Mimicry of the Pied Butcherbird

Many Australians may be familiar with the little black and white pied butcherbirds that frequent parks and backyards and their beautiful bird song they have, but something I discovered recently was that they are mimics, and rather good ones at that!

Pied Butcherbird

One of my regular pied butcherbirds was visiting on the veranda and I was inside the house listening to it singing away merrily and then I thought I could hear other bird calls in amongst its tunes. Being curious, I grabbed my camera and went out onto the veranda and waited. After a bit, the bird started singing again and then I heard it sing a currawong call! I started filming and was blown away by all the different bird calls this pied butcherbird sang, it was amazing!

This little birdie sang for quite a long time, so I have just taken the last 2 minutes of the recording which shows the variety of bird calls it was imitating.  Have a listen for yourself:

No one believed me until I showed them my video. I have been visited by this bird a few times now on rainy days, and it is such a treat to listen to all its tunes. Maybe it gets bored and wants to entertain me! 😀

Green Jumping Spider

I came across this spider on some outdoor furniture recently. As you can see, it blends in really well with the green chair.

Female green jumping spider

It’s a green jumping spider and is one of Australia’s largest jumping spiders. They are common in Queensland and sometimes found in certain other parts of Australia.

Back view of a female green jumping spider

This spider is only a centimetre in size. The males of this species are quite dramatic in colour and feature a dark top knot on their heads. The females instead have a red and white mask, as you can see in my photos.

She looks like she’s going to whip me with that stringy bit of shredded plastic

When I first happened upon this little lady, she was quickly scampering away from me so I tried to get a few photos so I could identify it later. But then the spider turned around and started following my camera lens and coming up quite close allowing me some nice shots.

Pre launch

Then all of a sudden, as I was lining up a close up shot, the spider launched itself at the camera lens making me scream in fright (sorry neighbours). I guess she had had enough of a photo shoot for one day. 😕

 

Wildlife Visitors in July 2017

The month of July was actually the warmest July in Australia on record – no wonder it didn’t feel like mid winter! Here in Queensland, there was only a day or so of rain and the rest were sunny with clear blue skies. On the weekends I was out and about in short sleeves, often in temperatures of 25 degrees Celsius. Looks like spring will be coming early and we may be in for a long hot summer. The wildlife must be feeling the change in the air too. I’ve already seen a magpie flying over with a stick in its beak heading off to make a nest, and also a kookaburra preparing a termite mound for their nest, same place as last year.

So here are photos of some of the wildlife visitors to my place during July.

This Crested Pigeon was busy eating some little seeds that had fallen from the nightshade tree. You can find out more about this bird here.

Crested Pigeon

This Yellow Faced Whip Snake was sighted almost in the same place as the last one I saw some time ago, likely the same snake. You can see more of this snake here.

Yellow Faced Whip Snake

This Ichneumon Wasp is only 1cm big, I’ve seen a few of these around now.

Black And White Striped Ichneumon Wasp

This spider is a Plebs eburnus or Eastern Grass Orb Weaver and is barely 1cm in size and is endemic to Australia. They have a web that shows the time, 5 minutes to 5!

Eastern Grass Orb Weaver

A healthy looking male of the pair of Pied Currawongs that live around my house. You can see more of these birds here.

Pied Currawong

One of the family of four Pied Butcherbirds that often visit.

Pied Butcherbird

I rescued this Monarch Butterfly from a spider web.

Monarch Butterfly

Some Rainbow Lorikeets having a feed. You can see more photos of these birds when they sheltered on my veranda during a rainy day here.

Rainbow Lorikeets

An adult and juvenile Kookaburra.

Kookaburras

I was taking photos of these pretty sweat peas one afternoon then later realised I captured an aphid on one!

Aphid on a sweet pea flower

A commotion one afternoon drew my attention to the return of a Pacific Baza. Here he is in the middle of eating something he caught. You can find out more about these birds here.

Pacific Baza

A Hoverfly can be hard to get a good photo of, but it stayed still for this portrait.

