New and Old – Big and Small

What a mixed bag of photos I have this time. I just grabbed some photos from the end of last month that I liked which weren’t put in the previous blog. I am slowly catching up. I would like to write more but am not feeling well, just a sinus thing but my concentration isn’t that good.

At the moment, the Red-necked Wallabies are hopping through the garden and the bush, some with small Joeys and others with a protective male. This bloke kept a close eye on me as I walked around.

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One thing I have been meaning to do is put a whole lot of photos showing the symmetry in nature or just how plants have their unique way of growing. Succulents are fascinating in the many forms, shapes and colours they have. Here is just a couple I have found recently.

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The tight centre gradually spreads and becomes redder on the margins with some leaves turning almost completely red.

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The Jelly Bean Cactus has to be one of my favourites. Do you have a favourite cactus?

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This is the first flower of a Grevillea I planted last year, fascinating flowers aren’t they?

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I call this flower a Chinese Lantern. This year the plant had so many flowers, much more than any year previously. You can see the 3 different stages with the pod to the right of the flower and the next new flower about to open behind.

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Another plant who has had the best show of flowers ever is the Orange Trumpet. Yes I did plant it to grow over a shed.

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When the bush lemon tree flowered, the insect came so there was always someone buzzing around the tree, crawling over the flowers or getting inside the flowers being productive. I don’t think the Stingless Native Bees could fit much more pollen in their pollen sacks.

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Even the other bees had heaps of pollen as well.

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This ant was very careful when it moved over the flowers.

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I have never seen this fly before. A lovely orange with the reddest eyes!!!!

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Every now and then I find a native snail-shell. Occasionally see a snail but not one of these. I still haven’t identified which species of snail it is.

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One afternoon, the Spangled Drongos came in for a bath. The bath certainly makes a spangly Spangled Drongo!!!

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On a wetland right beside the Pacific Highway, a flock of Magpie Geese stopped over on their migration to rest and recharge. It was hard to get into a good position to get some photos as the shoulder of the Highway is very narrow there and I didn’t want to walk into the farmers over grown paddock either.

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A new addition to the neighbourhood has been circling overhead. The Square-tailed Kite also has decided to make a nest in a tree across the road. I didn’t see any babies and I think I may have missed them all together..

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The late afternoon light was good for a photo shoot.

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Another new comer to my garden was the Spectacled Monarch making number bird number 89 spotted or heard on my property.

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Meanwhile, at my besties place, the Noisy Friarbird was turning itself inside out trying to get the Noisy Miner to get away from the bird bath

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Spring brings life

Spring has begun and is almost over so I better get going and post some of my world in spring so far. There has been a lot happening, too many photos to sort through and making time to write, sort, edit and get it out!!!!

My old friend a few properties down the street is no longer able to care for himself and has gone into a care facility. His garden has been a source of inspiration and his help has made my garden a better place. He was always coming with bulbs, seeds or cuttings some of which have survived the dry periods and some just reappear much to my amazement.

This Iris was one of the first things I saw as I visited him before he left. A stunning splash of purple.

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Of course it attracted the native stingless bees

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The Grevilleas begin to bud at the start of spring. They don’t look as spectacular as the flowers but have a certain furry interest……

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….and then they bloom into the most fantastic flower displaying many hues and colours.

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The Honey Gem attracts so many birds to my garden but when you look closely you find some of the smaller creatures in my garden.

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Throughout the bush around my place, the yellows and oranges of the Jacksonias splash colour into the bush.

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I love the tiny native flowers that appear throughout the bush. This tiny yellow flower is about 10mm in diameter.

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Another tiny native that has the most hairy leaves.

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I am amazed that the lichen has regenerated from what looked like a dead blob in the grass. A small amount of rain bought it to life.

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This is part of my “front lawn” I don’t have much grass and what is here is native grasses. I rarely cut the grass as there are so many tiny flowers that either grow at ground level or are on small stalks. This moss has gone to seed or is it the flowers?

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Come spring everyone wakes up. Some like to prowl around the garden and “back yard” looking for things to eat. This bloke was looking for my chooks eggs!!!

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One day coming home from town, there was a raucous noise and the sky suddenly was dotted with a huge flock of Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos. This year there has seemed to be lots of them around. Sometimes in large flock or in just a few, screeching as they wheel about the sky.

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I spent ages by the side of the road watching the Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos argue of the best perch and change trees to find something to eat. Their aerobatics are superb don’t you think?

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I am the boss of this tree and can see for kilometers.

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Ahh….there is nothing as good as a pine cone.

