Saturday, 27 December 2014

Delivering the meal

We have Kookaburras with a nest hole in a termite nest, high in an ironbark eucalyptus and their young are busy calling for food deliveries.

I have been trying to get a photo of a delivery but the adult kookas will not go to the nest if they spot any potential threat. Without a hide I am obvious and that says maybe I am a threat so the adults will wait nearby until I depart before making a delivery.
I did manage to get a photo today with an adult about to deliver a large stick insect as the meal for the young.

Not wanting to delay deliveries, I don't visit the site often but keep a distant watch on the nest, listening to the young calling. The biggest threat is from the lace monitors, if they can get to the nest without being detected by the adults. If seen the adults will attack and generally drive the lizard off.

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Morning Glory Hawk Moth

Yesterday I found this large moth resting on a window frame and had the opportunity to take a few photos before it had had enough and flew to a more appropriate spot in a eucalyptus.

The distinctive pink and black stripes on the body made identification as a Convolvulus Hawk Moth Agrius convolvuli quite simple.
The food source for its caterpillars are plants in the Convolulus family which include sweet potatoes where farmers regard it as a pest and Morning Glory vine which in our area is a weed of significance. On balance as we don't have too many sweet potato farms around we would like more of these moths to help us control the Morning Glory in the bushland.

Monday, 15 December 2014

Calling Ms Peron

A distinctive long reverberating call from the pond outside the office last night had to be checked out to see if I had identified the maker of the noise.

Sure enough there was a Peron's Tree Frog Litoria peronii sitting on the floating azolla fern, calling to try and get a mate to join in the activity.
No sign of success this morning as the pond is bare of any egg mass.
The recent rain has increased the frog activity so I expect to get some more frog sightings whilst the vegetation has plenty of moisture. I can hear a couple of Dwarf Tee Frogs outside as I do this blog.

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Grounded Redeye

Cicadas are getting into full song as we move into summer and I found one that had been blown out of a treetop and was finding some difficulty moving through the grass.

 After the photo I placed it on a higher vantage point from which it promptly took to the air, however with many predators around such as Pacific Bazas it is a dangerous time whether in the air or on the ground.
Not hard to identify as a Redeye Cicada (f) Psaltoda moerens a species found down the east coast states with populations also scattered through Victoria and as Far as Adelaide.

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Crested crown

A Pacific Baza Aviceda subcristata or its other common name Crested Hawk perched in one of the iron bark eucalyptus to finish off the Cicada it had just caught.

Large insects such as Christmas Beetles, Stick Insects and Cicadas together with small birds and frogs are the prey, so the hawk hunts through the treetops. 
There are a number of Bazas world wide but the Pacific Baza is found from the Malay peninsular, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and north eastern Australia. The prominent crest is a feature of the Bazas.

A couple of days after the first photo I saw this bird come over the treetops then quickly climb and I had one quick chance for the photo before it disappeared behind the trees. It was quite high so the photo is not great but enough for identification as a Pacific Baza.  

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Christmas is not far away

One of my childhood indicators that said Christmas was just around the corner was the appearance of Christmas Beetles.
There are 34 species of Christmas beetle (Anoplognathus species)  members of the family Scarabaeidae and they are distributed throughout Australia, although most species occur in the higher rainfall areas of the southern and eastern states. Their colouring ranges through shades of brown, green, iridescent green and brown with green iridescence as in the one I photographed. It is the usual one found in our are and is the most common Anoplognathus porosus and the main one of my childhood memories.

The larvae are large whitish grubs with a distinctive C shape hence the name "curl grubs" and are found in the soil of grassland, woodland and suburban gardens. At times their emergence as beetles can be in such large numbers that they can defoliate eucalyptus trees, that are their food source.

In the bright sun I found it difficult to show the iridescent green, so my shadow provided the shade to highlight the colours.


Friday, 7 November 2014

Skipped the mountain

The other day I noticed a butterfly that I hadn't seen before, as it fluttered around a clump of Gahnia sieberana or coarse sword grass. Checking identification it proved to be a female Mountain Spotted Skipper Oreisplanus perornatus, just a bit out of its mountain location. The larvae feed on the Gahnia  and it was fortunate for me, as we only have a couple of clumps of the sword grass. However I didn't have my camera with me so missed the chance to record a first sighting of this species.
Today proved more lucky as I had the camera handy where I was working and caught sight of a butterfly near the sword grass which proved to be a Mountain Spotted Skipper.
Unfortunately it was quite windy and I had difficulty getting focused but did manage to get one photo that shows the correct identification.

