Friday, May 20, 2016

The new outdoor trail cameras use infra-red photography so as not to scare the wildlife. I have it set in an area where I reckon a Bandicoot is foraging (small, conical shaped diggings). Last night I captured a Swamp Wallaby. We can now identify this one due to the piece missing from his left ear.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Untidy Gang Gangs

Noisy Friarbird - might look a little more handsome with a feathered head

Autumn is usually the time for all the nectar eating birds to leave the gully but this year they have stayed on . The Spotted Gums are flowering again. It's been four years since the last bloom time.
A cacophany of Noisy Friarbirds and other honeyeaters dominate the day while the night shift is full of screaming and arguing fruit bats and gliders.

The Friarbirds are intolerant of the larger Gang Gang Cockatoos. Maybe it's because of the cockatoos feeding habits. They snip off a whole flowering branchlet, eat a few buds and drop the rest. Very different feeding method from honeyeaters which use their delicate tongue to gain nectar and leave everything in place. The whole tree ends up tip pruned by the Cockatoos.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

A warmer than usual autumn and lots of flowers and seed make the birds go on breeding. The Double-barred Finches have successfully raised another family, the second for the season.
The nest is just outside the bathroom so I could get a tele shot through the window of a parent heading for the nest.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

The local Satin Bowerbird and I are having fun. If I place items near or within a few metres of the bower he throws them out. So I am leaving blue things 50m. away and he takes them within a few hours.

The first offering was a star cut from an old plastic plant pot. He arranged it near his favourite peg.

Offering number two was made in his own image. He picked it up quickly and added it to a new section of the bower near the star.

These selected items seem to be in a "special " section away from the ordinary stuff.

Friday, January 16, 2015

It's reptile heaven at the gully. Ali swims in the dam with the Red-bellied black snake, which I am told by the authorities could be safer than swimming at a Newcastle beach with the white pointers. Meanwhile I spied this pole dancing Jacky Lizard through the bathroom window.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Every afternoon around 4pm the Rainbow Bee-eaters descend to eat insects on an area of exposed soil behind the tiny house.
They are a difficult bird to get close to but are well worth watching through binoculars due to their spectacular colours.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Pest control in a plant nursery is important but when this happens I just marvel at the beauty and walk away.

Saturday, October 4, 2014



                                    First hot day of the season at the birdbath

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

We live on a wildlife corridor joining large areas of forest to the south and north. The birds are at a peak now and breeding, especially the honeyeaters. This young Yellow-Tufted Honeyeater is having a little rest after hitting a window at warp speed. He flew off to join the others soon after the photo was taken. If you would like to see more small birds in your garden in the Ellalong area you can start planting more native shrubs to attract these little guys. The corridor needs all the help it can get. Small birds have disappeared from the cities - these corridors are the last stronghold for them.

Monday, July 21, 2014



A rare sighting this morning while having breakfast. Species number 115 for Wallaby Gully...a Bassian Thrush. Very well camouflaged, it runs in short bursts and then remains very still for a few seconds which provides an excellent opportunity for a photo. The books say that these birds require lots of leaf litter for foraging. Leaf litter although a fire hazard is extremely important for much of our fauna as it contains a huge amount of insect life.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

                                The Yabby King at work                      Cherax destructor

The dam was built 20 years ago and has been through many changes, including the increase in the yabby population. Many years ago, they moved from the small waterhole in our creek line and established a big presence in the dam. Since then the frogs have largely disappeared so I am assuming that they eat frogs eggs. The dam wall has become peppered with holes as they build their tunnels. A friend - who is now known as "Magic Laurie" or "The Yabby King"- lived here in May whilst we were away and diligently set the yabby trap daily to try to decrease the population.
His total at the end of the month was 275! I am still catching around 5 per day but they are getting smaller. They are either being released in local creeks or other farm dams. We are hoping that the frogs may make a comeback if we keep at it.

Friday, March 28, 2014

   A friend at the kitchen window watching me do the breakfast dishes this morning.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

A good season - April 2006

A dangerous season - Nov. 2002

Living in the bush is not for the faint-hearted. Numerous obstacles are always present... fire, big trees, things that might eat your house, things that might kill you, things that may force you to consider living a "safer" life in the city or suburbs. You can always clear the block and make it like suburbia but if you do that maybe you should live in suburbia.  Many people do "clear the block"... the first things to go are the prickly native bushes. We burnt an area about 4 years ago and the prickly native bushes are back many fold. They are an intrinsic part of the vegetation and support a huge number of invertebrates.
I will be detailing these obstacles during future posts so that you can have some idea of the difficulties involved in living here.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

During these humid, rainy days after the big dry of January, more dragonflies have been seen around the dam. This is one of the biggest - an Australian Emperor. Dragonflies have almost 360 degree vision and when living underwater in their larval stage they have "rectal gills" - meaning they breathe through their anus.

