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.

Reptillian Spring

Not your standard spring photos this time.

Spring is the time when reptiles of all manner come out of hibernation to have a feed, shed their skins, and find a mate.

Isis, the carpet python, is in the process of shedding her skin in these photos. First the snake will nuzzle to break the scales around the nose and mouth line then, through moving amongst obstructions, will slowly peel the old skin back and slide from it. The whole process can take about 1/2 an hour and produces bright new colouration, for about a week, as the new scales dry and harden.

Before shedding, the snake will go "off colour" as secretions between the new and old layers prepare for the easy removal of the old. This secretion also causes the snakes eyes to go misty - making the snake close to blind, though this will clear closer to the shed time.