A small clump of Gahnia sieberana
The seed head

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Myna problem

The Indian Myna Acridotheres tristis is a significant feral pest in Australia, particularly in cities and towns, where they are regarded as the "rats of the sky". Nesting in roof cavities, or any hollow in buildings, their nesting habits encourage lice and the raucous calls drive people to distraction. We are fortunate that we don't have them in any numbers but we do have a pair that frequent an area near our proprty entrance. This year they have been very busy trying to nest in our letter box.

 So every day we are removing nesting material and at times eggs (so far 5 ) but they are undetered and every day back rebuilding at the nest site.
They have beautiful blue eggs (not their nest)
 A pity to take their eggs, (which the lace monitors enjoy) but it is a better action than trying to reduce their numbers by capturing and euthanaising the adult birds.
For us the main problem is that they are aggressive competitors for nesting hollows used by native birds such as rosellas, lorrikeets and even kookaburras have difficulty stopping the mynas taking their nest sites.
They are very wary and it has taken some time for me to get a photo as as soon as they sight something that is a possible threat they fly off a distance well away from the nest site, in this case our letterbox.
Originally they were brought to Australia as a way of combating insect pests in the sugar cane fields of Queensland, but like so many of these early attempts to use predators to control problem pests, it was not much of a suiccess and created more problems than it solved.

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Bandy in the pool

Hot weather and the pool is inviting and that was a problem for a Bandy-Bandy snake last night when after the swim it had a problem getting out or the pool and got stuck in the skimmer box. When I discovered it I found that it has got stuck so after releasing the opening flap it was able to get out, to the swim across the pool.

 Bandy-Bandy vermicella annulata are obviously spectacular looking snakes but rarely seen by people as they are nocturnal. A burrowing snake that is happy under rocks or logs and hunts through burrows for Blind Snakes their main prey, although lizards are also taken.
Although venomous they are not regarded as dangerous, being quite small ( this one's head was smaller than my little finger nail).
After I scooped it out of the pool it was very happy to get back to finding its burrow under the rocks on the pool edge.

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Star attraction

A shower of rain last night was enough to bring a star fungus popping out from the leaf litter and it was proving to be a great attraction for a number of flies. This is not all that surprising as the fungus Aseroe rubra gives off a foetid smell of rotten meat or faeces from the slimy spore mass that surrounds the central disc.
I took a few photos but the light was not good with shadows obscuring much of the detail so I have added an earlier photo where the fungus and visiting fly are clearly seen. 


Saturday, 18 October 2014

Scarlet on white

The peak flowering now of our Callistemons is about a month late this year and although we have had some Scarlet Honeyeaters around for the past couple of months, they have now started to arrive in numbers. Usually they spend most of their feeding in the red flowering Callistemons but I found a pair today in a Callistemon saligna which is a white flowering species. I was only able to get a few photos of the male as he worked over the brushes.

Friday, 17 October 2014


Found this UFM Unidentified Flying Moth on the floor near the front door so removed it to an outside position for a couple of photos.

However as yet I haven't been able to identify, so would be happy if someone can give it a name.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Osprey overhead

We often hear Osprey calling as they fly over or they rise in the updraft on our hillside and today one was overhead riding the breeze and calling. I was able to get a photo but it was too high for a nice clear shot, so this one is just for the record.

We are lucky to have a few pair that have territories in our area and they are regularly sighted around the lake. 

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Cuckoo calling

You know summer is not far away when you hear the strident repeated call of a Channel-billed Cuckoo Scythrops novaehollandiae as it arrives from the winter home in the north of tropical Australia or New Guinea and Indonesia.
This morning one went screeching by being pursued by a couple of magpies that were trying to drive it out of their territory. It perched for a short time allowing a photo before heading off to look for a suitable nest.
As the world largest cuckoo it generally picks on large birds like magpies, ravens, crows and currawongs as having the most suitable nests in which the female can deposit her eggs.
The young cuckoos don't bother pushing the host nestlings out they just dominate the food supply so most often the hosts young don't survive.

