Thursday, 29 January 2015

Flowers everywhere and the next generation

Insects and Plants

It has been a very prolific season for flowering gums; not so good for the roof as flower and nut debris clogs the gutters but great for the bees, moths and butterflies.
Practically every flower in this flowering gum had a visiting bee. We have 2-3 hives within 1-200m of the house but generally 10-20m up large trees so no access to the honey. Still, we get fantastic pollinator services. I'm no good at identifying bees, apart from the Blue-banded bees.
Late one evening, I also spotted this interesting moth in amongst the bees. Duncan F identified it for me as a Mistletoe Moth (Comocrus behri) - thanks Duncan.
Another source of spring colour is the Chocolate Lily (Dichopogon strictus?) which grow more prolific every year. I'm under strict orders not to slash the paddock until they finish flowering.

Birds and Animals

This young Eastern Spinebill braved the Noisy Miners and perched in a bush just outside our kitchen window for a while. The only shot I had was through the flywire screen but you can clearly see the size of the bill, needed to get into the local flowers for nectar.
A Varied Sitella departs it's nest last spring. Very hard to spot the nest 15m up a tree and so well-camouflaged. 

Sulphur-crested Cockatoos, with their screeching and willful destruction of flowers and house-fittings, can be a real pain. However, you can see the intelligence and interest in the eye of this example of this long-living species (50+ years).
One of a pair of Channel-billed Cuckoos which visit for 5-6 weeks every spring to strip our Mulberry tree of berries. Our orchard seems to exist for the birds not us. We used to net the trees but found the Satin Bowerbirds were always getting inside the nets but needed help to escape.
Not a local but a nice shot of Long-billed Corellas taken at Khancoban, NSW in November.
We had family up here over the Australia Day long weekend and it was a real joy to have my 11 year old niece show a strong interest in all things natural and outside. The pressure was on to deliver some interesting sights; luckily, we had a good day as she was able to get up close and personal with these locals.
This Eastern Water Dragon was surprised by us coming around his tree and adopted their normal behavior of staying motionless. He was also a few metres away from the water's edge; if closer, he would probably have jumped into the water to escape.
His decision to freeze ("I'm not here") allowed me to get this uncropped close-up showing the colours and texture of his skin plus his interesting eye structure.
Not long before, we'd come across this Echidna (more info here) foraging in the paddock. When disturbed, they scrunch down and dig into the earth, leaving only their spines to deter attackers. However, after 1-2 minutes, he peeked up and seemed content to wander around almost under our legs.
A short time later, this Goanna appeared again up a box tree in the garden near the pool, completing a pretty good trifecta for Chloe and maybe, just maybe, pushing her further along as a budding naturalist.


  1. Let's hope so for Chloe. Great shots JG. You live in a delightful spot.

  2. That's a great backyard you've got and a fantastic patch of Chocolate Lilies! Does it consist of pasture grass or mostly native grasses. I can't see clearly from the photo but it looks in great condition, pity you have to slash it. Being in central Gippsland you may have some threatened species lurking in that grassland (unless you've already found some). Species such as Purple Diuris (Diuris punctata), Dianella amoena or even some of the highly threatened Leek Orchids (Prasophyllum spp).
    Great photos by the way.

    1. Hi Craig,

      Thanks for the compliments. The paddock is mainly native grass with lots of Kangaroo Grass;you can see a bit more of them in the echidna photo in the same post. I don't know much about them but the Sale and Latrobe Field Nats both come up from time to time to have a look. We do get a few orchid types in the drier areas on the property.

      You're right about having to slash such colour but, if I didn't, it would be a metre high and a severe fire hazard. It rebounds nicely each spring and the Chocolate Lilies have spread from 1-2 isolated plants after the end of the drought in 2007 to now cover 50-60 acres at such densities.