Friday, 21 April 2017

Of Birds and Bugs

1.  A Plethora of Herons

This flock of White-faced herons (Egretta novaehollandiae) were feeding on small fish during low tide at the Tamar Wetlands near Launceston, Tasmania. There were eighteen in all.

(Click the play button to watch the video)

2. The First Crusader Bug

This is the first Crusader Bug (Mictis profana) that I've seen in Tasmaia. This is not surprising as they were not supposed to be here at all.  While quite common on the mainland, until recently,  it had not been found  here in Tasmania. 

Unfortunately this one flew off before I could get much footage and so the lighting on some of the shots is not the best.

You can read more about this bug being found in Tasmania in the following news article:
http://www.examiner.com.au/story/4470572/public-asked-for-help-tracking-crusaders/

(Click the play button to watch the video)
3. The Darkling Beetle

Way up in the far reaches of the backyard there is an old rotten tree stump which is home to a species of Darkling beetle. Of course there are many species of Darkling beetle but I believe these to be Meneristes australis. The larvae of these beetles are known as false wireworms. Now if you want to know the difference between a wireworm and a false wireworm then you will have to refer to old blog post of mine from 2008.
Here is the link:
http://tasnature.blogspot.com.au/2008/09/wireworms.html


(Click the play button to watch the video)



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Saturday, 8 April 2017

Tiny Frogs - Newly Emerged Southern Brown Tree Frogs (Litoria ewingi)

Last September I uploaded a video of Southern Brown Tree Frogs mating at my backyard pond.   By the end of February the tadpoles were fully developed and hundreds of tiny frogs were emerging from the pond. Many of them were sheltering between the rocks and pebbles at the edge of the pond. I took a shot with my finger in the video to show how small they are, Don't be confused  by the size of the little flies as they are only 2 or 3 mm in length. There are some photos at the end, one of which shows a full grown frog with two small ones for comparison.


(Click the play button to watch the video)


Here is the earlier video:

(Click the play button to watch the video)

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Saturday, 25 March 2017

Brown Field Slug (Deroceras panormitanum)


I'm fascinated by all aspects of natural history, even slugs. I can understand why this may end up being one of my less viewed videos :-)  One the other hand, some who have already watched the video were surprised to find it more fascinating, and beautiful, than they expected.

I'm pretty sure this is the Brown Field Slug (Deroceras panormitanum) Please feel free to correct me if you happen to be an an expert in malacology. This species is native to Southwest Europe and was first found in Australian in 1975. It reaches up to 30mm in length and is found in gardens, agricultural land, and also extends in to native bushland. These two were marooned on a rock as I was topping up my pond. (Don't worry, I moved the rock to higher ground.)


(Brown Field Slug - (Deroceras panormitanum) - Click the play button )



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Saturday, 18 March 2017

Common Brown Butterfly and a Syrphid Fly Laying Eggs in an Ants Nest


This beautiful little fly is Microdon amabilis, one of the Hover flies of the family Syrphidae.  It's very small, probably under 10mm. It can be seen ovipositing (egg laying) in and around an ants nest in the rotten timber of an old wooden bench in my backyard. The ants are Carpenter ants, Camponotus gasseri. The ants  seem a little uncomfortable about the flies presence. Not surprising given the larvae of  genus Microdon  will actually live within the ant nest feeding on the larvae and pupae of their ant hosts.

(Syrphid Fly Laying Eggs in Ants Nest (Microdon amabilis) - Click the play button )

Next up is the Common Brown butterfly,  Heteronympha merope. In Tasmania it is on the wing from late November through to March. The larvae feed on Kangaroo grass and other native grasses. The Tasmanian Common Browns are of the subspecies, salazar. Hopefully I will get better footage in the future but in the mean time I will add this to my Tasmanian butterfly playlist. Click here to see the playlist

( Common Brown Butterfly (Heteronympha merope salazar) - Click the play button )

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Saturday, 11 March 2017

Tiger Snake Rolling in the Grass (Notechis scutatus)


This is the Tiger Snake  (Notechis scutatus). I think it has just recently shed it's skin. You can still see of few small patches of old skin and the snake is writhing and rolling  about as if to try and remove the last pieces. Vikingtimbo, if you are watching, do you have any thoughts on that?  For the record, this snake was not filmed 'in the wild' but rather, in a large enclosure at a wildlife park at Bicheno. I've had them turn up in my backyard from time to time and even got some photos but I have not yet managed to get video of a wild tiger snake.

