Sunday, 18 December 2016

Native "Johnny Hairy Legs"

I can recall as a little kid getting a fright when finding one of these weird creatures scuttling around in the bath. They were not that common but you would find one every now and then, usually under the house or around drains. However yesterday I found one resting on the laundry door but it did look different to the those of my earlier years.

 It did take some tracking down for identification but finally found it to be from the SCUTIGERIDAE family species Allothereua maculata, a native House Centipede or Johnny Hairy Legs . However the common names are a bit confusing as the species of my childhood Scutigera coleptrata has the same names. That species is an import, originating from the Mediterranean region and widespread throughout the world, resulting from stowing away on ships. The Johnny Hairy Legs name is also strange as they have 15 pair of legs that are not at all hairy. The imports have naturalised mainly around urban areas where as the native species (around 8) are found mainly in bushland areas, with this one found throughout southern Australia. They move very fast and rundown their prey which are small insects, lizards
and other arthropods.


Monday, 21 November 2016

Moths known and unknown

A few moths fluttering around the windows late in the evening were captured to enable photos the next morning.
The largest was a hawk moth that I was able to identify as a Coprosma Hawk Moth Hippotion scrofa, a moth that is found throughout Australia as well as Fiji and India. Its caterpillars are not too fussy with a wide range of food plants such as sweet potatoes, dahlias, impatiens and fuchsias, however I expect the main food source here is the native slender grape Cayratia clematidea which is quite widespread on our property.


The other was one of the timber moths and the caterpillars are a pest of many agricultural crops throughout Australia, such as apples, apricots, cherries, peaches and the one that gives it its common name the Pecan Stem Girdler maroga melanostigma


 Finally a moth that I found the following night and managed a photograph with the torch light of my phone. 

It is quite a large moth with distinctive markings but as yet I have not been able to find its identity. 

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Ironbark blossoms beckon

I have regularly seen Musk Lorikeets Glossopitta concinna in small flocks flying at high speed, which seems to be the only speed that they know. They spend a lot of time in the treetops  of Eucalyptus when the blossoms are thick. However today I was lucky as we have a large Ironbark Eucalyptus paniculata  which is in full flower with lots of the branches quite low that are loaded with blossom which enticed the lorikeets.

Musk Lorikeets are not as showy as the Rainbow but the colouring is quite beautiful in an understated way, The brilliant green with highlights of scarlet and touches of blue and yellow which I was able to capture on a couple of photos as most of the time the birds are almost obscured by foliage and blossoms as they feed.

They range down the east coast and around to the border of South Australia and a pocket of naturalised birds around Perth in WA.


Wednesday, 9 November 2016

An attractive pair

An unusual shape on a verandah post caught my attention and a close look explained as it was two not one contributing to the shape, a pair of moths caught In Flagrante Delicto.

A beautiful pair oblivious to having their photo taken, for which I was pleased as I had not seen this species before. The markings are quite stunning and the false "head" making them look like something other than moths.


It took me a little time to find the identification but finally found enough sources to place them in the COSSIDAE family, Endoxyla mackeri one of the wood moths whose caterpillars bore into the branches of trees, with a particular fondness for Acacia.
The caterpillars are also a favourite food source for Yellow-tail Black Cockatoos.

They stayed in place all day and in the evening the female (on top) departed whilst the male remained for sometime  onlyleaving later in the night.

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Another visitor to sip nectar

Watching the birds feeding on the mistletoe while we were having our morning coffee when I noticed an infrequent arrival to partake in the nectar feast.
A Red Wattlebird anthochaera carunculata which was our most common honeyeater visitor to our Sydney garden, but only occasionally visiting here where the Little Wattlebird is our largest resident honeyeater.

the Red Wattlebird is around the same size as the Noisy Friarbird and it showed as much aggression to chase them off when they tried to encroach on its patch of mistletoe.

They range from southern Queensland through to southern Western Australia but not Tasmania where the large Yellow Wattlebird is endemic.

