Saturday, 29 December 2012

Hungry mouths

Our pair of Mistletoe birds are now being kept very busy with a family of three hatchlings to feed.

As usual it is the most aggressive youngster that gets out in front to try and get the major share of the food.

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Christmas star

This year our native flowers associated with Christmas have not been their usual best, our Christmas bush has a very sparse flowering and we were looking forward to having  a stem of Christmas bells just right but some critter nibbled through the stem. However we do have flowers that I associate with Christmas, as in my childhood they were in many gardens and were always called "Star of Bethlehem".

Of course this only makes sense in the Southern hemisphere and another plant is generally given that name in the Northern climes.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Pink tongue again

For the past week we have been seeing the Pink Tongue Skink in a position just above where we first had a sighting in Oct.2011. Each day as the day warms up it emerges from the space between the base of a wall and a wooden screen, but apart from one occasion, just the head is in view as it is very wary and if approached quickly withdraws.

It spends a lot of time in this spot, so I assume that it is foraging and hunting at night after warming up all day.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

No antlers on this stag

Found a beetle crawling along with some difficulty due to spider web caught up on the legs but a bit of cleaning up and it was on the move again.

Checking for identification and it looks to be a Brown Stag Beetle rhyssonotus nebulosus that is partial to old decaying wood particularly as lava.

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Fiery tail

Hot days bring dragonflies on the hunt and for a rest they find our bog garden ideal so it was not all that surprising to find a dragonfly at rest on a stem of a pitcher plant.

I guess it is also a good spot to wait for a female to come along to deposit eggs and after a bit of research I found that this one is a male, Fiery Skimmer Orthetrum villosovittatum.

Saturday, 15 December 2012

The living dead

Mud dauber wasps are ever present around the house and the sound of their buzzing and tapping as they build their nests in nooks and crannies becomes background noise. One of their unfortunate nesting sites is between the top of sliding doors and the door frame, resulting in broken nests and disgorged contents raining down on you, on opening the door. I was busy cleaning up the mess when I looked at the variety of spiders that had been entombed as living food for the larva and thought worthy of a photo.

 It is amazing just how fast the wasps will get their nest built and how many spiders are captured to be carried or dragged to their final resting place. All  totally paralysed and unable to avoid being eaten alive.

Monday, 10 December 2012

Home in a babies bootee

At last some rain, our fire threat is over and now time to enjoy nature. The Mistletoe Birds that have been around a lot must have considered that our abundance of mistletoe was an ideal location to set up house. Today I discovered they have built their nest in the Native Peach tree below our verandah just across the driveway from the Spotted Gum with all the available food. Both the male and female were busy taking turns in the nest and also eating mistletoe berries.
Male on mistletoe (berries on the branch)

 Their nest is quite special as it is made from quite a collection of leaves, feathers, fur and held together with spiderweb and sticky mistletoe gum. It is generally described as looking like a babies bootee or a ladies purse, that has been decorated by the birds with items of brownish tones.

Female in the nest

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Smoke & Fire

Dry weather of late and a hot dry wind today send a fire racing towards our area causing many homes to be put at risk. Fortunately a wind shift has reduced the current risk to many homes although some are still in the danger zone. I was checking the direction of the fire from our driveway as the sun was setting, a ball of fire  through the smoke.

Helicopters water bombing and dozens of fire crews on scene trying to keep it in containment lines. I expect to be on a relief crew soon.

Sunday, 25 November 2012


A group of White-winged Choughs visited for awhile this morning, scratching through the leaf litter and the odd flight to some low branch. Apart from the small sign of white on the wing the name looks like a misnomer, until they fly and the large white wing patch is visible.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Tattered Old Lady

Well actually a "Southern Old Lady Moth" Daspodia selenophora that took shelter under on a rafter under the deck. The camouflage is so good I am sure I would not have seen it if it hadn't fluttered onto that spot having been disturbed from the ground below. A reasonably large moth, with a wingspan to 90mm with large eye spots and generally a night flier.
One of the NOCTUIDAE family and found throughout southern Australia, NZ and south to Macquarie Island in Antarctic waters. the caterpillars feed mainly on Acacia species 

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Damsel on a rock

The pond and bog garden are popular with Dragonflies and Damselflies and today a damselfly was happily sunning on a rock in the bog garden.
Whereas the majority of Damselflies hold their wings erect at rest one family known as Flatwings act more like Dragonflies with their wings held flat. There are quite a few species and many look very similar but I think this one is the Common Flatwing Damselfly austroargiolestes icterometas.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Double black

A few Yellow-tail Black Cockatoos attracted my attention as they moved around some trees in the front paddock and I took a distant shot of one sitting in a Casuarina.

 I was going to try and get a bit closer but as I was about to step off the driveway onto the grass  a glance down stopped me in mid-stride.  I would have almost stepped on top of a Red-bellied Black Snake that was trying to get some warmth on a cloudy cool day. The cockatoo took off before I could make a detour and the snake was quite happy just to stay where it was so a photo and I left it to continue getting what ever warmth was to be had.

