Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Let's give more credit to a great survivor

What's wrong with this picture? (Apart from the freak-of-the-sun huge catchlight in the cow's eye).

Here's a little clue. One of 5-6 similar 60cm clues in the long grass.

Slightly bigger, 90cm, clue floating in the shallow water.

What's wrong? No Big Momma on show. She's hiding a very broad 3.5m frame under the water close to her presumed progeny sunning on the mud. Scientists recently added 2hrs to Saltwater Crocodiles underwater capabilities, making it about 7hrs lying motionless.

What's wrong? The cow isn't scared. It doesn't know just 2kms upstream a large cow had to be destroyed recently after a big male croc grabbed her head.

What's wrong? Perhaps even people who often encounter crocs don't give them enough credit as a predator almost unchanged through 90 million years of survival.

And guess what was lurking in the water just below my egg-sitting Carpet Python at Mungalla Station this morning? A slender 3m croc in a great shadowed tangle of fallen cottonwood limbs. They deserve more respect.


Thursday, December 24, 2015

Grand Unifying Theory: a birdbrain proposal


We've talked till blue in the face.

Looked at the biggest questions from orthodox ...

... and extraordinary positions.

Time someone took flight at the biggie: the Grand Unifying Theory. Here's a modest thesis: Scientists can't find God. And scientists can't find dark matter or dark energy, which together make up about 96% of the universe.

The answer's black and white: God must be both. So. Sorted! Consider it my little contribution to world peace and Xmas cheer.

More startling revelations to come ...

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Mungalla days not all about Yellow Wagtails

More chasing Yellow Wagtails at Mungalla for the last week, without notable capture of the species in the camera.

But it's not all about the flighty migrants. Rainbow Bee-eaters are breeding in their sand tunnels and watching for food passing on the wing.

A Royal Spoonbill pauses in the mopping up of prey in a fast-drying pool of mud and dying water hyacincth.

One Intermediate Egret shows out from scores of others atop nearby trees and drops in to feed.

An Australian Pipit has the hunt for food down pat.

White-breasted Woodswallow takes up higher vantage point.

One of the hundreds of sources of Pipit pedestals enjoys an extended scratch in an ear (probably not uncommon behaviour but something new to me).


Nearby, tight-coiled Carpet Python rests motionless, unconcerned as camera closes to within a metre.

Not so still, Gould's Monitor caught away from boltholes and trees to climb considers its situation:  cautious walk away proves the right answer.





Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Dusty dry whets some appetites

Teasing overnight showers lately hint at end of drought, but not all creatures dislike life amid dust and sere grasses. Dozens of  Horsfield's Bushlark (Mirafra javanica, above) compete with scores of Pipits for small prey at Mungalla Station these days.



Less common, and about two metres up the pasture gradient from the hymenachne bottoms, Brown Songlark (Cincloramphus cruralis) brings its metallic scissory trilling to tussocks and scrawny weeds.


Even Crimson Finch (Neochmia phaeton) hunts for seedy titbits lying in the sand.

End of the seepage for eastern fork of Palm Creek: cattle in far distance are standing on vehicle track above culvert (dry for many weeks). When the rains come (maybe mid-January) the waters should over the left foreground and in all about 500ha of mostly hymenachne low ground (stretching eastsoutheast, behind camera point-of-view).




Friday, December 11, 2015

Carpenters nail big part in pollination

Bumbling about Mungalla pasture chasing Yellow Wagtails led to detour for close look at Carpenter Bees (Xylocopa kontortosoma) buzzing greedily on and into Candle Bush (Cassia (Senna) alata).

No bumblebees in mainland Australia, so Carpenters do much of the heavy pollination.

Have another name for Candle Bush? You and many others. The declared weed goes under scores of names.

Sadly, no sign of any males in three sessions beside this plant at a fenceline between sugar cane and pasture.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Hotter on the trail of Yellow Wagtail

Frustrating week chasing Eastern Yellow Wagtails (Motacilla tschutschensis) at Mungalla Station closed with slightly better results this morning.

Four birds found in two creek areas about a kilometre apart, including rather plain pair seen several times during the week, without ever getting close enough for acceptable images.

Even today only one bird - feeding avidly amid muddy water hyacinth - allowed the Troopy within 12-15 metres.

And this more strongly coloured newcomer flew off seconds after being sighted. Another target for next week.