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Mistletoe attraction

The spotted gum Eucalyptus maculata that is just across the driveway from our deck is quite loaded with mistletoe Dendrophthoe vitellina in full flower and as I posted previously the lorikeets have been flocking to feed on the flowers. The Scaly Breasted are still arriving everyday but now Noisy Friarbirds Philemon corniculatus have also discovered the abundant nectar supply.

True to their name they arrive and setup a cacophony of calling as they squabble over the perceived best bunch of flowers although the next bunch looks exactly the same. Being so raucous and rather large honeyeaters they do tend to dominate, with the other birds getting in when there is a vacant space.


Monday, 3 October 2016

Sad ending

A loud bang awoke us this morning and on investigation found a Wompoo Fruit Dove dead on our deck, as a result of flying into a window. Doves being large birds with slender necks seem to be common casualties of window crashes, where as many smaller birds get dazed and after a short while fly off. The Wompoo Fruit Dove Ptilinopus magnificus is a species of the rainforest and their margins and this was the first that I have seen on our property, a great disapointment that I was not photographing a live bird. They are absolutly beautiful even out shining many parrots.


Saturday, 1 October 2016

Tree snake branching out

For the past few days we have had a tree snake spending time on the branches of an acacia that is under our deck. It moves out into the sun in the morning and as the temperature goes up  retreats back into the cooler area in the shadow of the deck.
It is that time of year snakes are on the move and this week we have seen a red-belly black snake, a very young diamond python and yellow-faced whip snakes in addition to this tree snake.

The colouring in the Common Tree Snake Dendrelaphis punctulatis is very variable from the olive colouring on the back as this one shows to a bright green with bright blue spots but most have the bright yellow belly colouring. Being non poisonous they are a harmless snake and a real treasure for us to have as a garden visitor.

Friday, 30 September 2016

difficult identification

A couple of nights ago I photographed a moth that was on the window and quite certain it was one of the GEOMETRIDAE family but finding the right ID was another story. There are so many species and many looking very similar but I finally settled on one that had most of the features.

The photo I was using for my identification was of a collected specimen in the Queensland museum, maxates selenosema, and I couldn't find any other references. However I did find another photo posted which was supposed to be of this species but looked nothing like the museum specimen, so I am thinking it was incorrect.
The blue body colour and leading edge on the forewings plus the two white wavy lines were the significant characteristics. It is listed as found in Queensland but no other information was found. If anyone can add information regaring this moth I would be very pleased.

Monday, 19 September 2016

Scaled down

The spotted gums, Eucalyptus maculata, opposite our deck are heavy with blossom and the mistletoe is also in flower so the honeyeaters and the lorikeets were very active feeding this morning. The rainbow lorikeets, the largest of the family are very prevalent in the area and we regularly see them feeding on the flowers in the garden. The three other species of lorikeets in the area are generally seen flying rapidly from tree top to tree top to feed on the highest blossoms but today a few Scaly-breasted Lorikeets, Trichoglossus chlorolepidotus, were tempted by the mistletoe flowers lower down and stayed long enough for a couple of photos.

 Apart fron the yellow "scales" on the breast the bright green colouring only gives way to another colour when the under wing bright orange is seen in flight.


Saturday, 10 September 2016

Lichen the camouflage

Found this small moth amongst a pile of Casurarina glauca branches and branchlets that I was clearing out of my trailer. Only spotted it as it moved otherwise I am sure I would have missed it.

Unfortunately I didn't have my camera with me so had to make do with the Iphone and  it is not as sharp as I would have liked.
The identification took a bit of time even though I was fairly sure it was in the GEOMETRIAE family and I tracked it down to the sub-family ENNOMINAE where it was identified as Paradromulia ambigua an appropriate name as there are wide colour variations and patterns and many without the white markings.
The moth is found in Queensland and NSW but I didn't find any other information although it would appear to be ideally suited to association with lichen.

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Amongst the foliage

I am a bit late with this post, having been away, but last week I heard a bird chattering away in repeated bursts which I didn't recognise so grabbed the camera and went to investigate. After a bit of searching I finally pinpointed the calls to high in a Eucalyptus but with a limited view.
I was quite sure it was a Grey Goshawk Accipiter novaehollandiae, and managed to get a couple of photos for identification before it flew off. 

