Wednesday 28 February 2018

Wild Bird Wednesday 292 - Crested Pigeon

The Crested Pigeon (Ocyphaps lophotes) is a bird I see most days, as long as that day takes me near a sports oval.  In the past this bird was most commonly found in the more dry interior areas of Australia, but now it can be found in a number of urban areas - including Melbourne.  I assume that the short, dry grassland of many sports ovals in some way replicate the grassland and scrub areas of inland Australia.

These are a very active bird, rarely being still.  These birds were feeding near the edge of an oval close to my daughters hockey ground.  Once again, a car (or more accurately car door) worked as both a hide and a 'tripod'.

The Crested Pigeon is about the standard size for a pigeon, and when observed closely is rather good looking.

As ever, to join in with WBW just click on the blue button below the thumbnails - feel free to share a link to this page on the many and varied forms of social media that we now use every day!

Tuesday 27 February 2018

The Devil you know.

The Tasmanian Devil (Sarcophilus harrisii) is a carnivorous marsupial only found today in Tasmania.   I suspect that Taz the cartoon character of this animal, is a bit of a two edged sword for this species.  Yes, it makes it well known - but biologically the depiction of the Devil in the Looney Tunes cartoon series is rather way off the mark!

I've mentioned this before, but the Devil is under threat of extinction because of a facial cancer that is spread from Devil to Devil when they fight over food.  Populations of the Devil have fallen by 80% in many areas - and although this rapid decline is not continuing, a slow continued fall in population is now being seen.  Considerable effort are being made to find a cure for the cancer and to establish disease free 'refuge' colonies.  This may even involve (eventually) the establishment of semi-wild populations on the main land.

All of the animals shown here are captive, from a sanctuary near Cradle Mountain.  I have seen Devils in the wild, but that was in the dim and distant past - ie when we still used film!

One of the interesting things you can see here are the Devils red ears - they are supposed to get redder when the animal is agitated.  Well, if thats the case, they must get very red.

The animal reclining on its back is not dead - its resting!  But you can see the entrance to the pouch and two of the four nipples that the young Devils use to feed.  Adult Devils are about the size of a small dog - but that still makes them the world's largest living marsupial predator.  The best way to describe them is stocky!  When they are born the young Devils weigh in at about 20 grams - and they have upwards of 20 siblings.  Only four of these manage to attach to a nipple in the pouch - and they stay that way for about 100 days.  The young leave the pouch at about 105 days, and then stay in the den rather than the pouch for another three months.

All in all, they are not your average animal!

More pictures from around the world at Our World Tuesday.  SM

Saturday 24 February 2018

An advertisement:

Greetings - some of you may know that I run a second (and much neglected) 'wordy' blog as well as my photo-blog.

This is the opening section of a new post:

"There are times when all I remember of my dreams is the colour green.  Neither detail nor narrative survives my awakening, but a colour does.  And even that is not entirely true, for no single colour represents the green of my dreams.  I would not be able to stand in front of the walls of colour swatches, beloved by paint manufacturers and often raided by my daughter, and say, ‘That one.  That’s the green from my dreams’.  It’s not the livid lime green of Ash trees, spring fresh, growing on grey northern limestone.  It’s not the sheened English Racing Green of ivy, inch-by-inch destroying my fence, or smothering a building.  It’s not the smoky blue-green of Gum trees, fire prone and sweating oils in the summer sun.

The dream green feels calm, but not passive.  It’s alive and moving, but so far it’s never been frightening.  Other things do wake me in fright, spiders mainly or loud voices in darkened rooms; but not colours.  The green is neither a distinct memory nor an unspoken wish, but it feels like both.  I think it’s leaflight rather than sunlight.  I think it’s the reflected light of a million woodland walks. Or long summer afternoons, doing nothing in fields busy with crickets.  It’s the ghost of dampened moss, clinging in mist to the dwarf forests, high on Mt. Gower. It might even come from kelp, thrown on to the beach by wind and waves, adding a flavour of brown to the green, and bringing with it a hint of uncertainty."

If you have the time and inclination, I'd love you to pop over and read the rest:  You can click on the "My Other Blog" tab at the top of the page.  Or you can just click here.  Cheers, SM

Wednesday 21 February 2018

Wild Bird Wednesday 291 - Summer Lapwings.