Hoverfly

Here’s something I’ve never seen before – a Sunskink, possibly a dark flecked sunskink. It’s only about 10cm long. Sorry for the quality of the photo, it was on zoom so I didn’t scare it away.

Sunskink

I busted this Brushtail Possum cleaning up the leftovers of the lorikeet food in the bird feeder.

Brushtail possum

This is a Common Crow Butterfly. They are slow flyers and this one stayed still long enough for me to get some nice shots. Read more about this butterfly here.

Common Crow Butterfly

And lastly, I spotted this Eastern Rosella checking out one of our glider nest boxes for a possible nest, but the entrance hole is far too small for them so they’ll have to keep on looking.

Eastern Rosella

Thanks for visiting and reading about my backyard wildlife visitors. 🙂

This is my participation in a monthly event called Wildlife Wednesdays hosted by Tina of My Gardner Says… You can see the wildlife visitors of other participants here.

 

Water Jewelled Webs

With the change to the cooler months now and the addition of the early morning dew, I have been noticing quite a lot of these little spider webs amongst the grass, only 1 or 2 inches big. Perhaps you’ve seen them at your place?

On closer inspection, these spider webs with water droplets appear as beautiful intricate patterns. Each one is as unique as the next.

Getting even closer, the water bubbles look suspended in mid air.

So what is the mysterious creature that designs these miracles of wonder? It’s this little guy –

Do you see him? He’s right in the centre of the photo with 3 of his legs on the blade of grass.

It’s a Venonia micarioides, a white tailed wolf spider, one of many types of wolf spiders found in Australia. This particular one is only 4mm in length, and these spiders carry their young on their back and hunt for food on the ground. Now that would be a sight to see!

 

 

Wildlife Visitors in May 2017

brushtail possum eating banana

May was the final month of autumn here in Australia, and it was great to see the regular wildlife visitors out and about. I was also happy to see a rare visitor to our place and we also had a surprise visitor!

Below is a Golden Orb Weaver spider with a massive web that I came across in the yard. The spider is about 10cm in total length (including the legs). Look closely, and you’ll see another much smaller spider just above the big spider. That little one is the male!

golden orb weaver male and female

This Monarch Butterfly was fluttering around the yard at the end of the month. I thought it was unusual to see one at this time of year, but apparently where I live these butterflies are still around because it’s warmer along the coastline.

monarch butterfly

Below is a short video of a Juvenile Grey Butcherbird who has nearly got his adult colours. I watched it sitting on the tree branch watching for bugs after my husband mowed the grass.

Plenty of Brushtail Possum visitors during May as well, and there has been lots of running (or chasing!) up and down our veranda as well as on the roof at night! Here’s a photo of a female possum who looks ecstatic at getting a bit of banana! 🙂

brushtail possum eating banana

My rare visitor during May was the Yellow Tailed Black Cockatoo. These are huge birds, about 60cm (24 inches) in length and very majestic to watch. I had 2 sightings of them during the month which is amazing because I’ve only ever seen them a couple of times in the 12 years I’ve been living here. The first visit caught me by surprise, as I was on the veranda and suddenly there were two of them casually flying past my house! I only had my mobile phone on me at the time so snapped this photo.  They were actually a lot closer than they look in the picture.

flying yellow tailed black cockatoos

On the second occasion, I heard the distinctive loud call of one of these cockatoos and raced outside with my camera. One had landed in the gum tree out the back. The photo below is not good quality because it was cropped and enlarged, but it gives you an idea of the lovely yellow colouring on these birds.

yellowtailed black cockatoo

I managed to get a quick video of it before it took off, calling as it went. Sorry if the video is a little dark, it was overcast that morning, but as well as hearing its call, you can see how beautiful this bird is with the lovely black feathers, yellow patch on the cheek and the yellow under the tail. Magnificent!

And finally, here is my surprise visitor (no kidding! 🙂 ).

goat

I’m guessing someone got themselves a goat and it escaped. I thought I could catch it and enquire with the neighbours, but it wouldn’t let me get anywhere near it and toddled off to another neighbour’s place. I haven’t seen it since so I hope it made it home okay.