You can see the quality is not great, as I had to crop quite a bit because it was a long range shot, however it confirms the Identification and shows the extensive chest barring indicating a young bird. 
The Grey Goshawk has two morphs, grey which is found in forested areas especially coastal closed forests throughout NSW Queensland and Victoria. The white, with all plumage pure white predominates in NW Western Australia, Northern Territory and coastal Victoria where as it is the only one found in Tasmania.

Friday, 26 August 2016

Not so crimson

Found a moth on the window last night that I hadn't seen previously and as a bonus it was quite  distinctive, so I figured it would be not too difficult to identify. Wrong, I scoured the sources and could not get a moth that looked like this one, but the closest I could find gave the clue;  I read that the markings could be quite variable.

All the ones that I could see of the likely species, in the identification sources, had vey different markings on the wings, regarding of the direction and their number. However when I checked images of the species I found many variations of the markings and a few close to this one.
What I didn't see was the crimson colours that are hidden under the wings and on the upper body. However other identification points match, so I concluded that this is an exqmple of a Crimson Tiger Moth Spilososma curvata. They are found in Queensland. NSW and Victoria wher the caterpillars feed on herbacious plants such as dandelions, geraniums and beans.


Monday, 8 August 2016

On the move

Tomorrow will be day 50 since the python caught the wallaby and today it changed the resting spot from the pavers to the garden. Until now it hasn't been able to lift the weight to get into the garden but a week ago it did move across to the lily bowl to have a deep drink.

I expect that it will not be long now until it moves off to a more secluded spot to rest through the remaining cool weather.

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

A big meal takes time to digest

It is 23 days since the Diamond Python captured and swallowed a young Red-necked Wallaby and it is taking some time for this large meal to be digested.

Since the capture the python has stayed in this sheltered corner below the garden bed where the warmth of the sun helps with its digestion.
However having a big meal just before the colder weather of winter requires a longer time for the digestion processes to be completed.
The previous capture in 2013 was in October and the full digestion was completed within two weeks.

Monday, 20 June 2016

Life & death in the garden

Recently we had seen a young wallaby making its first forays out of its mother's pouch, racing about in the mad dashes and then back to the pouch. It is one of the sights we like to watch as you can just see the exuberance in the discovery of how, after so long in the pouch they can take leaps and bounds in their new world.
We have also just found a new Diamond Python not too long out of the egg (likely the result of the mating in our lily bowl last October) and now discovering its world, which at the moment is amongst our passionfruit vine, well out of sight of predators.

Youngsters are always vulnerable in these early stages before they have developed awareness of the dangers.
We have had one of the adult Diamond Pythons around the garden as the weather has not been too cold and today it caught the young wallaby on a venture away from mum.

I didn't see the initial capture, only coming upon the scene when most of the wallaby was swallowed. It is almost three years since I recorded the previous capture of a young wallaby and it is obvious that the pythons know when youngsters are around and the areas they frequent, so they just await their opportunity to strike.

 Whether the young python survives the perils that await it we may not know but the chances are stacked against it, as of the clutch of around a dozen eggs only one or two will get to reach adulthood.

Mother wallaby stayed nearby for a few hours waiting for its youngster to come back but then moved off to feed and with the youngster gone will probably start the development of the next embryo that it has stored from its last mating.

Friday, 17 June 2016

Osprey visit

We have been away on and off over the past 6 weeks and in between I have been very busy trying to catch up on the jobs around the property. Also I have not seen any unusual or noteworthy items for the blog without actually looking specifically for something to post.
However today I was in luck, as I was just doing a bit of tidying around the house when I heard a rustling of feathers above my head and looking up I could just see a bit of tail and breast feathers with the rest obscured by the branch the bird was on. I moved expecting to see a Kookaburra but was very surprised to see an Osprey sitting there doing a bit of preening.
Quietly moving away to get my camera I was hoping it would still be there and was pleased to see it hadn't moved giving me the opportunity for photos.

Its feathers seemed to be a bit wet and as the tree is adjacent to our pool I wondered whether it had been in for a fresh-water bath. It continued preening for awhile and then changed its position towards me so I could get a front view (most obliging).

