26 January 2007

Eucalyptus ficifolia x ptychocarpa "Summer beauty"

I think these are one of the most beautiful small trees to come out of the fairly recent hybridising that's been going on in the Eucalyptus/Corymbia families. There is also a soft pink, a bright orange and a white now available in the these lovely small trees.

I love the way the bud cap folds back, like a little trapdoor, to tantalisingly display the flower waiting to emerge from inside.

Only one of my three trees has produced flowers this year,
and it has only managed one truss instead of the usual magnificent coverage of the whole tree

The flowers last for quite a long while too. I haven't tried picking them for the house because I hate the idea of taking anything from the outside display when the tree looks so lovely.

Also I know there are lots of little creatures that rely on the nectar, produced in abundance, for part of their evening meal. Animals like the Sugar Gliders and Feathertail Gliders.

If they weren't so expensive I could plant lots and lots more, then I wouldn't mind having to pick the odd bunch.

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Click here for more information on Sugar Gliders

Click here for information of Feathertale Gliders

King Parrot or Alisterus scapularis

Peek-a-boo King Parrot.

Beautiful birds aren't they? Beautiful but pesky in orchards. Most years we don't get any of the fruit off this apple tree. They are all eaten before they ripen.

Birds, up to a dozen at a time, congregate, feast and party here amongst our fruit trees. After three years of drought the birds number have decreased dramatically and this fellow was all alone.

King Parrots are fruit eaters and can sometimes be a menace to growers who are trying to make a living from supplying fruit. We, however, are not in that position and we welcome the bird life and are willing to share with them; even though apples certainly weren't part of their native diet. They like to eat seeds of eucalypts and acacias, berries, other fruits, nuts, nectar, blossoms and leaf buds - so a fairly wide diet which includes apples without any trouble at all

These birds can become quite tame and will happily feed near you, whilst keeping a wary eye on what you are up to. Look at these photos and you will see
what I mean. This one is a male because he has that gorgeous red head and chest. We usually have 8 or so living here fairly permanently but with the drought we have noticed the numbers dropping considerably. In fact we have very few birds around. I hope they have flown away to better areas and haven't perished here because of lack of food and water. The local blossom trees have finished and the exotic ones in my garden have shrivelled and dropped their buds and fruits. Our local creek is now dry. We do still have water in our dams but have noticed that the birds prefer to drink from smaller bird baths scattered around the place than attempt to drink from large open areas.

Click here to learn more about King Parrots

22 January 2007

Australian Frogs Genus Litoria

We came back from a recent holiday to find a frog in our bathroom. It was sitting on the edge of the bath pretending to be sponge or perhaps invisible. With my new fantastic camera I can take close up pictures so I snapped away very happily.
Then I attempted to name the frog using 'A Field Guide to Frogs of Australia.' by Martyn Robinson. That was a good idea but the problem was that I had taken many photographs much like my first one here, which is pretty much useless for naming a particular frog. I couldn't clearly see the toes, or the colour in the armpits or much else that would help me distinguish this frog from its close relatives

I had managed to place it in the Litoria genus at least. I vowed that next time I would photograph what I needed in order to make a decision as to which frog it was.

These little brown tree frogs all look very, very similar. Sometimes it comes down to the colour of their eyes. Note frog 1 has silver eyes with a cross across it, all helpful for distinguishing who he is.

The next little frog I saw, only a couple of days later again in the bathroom I managed to look for and photograph the colours that I needed.

Here you can quite clearly see the marbling in the groin area, colouring completely hidden in the first photograph.

Notice also the creamy/white tummy. I decided that this was Litoria peronii. They can vary from grey or dark brown to cream and can change colour depending on where they are. He also has a flecking of emerald marks on his back, which I didn't see with my eye but noticed at once in the photograph.

The next photograph was taken yesterday. It was a very hot day so I don't understand why he was where he was. He was on our deck and was almost squashed underfoot by our comings and goings. He blends in so beautifully with the grey of the decking and was very difficult to see.

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He was hunched up tight, presumably to keep all moisture in.

Again I checked the marbling and colouring in the thighs, armpits and groin area and decided that this one is Litoria tyleri.
Maybe I'm right, maybe not but I learnt quite a lot about what you can see when you really look very, very closely.

He looks very undignified in this position but be assured that he was quickly given his freedom, tucked inside a nearby bush.

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12 January 2007

Bronze Orange Bug

Isn't it interesting how a seemingly simple thing can lead you on to another, and another, so that before you know it life shapes you and takes you in another direction entirely? And usually that's great fun.

These pictures show my latest interest. A new camera has had a role in this as my husband, seeing my interest in tiny things in the garden; flowers, buds, butterflies, bugs and so on, bought me a 12x times zoom digital camera, and it is fantastic.

On the right is a photo of some tiny green eggs on an orange tree leaf. The reason I found these was all to do with a pink moth on the window sill ages ago (see entry October, 06 on this blog) and determined to find out what is was. That beautiful pink moth led me down a path I didn't expect. To find out its name I did some unsuccessful internet searches which in turn led me to a man who has created a site with information on butterflies and moths of Australia. It is so impressive. You should all go and have a look. I have a link on the moth page (October 06).

He told me the moth’s name and then asked for my help and so I am now collaborating with him on a web site, which he had already begun, on the flowering plants of Australia.
Link to site

So how does that get me to the eggs?

Well I started taking more notice of insects and caterpillars in the garden. I already had a good working knowledge of birds, reptiles, frogs and plants. All gained just from taking notice and researching books initially, and now much more the internet.

I noticed large smelly bugs covering my Orange tree. Many of them were mating so I took some photos and then researched. They were members of the Shield bug family or stink bugs to some people. I had to dispose of them before they ruined my crop of tiny oranges just forming and whilst doing that I noticed the little eggs. I figured there was a good chance they were the eggs of the mating bugs so I picked the leaf, brought them inside and researched again.

It took just a few days for the eggs to hatch into these tiny little green bugs in photo 2. They are only a millimetre in size, so tiny. Just hatched they immediately headed off in different directions and began to move their even tinier little wings, drying them out maybe.

I would never have witnessed this fascinating event without the pink moth in the first place.
So one simple thing leads to another.

I love the cranky face on the back of the adult bug.

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Link to information on bug

8 January 2007

Blog Problems

I haven't been able to blog for ages because the people who run this site have decided we need a new better, fancier more powerful way of posting pictures etc. The only trouble is that we haven't been able to do any of that for weeks now.

I always wonder why people want to fix things which aren't broken. I liked it the way it was - it was comfortable, like worn in flannel pyjamas.

I've known for a while now that I don't feel comfortable with change. It took me years to figure it out but basically everything boils down to that - I don't like change. I sometimes wonder if I was born yonks ago, when life was harder, whether I would have survived. I probably would have plodded along going to the same hunting grounds year after year, the same waterholes, wearing the same clothes, eating what my ancestors ate. I would not have been the one who pioneered new ways of doing things, tried new food, visited new areas. No.

I don't know how or why this trait has survived in humans but survive it has in me.

So Blogger people, I liked it as it was - at least I had success then.

Hibiscus Pink

This particular plant was given to me ages ago as a cutting and it as bravely soldiered
on in terrible soil. The plant is sparsely leafed, not at all thick and happy looking,
but at least it has flowers - and they are pink!
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