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Heralding in the morning, Kookaburras fill the air with their call. I love the bit of blue on their wings.

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The beautiful call of the Grey Shrike Thrush is such a pleasant change from the usual suspects, Friarbirds, Blue-faced Honeyeaters and Ravens.

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At my besties, the Emerald doves pop in for a quick drink from the bird bath. THe shimmer of green is eye-catching as they move through the bush.

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A rare visitor to my road were these Crimson Rosellas. The bloke up the road put out feed for his horses and a flock of Rosellas dropped in for lunch.

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Their colours are very striking. The red can be seen from a distance s they jumped about among the horses.

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On a walk up the road, I found a Blue-faced Honeyeaters nest. As I was watching it became change over time.

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A keen eye was kept on me before he settled onto the nest.

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The best part was the Rainbow Bee Eaters as they swooped around. I played around with my photo program to see if I could get a different effect.

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Thanks for hanging out with me for a while.

The Hippeastrums, The Bees and The Spider

The Hippeastrums flowering this year has been spectacular. Perhaps the lack of rain over winter has been just the thing the bulbs needed. Doing a garden inspection after I arrived home from my holiday, seeing who survived and who thrived, the splashes of red of the Hippeastrums dominated the garden.

For those who are hoping for a riveting story of immense proportions, I am sorry to disappoint. This is a very small story of the very small that live in my garden and a bit of their day.

The tiny native bees were buzzing around the flowers, sometimes there was a line up of bees to get to the flowers seemingly abundant pollen. This little fellers collection sacs were so full, he wobbled about as he landed on the anthers to gather the pollen.

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Nearly all the bees had gathered so much pollen but still went from trumpet to trumpet.

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The bees seemed unperturbed by the small jumping spider lurking at the back of the Hippeastrums trumpet.

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All the while I was wasting time ummm watching to see if anything was going to happen, the spider sat there watching me too I suspect.

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Suddenly there was a small black dot that appeared on the underside of the trumpet. Another jumping spider had changed flowers, perhaps to join the other one inside the flower.

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I love our small world…..don’t you?

January….some excitement so far…

Yes. There has been some excitement around my place so far this month. Just sitting on the verandah having a cuppa one morning, the usual bird song od Spangled Drongos, Friarbirds, Fig Birds, Kookaburras and Ravens, just to name a few, changed. There were a few small birds whizzing around the bush near the house as well as a couple of birds who were a bit bigger. But more of the birds later.

The flowers in the garden have had a bit of a lift with some rain at the start of the month. Prior to that I was feeling like the bad parent, having not much water in the dam to do a full garden watering, so I was having to select which plants I think could survive the dry a bit better than others. My best bird attractor, the Honey Gem Grevillea, hasn’t the flowers it normally has but still has bought a few birds in to the garden.

Other plants have stepped up and have made sure the butterflies have somewhere to visit. The Speckled Line-blue enjoyed a rest on the Hibiscus

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While the Lemon Migrant seemed to prefer the red flowers

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The Cassia has been quite spectacular this year with its drooping bunches of flowers seemingly cascading from the branches attracting bees. The buzzing of the bees made it sound like the Cassia was covered with bees but there was only a handful of big fat bees.

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In the bush and around the garden, a little native plant has appeared. I have seen a few before but the dry then the rain seemed to make them grow in many spots in the garden as well as in the bush. The little yellow flower is about 5 to 8mms.

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The Duranta has bunches of flowers which are followed by small orange berries. The variegated leaves are a favourite of the Satin Bowerbirds. Some small birds like to drink from the small purple flowers as well.

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The Mistletoe Bird was hopping around the Duranta looking for bits of nesting materials as well as examining the flowers.

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When it got a bit too hot, we went down to the river for a soak. On the way back home we came across a Black Faced Cuckoo Shrike peeking out from behind a Bottlebrush

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On the road a group of birds scattered as the car approached. The group of Rainbow Bee-eaters flew about the trees, occasionally resting long enough to get a few quick photos in the fading light.

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You can see why the are Rainbow Bee-eaters!

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Meanwhile, back at home, the Scarlet Honeyeater was hanging on as best she could to get a snack.

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The Yellow-faced Honeyeaters have been here for a while now since I first saw one a couple of years ago. I love their yellow faces.

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The Restless Flycatchers also have made a home here in Summer. They were one of the first birds that came here when I first started to live in the bush.

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The Rufous Whistler is singing in the bush, but on this day also dropped in to the garden for a visit.

