Not that it's apparent, with a few days of 41c forecast going in to the weekend, but here are some sunny pics of a pair of Eastern Yellow Robins enjoying the bird bath this morning,
Now that I have your attention - it is Amaryllis belladonna of which I speak.
I've never planted any, but have seen them pop up in summer in two or three places, seemingly out of nowhere as the leaves are long gone by the time the rather showy pink flowers emerge. While I'm not a huge fan of large lily blooms it seemed churlish to get rid of them - same with the agapanthus that were inherited.
Having recently found out what they are called I did some reading and now I'm thinking that digging up their bulbs might be justified after all.
They're not an Australian native, although widely naturalised here, originating from Cape Province in South Africa. All parts of the plant are poisonous and, most importantly, they are listed as an environmental weed in South Australia, Victoria and WA. I've been unable to find out why that is so. I would think it unlikely that they crowd out native species - perhaps it's to do with their potential to get into pasture and poison livestock. If you do know, please share.
Remember the rather cute and unusual ant I showed you recently?
An expert from Museums Victoria determined it was a queen with vestiges of her wings apparent, but hard to tell species without seeing the male, who would likely look quite different. Well he was right. Following content rated PG!
Quite a few, actually. This is a male Spotted Pardalote - an insect-eater that feeds mainly in eucalypts and can be found along the east coast of Australia, Tasmania, Victoria, just over the border into Lower SE of SA and the SW coast of WA.
At just 9cm long he really is an beautifully painted miniature.
I set up the wildlife camera at the roo bath overnight and here are the rather grainy pics of the visitors, in order of appearance.
Sounds like a headline from one of those sleazy magazines or current affairs shows doesn't it? This is not a beat-up, though - it's what I went on to discover after watching this Velvet Ant yesterday as it ran up and down, occasionally with its rear end pointing upwards.
Once I'd read about it I was glad I hadn't got any closer. This ant is, in fact, a female wasp. She's wingless and looks quite vulnerable. Think again. The Velvet Ant has an arsenal of defense mechanisms that will deter almost any predator. She can make a squeaking, scraping noise with her abdomen, she can emit ketones, which cause real ants to go into panic mode, her shell is hard, rounded and slippery and, if all of these fail she can deliver a sting that is most often described as 'excruciating'. There is one species of this wasp, Dasymutilla, that is sometimes called a cow killer - which is a beat-up because the sting is only mildly toxic. It's the degree of agony caused by the sting that has earned it this name.
Around the globe (largely in western hemisphere) there are an estimated 3000 species of Velvet Ant, some of them quite colourful and 'velvety'. (Great article on Velvet Ants here). They range in size from 6-20mm, the largest being in the US. The female lays her egg in the larva of a bee or wasp, but she dines only on nectar and is not aggressive at all - as long as you leave her alone...
Well I could hear a possum in the pink gum in front of me as I sat on the verandah last night, but I still jumped when it fell out of said tree and landed with an impressive thud.
The blue wrens, who sleep in diosma at the landing site were, understandably, jumpy too, but the possum very quietly melted back into the darkness and climbed back up, which is when I was able to take the picture - quite a small possum for such a noise.
It can get a bit disheartening in summer on the block when everything is sun-baked dry and brown, no rain, less flowers, birds... So it's good to see the positives, like the fresh green leaves of pink gum regeneration after the psyllid infestation.
Some birdbath success with the camera yesterday. After an hour of birdie silence there was a brief feathered flurry of these delightful small honeyeaters.