Friday, 25 December 2015

Christmas Greetings

Our Christmas Bells Blandifordia grandiflora timed it exactly right this year.

Best wishes to everyone for Christmas and the New Year

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Mimic double

I have been clearing some small trees and today I was collecting the cut logs and when I picked a piece up I though at first glance there was a spider on the bark.

 Quickly recognised that it was in fact a beetle (species not identified) likely to be one of the bark beetles that lay their eggs on fallen trees, for the larvae to feed on the decaying bark and timber. It was quite still, but when disturbed it moved in a way that resembled one of the wasp species that are quite common around here. I found more of them on the logs and noticed that  when they move around their yellow antennae look and flick the same as the wasp's.


Saturday, 5 December 2015

Eyes and a big smile.

A large moth fluttered against a window last night attracted by the light and it was very noticeable due to strong white markings across the underside of the wings. however I was unable to get it to venture into a position where it could be caught. This morning I had more luck as what I assume to be the same species flew past as I was watering the vegetable garden and took shelter on the retaining logs under a large pumpkin leaf. 

The green tinge is from the light through the leaf and the photo was taken using my iphone.

The moth is one of the Notuidae family Donuca lanipes  White Banded Noctuid found throughout north eastern Australia

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Pied spied

When we lived in Sydney one bird that we saw almost daily, was the Pied Currawaong, Strepera graculina a handsome black bird with a bright golden eye. Their numbers have grown, to become a bit of a problem in the urban and suburban areas. The environment created by people planting exotic plants that have lots of berries, many becoming weeds and putting out feed is the basic cause of the population explosion.
They are omnivorous, so small birds, eggs, lizards and insects are all part of their diet and the growth in numbers is seen as one of the causes of the decline in small birds in the city areas.
I expected that we would see lots of Currawongs here but they are very infrequent visitors, however over the past week we have been visited by a pair, who announce their arrival with their two note call followed by a whistle. Getting a photo has been difficult as they prefer the tree tops where a silhouette against the sky is all that is available. 
Today I was in luck as they flew to one of the spotted gums adjacent to our deck and were only in the mid section of the tree.

 Their range is right down the east and south east coast and ranges and in the southern areas they overlap with the Grey Currawong.

Saturday, 14 November 2015

Another pigeon pair

Yesterday morning a scrabbling noise on the roof had me wondering what was making the racket but anticipating a crow as it is quite common to have them clomping around.
However found a pair of White-headed pigeons Columba leucomela and one then flew to the powerline whilst the other stayed on the gutter.


 They range along the coastal regions from North Queensland to the Illawarra region south of Sydney. The habitat favoured is rainforest and open forest, feeding on fruits and seeds.

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Too young for a golden crown

The large python and the lace monitors still putting in appearances today but the best find was when I was digging out soil from the compost bin and uncovered a small snake. It was one I hadn't seen here previously but as it was only about 250mm long I thought it could be a juvenile of one of the snakes that I see as adults.
It was quite feisty and anxious to get away however I manage to get it into a bucket so I could get a photo. A white bowl turned out to be the best container, as I could get the camera close and the side of the bowl was too slippery for the little critter to slither out.

Looked up my snake reference book and looking still uncertain, went to my snake web reference 
Quickly found it to be a juvenile Golden-crowned Snake Cacophis squamulosus that range coastal areas from central Queensland to southern NSW. The adults are a dark brown with the distinctive golden stripe around the head but as shown in the photo not joining at the nape.
A nocturnal egg laying species and not seen often during the day when they are under rocks or in deep crevices. Venomous growing to about 700mm they prey upon small lizards, lizard eggs, blind snakes and small frogs but not regarded as harmful to humans.


Monday, 19 October 2015

Spring is in the air for Lace Monitors

The Pythons were back in the lily bowl today but there is something about spring and October as far as reptiles are concerned. A pair of Lace Monitors have been around our hen house looking for an opportunity to get to the eggs, which they managed earlier this week. However  I closed all the ways for them to get in and as they couldn't get to the eggs decided to make some of their own.


Sunday, 18 October 2015

Time of the year

October is the month when reptiles are out and about as the weather warms up and it is time to go looking for a mate. The two Diamond Pythons that we have living in the vicinity of the house are combining a dip in the waterlily bowl with mating activity.
When I first saw a Python in the waterlily bowl two weeks ago I thought it was after the goldfish, but no, on a closer look saw that there were actually two snakes in the bowl, although one was  submerged and eating a fish was not the aim.

They were quite active moving around in the bowl, intertwining in knots and after some time in the bowl came to the rim to spent time in the sun.


In the afternoon they left the bowl and curled up under a bush in the garden then next morning have a repeat performance.
This took place for a week and then they left and I didn't see them again until today when they were back in the bowl.

