Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Bird Banding at the Weddin Mountains

Last weekend I was out catching birds at the Weddin mtns on a trip run by Harvey Perkins and Richard Allen. The bush was looking very green and lush, greatly changed from the dry and shrinking habitat I last saw there a year ago.

We caught 173 birds of a good variety of species, even though most of the summer migrants had left. We saw a flock of about sixty bee-eaters fly overhead, going north so that might have been them gone too. The birds we caught were of the resident or locally migratory species and there were many juvenile and first year birds indicating that there had been a good breeding season.

 An adult female Crested Shrike-tit, she has a green bib and collar, while the male has a black one - we caught her mate (but he was released before I could photograph him) and he was banded seven years ago at the same site.

A Varied Sittella, wonderful little birds which forage up and down tree bark in extended family cooperative groups. This bird is a full-grown male, the female has a white chin and lower face.

Two Spotted Pardalotes: an adult female on the left a male on the right. he is moulting the first four white spots on his crown, from the yellow spots he had while in juvenile plumage, similar to that of the female. His full adult plumage will have all-white spots on the crown and a brighter white stripe above the eye.          

A juvenile Painted Button-quail, fully feathered but only half adult size. These birds have been abundant throughout the grassy woodlands in our area this year and seem to have bred well.

Monday, 21 March 2011

Toilet wildlife

I was camping out at the Weddin Mountains at the weekend, catching birds - more later. We arrived after dark and set up the tents then explored around, including in and around the long-drop toilet. There were some wonderful creatures there.

Several Perons Tree Frogs were sitting on the wall and one was in the overflow pipe of the water tank. I even had a frog on the inside canopy of my tent. They have splendid yellow and black stripes on the inside of their thighs which show up bright when they jump.

And there was a beautiful Barking Gecko, which seemed to live a in crack at the edge of the concrete base. This species reserves fat in its tail, and this specimen had a very fine supply.

 Then of course there were lots of spiders, red-backs in below dark corners and a huge orb-weaver round the back with a several metres-wide web.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

More Time Out

Went to see Santana in Melbourne last night at the Rod laver Arena - that's where they hold the tennis open. Must be one of my favourite venues, big enough to hold a stadium set as it was when we saw the Stones there a few years ago, and yet just right for a party atmosphere as with Santana. And we had seats next to the stage, very nice thank you.

Today after joining with the Melbourne people in their favourite pastime of sitting in a chic street cafe for breakfast, we went up the Eureka Tower to the 88th of 91 floors,

and looked down...

 and over the city, with Flinders St Station and the river Yarra 'way below...

Monday, 14 March 2011

Time out

Field work is less demanding at this time of year, in between studies in Australia and Scotland. Which means I have time for a social life, so the family went out for a walk around the city last weekend to look at the various light shows organised by ENLIGHTMENT, the Canberra light festival  and created by The Electric Canvas, led by Peter Milne.  The buildings used as canvases were the National Gallery of Australia, The National Library, Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House and Parliament House, all within an easy walk around the lawns between them. 
The globe which hangs outside the Art Gallery looked like a meteor about to crash into building and the images spread on the walls came from the latest exhibition of costumes from the Ballets Russes.

The National Library was lit with very clever images such as these of marbled endpapers and bookshelves hanging over the entry steps.
The Old Houses of Parliament were lit in a variety of different styles, from Graffiti of political slogans to photomontages of prime ministers. Lots of people were out and about, walking like us or giving slow drive-pasts.  
The New Houses of parliament looked like stonehenge when an image of Arthur Boyd's 'Untitled (Shoalhaven Landscape)' was projected onto the front facade. The original 1984 oil on canvas hangs inside the building and the tapestry for which it was a plan hangs there in the Great Hall.

All credit for the artwork to The Electric Canvas thanks guys....

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Mole Crickets

The insects in the garden have had a good breeding year after all the rain. And now at dusk the mole crickets are firing up into a wondeful deafening song. Its great to hear them so loud again. There are several in the lawn, sitting snug in their burrows. I can feel the vibrations if I creep up close and can pin point the burrow entrances. The insects are several cm long, but seldom seen.

Click on the link above to hear them sing.

Friday, 4 March 2011

Dainty Swallowtail Butterfly hatch

The garden has been full of butterflies this summer and the next generation is now hatching. Here are a few images of a Dainty Swallowtail Papilio anactus, hatching after eating the orange tree in the back patio.

As she was on the underside of the tree and in shade, I reflected sunlight up onto her to photograph her in fresh light. She greatly appreciated that and soon warmed up; stretched and shivered her wings, then took off. 

There are more to follow.