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OK. Remember at the start I said I had some exciting things happening. One of the new birds I have seen this year has been the Fuscous Honeyeater. I always get excited when a new bird appears. Of course the found the Honey Gem.

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The Brown Honeyeater discovered another Grevillea in another part of the garden. This is also a favourite of the Scarlet Honeyeaters as the bigger birds don’t drop in for some nectar here very often. This is the first time the Brown Honeyeater has been seen at my place as well.

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Well I have to fly…

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….but not before the most exciting news of all. One quite rare visitor to my place has been a Regent Honeyeater. When something like this happens a lot of people like to know so it is always good to let the folk at Birdlife Aust know when you come across something special.

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Many thanks to Twitter mates @DOCTOR_Dave and @caroproberts for their help in identifying the birds and butterflies I had trouble identifying as well as everyone else who also helped.

I hope I get some more new birds at my place in 2015 to add to the 88 I have already discovered.

See ya

The last of Spring

There has been so much going on this Spring, especially since I put the bird bath up, that I haven’t had time to keep up with everything. I have been on an adventure nearly every weekend, plus spotting things around here, so there has been a lot of photos to sort. Here is the last few days of Spring, mainly things around the Clarence Valley.

The Gardenias have flowered despite not having much water and some quite hot days. Their scent drifts into the house every now and then.

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One drive took us to Brooms Head where it was such a lovely day, albeit quite windy but still warm. The Gazanias were out.

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The difference in the petal colour of the plants was quite striking.

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Pig Face covered the dunes in places. Wonder why it’s called Pig Face?

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The Hibiscus also flowered in the garden. The pink one was a bit later than the red Hibiscus.

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All the Grevilleas flowered well this Spring. The colours on this one went from the yellow to pink whereas the other flowers were predominantly one colour, either the yellow or a russety pink.

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Almost all of the orange Hippiastrums flowered and look lovely as the pop up around the garden.

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I love the red Hippiastrums. I love getting inside them and seeing their different “bits”

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The other “bits” of the red Hippiastrum.

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The red Hippiastrums seem to attract the little native bees.

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And attract them they did! The flowers were almost too full of bees sometimes.

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The Bottlebrushs had ants all through them.

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While this lily had bugs walking around. They were quite camera-shy.

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The first of the young birds to appear were the Blue-faced Honeyeaters

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While the King Parrots followed me around the garden, whistling to get my attention it seemed.

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Once they saw me looking, they liked to pose for photos and look quite cheeky.

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At Brooms Head, the Rainbow Bee Eaters were zooming around the streets, stopping occasionally on the power lines.

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On the way home, just near Ulmarra, we saw the Black-necked Storks stalking around the Clarence River flood shutes. Getting out of the car, the heat of the day was terrible, especially after being cool at Brooms Head beach.

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The pair just walked away from me. They are lovely big birds.

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At home, after the Lorikeets had gone up into the eucalypts to feed, the Satin Bowerbird took advantage of the bird bath.

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That’s the end of Spring, so now onto Summer. I wonder where this weekends adventure will take me.

At the beach and in the garden

This time of year plants get a boost on before the cold sets in around here. March is the best time to plant. This year summer was extremely dry but when the rains came flowers appeared showing their fantastic colours, shapes and scents attracting pollinating insects. The days are quite warm and quite often a trip to the beach is taken and sometimes, if the water isn’t too cold, a swim but usually I sit around camera in hand hoping something interesting will come into view.

Here is a few things I found, the good the bad and the ugly. Ready to go? I think I might start with a couple of photos at the beach and see where we go from there. I like to find a nice pandanus to sit under out of the sun.

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Always there are seagulls whizzing around, perhaps looking for that chip tossed by someone.

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But this day the bonus was the Osprey wheeling about the sky.

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And occasionally hovering over the water.

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As I said, it was wonderful when the rain came, clouds full of promise and delivery. I liked the way the clouds and trees matched shapes.

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The insects are busy buzzing around before the cold sets in. They are everywhere looking for nectar or whatever will sustain them for the coming months. The honey bees and little native bees were all over the Hibiscus zipping from flower to flower.

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This year, the cicadas were in full song, at time deafening. The garden is full of their shells.

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I found this tiny tiny moth on the door. It is about 10mm in length and very hairy.

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Among the flowers in the garden, the Pink Euodia was the pick of many insects and birds.

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The Lewins Honeyeater was very protective of “his” tree giving anyone who dared try to sample the blossoms a quick seeing off.

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The Butterfly Bush was full of flowers as well. They just look superb as the flowers seem ready to fly.

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This year the Cats Whiskers seemed to have more purple on the tips.