 This afternoon they left the bowl and coiled alongside each other on the pavers and I will be interested to see if they continue their aquatic activity tomorrow.
 The largest is around 2m with the smaller being about 1.5m but I don't know which is the male or female. (the larger is the one that captured the young wallaby two years ago)

Saturday, 17 October 2015

Mother's Load

A common spider around the garden and grassed areas is the Garden Wolf Spider Lycosa godeffroyi one of the some 130 describe Australian species. Today I came across a female carrying her brood and they are of a size that would seem to indicate they will soon be off on their own.


Monday, 1 June 2015

Swift rescue

Last night a fluttering and knocking against a window alerted me to a moth caught in a spider web and it looked far too big for the tiny spider in whose nest it was caught.
It needed rescuing and I wanted a photo, so it was a win, win outcome.
After cleaning some web off its antennae I brought it inside for some photos before releasing.

I haven't found any identification references that show the exact patterning but the closest was one of the Swift Moth family Oxycanus rufescens which had the colouring, brown markings but a couple of extra white spots. This species is found in our area.

Monday, 4 May 2015

Grub's up

A pair of Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos were around today checking the trees and shrubs to see if they could locate a meal.
I could hear wood being ripped and found one of the pair busy tearing a wattle apart.

After a bit more excavation it found its favourite meal, a nice juicy grub, most probably a caterpillar of one of the Cossid moth species.

The wattle that was ripped apart is the Sydney Wattle Acacia longifolia that come up all across our property and are a bit of a weed, so not worried about the damage as I will be taking the tree out. We have lots of these and other trees that the caterpillars favour so there is no shortage of potential food sources for the Cockatoos.

The exposed tunnel of the caterpillar

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Even more fungi

The east coast low has moved away and we had a day without rain. With all that we have had of late the fungi just keeps on popping up which gave me a chance to get a few more images and also to be able to get some identities confirmed.

The one that I have been watching now since it formed as a ball, had fully developed and  been knocked over, probably by a wallaby. This enabled me to get a good look at the gills and more of the colour development and identifyy it as Cortinarius areolatoimbricatus.

I also took another photo of another one that had developed nearby and showed the deeper colour through the cracks in the cap.

On the other hand I found others more difficult identify and I will just keep working on them or perhaps someone might let me know.
This one is quite a good size and has white gills and a slightly slimy top on the cap.

This little colourful specimen managed to push up through the edge of the track and had a few pieces of gravel stuck to the cap.

This troop burst from a fallen log of ironbark whereas the one below came out of the grass with dirt and grass attached.

I did find some more that I was able to identify and the most striking and unmistakable was a pair of bright violet subjects species  Cortinarius aff. violaceus.

Another colourful subject was the red topped one Russula persanguinea. 

This one required a check of the underside of the cap to give me an opportunity to identify and the porous structure rather than gills indicated one of the Boletus Species and it seems to be granulatus edible and described is mild pleasant flavour.

Quite a few of these little ones were in a shady damp area and I think they are Galerina patagonica but not certain.

This little puff ball I think is Lycoperdon pyriforme and there are many of these scattered across the grassed area. I found a few that were fully ripe and gave a nudge with a stick to release the spore and they can be seen as a wispy yellow cloud it the top right hand corner of the next photo.

Another puff ball that had split open gave me the identity of a fungus that I had photographed a few days ago (a yellow mound with cracking all over), and it is one of the Scleroderma species and there appears to be some confusion of the species when I have checked on the web so either citrinum or cepa. The wall has split open exposing the spore ready to be dispersed by wind or rain.

Another group are very different form the typical mushroom and that is the "coral" genus Ramaria and I found a few different looking examples but I don't know if they are different species possibly sinopiclor or subaurantiaca.

Thursday, 30 April 2015

Taking the weight off

The female Red-necked Wallaby that is a regular visitor around the house is currently carrying a well developed joey in her pouch. Today she found a pleasant spot out of the wind in the early sun to take the weight off, whilst she enjoyed the warmth.

Monday, 27 April 2015

Fungi again

Checked on the development of some of the fungi and photographed the change and also added a couple of new ones.

 Still haven't got this one identified but maybe when it opens up more I will have a better chance.

Another False Parasol  emerged nearby the dinner plate one but I don't think it will be as big.

There were a few of these quite close together and I thought they looked like field mushrooms but I had to pick one to check the gills.

Matches the description listed for Agaricus campestis, Field Mushroom.

Friday, 24 April 2015

More fungi large & small

Fortunately we missed the wild weather that dumped torrential rain south of us in the Hunter Valley and Sydney but we still have had enough to be ideal for the fungi to fruit.
 We have one very large specimen put in an appearance next to our driveway so it cannot be overlooked.

It is the size of a dinner plate and the stark white stands out from the dark leaf litter.
I am fairly sure the identification is the False Parasol Chlorophyllum molybdites which is poisonous where as a similar looking species is the Parasol Mushroom  Macrolepiota dolichaula is edible.

This fungus fly Tapeigaster luteipennis must have thought all its birthdays had arrived with the size of this one.

Other species have not been so easy to identify but I will keep working on them.

Agaricus aff. langei

Scleroderma citrinum or cepa

Pycnoporus coccineus