A hot day in Brisbane can be uncomfortable and irritating, but for me, it was an opportunity to see who was visiting the blue waterhole at Bellbowrie. When I got closer, two days ago, I hit a bird jackpot. Ten-twelve birds of four species had come to drink. Photos are ordinary because I had a short lens and had to go behind the tree. And when the birds had drunk and started to fly away, my feathered son caught me behind the tree so he lingered on to say hello.
I am jealous that we can’t see the total solar eclipse in Australia, but you lucky ones in the Unites States of America will be able to witness this rare cosmic chance event on August 21. It has been discussed in the media and predicted that this eclipse will be watched by most people than any eclipse ever before. Thousands are travelling from other countries to USA to watch it. And, partial eclipse will be seen in parts of Europe.
So tomorrow, we will be watching it on our screens in Australia while you in America will watch the real thing. Be safe, wear your special glasses, and feel free to make comments here on your experience.
Rosemarie Fiore’s “Smoke Eclipse #52,” 2015. Firework smoke residue on Sunray paper. (Von Lintel Gallery, Los Angeles)
*There is a lot of information on the internet on past and future eclipses.
This morning I woke to check the ailing rooster and saw the fog through my windows. It was early. I went to get my camera and left the house. The fog had stayed, even though the sun light was peeking through the gum trees in Bellbowrie.
Here are some pictures of my neighbourhood. Some of you may know it is the middle of winter in Brisbane. This exact week, 13 years ago, my two sons and I migrated to Australia (Brisbane). I try not to think of how miserable and cold it was for us, because many great things have happened since then. Life is a transformation of wonders, only if we allow ourselves to enjoy them.
“Liklik rokrok” means little frog in Papua New Guinea pidgin. I once designed and will be bringing back a collection of children’s T-shirts called “Liklik Rokrok”. Watch this blog for the re-launch later this year.
Frogs play a huge role in our environment and especially the condition of our environment. I have a special affection for this little frog. It was wonderful to find a short YouTube video posted by “Love Nature” about their life and how they have changed over time. I hope you enjoy this video as much as I did. It is amazing to learn about how a tiny creature could evolve throughout revolution and protect itself from predators to this day.
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.