Hope you enjoyed seeing some of my wildlife visitors. 🙂

This is my participation in a monthly event called Wildlife Wednesdays hosted by Tina of My Gardner Says… You can see the wildlife visitors of other participants here.

Myrtle Tree Microcosm

 

A few years ago I had a go at growing native trees from seeds, and I managed to grow a crepe myrtle tree. When it grew big enough, I planted it in what I hoped would be the perfect spot and crossed my fingers that it survived. Now it’s about 1.5 metres tall and in all its splendour. This tree is appropriately named as the pretty pink petals definitely look like crepe paper.

I went to take a few photos of my success in gardening and while I was there I discovered a whole little world going on just on that one small tree.

I was very happy to see at least half a dozen native stingless bees visiting the flowers. They were all loaded with pollen like this little guy.

Unfortunately, these little busy bees also risked becoming food for the resident spiders on the tree. This is a small St Andrews Cross spider who caught a bee and promptly wrapped him up for later as I watched on.

And this lynx spider also caught a bee for his next meal.

I saw this black flying insect hovering around the flowers. The photo isn’t really clear unfortunately, but I don’t know what it could be.

I found this cicada husk hidden under a leaf.

And I saw this hoverfly flitting among the blooms.

This cute looking insect is a type of weevil.

I even spotted this strange looking insect but it flew off pretty quickly so I only have this one photo which is not enough to try and identify it.

I also discovered two interesting looking brownish caterpillars, munching away on the leaves and flowers from within their cocoons.

I went back a few days later and the caterpillars had tucked themselves up into their cocoons.

I don’t know what they are, so I will keep checking the tree to see if I spot them emerge.

Amazing what you see in your own backyard!

 

Wildlife Visitors in November

This is my participation in a monthly event called Wildlife Wednesdays hosted by Tina of My Gardner Says …

November was the last month of spring here in Australia, and it clearly showed in the wildlife I saw out and about on our property. There was the surprise return of an old visitor, a family of new visitors, and finally the appearance of baby birds!

We were happy to see the return of this old fellow – an eastern water dragon. I don’t know much about these reptiles, I don’t even know if it’s a he or a she, but we think he’s been hiding out somewhere all winter and has reappeared since the weather has warmed up so much already.

eastern water dragon
eastern water dragon

The caper white butterfly migration that had been fascinating everyone recently is now over and this is the last photo I managed to get.

caper white butterfly
caper white butterfly

I also saw this Australian painted lady butterfly, but it was difficult to get a decent picture as she would never stay still.

australian painted lady butterfly
australian painted lady butterfly

I’m not a big fan of arachnids, but I couldn’t help but marvel at the spectacular web of this female golden orb weaver.

golden orb weaver
golden orb weaver

And for only the second time in my life, I managed to capture a photo of a dragonfly!

dragonfly
dragonfly

The nocturnal activities of the local possums seems to have died down for now, and I didn’t get a chance to get any photos of a night, but I did capture this lovable mum and joey chilling out in one of our possum boxes.

mother brushtail possum and joey in a possum box
mother brushtail possum and joey in a possum box

There was another visit from a galah, who was just checking out the scene and had a drink from our old birdbath.

galah
galah

Still plenty of rainbow lorikeets around, as you can see by this late afternoon photo of the gum tree in front of our house.

rainbow lorikeets
rainbow lorikeets

I also got this picture of one of two baby lorikeets amongst the crowd.

baby rainbow lorikeet
baby rainbow lorikeet

The rainbow loris continued their daily antics to entertain us. Here’s a video of a couple of them playing and hanging upside down on a piece of rope that is attached to the top of a gum tree in front of our house. It’s been there ever since we bought the place, no idea how it got up there it’s so high, or what the purpose of it was, but the birds seem to have a ball with it.

