Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Spring is Springing

Palm Lily Budding
Spring continues to make itself felt. Various frogs and the infamous toad are in the mood for courting. The green tree frog and the striped marsh frog both have been seen, albeit briefly, and the one that says pock, pock, pock, pock is at it all night long.

The Cane Toad, I suspect, is the one that chirrs. I'll have to charge up my torch and go hunting.

Native trees and plants are budding. This palm lilly has extended out a long stem which will soon carry its flowers. This in fact is last year's photo, though it is happening this year too.

But, would you believe, it's been raining so much I haven't had the chance to take photos, juggling the umbrella and camera has been tried and found wanting. So it looks like we're going into another La Nina summer. We have already accrued the same equivalent rain for the date, as last year when we ended up having more than two metres worth.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Currawong Corroboree

You can play spot the birds today. There are at least a dozen currawongs in this bottle brush tree (picture below). The palms you see in the upper right hand corner are their target. Ripe red bangalow palm berries. 

That day, (18th August) began sunny with a little wind. The currawongs arrived suddenly. 

Their proper name is pied currawongs. They are large crow-like birds with a hook on their beak. Mainly black, with a crescent shaped patch of white on their wings. Base of tail and tip white. They have yellow irises while magpies have them red. The quickest way to tell the difference. Because currawong habitat is open and low forest, they do well around human habitations with trees and parks nearby. 

This crew, a dozen or more of the the local mob, took over the bottlebrush tree, calling and singing at the top of their vocal (voice?whistling?) range and playing what resembled a game of musical chairs (perches) in the bottlebrush tree, while a couple of their number fed in the nearby bangalow palms. 

For some reason, it's the spring time feast today, with everyone present. At any other time there might be a bird or two feeding solitarily. This is the second year that I've hosted them all for an hour or two. The racket finishes quite suddenly and they disperse around the district again. 

I was lucky getting the photo I did because not one of them sat still for more than a couple of seconds before moving to another branch. I didn't want to go too close because they're quite wary in this mood and might have flown away and it's a privilege, in my opinion, to have currawong corroboree in one's backyard. 

An hour later it was raining. 

Spot the Currawongs

Friday, August 19, 2011

Ants Are Up

It's definitely spring now, with the ants active and native trees flowering are very close to it.

This crew of ants (none visible in the picture) are trying the patio for a change. Their new exit/entry hole is between a couple of pavers quite close to the house. I'll have to watch and see where their trails lead them to find out what sort they are.

I am hoping that they are the usual Pasture Funnel Ants that make turrets of soil in the grass and further mind their own business. They don't sting and don't tend to go into houses.

Or they could be the Black House Ant of which I have lot in various places in the house. Behind the bath. These come out and forage from a little hole in the grouting above the bath.

If I repair that hole, a couple of weeks later there will be another hole. I'm convinced grouting is a tasty treat for several insects. I know for a fact that cockroaches love grouting. Its base material is cellulose.

In the kitchen, ants will trail through the hole in the wall made for the plumbing. In the back porch, through a hole in the corner near the floor, where the walls don't quite meet. These'll tidy up the detritus left after the cat brings in a large grasshopper. Or they'll eat moths that come through the lattice

The Dome-backed Spiny Ant is shining black and despite its name does not sting or bite. The Dome-backed Spiny Ant nests in trees and shrubs where a colony will sandwich together two sturdy leaves for a home. Locally, I've seen them most often in Coolamon Trees and occasionally in the Pipterus argentus or Native Mulberry bush.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Weeds Again

Most local landcarers will say that we see at least one new-to-the-area weed popping up every year.

This one is mine. Never saw it before in my life until this winter when the yard is over run with them. These two allowed to flower just to have their pic taken.

Top height of flower and seed heads is about sixty centimetres. They spray their seeds out a good distance and these are carried on the wind.

Fortunately, they're relatively easy to pull up with just a short tap root. That was a very pleasant surprise, given that they are a lush shade-lover.

Plants using a similar niche are dandelions which have a very long tap root and so can't be pulled out by hand, as well as the lambs tongues which break off.

I can imagine them being edible, they look so juicy and green.

Monday, August 1, 2011

The Time of Mosses Flowering

Moss Flowering
I don't know if it means it's supposed to be spring, but quite a few of the varieties of moss I see around are flowering.

This one on the ground, obviously.

I've also got them growing all over the bricks lining the beds of the vege garden, up and down the dead branches of the dying mandarin tree, and in the front yard (as shown in the photo below) where the moss competes with the grass, because it is almost completely shaded in winter.

Since I've begun to really look at lichens, I've also seen many more types of mosses. This little ground dwelling one is brown though its flowers are green. Most moss flowers I see are shades of brown to dark red on a mat of virulent green.

Just as it has been a good year for fungi and lichens, so mosses too have expanded their usual ranges. Though the scene below is a regular one each winter, when the moss follows the shade of the house over the yard. When in summer, there is no moss due to the hot January sun overhead.

Moss Competing with Grass