Spring around the corner

The first wildflowers of ‘spring’ are opening up, quite a few Early Nancy and Scented Sundews, along with a great display of Golden Wattle.

The birds are tuning up for what promises to be a very good breeding season, boosted by some excellent late winter rain.

Early Nancy, Fence Track Muckleford State Forest, 18th August 2017

Scented Sundew

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Spotted Pardalote, South German Track

Daimond Firetail, South German Track

Part of a flock of half a dozen

Australian pelican in flight

Australian Pelicans don’t quite match White-bellied Sea-eagle for ‘wow’ factor but they are still well worth capturing in flight. This bird was spotted in the company of sea-eagles earlier in the week at Welshman’s Reef.

Australian Pelican, Welshman’s Reef, 14th August 2017

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Pallid arrival

Our first Pallid Cuckoos arrived earlier in the week – two birds chasing each other down Wyndham Street.

I was alerted to their presence by the typically mournful calls. You’ll note the difference in plumage between the bird in the first image and the second bird in the subsequent photographs. This mottled individual is a female while the first bird is a male.

Pallid Cuckoo (male), Wyndham Street Newstead, 14th August 2017

Pallid Cuckoo (female)

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The wing shape and barred tail are distinctive features

Reliable Winter shelter

Winter deprives the macrophotographic addict of many subjects, although spiders are always easy to find. But lifting rocks is a pretty good way of finding some sedate sitters, even if it means rolling around on the damp ground trying to get a good angle. I found a few treats yesterday and one very special target that had evaded my lens thus far.

It all started close to our back door. The first rock that I lifted had numerous tiny (1-2mm), pale, slow-moving insects that looked disturbingly like termites (very close to the house). Even with reading glasses and  a good light I couldn’t pick it – only the wonderful Canon MP-E65 supermacro lens showed me the comforting view of these ants. They were scurrying as best as their cold bodies would to store their precious eggs.

Scouring Alex Wild’s great web site on ants, as well as google and Antwiki led me to believe they might be Doleromyrma. Any better identification would be much appreciated. I know from some ordinary tail-end shots that they don’t have an acidopore.

Doleromyrma?

Doleromyrma? #1

Doleromyrma?

Doleromyrma? #2

Another rock further in the bush at our place showed a busy nest of ants that look like ones previously identified as Rhytidoponera after a previous post on this blog. According to Antwiki, they will often nest under rocks and forage in trees, so this fits. They also mostly breed without queens, but workers will mate to produce a female brood. Happy to be corrected if I’ve got this wrong.

Rhytidoponera?

Rhytidoponera?

Under the same rock was this curious animal, about 15mm long and happily munching on the decaying material under the rock.

Under a rock - Soldier Beetle larva

What do humans call me?

But above all, I was thrilled to find what I consider to be one of the most beautiful animals of our bush, a Thick-tailed (or Barking) Gecko, hiding under a large flat leftover paver in our backyard. Can’t wonder too much about the scientific name for this one – Underwoodisaurus milii.

Thick-tailed Gecko (Underwoodisaurus milii)

Thick-tailed Gecko

Thick-tailed Gecko (Underwoodisaurus milii)

Is this my best angle?

Thick-tailed Gecko (Underwoodisaurus milii)

Or this?

Sea-eagles #3

Better light and a closer approach this time.

These images were collected just moments after I witnessed a thrilling encounter between two White-bellied Sea-eagles and a lone Wedge-tailed Eagle that had apparently transgressed into their territory. More on that later.

White-bellied Sea-eagle (immature), Welshman’s Reef, 14th August 2017

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Wedge-tailed Eagle and White-bellied Sea-eagle duelling

Sea-eagles #2

Another episode from my fraternising with sea-eagles at the weekend. This ‘pair’ consists of an immature/subadult, seen here arriving at the perch to disturb its partner, a fully fledged adult bird. White-bellied Sea-eagles are a joy to behold in flight – I feel so fortunate to be able to see them on a regular basis.

White-bellied Sea-eagles, Welshman’s Reef, 13th August 2017

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Sea-eagles #1

This is one of two immature White-bellied Sea-eagles seen late yesterday near Welshman’s Reef – what a majestic sight!

White-bellied Sea-eagle, Welshman’s Reef, 13th August 2017

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