Sunday, December 09, 2007

Of spiders, flies and the testing of a new camera

Any new piece of photographic equipment can be a little daunting and it is important to know the gear you use reasonably well, so that you don't miss that fraction of a second that turns a good shot into a great one - so I was out in the backyard today seeing what was on offer when I found the following spiders.
Firstly, a Snt Andrews Cross, showing the two types of web it can produce in its classic orb with an "X".

The little spider wrapped in a leaf is in fact a jumping spider,
and it is the first time I have seen one make such a home.
I would guess that it was a female in her nest.
The fly, pictured below, was pushing the cameras macro feature to its limit as it was only 5mm long and extremely flighty

There are many insects out at the moment, allowing a wide variety of spiders a plentiful supply of food.
The Copperhead at the poolside today was a little camera shy and so will have to wait for another day
...perhaps tomorrow morning as things warm up.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Tale of the Yabbie ;)

Today my daughters Rhiannon and Aeron pulled a yabbie ( I choose to call it such) from a local creek.
What a life kids still live in our area. Once a pastime of most Australians, it has become a rarity in this day and age sadly. Pollution and over population take a toll on on a lifestyle of freedoms and choice.

I was, as someone brought up to hunt and catch my own food, quite impressed that hands only were used to land this large and aggressive was Denis Wilson, who was over at the time partaking in a cool beverage with me.

The girls noticed the yabbie was crawling with leech like creatures. These creatures were not interested in human the land based leeches of my previous post, but were content with their current host.

With the help of Denis, the below closeup was taken...with fork prongs for scale.
A most educational afternoon for all.....and, yes, the kids cooked and did eat the spoils of the hunt (minus leech like creatures :) ).

Yes, the yabbie was free of eggs or young.

Long live the old least for adventurous children.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

A forest of bloodsuckers

After the wet and misty weather we have had, I thought a trip to the Robbo Reserve would be a good idea.
I hadnt been there for a while, so a visit was long overdue.

The kids and I found few fungi, and a whole heap of leeches.
The area was overrun with them, not only on the forest floor but also dropping from higher branches in the canopy.

We were lucky to make it out
Seriously though, I have never seen so many leeches in all my many walks through the environs they so love.
Most were quite small, giving the impression that they were the product of a quite successful breeding season some time recently.

The kids found the whole adventure quite educational....if a little creepy.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Spiders out in force

Denis Wilson was over the other day swapping spider sightings,
when a huntsman, pictured below, made an appearance.
Only palm size, I expect him to grow quite a bit larger over the
coming months with the profusion of insects out at the moment.

As he has taken up residence with me, I will keep this site posted as to his growth if he hangs around long enough.

This little jumping spider gives an idea of his size as he peers at the camera amongst the hairs on my arm.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Night Sky Animation

Its been a little while since I got to my blog, as I have been dabbling more in animation of late.

This piece was shot some time ago, though gives an idea what I have been up to.

For those not accustomed with you tube, you can find my humble site at:

Rest assured, more great photos coming soon ;-)

Monday, October 15, 2007

Blog Action Day

Today is Blog Action Day and for this event I intend to raise
awareness for our coastal environment.

Being a country with massive coastlines, and much coastal development,
these areas have come under increasing pressure.

Right to the shore in many cases.

As a child, some 30 or more years ago, I was fascinated by
the life that existed in the rockpools at the tidal edge.
Filled with creatures of all manner of shape and size, it provided an
environment for learning within usually limited areas
affording a good view at what was going on.

From that time, 30 years ago, I have watched a slow decline
due to pollutants and the action of people on the area.

Pollutants devastated the weed beds that are the basis of this platform of life
and from that came a wholesale reduction of the variety that once existed.

In recent times, a reduction of industrial pollutants has seen the weed beds return somewhat,though the variety of creatures is slower to recover due to people.

Recently I had to rescue a large red octopus from a group of youths with sticks.
Such is the uneducated disregard that is often shown.

New housing developments close to the area in Shellharbour called by locals "The Farm" will undoubtedly have similar effects to the neighbouring tidal communities, as did previous efforts such as the devastation of the mangrove areas at Minnamurra...once a place with a thriving oyster lease, it is my opinion you would be lucky to find anything more than sand flies, due to the removal of most of the mangrove swamp that played host to the breeding activities of many species.
It was still in good shape till the bypass was put in.....
.......through the middle of it.

Take a look at the few photos below, as there is a fire sale on...and everything must go.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

A year of Blogging

Today is the anniversary of this blog, and to celebrate I am going

to say little and let the photos speak for themselves.

As a site devoted to the natural world, the following photos reflect

the wonders that surround us all if we just take the time to have a look.

Take the time to care for this world of ours.

It is a truely amazing place

Monday, October 01, 2007

Tidal Environment

Recently, while down at coastal rock pools, I found an area with
small rocky mounds protruding above the flat mud stone surface.

On these mounds, pictured below, were a multitude of small sea snails gathered
together with the surrounding areas devoid of any snails.

I wondered why they should behave in such a way, and found out why as
I walked amongst this strange landscape.

As the water evaporates, it becomes more and more salty, until the area is a mass of salt crystals. For the snails it is a case of find high ground or die. As large seas break over the seawall and fill the shallow area, it dilutes the salt content and the snails go on their way till next it dries beyond their tolerance.

