like sunny areas in heath and woodlands and the flowers generally need strong spring sunshine for them to open. The Slender Sun Orchid is noted for poor flowering as it requires a very warm sunny day in spring otherwise the flowers stay closed. It is also has quite small flowers without much of the show of  some of the relatives. It is found throughout Australia and New Zealand in the appropriate habitat. Fortunately today we had a weather that was just right and the first of the flowers opened for a photo shoot. More flowers should open over the next few days as we have warm sunny weather forecast. Of course like all orchids the close-up view shows how exquisite they are.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Colour me a rainbow.

One of our most colourful birds with a most appropriate name the Rainbow Lorikeet Trichoglossus haematodus is often seen as they fly overhead dashing from one blossoming tree to another usually screeching as they go. We do not see them very fequently in the lower foliage but occasionally they will make a brief stop in one of the nectar bearing shrubs such as the Banksia Integrifolia that a pair flew into this morning giving me enough time for three photos before they screeched off.
Rainbow Lorikeets have two forms the one in our area ranges from the tip of Queensland down the east coast of NSW, Victoria, Tasmania and around to South Australia with a northern form, which has a red collar instead of green, in the far north of WA and the Northern Territory.They are one of six species of lorikeet found in Australia , all being arboreal parrots, very swift flying and have a specialised brush-like tongue to gather the nectar and pollen and a sharp hooked beak for cracking seeds.
Rainbow Lorikeets became very popular with humans when it was found they could be encouraged to feed from your hand with offerings of sunflower seed or bread soaked in a honey nectar. A bird sanctuary in Queensland became a favourite tourist destination  to have your photo taken with the lorikeets being fed from your hand. The feeding of lorikeets has become somewhat of a problem as the population of birds around suburban areas has grown dramatically. Flocks of many hundreds cause damage to trees that they roost in and their aggressive behaviour to other birds has changed the bird distribution pattern in many areas. The feeding of an unbalanced food source has resulted poor nutrition in some of the birds causing problems such as "runners" (birds that cannot fly very well).

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Night & Day

A white moth fluttering against the window got my attention last night and when it settled I managed to get a photo. When I zoomed in to have a look I was taken by the bright red and black lines colouring the costa of the fore wing.

Although I was not able to get a photo with the rear wings, when I found the identification on the Butterfly House website its description notes that the rear wings have a number of black spots on white wings, so all in all a striking moth. Found the identification in the ARCTIIDAE family Aloa marginata, (Donovan 1805) Donovan's Tiger Moth. The moth which found throughout Australia is about 3cm long and the larvae feed on a wide range of herbaceous plants. It was still in place this morning which enabled a daytime photo.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Green moth and green orchid

A green moth on the kitchen window was co-operative for a photo and I think I have identified it as one of the Geometrdae family, an Emerald moth Anisozyga metaspila, although there are quite a few Emeralds so I am happy to be corrected.
The wet year we have had has certainly been enjoyed by the native orchids as they are more numerous than I have seen them in years. I have been watching the development the Slender Onion Orchids Microtis parviflora, that are sending up flower spikes with their single onion like leaf, through the grass areas and flower gardens.
The flower spike is up to about 40cm tall with masses of tiny flowers about 3mm in size. This orchid is found in all Australian States apart from WA.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Bootlace orchid

I don't know about bootlaces, but this orchid certainly has a wiry stem and is notable for its climbing habit.

It is a reasonably common orchid and we have quite a few that are now in bud, but this is the first flower that I have seen open this season. The Bootlace Orchid Erythrorchis cassythoides is a leafless terrestrial orchid, found in open forest areas through Queensland and NSW to just south of Sydney.

The  subterranean rhizomes feed on the decayed bark and leaf litter at the base of the tree (in this instance a Spotted Gum Eucalyptus maculata) and the stem(s) climbs the trunk with the aid of short clasping roots. This example had climbed to about 3m up the tree, but I have seen ones climb over 6m before setting their flower clusters.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Pencilled Blue

A flash of white and blue and I noticed a small butterfly alight in a shrub below our verandah so grabbed the camera for a couple of photos.

The Butterfly is a Pencilled Blue Candalides asimilis (female) and the species range from far north Queensland down the east coast to Victoria. I was fortunate to have it remain in place for some time and also open and close its wings to enable shots of the contrasting upper and lower wing surfaces.

Sunday, 4 September 2011


When you bring lettuce out of the garden it is wise to carefully check for stowaways and I found two today when checking a Cos lettuce. When this Dwarf Tree Frog Litoria fallax was evicted from its abode it leaped for what looked like an alternative on the table; whoops somethings not right!
After a photo shoot it was pleased to then be relocated outside to a new home  amongst lily leaves.

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Wildflower wander

Dianella caerulea
White Fingers Caladenia catenata
Hardenbergia violacea
 Gristle fern Blechnum cartilagineum
Rough Maidenhair fern Adiantum hispidulum
Rasp fern Doodia aspera
Indigofera australis
Dusky Coral Pea Kennedia rubicunda

Pink Fingers Caladenia carnea
I thought I would do a short wander through a section of our forest area to check out the wildflowers that spring has brought into bloom. Our garden has lots of native plants as well as exotics and is a picture at present but I restricted my photos to the flowers that are indigenous to the area.
Hibertia diffusa

Clematis aristata

Lomandra longifolia 
Buttercup Ranunculus lappaceus                

Bees at a wild hive in Eucalyptus
Don herbison Evans helped me out with yesterday's moth identification; not a woolly bear although quite woolly, but Iropoca rotundata.

Friday, 2 September 2011

Very woolly

This moth was on the flyscreen last night so popped it inside for a photo. I haven't been able to identify it as yet but I think it is one of the Australian Woolly Bear family ANTHELIDAE.

When I took the photo head on I didn't notice the antennae but when I downloaded onto the computer I was struck by the resemblance to bat's ears.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Not quite coloured

With breeding season underway for our feathered friends, many of the males are getting their finest outfits on to impress the ladies. This little character getting his new gear on but has a bit to go yet before he will be turning the hens heads.

As a male Red-backed Wren Malurus melanocephalus his full breeding plumage will have him dressed all in black except for his scarlet back . The Red-backed Wren is one of the three fairy wrens and the most unmistakable fairy wrens that we have visiting the property although not in very many numbers as we are at the southern end of their range. This extends from around Broome in WA around the wetter areas of northern Australia and down the east coast.