I was lucky to spot several of the gorgeous little scaly breasted lorikeets one day. I counted 5 of them, I’ve never seen so many here before. Here are three of them, not sure what had caught their attention, but they were amusing to watch before they flew off.

scaly breasted lorikeets
scaly breasted lorikeets
scaly breasted lorikeets
scaly breasted lorikeets

Brand new visitors to our place is a family of grey butcherbirds. We have been here almost 12 years now and never seen these birds before. The grey butcherbirds look similar to our regular pied butcherbirds, just lighter in colour, and have a different song, so it took a second glance to realise these were not our usual visitors. And there wasn’t just one, there was a whole family!

grey butcherbird
grey butcherbird
two baby grey butcherbirds with a parent in the background
two baby grey butcherbirds with a parent in the background

In the photo above, the 2 birds in the front are the juveniles, not long out of the nest and still being fed by the parents. You can just make out a parent behind them on another branch.

The pied currawongs have had 2 babies again this year. The magpies have significantly let up their dive bombing tactics and the currawongs can get closer to our house again, but the babies are still sitting in trees out of the magpies reach. Here is a photo of the 2 young ones.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
two baby pied currawongs not long out of the nest

 

Last month I mentioned the appearance of birds of prey causing a stir amongst the magpies, well, I saw them again, several times. On one day, I saw 3 birds of prey, circling right over our house (2 at once!). And another time I saw both magpies madly chasing a brown hawk of some description right over our roof. Wow, those birds can fly! On another day, I heard the urgent cries of the magpies again, so I grabbed my camera and dashed outside, and sure enough, there was a bird of prey circling high above. I managed to get one reasonable photo of it before it went away. It’s really hard to use a zoom and find a speck in the sky! I’m not sure what bird this is, some kind of kite or hawk I’m thinking, depending on the angle of light, it looked brown or white/grey.

a bird of prey
a bird of prey

And this is Igor, our resident male magpie, following me as I’m out and about taking pictures, and finding some food to take back to their nest.

male magpie collecting food for his young
male magpie collecting food for his young

And finally, we see the two baby magpies, just out of the nest and still being fed by their parents. I was lucky to get this shot because the parents had been keeping the babies separated in different trees.

two baby magpies
two baby magpies

Some more good news is that the pair of kookaburras we have been seeing regularly over the last few months have a nest close by and we have watched them taking food to feed babies. Unfortunately due to the location and angle of the nest, I can’t see it very well, and we’re not going to go anywhere near it, so we will just have to wait a bit longer for the babies to grow up and then I’m sure we’ll be seeing more of them  once they’ve left the nest.

I hope you enjoyed seeing my photos of wildlife in my backyard. 🙂

 

 

 

My Entries In TNC Australia Photo Competition

The Nature Conservancy Australia is currently holding a photography competition and I’ve entered a few of my photos in the wildlife category.

There are a number of different categories for the photos and a panel of judges made up of Australian photographers will decide on the winners of each category as well as an overall winner, plus there are People’s Choice Awards too.

Below are the photos I’ve entered. You can vote for any or all of them for the People’s Choice Awards. It’s quick and easy to do and requires no registration or sign up to vote. Simply click on the heading for each photo and a new window will open and take you to that photo’s page in the competition database to see the full picture and then you can click on the heart in the bottom right hand corner to vote. Voting ends on 4th November. (And if you do happen to vote, thank you in advance!)

Monarch Butterfly – “Sitting Pretty”

Kookaburra – “Bad Hair Day”

Eastern Water Dragon – “What’s Going On Over There?”

Golden Orb Weaver – “Just Hangin'”

Golden Orb Weaver – “Saving It For Later”

(That last photo is supposed to be a portrait orientation but it uploaded as landscape for some reason and I can’t see a way to change it on their website. Oh well!)

This is my first ever photography competition I’ve entered, and even though there are thousands of entries from around the country, it’s still exciting to be a part of it whether or not I win.

This is a fantastic competition open to residents of Australia and has great prizes too. It’s not too late to enter some of your own photos! Just make sure you read the terms and conditions on the website and don’t forget to read the tips from the judges. Good luck!