The lady bird, pictured below, was not noticed until I processed the photo at home,

so I was not able to get a better shot.

It was most likely feeding on the small insects that inhabit the area.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Of Ant Orchids and Hover Flies

I was sitting at home, processing a few photos, when Denis called in for a cuppa and a chat about the environmental damage being caused to our water catchment areas.

He asked if I would like to take a trip to see the Ant Orchids that are flowering at the moment. Even though I think he likes to push my camera skills, and my mind, to the limit trying to photograph these little tiny little flowers, I cant resist a challenge - so off we went.

We soon found a patch with the following blooms...

The pseudo insect form is quite clearly visible in the photo on the left, while the right hand shot shows well the pollen receptors.

The area was alive with insects, and I managed to get the following shots of a hover fly.

Denis, meanwhile, had found another Ant Orchid sub species. This is pictured below, again showing the pseudo insect that , along with a sexual pheromone, helps in the pollination of this plant......yes, these orchids are houses of ill repute for the wasps that visit them.

Will wonders never cease.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Escarpment Trip

Last week, although a little tired from getting an hour or two sleep, I accompanied Denis on a trip to the pristine eucalypt forests that exist at the very lip of the escarpment.

As Denis had access granted to a friends property, we proceeded through paddocks surrounded by sections of old rain forest similar in nature to that of the Robertson reserve, though all large canopy trees, such as coach wood, had been removed long ago by loggers.

This old fence post giving
an idea as to the tenacity of life.

We then , after approaching the eastern boundary of the forest, descended at about 25 degrees through dry rain forest. Sounding a contradiction of terms,the place is. Dominated by large canopy trees, such as Black wood, the area was devoid of any undergrowth and was heavily leaf littered. The few tree ferns were large and ancient, pictured below with Denis for scale. The bole of the fern giving an idea of its age.

Eventually we reached the escarpment edge.

The rain forest gave way abruptly to unspoilt eucalypt forest.
Too difficult to log, the area is basically unchanged.
The picture, below, not doing justice to the size of the trees that inhabit it.

A most interesting excursion to visit true local old growth forest.
Nothing like it.
Thanks Denis.

Friday, September 21, 2007

How to eat a rat

Well, it was asked here it is.
How to eat a rat...snake style
This montage shows a step by step on how it is done.
The process takes about half an hour and is fascinating to watch...if a little gruesome to some.
Nugget belongs to a mate of mine, and is a 8 foot Atherton Carpet Python. He is a nice boy....just don't get in the way of a feed.
Want a closer look?
click on the image for a more in depth view :)

Damsel Fly pays a visit

Although not the best photo, this image shows the size of some of the insects getting around at the moment. This diminutive damsel fly hangs on to a palm print that looks quite ridged due to the intense magnification.

My daughters found it in the backyard, and it came in for a visit, a photo shoot, and was gone..

Insects, such as this, are out and about with the warmer weather. With brilliant colouring they are always a pleasure to shoot at such close quarters. You just have to be quick, as they will not usually stay still for long.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Waratah right on time

It has been nearly a year since my blog on the flowering of the white Waratah and, right on cue, this amazing plant is approaching bloom again.
I have taken some pre bloom shots, showing the unfolding of the protective coverings, revealing the flower head to be.
The timing of this blooming so close to last years effort is a wonder in its self.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Sundew Plants Return

Warmer weather has seen the emergence of sundew plants.
These insectivorous plants live near water on the nutrient poor sandy soils that are characteristic of their preferred environment.
Having died back for winter, they reemerge as the weather warms and supplement their needs by catching small insects with sticky droplets, pictured below.

There are a number of different forms of the sundew plant, and I have seen two varieties in the area where this shot was taken. The other being more linear in shape to those pictured here.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Robbo Copperheads

Children love a new pet and Rhiannon, my eldest, was no exception when I presented her with her very own Copperhead. Listed as the 20Th most poisonous snake in the world, she was impressed to say the least.

Seriously though, this poor specimen was found dead, and seeing these creatures in such a state is common at this time of year as hibernation comes to an end.
The Copperhead is common in the Robertson area and is a quiet and a usually non aggressive species.

Having spent some time in habitats in which they reside, I have found all my encounters free from trouble as long as the snake is left be.
Wires run a service to remove snakes from areas where they are not welcome and please remember that not only are they protected under the law, they are also a valuable member of our ecosystem.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Pollen is in the air

Spring is a time of renewal and , as such, blooms are out in profusion at the moment with Robbo being no exception.

The air is heavy with pollen, as anyone with hay fever would agree.

Although we may feel that the vast number of flowers, such as this one on the left, or various grasses were responsible for this, it is in fact an older style of flowering plant that releases much of the pollen in the Robbo area.

Pictured below could arguably be one of the earliest flower forms that produces pollen, and vast amounts of it at that.

Various species of pine were among the first to use airborne dispersal, and do it in abundance, as the below closeup shows. This tactic has seen this group of plants survive, some with little change, over millions of years.

the clouds of pollen these plants release are spectacular to watch and , if necessary, take an antihistamine. Its worth it.