Friday, 16 November 2012

Not mistletoe

We have a large Spotted Gum E. maculata just near our verandah that has quite a few clumps of mistletoe Dendrophthoe vitellina on a number of the branches. These are a prime feeding source for many birds, but one is so closely identified with mistletoe that it is called the Mistletoe Bird. At present the mistletoe is in flower so the birds are feeding on the nectar and insects attracted to the flowers. Once the berries form then this is the real attraction for the mistletoe birds and their relationship with the spread of the plant, as the fruit passes quickly through the bird's system and the excreted seed which has a particularly sticky coating, is left on a branch to sprout and grow on the host plant.
Today I found a pair of Mistletoe Birds Dicaeum hirundinaceum opposite the tree and feeding on the berries of the Native Peach Trema aspera.
The male was more interested in singing to impress the female, where as she was very busy working all over the bush and not giving much opportunity for a photo, but she did display the only bit of colour from her otherwise brown tones.

Monday, 12 November 2012

Off with the old

Found a discarded well-worn outfit this morning, where it was hung up in the branches of a shrub.

Dull, brownish tones give no hint to the beautiful colours that it once had, but just in the palm alongside was the owner of this old outfit. Not too keen to show off the new suit but just give a a quick view before moving back into cover and the security of the sharp spines of the palm. 

Common Green Tree Snake

Monday, 29 October 2012

Duck reflection

We are having to do quite a bit of watering due to this dry spell so had to transfer water from the bottom dam to the top dam. As I was getting the pump ready, a solitary Black Duck was paddling along at the opposite end of the dam and as we don't see them on the dam that often, had to record the moment.
Black ducks Anas superciliosa are widespread in Australia as well as being found in Indonesia, New Zealand, New Guinea and across Polynesia. Next to the Wood Duck they are the most seen duck in our area and as well as farm dams they are found around Wallis Lake as they don't seem to mind the salt water environment.

Sunday, 28 October 2012


We have gone from an above average wet period to a very dry spring and the effects are showing on the vegetation and the fauna. Our bird baths and ponds are now a magnet for the thirsty and today a pair of rufous whistlers chose the fish pond as the best spot to cool off and take a drink.
The female stoped long enough on a stem of our bamboo palm to have her photo taken.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Emperor tale

A Wedge-tail eagle gliding across the front of our house had me getting the camera but as usual by the time I had the camera the eagle had gone over the ridge. However I then noticed a butterfly fluttering around a shrub in the garden, it then became the subject. I recognised it as a Tailed Emperor Polyura pyrrhus semipronius, one of the most striking butterflies that visits our area.

It was very busy depositing eggs under the leaves of a Cootamundra Wattle one of the Acacias that are a favoured food plant for the lava. Their range is throughout northern Australia, NSW and at times into Victoria and SA.
Later in the afternoon I sighted one sunning and managed to get a photo with the wings partially open.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Baby python

Getting our gardens ready for our Garden Club's open garden weekend and then being away has kept me away from the blog, but now we are back to normal I thought I should get going again.
This one goes back some weeks and the photo was taken by Lee who with his family were staying in the holiday cottage. The wildlife was quite active with lots of birds, our resident Lace monitor around and this baby Diamond Python put in an appearance.

Sunday, 30 September 2012

Three's a crowd

Marting season is well under way for the Yellow-faced Whip Snakes but it can get rather hectic with females being chased under and over their rocky habitat. Today there was a bit of competition as a couple of males were trying to tie the knot with a female, but three's a crowd and she untangled and made her escape.

Monday, 24 September 2012

Head or tail

Noticed an odd shape on the leaves of one of our Silky Oaks Grevillea robusta and on a closer look discovered a very interesting caterpillar with attractive colouring and markings.

Not certain but I think it is the caterpillar of one of the hawk moth species, Coequosa australasiae.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Time to bag the bananas

We have been flat out getting our garden ready for an open day next month and I have hardly had the camera in my hand, so slack on the blog. However today just happened to see a couple of King Parrots fly in and start feeding on wattle trees seed pods so grabbed the camera. By the time I got back they had moved to what was obviously promising a much larger feast.
With a bit of encouragement they moved back to feeding on the wattle and I decided now was a good time to bag the bananas.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

One known, one UFO

Two arrivals last night after I had finished posting, however I had to try and identify, so today is the day for popping them up. One is identified and the other is still a UFO.
The identified flyer is of the Geometrinae family cyneoterpna wilsoni with the underwing markings making it a standout identity.
However I am as yet stumped on the UFO even though you would think the distinctive colouring and markings would make the ID a sitter, so I will be pleased if anyone can put a name to this character.

Monday, 3 September 2012

Superb scarlet

Warm spring weather and the Scarlet Honeyeaters are starting to arrive in numbers as we move into the peak flowering period for many of their favourite food plants. At present they are focused on the grevilleas as it is a little early for the bottlebrush flowering. I watched males and females dart from one grevillea to the next but found it difficult to get a  good shot despite some 20 odd photos. Parts of plant in the way, head turned the wrong way, shadows, movements etc but did get one that was reasonable as a male landed on a "Superb" Grevillea (hybrid).