(  Tiger Snake  (Notechis scutatus) - Click the play button )



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Saturday, 4 March 2017

Common Garden Katydid (Caedicia simplex)


Just one short video this week. This is the Common Garden Katydid, Caedicia simplex.  As you can see it is well disguised as a leaf.  It feeds on the leaves and flowers of various plants. In this video it is feeding on Eucalyptus viminalis. This one was around 45mm in length although they can get up to 60mm.

( Katydid - Caedicia simplex - Click the play button )



Thank You!
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Saturday, 25 February 2017

Australian Pelicans and a Lizard Ambushing a Beetle

1. Australian Pelicans (Pelecanus conspicillatus)

The Australian Pelican  is found in Australia and New Guinea, They occasionally turn up as a vagrant in New Zealand and parts of Indonesia. They have the largest bill of any bird measuring from 40 cm - 50 cm. They have a wingspan of 2.3 m - 2.5 m. Their diet is primarily fish. In Tasmania they do not occur in large numbers as they do on the mainland. These ones were filmed at Scamander and St Helens on the east coast of Tasmania.

( Astralian Pelican  - Click the play button)

2.  Lizard Ambushes Beetle -White's Skink (Egernia whitii) - 
    
 The White's Skink (Egernia whitii) is generally an ambush hunter. The one in this video is quite a young and small lizard. As I was watching, it made several attempts to catch passing prey. It lunged at a large fly which got away. It leapt upwards at a passing bee. A piece of fluffy material blown by the wind was caught, but the lizard soon realised it was not food. (you can see this fluffy object in the video) Next a beetle (a weevil) came by and this time I had the camera set up. The beetle seems to have had a previous injury. I have no idea what the story is. It looked to me like it had been in a spiders web at some point. The skink soon noticed the passing beetle and you can see it creep out from it's tunnel and then charge at the beetle, bowling it over. It gets quite graphic after that. I take no pleasure at seeing the beetle being eaten but at the same time I am in awe at the  amazing world of wildlife that exists in our own backyards. Many people would not have even spotted this lizard let alone this encounter with the beetle. So, find a quiet spot, sit still, be patient, and you never know what amazing things you might see in your own backyard.


(Lizard Ambushes Beetle - Click the play button)




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Saturday, 18 February 2017

Tasmanian Devils and Honeybrown Beetles

1. Tasmanian Devils Relaxing and Lazing Around ( Sarcophilus harrisii )

A while back uploaded a video of Tasmanian Devils fighting and feeding.
 (Here's the link: https://youtu.be/VE0013H7A0Y )

This video shows them relaxing and lazing around. Many of my videos are filmed "in the wild" so I need to mention that these were filmed at a wildlife park. Wild Tasmanian Devils are nocturnal however they do occasional take in the sun in forest clearings just like these ones.

( Tasmaninan Devil  - Click the play button)

2.  Honeybrown Beetle (Ecnolagria grandis)
 
This is the Honeybrown Beetle (Ecnolagria grandis) The following notes are from an old blog post of mine back in 2008.
The majority of Tenebrionids feed on dead plant material and fungi and many books and web sites say that E. grandis is also such a scavenger. Personally I had always assumed they were leaf eaters as I usually find them on a variety of native plants, especially on Eucalypts. Confused, I searched for more information and I found the paper listed below. This clearly states that they feed on fresh leaves of a variety of plants including, Brachychiton, and Leptospermum. While beetles were found on Eucalyptus spp, no mention is made of Eucalyptus being part of their diet so I will have to observe more closely the Honeybrown Beetles in my backyard. At least it confirms that they do in fact feed on living leaves. The adults of this species are short lived. Most of their life is spent in the larval stage underground. Perhaps it is at this stage that they feed on leaf litter.



(Honeybrown Beetle - Click the play button)




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Since September I've gone from about 12 subscribers on my YouTube channel to over 210. Thank you all very much for your support and encouragement. If you have not yet subscribed please consider doing so, as not all of my videos appear on this blog. If you are logged in with your google account you simply need to use the YouTube/Subscribe button below.

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Linked to Saturday's Critters



References:
  • Hawkeswood T.J. & Turner J. R. (2003) Some notes on the biology, host plants and occurrence of the Australian lagrid beetle Ecnolagria grandis (Gyllenhal, 1817) (Coleoptera: Lagriidae). Spilopyra, 4: 1-3.


Friday, 10 February 2017

White-faced Heron and a Mole Cricket

1. White-faced Heron (Egretta novaehollandiae)

The White-faced Heron (Egretta novaehollandiae) is found throughout Australia as well as Indonesia, New Guinea, New Caledonia and New Zealand.