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I was disappointed that the bees didn’t seem to want to be around the White Crocus as much as they were around the pink one.

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This so white flower with its lovely red centre was the only one in the garden.

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I love the shadow of the stamens shadow on the petals of the flower.

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Early morning and the buds were almost ready to burst.

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On the ground, the Grey Shrike-thrush hopped about the garden looking here and there for a bit of lunch.

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While one of my favourite bird, the Eastern Yellow Robin sat on the post watching for movement in the garden.

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During the long hot summer days I go down to the chook house to gather the eggs. Sometimes I come back empty-handed. This bloke is one of the reasons for that. I went into the chook house and he scarpered out, too fast for me to catch and sat up in the tree.

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Well the Moon has risen so it must be time for bed. I hope you have had a good time at the beach and in the garden with me.

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brian

Flowers Birds Bugs and Snakes

This month has been quite a month of contrasts. I have been sitting here wondering where my rain has gone when all around rain has fallen. I am away and have rain and a diversity of stuff, whereas at home, the dryness has seen quite a few birds desert the property for better pickings. But still there are the ones who stick around for most of the year with an occasional drop in by a stranger.

This is a look back at the month and some of the discoveries that I have made as I wander about. Hope you enjoy this adventure walk around with me.

I have been peeking into flowers again. I love hippeastrums colours

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A vine that trails over a fence has flowered this year the first time for quite a while. I don’t know what it is but it has an interesting shape inside.

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The Crocus flowers have attracted the attention of the native bees who arrive in numbers. I like the one at the top of the photo, throwing a shadow on the petal, who is buzzing in at speed as though it was a bit late.

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As it seems we have moved onto the bees and bugs, we better continue. The Blue Banded Bees have been quite busy at my place and my besties. This bloke was very intent on the flowers.

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The Cassia flowers have been quite spectacular this year with the pendants of yellow dripping from the tree. The big bee who dropped in to do a bit of gathering would have been surprised with the thank you pat on the back from the flower.

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No matter the weather, there is always dragonfly flitting about or stopping to eye-ball what ever I am doing.

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One night, there was a constant high-pitched chirping from a cicada inside. After a bit of searching I found it hiding behind the curtain.

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While outside, a caterpillar was changing location to set up a better snoozing spot in its cocoon.

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This moth is always watching or so it hopes in order that’s what predators will think so it won’t end up as dinner.

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There has been some birds around. The Peaceful Doves are always around as they know in the afternoons I give the chooks some grains.

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The new comer to my garden was a Bar Shouldered Dove who was cooing from the bush for a few days before I saw him.

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It has been quite hot and the Spangled Drongo just sat in the shade of the tree hoping to catch a breeze.

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But in my besties garden, the Red Browed Finches has a great place to meet have a chat, a  bath and a drink.

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The Cormorant found a good perch above the dam to keep an eye out for fish and to dry off in the sun.

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At night the Flying Foxes came for the flowers of the Pink Bloodwood. Can you count the eyes peering out from the dark as they hang from the palm tree?

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It has been a year for snakes big and small. At my besties I saw a carpet snake high up in the mango tree. A knot of snake on a small branch.

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Whereas at my place late one night I had to rescue a chook from the deadly coils. A bit of a drive up the road in the morning to a safe place, I let it out of the bag. It looked bigger in the night.

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But it gave a cheeky grin and slithered off.

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The little Green Tree Snake was quite happy to scurry away at speed.

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We all enjoy a walk along the beach. Even an Osprey has to do it every now and then.

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Well like the tired old dog in Murwillumbah, it’s time to start the truck and head on home.

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Did you like a walk through my January?

brian

Insects: It’s all about bees

Bees are a necessary part of life……they add colour and sound to the garden as the buzz around the flowers. There are so many different bees in all sizes, shapes and colours. The native bees are so small compared to the other larger types.

I was informed by Carmen @Honey_Delight that a healthy bee was fat and furry. This blue bummed bee scrunched, sometimes you have to scrunch, in the Blue Ginger must be rather healthy don’t you think?

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Whew……it is such a relief to be able to stretch out and get zooming off to the next flower

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The little native bees often share the pollen from the flowers. They are nearly always in a group when the smell the sweet flowers are full for them to collect.

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After a storm, the native bees even gathered the pollen from the fallen flowers of the Bangalow Palm. I love how the pollen sacs glisten.

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No matter what you do, there is always someone watching…….

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And when they get going, boy can they buzz along, even when they have a load of pollen aboard.

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Hope you have enjoyed a buzz around the gardens with me and the bees……