Monday, 27 August 2012

Oh! to be named common.

A moth arriving yesterday evening on the flyscreen was easily trapped by closing the window and was released this morning for a photo session. Quite an attractive moth with distinctive markings so when it came to identification the first moth I looked at in the family I thought it might belong to, was spot on. A "Common Anthelid" Anthela acuta, and this one a male as there is quite a colour and pattern variation between the sexes and I must say it does not look common to me.

One of the food plants for the caterpillars are wattles and we have quite a lot of naturally occurring species as well as ones we have planted in the gardens, so should not be surprised to see this moth.

Friday, 24 August 2012

A sunbaking day

A touch of warm weather brought out one of our Lace Monitor lizards for an early season sunbake. This is the first sighting for this season of one of our younger residents, who has spent the winter season in a hollow log that is in our pool garden area. This one is probably the least timid and will generally stay put, as long as you don't make sudden movements. I was reasonably close for the photo and it was generally unconcerned, but at one point it did give a warning hiss. (not really a hiss more the sound you make if you close your throat and breath out)
As you can see the skin is bright and clear after last season's had been shed and the coloured patterns showing good contrast. I cropped  for a close-up of the face and the markings around the eye.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Twisted Moth on a pointer

A new moth fluttered against the window yesterday evening and I brought it inside to photograph but it promptly escaped and disappeared. However this morning I found it on the window frame and was able to get it onto my finger for a photo before releasing outside.
So far I haven't been able to identify the species but will keep looking.
Thanks to Denis, we have identification, "Twisted Moth" Circopetes obtusata

Monday, 13 August 2012

Pollination in progress

Our most prevalent honeyeater is the Eastern Spinebill, Acanthorhynchus supercilious that are around the garden year round, attracted by our plantings of many nectar producing native plants. Grevilleas are particularly attractive and the Spinebills spend their day moving around from plant to plant. In one of our gardens we have a Banksia when in flower, the Eastern Spinebills cannot go past without having a nectar break. The shrub is "Hinchinbrook" Banksia, Banksia plagiocarpa "Hinchinbrook" a most attractive Banksia, that in the wild is restricted to parts of Hinchinbrook Island and adjacent mainland areas of Queensland. However it is not all take as the Spinebills do a great job of pollinating the Banksia; as on each insertion of the bill into the flower, pollen is deposited on the base of the bill. (as can be seen in the photo)

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

An eye on the prize

Have been quite busy around the property and have not had much time for photos, but today I had the camera handy as I was at the wood heap splitting logs for the fire. A couple of yellow robins were keeping a close watch ready to pounce on any grubs as the logs split.

Sunday, 22 July 2012

A bevy with two tails one head

Lately we have seen a bevy of Brown Quails Synoicus australis around the grassy areas near the house, but they are quite wary and I haven't been able to get near enough to get a photo. Today I saw the birds emerge from under the garden shrubs and start across the grass, stopping to feed on seeds as they went. Fortunately I was in a position to get close enough to get a quick shot before they moved off.
There were eight in bevy or covey, which ever you prefer for a group of Quails and as they were moving around in the undergrowth they were whistling twittering to keep in touch.
When I have come across them in long grass they usually give me a start, as they suddenly explode out of the grass when you are almost on top of them.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Orchids three

Today I was fortunate to find three of the orchids on the property out in flower and looking at last year's photos I found that I had these same three spread from May through to August. However this year the orchids do not seem to be as prolific as last year.
The Blunt Greenhood Orchid Pterostylis curta has a number of patches with the flowers just starting to develop and this flower was the only one in the patch that was in full flower.

Only one sole plant of White Fingers Caladenia catenata to be found in flower but as last year's examples were in August I hope we will have more to come.

The third orchid; Pixie Caps Acianthus fornicatus was one of two plants that were in flower, with many of the others in the patch either finished flowering or just developing flower stems.
Last year I photographed them in May but misidentified them as Tiny Mosquito Orchids Acianthus exiguus.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Reflected white-browed

I have been trying for some time to get a photo of birds that we see frequently, but as they are shy and constantly on the move the photo has been missed. Today I had a break as a pair of White-browed Scrub Wrens Sericornis frontalis frontalis were in the garden outside the office and stayed around, as their reflection on a shiny black pot had them trying to chase off the intruder.
When they were not at the reflection, they spent some time hopping around the garden and I managed to get a photo of one on our wollemi pine, which is in a pot just outside the window.
White-browed Scrub wrens range is in south-eastern Australia from northern NSW through to Adelaide in SA.

Friday, 6 July 2012

Ahh! being preened

Checking the garden and came across a family of Varigated Wrens Malurus lambertii  perched on a low branch, out of the wind and catching the morning sun. Getting preened was the main activity and as usual it was the males being pampered.
Coloured male gets the attention

uncoloured male gets a turn