One thing I am trying to do this year photographically is to take more pictures that are not just portraits of birds.

When I was in Devonport, on the north coast of Tasmania, it was a hot day and the everything looked dry and crispy.  As I was looking for a place to stop, I saw this Masked Lapwing (Vanellus miles) in a dry paddock.  The whole scene seemed to present itself as a picture of a hot, dry Australian summer.

As ever, to join in with WBW just click on the blue button below the thumbnails - feel free to share a link to this page on the many and varied forms of social media that we now use every day!

Tuesday 20 February 2018

Around Dove Lake

Dove Lake is a rather special place.  It's a corrie lake that sits below Cradle Mountain in Tasmania.  Corrie lakes - also called known as cwms (pronounced 'cooms') or cirques - are glacial lakes and that triplet of names seems to be beloved of geography teachers.

There is a very popular walk around Dove Lake - its the kind of walk that puts you in the mountains rather then up them.  Having said that, the parts of the walk furthest from the car par were hardly busy.

We were there on what may have been once in a year weather - perfect blue sky and clear light.  To be honest, a part of me wanted just a little cloud to bring some interest to the sky.

The twin peaks of the mountain are called Little Horn and Weindorfers Tower.  The actual summit of Cradle Mountain is behind the highest of these points.  With luck I'll be standing on the summit of Cradle Mountain at the start of December this year.

I think you can see why this place is famous.

It was a remarkable walk in a remarkable place.

More pictures from around the world at Our World Tuesday.  SM

Tuesday 13 February 2018

Wild Bird Wednesday 290 - Black Currawong

The Black Currawong (Strepera fuliginosa) is another species that is endemic to Tasmania.  On first glance you would think that these birds are a form of crow - but in reality they are more closely related to butcher-birds and the Australian Magpie.  It's a large an impressive bird, with a length of about 47cm.

Although it does not show up in these pictures, this individual either had a damaged (or very dirty) right eye.  However, (s)he seems to be doing OK.

These pictures were taken just outside the Cradle Mountain National Park in Tasmania.  This is classic summer, upland territory for this species.

As ever, to join in with WBW just click on the blue button below the thumbnails - feel free to share a link to this page on the many and varied forms of social media that we now use every day!

Only in Australia (and and a small part of New Guinea)

The Short-beaked echidna (Tachyglossus aculeatus), generally just called the echidna by most people, can be found over all of Australia and small parts of New Guinea.  Some people from outside of the the Australian region may have been introduced to this animal as a Spiny Anteater.  However, this animal is not closely related to true anteaters, and it has an unusual biology.

The Short-beaked echidna is a type of mammal known as a monotreme - an egg laying mammal.  Probably the most famous other monotreme is the Platypus.  So, the echidna lays eggs which after ten days in a pouch hatches and starts to feed on milk produced by the female.  This gives rise to the joke that monotremes can make their own custard, as they produce both milk and eggs!

We saw a good number of these remarkable creatures in Tasmania, most often just feeding on roadside verges.  This individual seemed to be very settled as we drove past, so we went back for a better look.

You can see the face of the animal here, with its long nose that is used to find and eat ants.  You can also see its classic defence posture - ie dug into the ground with its spines bristling!

What a great animal.

More pictures from around the world at Our World Tuesday.  SM

Wednesday 7 February 2018

Wild Bird Wednesday 289 - Pied Oystercatcher

The beaches near our accommodation in Freycinet were perfect for Pied Oystercatchers (Haematopus longirostris) with a mix of sandy beaches - which are the classic habitat for this species - and rocky platforms, which rich beds of muscles and such like exposed at high tide.

I spent a while with this pair of birds, and while they were a bit flighty on the sand they seemed to settled down on a rock platform.  At that point they seemed to start ignoring me.

One of the things I have found is that birds often seem more calm if there is a stretch of water between you and them - and this was certainly the case here.  It would be reasonable to say I took a lot of pictures of these birds, so it would not surprise me if some more from this little session show up on WBW at some time.

I rather like the first image, as it does not look like most of the other oystercatcher shots I have ever taken.

As ever, to join in with WBW just click on the blue button below the thumbnails - feel free to share a link to this page on the many and varied forms of social media that we now use every day!