Monday, October 30, 2017

Who's a pretty sweet little bird then?

Mistletoebirds would be said to have a pretty sweet tooth - if they had teeth. Not much that's sweet about our native figs, you say? Tasteless, mostly, right?

Right. But that's not just water on the underside of the figs. It can at times be intensely sweet, a nectar rivalling artificial sugars.

Pretty sweet? I'll say! 

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Silly-Billy Frilly willy-nilly uphilly

Frilled Lizards like a spot of sunbathing on or near the ground after a spell of rain. Warmth then can make them a bit dozy as danger nears. Which can lead to a mad scramble up the nearest tree. Not all trees offer sanctuary.  Outcome: Frilly stuck between impossible ascent and risky descent. No way up smooth trunk. Camera-wielder below.

Maybe same lizard a day later, secure in grip on smaller coarse-barked tree.

Running into thick cover rather than climbing needs thought before presenting back to danger.

Sitting still can work, but parking rails don't allow any blending into the background.

Nor does posing atop sawn-off old trunk.

Just as well most people just want to admire nature . . .

. . . even as they persist in trying to improve upon it - just a little!



 





Sunday, October 22, 2017

Opportunity knocks with Wolf at the door

Fell into little trap upon seeing rounded white 'door' flap open and shut before vanishing in spiky tuft of coarse grass yesterday. Trapdoor Spider or Funnelweb, mistaken conclusion.

Back this morning with macro lens and flash at ready, gently poke soft straw down funnel/tunnel and suddenly there's a Wolf Spider at the door. She's not alone. Web ball of Wolves-to-be tagging along tied to her stomach.

She seemed more curious than furious at the intrusion and turned back into her tunnel after putting up with some wrangling for the camera. All going well she'll bite the ball open and carry her young on her back till they get hungry and go their way.

Those wanting to make a name for themselves - and for many other things - might consider looking in their own backyards. There are thousands of things living there yet to be described fully and named precisely. Which Wolf Spider is that knocking at the door? 

   

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Young fairy-wren turns up head, not nose, at greens

Unlike young children juvenile birds want to swallow anything elders give them. But what if the juicy green caterpillar looks too large?

No problem, young Red-backed Fairy-wren might have said (could it but speak) in Town Common today.

Playing with your food isn't always such a bad thing. Bit of a flick and twist of the head wraps caterpillar up.


No need to slurp it spaghetti fashion. Open wide and down she goes.

Who says kids won't eat their greens?

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Reality of the fish that got away just old crap

Plenty of fishing stories boil down to little more than boring old crap, as Black-winged Stilt feeding today in shallows near Payets Tower might attest. Might, if it had bought into above inadvertent illusion.

'Fish' turns out to be boring old crap stuck on the mud. Just another story about the one that got away.

Whited-faced Heron (same site, two days ago) comes up with dinkum catch. Not a fish, but anything living in or near the water is fair fare.

Brolgas don't come up with many fish but like getting stuck into the mud. And muddy water. Many these days showing necks stained brown by the now fast-evaporating water.

Getting a bit dry on slightly higher ground.

Higher still, Brahminy Kite (once often miscalled Fish Eagle) circles the Payet Pool. Species can tell few fishing stories as it's more likely to be seeking to hook insects or frogs from sedges and reeds.

Whistling Kites also show little fishing ability, though a few (ditto Black Kites) learn to watch for and snatch dying fish as they rise gasping to the surface of stagnating waters.




Monday, October 9, 2017

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Cracker! Whipsnake finally fronts up

Months of seeing back half of snake slipping away into long Town Common grass without being absolutely sure of species ended with Greater Black Whipsnake yesterday finally presenting front half to camera. The para grass surrounding the pool at Payets tower is probably home to more than six snake species. Mostly they're seen when swimming across open water.

One of their prey targets, Two-lined Dragon well out of snake danger on bonnet of Troopy. Nope, not my doing. It appeared from 'nowhere' the other morn. Clear bonnet one second, Dragon hood ornament the next. Odd, because dragon claws don't grip like skinks'. As seen when it nipped through open driver's door to inside Troopy but was easily scooped up as it kept trying to scale rubber matting over transmission tunnel, getting halfway up only to slide back down again.

Wouldn't be easy scooping metre's worth of Yellow-spotted Monitor from inside Troopy. But though the invitation's been made a few times my friend with a big earth burrow at the Pandanus viewing area prefers to walk alone. And it's a bit too big to pop out of nowhere and perch on Troopy's bonnet.

   

Monday, October 2, 2017

Black and white - and read and reread

Suffering from info overload? Just want things in black and white? Simple and easy, right? Well, yes and no. Recent portrait of Australian Raven comes full of subtle detail.

Nothing too subtle about early morning Spangled Drongo. Not much detail either. But while stark image is enough to identify Drongo beyond doubt, the Raven isn't so easy. Is the bill really bigger than a Torresian Crow's? Are those throat hackles longer? Can you see naked skin strip?

Much safe ground with Magpie Lark. Black face and throat identify bird as male (white face and throat for females). Easy to remember? Forget the difference for a few months and it's back to the reference books to make sure.

Is that barring on Varied Triller's breast? Yes, but it's too fine to be a female. Pity we can't see rufous underbelly. Black and white (and soft lilac-grey rump) don't tell enough of the story.

Add a touch more colour. Two Sulphur-crested Cockatoos fascinated yet again by old hollow hulk in the Town Common today. ID easy. But how to tell male from female? Catch birds and stare into their eyes. Their irises tell the story. Can't escape the need for more and more info, can we? 




Knotted Keelback kicks up stink after road rescue

Bird in the hand worth two in the bush, so what's a snake-in-hand worth? Not two in the grass. Palmful of foul fluids, that's what...