( White-faced heron  - Click the play button)

2.  Mole Cricket - Gryllotalpa sp and its Chirping Call
 
Well it's not all birds and furry animals around here. I like the creepy crawlies too. These alien like Mole crickets spend most of their lives underground and are heard more often than seen. They will sometimes come to the surface after heavy rain or you might come across one while digging in the garden. In summer, at dusk, you can hear them chirping from their underground burrows. The opening of the burrow actually amplifies the sound. Most are omnivorous.   This one is of the genus Gryllotalpa. The sound recording in the background is of a mole cricket calling from its underground burrow. I was testing out my new Zoom H4n Pro Mic. If the sound annoys you just turn it down :-)


(Mole cricket - Click the play button)




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Saturday, 4 February 2017

Black Cockatoos, Blue-tongued Lizard and Baby Quails

1. Yellow-tailed black-cockatoos (Calyptorhynchus funereus)

These are Yellow-tailed black-cockatoos (Calyptorhynchus funereus). The video includes a young bird begging/calling for food. Their population is rapidly declining due to loss of habitat. It's interesting to note that the cockatoos in this video are feeding on two different introduced plants. Protea cones  (Protea sp) from South Africa and Pine cones (Pinus radiata) from North America. However, these additional food sources will not help them in regard to to finding nest hollows.
If you hear the occasional thud in the sound recording, it is the sound of bits of pine cone hitting the ground.

( Yellow-tailed Black-cockatoos  - Click the play button)

2.  Blotched Blue tongue Lizard - Slow Motion Licks (Tiliqua nigrolutea)
 
There are loads of Blue-tongue lizards around at the moment. This one was trying to come in the back door. We relocated it further up the backyard away from our cars. It was also an opportunity to get some slow motion shots of them licking the air with their blue tongues. The red on the mouth is not blood. We fed it a raspberry before releasing it :-)

There are eight species in the genus Tiliqua. All are found in Australia with the exception of Tiliqua gigas, which is found in New Guinea and parts of Indonesia. Here in Tasmania we get Tiliqua nigrolutea, the Blotched blue-tongue.

(Blotched Blue-tongue Lizard - Click the play button)


3. Update on the Quail Chicks

Remember the wee one day old quail chicks? Here they are 16 days later. If you didn't see them at one day old then you can see them here: https://youtu.be/AZ-7xVJ33SE 

(Japanese Quails - Click the play button)


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Saturday, 28 January 2017

Black Swans with Cygnets and Common Grass Blue Butterflies

1. Black Swan  Cygnets / Chicks / Babies  - (Cygnus atratus)

These Black Swan (Cygnus atratus) and their cygnets were filmed at the Tamar Wetlands near Launceston, Tasmania (Cygnus atratus)



( Black Swans with Cygnets  - Click the play button)

2. Common Grass Blue Butterflies Mating (Zizina labradus)
 
The tiny  Common Grass Blue butterflies  (Zizina labradus)  are quite active at the moment. Their total wingspan is only 20mm- 23 mm. While doing some gardening, I came across this pair mating. This Lycaenid butterfly is found throughout most of Australia. Their food plant includes clover as well as other members of the Fabacae family such as beans and peas.



(Common Grass Blues - Click the play button)


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Since September I've gone from about 12 subscribers on my YouTube channel to 200. Thank you all very much for your support and encouragement. If you have not yet subscribed please consider doing so, as not all of my videos appear on this blog. If you are logged in with your google account you simply need to use the YouTube/Subscribe button below.

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Friday, 20 January 2017

Fairy-wrens, Bronze-cuckoos, Baby Quails, and a Spectacular Waterfall

1. Superb Fairy-wren (Malurus cyaneus)

The Superb Fairy-wren (Malurus cyaneus) would have to be one of Australia's most loved garden birds. They are found in south-eastern Australia from southern Queensland through to Adelaide as well as Tasmania.  In the breeding season the males develop their beautiful blue and black plumage. It is mainly insectivorous  but will also eat some seeds. Getting film has proven challenging as they have a tendency to dart of in random directions when foraging for food.  Hopefully I'll get some better shots in the future.



( Superb Fairy-wren  - Click the play button)

2. Shining Bronze-Cuckoo (Chrysococcyx lucidus)
 
This Shining Bronze-cuckoo in my backyard is an insectivorous bird. It is particularly known for feeding on hairy caterpillars which many other birds will not touch. Like other cuckoos it is a parasitic bird and will lay a single egg in the hosts nest. In my area hosts include Thornbills and Fairy-wrens. They are a summer migrants here in Tasmania and in winter will travel to northern Australia and Papua New Guinea.