It finished preening and took off (and I missed the shot) headed for the lake to do a bit of fishing.
We often see Ospreys overhead but this was the first time we have had one actually perch on a branch near the house.

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Splash about

The Red-browed Finches that frequent the garden shrubs are such a gregarious bunch and provide lots of entertainment and today was one such example.
They arrived at the bird bath and decided one in all in for a splash around.


Monday, 25 April 2016

See-through wings

I think I have posted a photo before but can't see it on the list so here is another of a Glasswing Butterfly Acraea andromacha andromacha.
There have been quite a few fluttering around lately but today I saw this one take a break on a grass stem and stayed long enough to get a photo or two.

 This is the only species of glasswing found in Australia with their range mainly in the north and occasionally as far south as Sydney.
The larvae feed on wild passion vines Passiflora spp. but eggs laid on the edible passionfruit  do not see the larvae develop.

Friday, 22 April 2016

Left an impression

As today is Earth Day I thought I would post a photo of a rock that we found on our property that has an impression of part of a plant that was quite common in the Carboniferous era some 300 to 360 million years past.

I don't know the specific plant species that left this impression although it seems to fit the LYCOSPIDA family.

We have found a number of rocks that show similar impressions but often just a small section rather than this one which is just on 20cm in length.

Thursday, 21 April 2016

Cuckoo pose

I have previously posted a couple of photos of the Fantail Cuckoo  Cuculus flabelliformis but they have been either side on or back views. This morning one posed on a branch for some time, allowing a number of photos, although from some distance away.

Some cropping was needed to get this front on view but still reasonable resolution. They range down the east coast and also in SW Western Australia and migrating north to Papua New Guinea.

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Morning sunbath

Fairy Wrens are favourite birds to have in the garden as they are busy insect eaters and they are just a delight to watch. They used to be quite common in suburban gardens but as houses have grown larger and blocks of land smaller, the gardens have shrunk and are often planted with shrubs and other garden plants that are not suitable for the small Fairy Wrens. The other problem is the current landscaping fad for architectural plants that are planted in mass almost becoming mono cultural and not at all suitable to birdlife.
However we are blessed to have plenty of space and with gardens that blend in with the natural bush that surrounds the property. Consequently we have lots of Fairy Wrens both Superb and Varigated with an occaisonal sighting of the Red Backed Wren, which is not that common in our region.
This morning I found the wrens busy with their morning preening, which involves having a wash in the dew on the leaves of shrubs, then finding a nice sunny spot out of the breeze to do a bit of preening and soak up the sun.
The pair below a female Varigated Wren Malurus lamberti and an immature female were in a sheltered position amongst the foliage of a Grevillea.

The next couple, a female with an immature male still showing a spot of colour of its breeding plumage, not yet moulted. They were amongst a pile of sapling trimmings that are waiting to be chipped, a favourite spot to work over for the insects still amongst the foliage.

Another male with the tail of the female in the background.

I have posted a few blogs of Wrens but they are lovely birds and they do allow you to get quite close to observe their acvtivities, so felt I should post this one.

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Marbled and not

Must be something about the weather we are having or had that has so many moths around and species that I have not seen before. The species below is a Twisted Marbled Moth in the  Parepisparis excusata,  as opposed to the Grey or Brown Twisted and this one was attracted by the house lights. I thought it was possibly caught in some spider web on the wall however it flew off as soon as I touched it so obviously not caught.

This moth took some identifying and I didn't expect to find it among the 1200 odd moths in the GEOMETRIDAE family but finally tracked it down among the 241 moths in the OENOCHROMINAE sub family. It is found in Queensland, NSW and Victoria and the caterpillars feed on eucalyptus.

The other moth I found on the glass of a door and I was able to get quite a few photos as it didn't make any effort to fly when it was moved.

 As you can see it had quite stunning antenae for its size but with little markings I was worried about finding the id.

After some time on the Butterfly House site I tracked it down in the Tussock Moth family, LYMANTRIIDAE Euproctis fimbriata which is a moth that appears to have two colouring type, the pale form as this one or a brown form. They are found on the east coast of Queensland and NSW where the caterpillars feed on a number of plants including macadamias and avocados.