You've met the Striated Thornbill -
now meet a relative - the Slender-billed Thornbill
They weigh just 6 grams (0.2oz) - I still find that astonishing - and eat centipedes, spiders and all manner of bugs. Thornbills - small wonders indeed.
Bluebell creeper (Billardiera heterophylla) is native to Western Australia, but elsewhere has become an extremely invasive weed in woodlands and forests. The climber smothers native plants by out-competing them for sunlight or strangling them with their twining stems. Bluebell creeper also contains toxins that can irritate the skin and cause nausea.
Here on the block the creeper is bristling with seeds (well, they're actually berries with seeds inside). It's a good time of the year to remove it, though - less snaky in winter and the ground is soft from the rain.
It's quite a job though - the creeper twists round and round the branches of its host and the root system is extensive.
There are hundreds of plants on the block, so removing the ones on the garden's boundaries will be the priority. Be good to see the trees again.
They are often overlooked, but Australia is one of the carnivorous plant capitals of the world with nearly 200 species. They do well here because they don't rely on the nitrogen that's frequently missing from our impoverished soil. Instead they make their own by capturing and digesting insects.
Here on the block there is a member of the Sundew family of carnivorous plants - the Scented Sundew (Drosera aberrans). Below you can see one insect freshly trapped by the sticky 'sundew' and another in a late stage of digestion.
These are quite widespread and grow on very poor soil.
Carnivorous plants can be tiny and easily missed - so remember to look down.
July is the month for wattles and the block is studded with yellow.
While the garden is vibrant with all of the colours of Grevillea blossoms against the grey skies.
The damp conditions give rise to quite an array of fungi - nothing that I fancy nibbling on though -
So, for winter colour in your garden, plant Australian natives - for you and the birds.
First opportunity to get out and check the garden for damage - in particular branches that might have fallen on young plants. All in all not too bad.
Then the obligatory game of pick-up-sticks. Two of these trailer loads for the fire.
Spotted this rather large roo grazing in the paddock behind the block. Looks like a Red Kangaroo but it's very close to the coast for them.
I think the LW nest might have succumbed to the extreme weather - haven't heard the female calling from there, she's just out and about as usual. There'll be plenty of nectar-yielding flowers soon, along with the usual competition.
The block is the grip of a vigorous cold front and the camera's been inside for a few days, but this blockhead ventured out today to do some weeding between showers and found another creature out in all weathers - a native bee.
While the Western Honey Bees are all tucked up warmly in the hive with plenty of stored tucker, the native bees are obliged to fly out for food. The majority do not live in hives, as such, although may share communal nesting areas.
I think it was a type of Leafcutter Bee I saw today. The only two native bees I've managed to photograph here (and have identified) are this Green and Gold Nomia:
and this Blue Banded Bee.
With so many honey bees the natives are hard to spot.
If you're in Australia and interested in finding out which native bees live near you - or maybe you fancy buying/building a bee hotel - try the Aussie Bee website.
The Cootamundra Wattle (Acacia baileyana) is in glorious bloom and really is an ornamental tree all year round, with its attractive silver/grey foliage.
A word of caution, though, if you're thinking of planting one - this tree is native to a very small area of southern NSW (Cootamundra-Wagga Wagga) and is becoming a pest plant in other states/territories (and other countries). In the ACT it's listed as a significant environmental weed.
I have located the nest of a Little Wattlebird (LW) with attendant sitting female, although am not sure which. It's on the other side of the shed from the Cape Honeysuckle featured in last post and in a dense tangle of grevilleas planted there to hide the shed. The nest is surprisingly small and well out of the easy reach of larger birds, who would struggle to navigate all of those fine branches. I decided not to hang around or poke the camera lens in so she could get back to her egg-sitting.
Speaking of large birds - there's a Malleefowl on the block - about 50 metres from the house in semi-open uncleared scrub. If there's a pair it should be fascinating to watch the mound-keeping duties of the father. I was rather shocked to discover that Mallefowl populations are in critical decline in many areas of Australia (likely to become extinct in Western Australia, for example) and they are listed as vulnerable here. I found the National Malleefowl Recovery Team website so I'll see if there's anything I can usefully do.
Happily populations of both the Grey Shrike-thrush and White-browed Scrubwren are secure.
To end on a high note - quite impressive clouds ahead of the rain front that started to deliver yesterday.
Half an hour well spent at the birdbath, with the usual suspects on show. Apparently the White-eared Honeyeater has a liking for human hair to line its nest and has been known to source it directly! Now that would be something!