(Shining Bronze-Cuckoo - Click the play button)

3.  Cute Baby Quail Chicks - One Day Old

A relative dropped in en route to home with these day old quail chicks. They are domesticated Japanese Quails (Coturnix japonica). I'm not a big user of the word cute but in this case there's no better word :-)

  ( Day Old Japanese Quail Chicks - Click the play button)


4.  Dip Falls (A Spectacular Waterfall)

A spectacular waterfall on the Dip River, south of Stanley, Tasmania. It is a short but steep walk to the base of the falls where the new viewing platform (opened last July) allows you to see both upper and lower parts of the falls. There is also a viewing platform at the top of the falls (across the river from the car park) where you can view the upper section of the falls.


  (Dip Falls - Click the play button)



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Since September I've gone from about 12 subscribers on my YouTube channel to over 180. Thank you all very much for your support and encouragement. If you have not yet subscribed please consider doing so, as not all of my videos appear on this blog. If you are logged in with your google account you simply need to use the YouTube/Subscribe button below.

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Saturday, 14 January 2017

Birds, Bees, Snakes, and Spiders

1. Lowland Copperhead Snake  (Austrelaps superbus) in Backyard

A family member sat down by our small pond to look for frogs only to find that a few feet away this Lowland Copperhead snake (Austrelaps superbus) was doing the same thing. I grabbed the camera to get a few shots. In the video you can see two frogs escape from the snake. It was fascinating to watch it as it slowly checked every nook and cranny among the pebbles. This is the condensed version. I was actually watching it for around half an hour. Please ignore the fact that my pond level is low and that is is taken over with Azolla :-)



Lowland Copperhead Snake - Click the play button)

2. Jumping Spider (Helpis minitabunda)
 
This Jumping Spider (Helpis minitabunda) was on a Cymbidium orchid in my backyard. It is known as the Threatening Jumping Spider.



(Jumping Spider - Click the play button)

3.  False Black Widow / Cupboard Spider - (Steatoda grossa)

Variously known as the Cupboard spider, the Dark comb-footed spider, the Brown house spider and the False black widow. It is related to the infamous Red-backed spider and the Black widow spider. I caught this one running across my kitchen bench. After a short photo shoot I released it in the garden.



  ( False Black Widow / Cupboard Spider - Click the play button)


4.  Red-necked Stints (Calidris ruficollis)

Red-necked Stints (Calidris ruficollis)  at Calverts Lagoon, Tasmania. See if you can spot the poor wee one legged one. Hope you don't find the music too annoying but to me it just seemed to fit. :-)

  (Red-necked Stints - Click the play button)

5.  Buff-tailed Bumblebee (Bombus terrestris)

The European, Buff-tailed Bumblebee (Bombus terrestris) was first found in the Tasmania in 1992. It is now well established in much of the state in both urban and natural environments. These were filmed in my backyard. They are also known as the Large earth bumblebee.  I was in a silly mood when I chose the background music. Hope you enjoy it.

  (Buff-tailed Bumblebee - Click the play button)


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Since September I've gone from about 12 subscribers on my YouTube channel to over 160. Thank you all very much for your support and encouragement. If you have not yet subscribed please consider doing so, as not all of my videos appear on this blog. If you are logged in with your google account you simply need to use the YouTube/Subscribe button below.

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Friday, 6 January 2017

Australian Fur Seals, a Magpie, and a Cactus Flower Time Lapse

1. Australian Fur Seals (Arctocephalus pusillus) at Stanley

At Stanley in Tasmania there is a small rocky island known as Bull rock. It is a haul-out or resting spot for hundreds of Australian fur seals. We went on the Stanley Seal Cruise to get a closer look.




( Australian Fur Seals - Click the play button)

2. Australian (Tasmanian) Mapie (Cracticus tibicen hypoleuca)
 
There are thought to be nine subspecies of the Australian magpie. The subspecies once known as the White-backed magpie has itself been split into five. According to Wikipedia, Cracticus tibicen hypoleuca now refers to a small white-backed subspecies with a short compact bill and short wings, found on King and Flinders Islands, as well as Tasmania. Some refer to this as the Tasmanian Magpie.


(Tasmanian Magpie - Click the play button)

3. Time Lapse of a Cactus Flower Opening

This is my first attempt at a flower time lapse. The cactus is, I believe, Echinopsis schickendantzii. If you are not into flowers then you may enjoy watching the caterpillar at the left. I didn't notice it until I watched the video :-)  This is the same cactus that I posted a couple of weeks ago. It got a second lot of flowers so I thought I'd try and get a time lapse. I learned a lot along the way like making sure I have a spare battery charged up :-)


  (Cactus Time Lapse - Click the play button)

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Since September I've gone from about 12 subscribers on my YouTube channel to over 160. Thank you all very much for your support and encouragement. If you have not yet subscribed please consider doing so, as not all of my videos appear on this blog. If you are logged in with your google account you simply need to use the YouTube/Subscribe button below.

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