Monday, February 17, 2014


                                Potted tubers                                     Two-legged tuber      
                                                              Flower in spring 

What’s happening in the Grow Local nursery?  The new propagation  experiment for ground orchids is underway. All you can see at present is a number of pots with white tags, but under there are the dormant tubers waiting for autumn to sprout forth their new leaves. Native terrestrial orchids are topsy-turvy in their growing - being dormant in summer. I have to be careful to give them minimal water during this time. At a time when all other plants are at their maximum water usage, these little fella’s need very little. It’s hard to walk past without watering.
The trial is to increase the population of Diuris tricolor, a Donkey Orchid. This is classed as a vulnerable species and any new tubers will eventually go back in the ground near where they were collected or on nearby offsets.
Terrestrial orchids have a symbiotic relationship with micorrhyzal fungi, so I have to add a little original soil from the site to introduce the correct fungi to the potting mix.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Your eyes are not playing tricks - a pink birds nest. Found this in an Angophora just about to drop it's fruit. A small nest, probably a honeyeater of some sort. Love the intricate use of thin pieces of pink baling twine.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Insects are at their peak now that it's mid-summer. The Green Lacewing has delicate transparent wings - a beneficial insect in the vege garden due to their diet of aphids.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The micro - house on the tiny house.    I’ve been sleeping in the tiny house and enjoying the nocturnal sounds of the wildlife around the dam, except maybe for the microbats as they scramble up the fly-wire door looking for a new cave to roost in. So, I have found a website that has plans for a microbat house. The timber at the bottom has a landing pad with shade cloth, the bats then crawl through a narrow opening into the dark interior which also has shadecloth where they will roost during the day. These fast flying little critters can be seen skimming the dam just before dawn.
 Apparently they love eating mosquitoes...can’t be a bad thing.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Louise and Chris (left in centre) are in the process of having their beautiful piece of a valley protected under a Voluntary Conservation Agreement with National Parks. The Yengo area is south west of Wallaby Gully and joins with the huge 5000 Wollemi wilderness... an enviable lifestyle in the Australian bush.
 VCA's are an important part of adding to our national bio-diversity in perpetuity.

 A little further down the track is a view of  Mt Yengo (below). This basalt-capped mountain has great significance for the aboriginal people of the area.


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

One of my earliest posts on this site is of the Wedge-tailed Eagles nest on the mountain above (March 5, 2010). After many climbs on the mountain during the past 17 years I have finally found the nest active.  The white chick is quite young and will spend many weeks being reared by the parents. A rabbit carcase can be seen in the background.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

The first moth of the season.  Crimson Tiger Moth    Spilosoma curvata.

Friday, August 3, 2012

A sure sign that spring is near...a Spotted Pardalote excavates the centre of a hollow log on the ground not far from the bird bath.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

We are experiencing the biggest Spotted Gum flowering since we have lived here. This is a composite image of a tree and flowers. A cacophony of honeyeaters and parrots during the day and screeching fruit bats on the night shift. A few kilometres away a large group of Regent Honeyeaters have arrived for the feast.... one of the most endangered birds in the country.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

After two successive La Nina's and big rains the birds are jubilant! This Banksia is outside the bathroom window and is usually frequented by our resident Spinebill's (see post in April 2010). This is the first time a Black Cockatoo has visited to eat the seeds from the cones. I was able to get a clear head-shot with a telephoto lens from a few feet away without him seeing me.

Monday, March 5, 2012

...checked the book this time. "Harmless to Humans"
So, get in close and try for a good head shot, still difficult due to all the grass in the way. Only the second time I have seen one of these, a Red-Naped Snake. Quite small at 30cm almost fully grown.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Many species of small birds slowly start to leave the gully at this time, at the end of the breeding season. There are a few less than usual at the moment due to the hungry young Goshawks. A pair raised 2 or 3 chicks in the top of a big ironbark and they have been terrorizing the small birds for a few weeks. This one was at rest near the birdbath drooling at the wrens having their daily bath.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The reptile season continues although rather cool for this time of year. I dug up this Bandy-Bandy when planting a tree, played with him for a while to get him all worked up into this strike pose. I thought Mr Bandy-Bandy was non-venomous but when I checked the book...not so. Why did I not check the book first??

Thursday, October 13, 2011

It's the start of snake season and Ali did not want me any closer to this Red-bellied Black, I told her it was OK, I wasn't going to hurt him...

Friday, July 15, 2011

The range above us has one of the last populations of Brush-tail Rock Wallabies left in NSW. This old fellow has suffered a split ear at some stage in life. We have a favourite bit of the steep sandstone escarpment to sit and watch them before our descent back home.

Friday, June 3, 2011

The big "La Nina" event has finally gone from the country. We missed it at Wallaby Gully, having well below average rainfall since January this year. So, last week when La Nina left we had 130mm in three days which filled the dam for the first time in four years and our creek is still flowing!

Friday, April 29, 2011

A gum tree bud in a shell fossil on a lichen covered rock .... fills with water after an autumn shower.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

The Acacia Moth caterpillar is eating some of my wattles in the nursery. It's relatively small at about 30mm long and I am willing to sacrifice a wattle or two to watch this very ornate caterpillar grow. This is the rear end of the moth opening his "false eye" after I tickled his bum with a stick!

False eyes mislead predators.