I went to watch my son play rugby with my mother this morning and this pair of young rainbow lorikeets got my attention. The game had not started yet, but I could hear them quietly chatting in the trees while honey-hunting. The pair was after the honey more than 20 feet high in the hollow of this large gum tree at University of Queensland rugby field, Brisbane.
I know some of my readers love them too (and some of my readers don’t like spiders at all). Here is a large pregnant Dome Tent spider from my garden.
The Dome Tent spider, (Cyrtophora moluccensis) is the largest spanning the width of a man’s hand. The long body is strongly variable in colour with a broad black to rusty-red stripe for most of the back and bright yellow and white spots along the edges.
Tent spiders have modified the circular web into a dome, spiked tent or broad scoop.The Dome Tent spider builds a large dome-shaped web from 30-60cm across with a long tangle of web above the dome and a small tangle below. Funny enough this insect’s ‘home design’ or feature has been copied and commercialised by adventure companies. They build and sell various camping tents that are structured the way the spider builds its web.
The female hunts from the top of the dome where she lays her eggs in a long bean-like and attempts to fend off the large flesh flies (Sarcophagidae) that parasitise them. From about Rockhampton northward, these spiders form massive colonies as big as houses. See more at Queensland Museum. I saw one colony yesterday where I counted seven spiders all combined their architecture to form a web structure approximately two metres wide by three meters tall. I did not have my phone nor my camera with me to capture the image, unfortunately.
Here is another kind that was weaving its ‘tent’ across my front door.
Kookaburras are a type of kingfishers that live in Australia and PNG and they are very territorial. They are referred to as the laughing birds because of the way they sound, just like someone is dying laughing. They live in most treed parts of Australia.
The birds can grow between 30 and 40cm tall and eat mostly insects, worms, crustaceans, small snakes, frogs and other small birds. Australians sing songs about the Kookaburra’s laugh, but the truth is, that loud continuous sound they make, sometimes in a group, is a territorial call. The bird warns its family of birds about who is approaching their territory. I grew up with a song call, Kookaburra Sings on the Old Gum Tree. And all this time, before I knew, I thought they were singing to welcome me, but they were warning each other.
The birds can become tame around humans, like these two that have been living on our balcony since we moved to Bellbowrie five years ago. One in particular (pictured here) has recently started grabbing food off the plates or comes into the kitchen to help herself.
She also likes it when you hand feed her. I took these micro shots of the cheeky one. She was very patient and she did not fly off, so these are all her. Read more here.
It rained yesterday. Guess what was on the chicken house? Not a spider this time. The rain catcher, the first Green Tree Frog (I have seen) for 2016. Sitting strategically where all the rainwater ran to it, it had its eyes shut until I approached with the camera.
This frog, the Litoria caerulea or the Green Tree Frog lives in Queensland. It is also found in northern and eastern Australia. It is generally a large frog, and grows to 110mm. The frog is green to light brown or even blue, short snout and rounded face. It has a smooth, thick skin on head and shoulders. Some have white spots or irregular stripe from mouth to forearm. Its abdomen is white and the back of its thighs is sometimes maroon or yellow. More information can be found on Save Our Waterways.
Although they are called the tree frog, they love to live in building drain pipes and water tanks. In summertime of course, they love wide open spaces with waterways…I guess that’s why this frog found this spot and stayed. I wish I could have told the frog this was not a waterway, but as soon as the rain stopped, it disappeared.
Our night visitor never left. The long-horned beetle entered our house on Sunday night and was flying around crashing into everything and everyone. My son took it outside, but yesterday I found it alive and under a floor mat.
The brown/reddish native beetle from the Cerambycidae family (according to Queensland Museum) was supposed to live in open forests and woodlands throughout Australia. It has been accidentally introduced to many overseas countries where it is a serious pest in eucalypt plantations. The white, legless larvae of this beetle bore under the bark of recently dead or sick eucalypts lives for several months.
The beetle is 15–30 mm long. This one in our house was at least 45 mm long. This species has a dark-brown, elongated body with a pale band and spots at tips of wing-covers. The reddish antennae is much longer than the body. When I photographed the beetle yesterday, it was very aggressive. I returned it to the woods.
I enjoy this time of the year in Queensland because the bush is full of interesting creatures, both live dead and ones. The garden transforms into a photography playground for me. Not everyone likes insects, I know. Here are some interesting shapes, colours and types of things I found through the lens. My son Chris took the grasshopper shot.
This mysterious and gorgeous flower appeared in one of my pots. I did not plant it, and do not claim any ownership for its cultivation. I guess I own it now, since it is in a pot that I have paid for. And, this pot sits in my garden. Perhaps the birds brought me the seed.
I was surprised to see its glorious bloom a few days ago. I am taking a guess that it is a Peruvian lily, but I could be wrong. I am happy for anyone that knows this flower to identify it.
Nature’s beauty is its simple mystery. How can a Heliconia Sexy Pink as they call it, get from the colours in the picture above to the colours in the image below when it is aging? I don’t know, but I really like the contrast. I took these pictures in my mother’s garden in Lae, Papua New Guinea. They were taken from the same bush before my mother pruned the ginger plant. The kurakum (pidgin word for red ants) really appreciate the aging flower. That is another mystery.
The cicadas are one of my favourite insects. I have listened to them on many occasions through out my life without knowing what a complex and intricate life-cycle they have. They remind me of the low-sounds made by Jews Harp, a small musical instrument which is held against the teeth or lips. When there are thousands of cicadas calling at once, it is like an orchestra of the Jews Harp.