Nice to see the Glossy Black Cockatoos passing through again. These are vulnerable birds with a very restricted diet of casuarina seeds. We were fortunate to see them a few days ago, a pair with 2 young ones probably from this season. Glossy Black's are much smaller than the more common Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo. Males have the distinctive red tail, while the females have yellow face and neck patches. Another species that require the rare big tree hollow to breed.
Noises in the roof early morning make people nervous. Rats are the first thought, but here at Wallaby Gully the roof cavity is too small for rats. For the past 20 years a family of Feather-tailed Gliders have lived with us.
They leave after sundown to scour the forest for nectar, flowers and insects. They come home just before dawn and land on the roof to scurry back to their hiding place. We must be up to a few generations by now after all these years.
They are tiny - the photo shows fully grown animals. This pic is courtesy of Australian Geographic.
After 20 years I have not been able to get a photo but one did land on my pillow one night!
Last year we added entwined sticks above a couple of bird baths. They have proven very popular with the finches. This type of bird prefer to grasp a small branch rather than the smooth side of a bird bath and probably feel more secure having a good leg hold when drinking.
In the midst of a heatwave - yesterday was 45C. The first time we have seen a Scarlet Honeyeater this year. Normally they show up when the ironbarks are flowering around November but on a severely hot day you never know what will arrive at the bird bath.
A new visitor to the bird bath. A White-throated Treecreeper. His huge claws allow him to live in a vertical world, flying from tree to tree. When he comes down for water he reverses down the trunk and leans over to drink then scampers back up.
First day out for the young wrens. They came out this morning from a Lomandra bush (the perfect cover for a wrens nest). We've been watching the parents over the last few weeks on their endless quest for food to give to their 3 chicks. The parents are now very skinny - a constant juggling act to keep the chicks fed and enough for themselves. It's getting harder to find wrens in cities and suburbs due to cats and dogs but more importantly the disconnect from large bushland areas.
If any of these chicks are male they may one day end up with a shiny blue coat like their dad.
Spring at Wallaby Gully means lots of native flowers. Some plants, like this pea bush, attract many types of native bee including the Peacock Carpenter Bee (top). Larger than a European honey bee, it's a bright metallic green/blue.
The name suggests bee-eaters eat bees but I've never seen that.
These brightly coloured Rainbow Bee-eaters arrive at the dam every afternoon around 5 to drink on the wing and eat ants from the ground.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 sq.km 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.
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.