Wednesday, 31 October 2018

First Frogmouths fledging now

An adult male Tawny Frogmouth sits with one of his chicks in the nest, while the sibling sits out along the nest branch.

This one would likely have been flying about between the branches, if not neighbouring trees, over the past few nights, then returning to the nest by dawn. Perhaps, the sooner they can leave the nest at night the safer they are from predators, by separating from the group. The chicks do make a rasping, coughing call when they are being fed, and that could attract owls, for example.

When viewed from the other side, it seems like both chicks are actually out of the nest and on the branch rather than in the nest, which is just the cradle of twigs in the fork. That is all frogmouths need for a nest, enough to hold the eggs, any more twigs and the nest would be bulky and so betray the birds presence. A little is better for these birds, who rely on their camouflage for concealment.

This chick doesn't look much younger, only a day or so in difference. These shots were taken yesterday, so I am sure both chicks will have fledged by tonight, although they might still return to their nest for perhaps one more night. As it's Halloween tonight, watch out for some of these spectres flying between the trees, silently gathering moths. There is nothing frightening in nature, just fascinating.

Two Ochres

A Heath Ochre Trapezites phigalia rests on leaf litter, with its wings closed along the line of the sunshine
- so not casting a shadow to aid me seeing it. 
The butterflies are finally beginning to show here in Canberra after a slow dry spring. In the past week I have seen two species of Ochre, Heath and Yellow, but wow when they close their wings and settle on the ground cover they just disappear from view.

They are only a couple of centimetres long with a wingspan of about 3 cm, so I had to get down to ground level to capture the detail of the wing pattern.

This was the only one of its species I saw that day and it didn't seem to be keen to be out searching for a mate, or food which was sparse as there were so few herbs in flower. It has been so dry, little is growing. The habitat was open grassy woodland, which normally has a good shrub and herb understorey.

This was all I saw of its upperwings, it never held them fully open.

A Yellow Ochre Trapezites luteus flying between flowerheads.
The Yellow Ochres were just over the border in New South Wales on a grassy verge of a rough mountain road. Here some daisies provided several individuals with nectar. These are more localised butterflies in their distribution, uncommon but not rare. the heath Ochres are more common, but still have a localised distribution.

The yellow of the butterfly complements that of the daisies well, and the white spot on the underwing.

The sun was bright and the butterflies were flitting between flowerheads, so I cranked up the camera speed and tried a few flight shots. They look so different when in flight, this one still has its tongue unrolled.

Monday, 22 October 2018

Bees on blossom

The garden has been full of honey bees over the past few weeks. First they had the apricot blossom, then the plums, now they are collecting nectar from the apple trees. They really are busy little things and trying to grab some photographs of them is challenging, the fly so quickly. Here are a two shots taken with ISO settings of 4000, and exposure time of 1/4000 of a second. And they still are not frozen in action, well their bodies are but not their wings.

So I tried some slow-motion filming of them. This was more tricky as the camera could not focus closely enough to give larger images and tracking the bees before pressing record was difficult through a viewfinder. Here are the results of my better efforts. Fun trying.

The action shown in each of these clips was over in a few seconds.

And one last final clip