Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Nest-box Update 2

Sugar gliders and squirrel gliders are frequent visitors in all types of boxes: 
A nose, an eye and a bushy tail are all that is to be seen
of a sugar glider in this box

A family of wide-awakes, possibly squirrel gliders, with a mud-wasp nest on the wall. 

 This pink and grey galah is defending the eggs she laid in an owl box

Pink and grey galah on owl box
Galah eggs in one of the new-style boxes

Some boxes are in such demand their occupancy is being contested. Owl box 12, here with the fluffy feathers and two eggs of a wood duck; eucalyptus leaves remaining from an earlier use by sugar gliders; and two eggs (rounder & white) of a boobook owl

The mother boobook stays nearby during the monitoring event. 

Friday, October 7, 2016

Birds: Currawongs versus Australian Magpies

Soon after I had my Bangalow/Alexander Palms cut down, the currawongs deserted my backyard. A good thing because they are very pushy and would swoop even me regularly.

Yellow-eyed currawong, size of a large crow, eating a palm berry. 

At ten metres, the palms grew too tall for the suburban scene. At about one metre distance from a neighbouring property and August winds on the horizon, I feared for children in one neighbour's pool and solar panels on another neighbour's roof. Plus, currawongs from far and wide regularly to feed on the crimson berries. With forty birds bending the branches of a nearby bottlebrush, it wasn't worth the trouble trying to garden,. They were fairly threatening.

A pair of Bangalows or Alexander Palms in flower
For about a week after the trees were cut down, the currawongs swooped through the yard at low altitude. Then they left, though not the district. Their carolling is loud and melodious.

Magpie, with red eye, the quick way to tell them apart. 
Magpie beaks seem to me to be pointier than a currawong's beak. They seem more specialised toward hopping around the backyard with their heads cocked, listening for creatures in the soil, and pricking out worms and such. Which is what the magpie visitor does when I am out there digging or weeding. They aren't generally as aggressive, and in addition, there tends to be only one bird here at one time.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Orchard Swallowtail Caterpillars vs Bronze Stinkbugs

This is a re-post from five years ago. Situation is still the same. Stink bugs in the lime tree. Orchard Swallowtail butterfly caterpillars also trying to make a living. Only now I also have keen-eyed currawongs living in the backyard (Because i don't have a dog any longer!) which love the odd plump caterpillar.

This morning I had another go at inventing an organic mixture with which to control stink bugs. Unfortunately neither my camera nor my phone would give me back the photos I took.

I have three citrus trees which support a variety of wild life as well as providing me with fruit, in season. I sighted half a dozen orchard swallowtail caterpillars (as portrayed, on cumquat leaf) today, so any kind of spraying is out of the question.

Orchard Swallowtail Caterpillar, Nov 2009

Also this spring, an explosion of stink bugs. Dozens of fat, chocolate-brown specimens and dozens more young ones all the shades of green through bright orange and salmon with striped black and white feelers. Quite pretty and I don't mind a couple here and there. They are part of the dance after all.

 A couple of cups of white vinegar in a tall old plastic jug heavily "salted" with chilli powder and swirled around quickly killed most of the ones I managed to flick in there with a long paint brush. Taking them by surprise, I didn't get sprayed. Fifteen minutes later they were dead. The beauty with this kind of mixture is that it and the dead insects can be composted, and so the nutrients recycled.

Any other, better mixtures out there?

Wednesday, February 24, 2016


It is the season for taddies as we commonly call them in Australia.

Tadpoles four days after hatching. They have already eaten
most of the azolla fern and nardoo fern. I have crushed lettuce
floating in the water
The eggs were spread over the whole surface of the water and by this I know these hatchlings are not green tree frog young for their eggs come in clutches of about 80; and I know they are not cane toad young because cane toad eggs come in vast strings of gel. These could be Striped Marsh Frog young. Time will tell. 

The bath. The taddies, spread out at their daytime work
of grazing on the sides of the bath, there is algae growing there.
Plenty of them, as you can see. 

In the following close-up shot you will see that the taddies, five days out of the egg here, are not all growing at the same rate.

The beginning of a feeding frenzy. I have just fed them with a little fish food.
I meant this for the fish that also inhabit the bath but the tadpoles
have seized on the fish flakes with great abandon. So much
for tadpoles being vegetarian.