Mystery solved this morning. Have been wondering why New Hollands are now occupying trees in front of verandah and have not been chased away. It's because they have taken over that territory and the LW family have been pushed back further west. The male LW visited verandah on a bug hunt today, only to be mobbed by six or seven New Hollands, who swooped and bill-snapped at him until he'd had enough and withdrew. So the tables have turned. Not so good for LW diary as I rarely see them, although on one of the 40+ days an adult LW was able to get in for a drink from the hanging bird bath. Be interesting to see what happens next breeding season but, for now, the New Hollands, small but in large numbers, rule the roost.
Linda of SAM identified it as a froghopper - though cannot say which species. Only 6mm long they can jump up to 700mm - that's the equivalent of you or I jumping over a 210 metre skyscraper, making froghoppers world champion high-jumpers, easily beating fleas. Their latin name - Philaenus spumarius - translates as 'foam lover', as their young (nymphs) produce a foamy cover of sap that they develop in. As a result the nymphs are commonly referred to as 'spittlebugs'. Strange but true.
I can quite understand why people get hooked on succulents and cacti - they are easy to grow, easy to propagate and don't need much looking after at all. Plus, if you're the collector type, there are many interesting and less common plants to source world wide. I'm not and there's nothing particularly fancy amongst the ones growing here, but they are useful ground covers and I always enjoy the short burst of flowering that happens this time of the year. Here are some pics of the succulents in the garden.
see more succulent pics in a slide show by clicking
Relentlessly hot, dry and windy - a typical South Australian summer. Birdbaths need replenishing twice a day at the moment - I've noticed that wind has a much greater evaporative effect than sun alone. The warm nights bring all manner of insects to the verandah lights. Here's the strangest looking one by far - have sent a pic off to SAM to see if the Discovery Centre staff can identify it.
- and since the male LW stopped chasing them away, the juvenile New Holland Honeyeaters - a group of about ten - spend a lot of time in trees and shrubs in front of verandah. This was a 40 degree day and the birdbath I hung for baby LWs is proving to be quite popular with all manner of small birds now that they're allowed in.
Eight birds in this picture - can you spot them all?
The juvenile blue wrens are chasing their parents around too with accompanying begging noises - was surprised to see two males in breeding colours seemingly getting along well enough. As the males are very territorial I guess they might be related birds, perhaps brothers, who have stayed around. Am intending a 'featured bird' series and the Superb Fairy Wren will be first. Have also moved the slide-shows from the home page as they slow down loading a bit (well they do on my old laptop anyway). Finally, Santa brought (or bought) me a directional microphone, so am hoping to have sound files on the blog too (sometime this year!)
Returned home after a few days away to find that LW has stopped chasing off most other small birds. I have no idea why - the juveniles are still chirping to be fed, but the New Hollands, in particular, are allowed free access to the buddlejah flowers, banksias and kangaroo paws.
They are certainly making the most of it - the juvenile New Hollands enjoy chasing each other through the bushes and when there are 15 or so birds in there they make quite a racket. LW still draws the line at other LWs - and magpies too if they are in his trees. Currawongs are never welcome - by any bird anywhere, it seems. Here's my favourite photo from this batch - I was 4 metres away from the protea and obviously inconsequential!