If crows are a bad omen, then my life must be terrible! Having done a fair bit of driving through various parts of Australia in quite a few different states, one major thing in common is that crows are everywhere. Supposedly they can be an omen for bad luck, good luck, health, wealth, magic, change and death. Death is the one that makes the most sense, since whenever you see roadkill in Australia (which can be frequent when driving on more remote highways) you will always see crows crowding around the carcass sharing in a meal. It is a bit eerie to know that an animal relishes in death for its survival, but it is also nice knowing that since death must occur, it is great that it feeds into new life.
Flower Friday – Tasmanian Waratah
I don’t think many of us from mainland Australia would know that Tassie has its very own type of Waratah. The waratah is a very special flower to those of us from the state of New South Wales, as it is our state emblem. The Tasmanian variety is called Telopea truncata (seen in the photo above), which has different flowers to Telopea speciosissima that we are used to seeing. Through pure chance, this photo also includes a damselfly which might be one of three different types (apparently commonly mistaken) called Austrolestes annulosus (the blue ringtail), Coenagrion lyelli, or Caliagrion billinghursti. After looking through many photos of them on Google, I am most definitely not taking the chance at picking which one! Sometimes we are better off not knowing and just enjoying, have a great weekend everyone!
For other posts about Tasmania, click here.
Since Tasmania has gotten such a great reception on my website, I thought I would continue this week with some more photos from the same area. This small pond that I came across on a walk, was clearly the perfect meeting place for numerous wildlife and insects. Looking into the water you could see millions of tadpoles at various stages of metamorphosis, even some having both legs and a tail, almost ready to fully transition into a frog. The grassy bushes were filled with damselflies chasing each other, interlocking, and forming their heart-shaped mating pose. Snaking through the shrubs are the favorite trails of the wombats who live here, the plants trodden down by the weight of these stocky creatures. A few times I was lucky enough to see them out for their late afternoon dinner, and they were quite happy to pose for some photos (see wombats here).
For other posts on Tasmania, please click here.
Flower Friday – Aussie Gumnuts
Dried gumnuts are commonly used as ornamental decorations in Australia, as they come in a huge variety of different shapes and sizes. They were made famous when Australian writer and illustrator May Gibbs (who was born in England) wrote about two adorable gumnut babies, Snugglepot and Cuddlepie as the main characters of her books. The eucalyptus trees which produce these gumnuts inhabit forests which are incredibly flammable. They constantly drop dry leaves and peeled bark onto the floor around them, and together with the eucalyptus oil within, can quickly turn a small fire into a fast moving and raging inferno. Every summer Australia battles bushfires to some degree, but however devastating these fires are for the animals and people living in those areas, the trees are actually adapted to be the most successful survivors. The release of seeds from the gumnuts are triggered by fire, and they fall onto the nutrient-rich ash covered ground, free from competing plants and damaging insects. They will quickly repopulate the forests, and continue to be the dominating species of the Aussie bush. Happy weekend everyone!
Click here to see my other post on Eucalyptus Flowers.
A Cheeky Pair
I had forgotten what it was like in Australia waking up to such distinctive bird calls. Those which I had listened to my entire childhood, but only recently paid attention to. The earliest birds are the kookaburras (click here for post) with their loud and projecting laughs, mocking the sun as it rises. They wake the cockatoos, who show their distain with long and piercing screeches. Next are the large flocks of rainbow lorikeets (in the photo) which can be heard having territorial squabbles across the trees with their sharp and angry chirps. They are one of Australia’s most colorful birds, and like other parrots, they know how to be noisy! They mostly travel in pairs, and once paired will be monogamous for life. When feeding in a flock, the male will threateningly hop around his partner while she feeds to make sure no other birds interrupt her meal. They eat fruit, pollen and nectar, mostly from native Australian trees and shrubs such as the eucalyptus, and the bottle brush (Callistemon) seen in this photo. It’s hard to be angry about being woken up early when the birds are as pretty as these ones!
Flower Friday – Eucalyptus
For those of you wondering why my blog has been quiet lately, I have been on vacation to my home country of Australia. So on my return, I thought it fitting to share with you some photos I took along the way. Todays flower is from the eucalyptus tree. There are many varieties of these beautiful trees and shrubs and most are native to Australia. They play a vital role in Australia’s natural environment and are found abundantly throughout the country, the only major environment they do not inhabit is Australia’s rainforests. Interestingly they release biochemicals which can influence the growth, reproduction and survival of other organisms, and thus inhibit other plant species growing nearby (this is called allelopathy). Planting these trees and shrubs in your yard are a great way to encourage Australian wildlife to visit your garden, as they attract and support a multitude of Australian wildlife. The most well known eucalyptus eater is the koala, but they also attract cockatoos, rainbow lorikeets and other parrots, gliders and possums. The flowers alone are beautiful to photograph, and even once they fall off, the remaining gum nuts still make for interesting subjects (seen in the photo below). Happy weekend everyone, its a long one in the USA… enjoy!
Mum and Bub Pademelon
Sorry to inundate you with such cuteness on Monday morning, but this photo was too adorable to not to share. This pademelon youngster following its mother around is about 6-8 months of age. Interestingly, mum is likely to already have another joey in the pouch. The reproductive cycle is a bit complicated, but stick with me on this. When mum gives birth to a new born (after 3 weeks gestation) the little jelly bean climbs up her tummy and into the pouch where it lives for the next 6 months. As soon as the baby is born, mum is immediately receptive to mating again. If she does and the egg is fertilized, it is put into a state of suspended animation until the current joey exits the pouch. When the pouch is vacated, the blastocyst continues to develop and the newest baby is born. It then climbs into the pouch and attaches itself to a teat for milk. The youngster outside the pouch will still put its head into the pouch for milk (where it meets its younger sibling). Even more interesting is that mum is making newborn milk for the little joey, and from a separate teat, toddler milk for the older sibling, and has a blastocyst in suspended animation as a backup. Talk about a very efficient parenting strategy!
For my other post about pademelons click here.
Garden Orb Weaver
I thought it about time for another spider, also a very common species on the east coast of Australia. Don’t worry, just like the St Andrews Cross spider, this is also one of Australia’s friendly spiders which wont kill you. The garden orb weaver is a beautiful arachnid, easily identified by its signature plump belly. It spends the early evening making a magnificent web and spends the night sitting in the center, waiting for an unsuspecting winged insect to fly into this brilliantly formed trap. During the day, the spider will leave the web and tuck itself away in a rest spot, often a leaf very close to edge of the web. If you are walking around and get a face full of spider web, its usually from these guys, thankfully its most often without the spider on your face too!
In Tasmania, like many places around the world, springtime means a lot of youngsters are finally out roaming around. Pademelons are marsupials (they have a pouch) which are particularly abundant in Tasmania, Australia. Baby pademelons are born at any time throughout the year, though higher numbers are born at the start of winter and spend the first 6 months in the warmth and safety of mums pouch.
Hop To It
This gorgeous wallaby was photographed in Tasmania, Australia. Native to Australia, these beautiful animals are in the same family as Kangaroos but were informally designated as wallabies due to their generally smaller size. Interestingly, there are a number of feral populations of wallabies in various places around the world including Hawaii, England and France because these bouncy critters are great at escaping from the zoo!