The photo below is of a pair of young from last seasons hatching, in a nearby location. The mottled brown variation in the plumage colouring is typical of the young. This pair (about 50% bigger that their host parents) were incessantly demanding food from a pair over very overworked magpies.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Feed and weed

Wild tobacco bush  Solanum mauritianum a native plant from  South America is a prevalent weed in many parts of Australia and common in our district. One of the spreaders of the plant is the native Brown Cuckoo-dove  or Brown pigeon Macropygia amboinen, which is very partial to the fruit that is produced in large bunches on the bush or small tree.

The seeds are deposited with their own supply of fertiliser in the rainforest margins and wet forest areas that are their preferred habitat and are very quick growing. Fortunately they are easy to remove when small, but it is a continuing task for bush regenerators.

These photos show the bird on the Wild tobacco with the flowers and fruit that is swallowed whole ripe or unripe.

They are very hansome Birds and reduction of their natural habitat and their normal feed source has made the opportunistic feeders on this weed.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Warming up

More warm days and more are coming out to spend time in the sun and the Eastern Blue-tongue Lizard that we found among the rocks last season came out for the first time this season from the same hole so it was obviously a good spot to spend winter.

Then in the afternoon I found a Lace Monitor climbing a tree to get to a branch where it could stretch out in the sun.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

The Crimsons visit.

A perfect spring morning and I was surprised to hear the calls of Crimson Rosellas Platycerus elegans as it has been quite sometime since we had a visit . They are much more common further inland near the ranges where as it is the Eastern Rosellas that frequent our district.
When I went to check I found a family group in the trees just outside the house which enabled a few photos, although the first was a bit far away and not good light on the nearest ones.

They were attracted to the mistletoe that is in flower and spent a few minutes nibbling on the flowers. The following photo is of a young bird with the typical juvenile plumage, feeding on the flowers.


Monday, 8 September 2014

Venturing out

With the weather warming up our reptiles are starting to venture out from their winter retreats and today was my first sighting of a Yellow-faced Whip Snake this season.
 Our rock garden is one of their favourite spots with lots of crevices to enable a quick retreat if danger is perceived. Although poisonous, they are quite small and generally not likely to be harmful to humans.

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Not hovering on wattle

The east coast low is moving further away and we have another day of sunshine to bring out the birds and insects. 
Although the wet weather has spoilt much or the wattle flowers we still have many that are covered in blossom and they are a magnet for the bees, beetles and flies. I found a Common Hover Fly Ischiodon scutellaris busy feeding on the blossom of our dwarf Acacia fimbriata, just moving from one pollen laden ball to the next .

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Into the wind

The gale force SW winds eased this morning and we had blue sky making a change from the cold wet conditions we have been experiencing. Perfect for having our morning coffee on the verandah and notice we had a visit from some White-breasted Wood-swallows Artamus leucorhynchus. They were busy swooping around the tree tops then coming to land on the roof ridge and then I notice a few decided that the weather vane was an ideal spot to take a break.

They stayed around for awhile, on the wing catching insects before the forecast rain and strong winds returned in the late afternoon.

They like the other wood-swallows are migrants to our area whilst in Australia's north they are sedentary.


Monday, 1 September 2014

Eyes front

No rain during the past two days and today was a perfect start to September, clear blue sky and the temperature quite warm. Just the weather to have insects on the move so the hunters were also out and about keen to get a meal.

Yellow Robins are one of the best at getting a feed whether on the wing or  diving onto a hapless insect on the ground. This one was very focused on the ground from its perch on a Banksia branch.

Friday, 29 August 2014

On the road again

Rain every day for the past twelve days has brought the highest August rainfall to the coast of NSW and as spring is just around the corner it has brought a long neck tortoise out of hibernation for us to find on our driveway. It is the time to go searching for a mate and lucky that this one is far from the heavy traffic areas as they are prone to become road accident victims as they cross the roads.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Easy pickings

Our hens enjoy scratching around in their enclosure to get their feed of grain each morning, but there is always a bit left for later in the day. This has been seen by a flock of about 2 dozen Red-browed Finches as an easy way to get a feed so they just pop through the chicken wire and get their fill.

They are quite happy to keep feeding until the hens get a bit too close and then they are off to the safety of the nearby bush to wait for the all clear for a return.

The yard is a bit muddy after the almost 3" of rain over the past three days and this has resulted in some of the seeds getting trampled in to be brought to the surface with a bit of scratching around.