Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Wildlife on Wednesday ... the Stoney Creek Frog

The Litoria wilcoxi (the Stoney Creek Frog to you and I!) is a ground dweller that's found along the eastern coast of this great country.  This frog's preferred habitat is sclerophyll woodland areas near a creek with a stony bed  ... hence the common name!

We have a stony creek bed at the bottom of the hillside here, and so the Litoria wilcoxi is a common sight around our property.  They can vary in colour, from grey to brown.  They have a dark stripe that runs from their snout to the eye, and then along the side of their body to the base of their front leg.

Now whilst they certainly are rather cute, I absolutely hate it when they get inside the house!  Why?  Well, they haven't earned our little nickname ... the Olympic Jumpers ... for nothing!  These lovely little things are spectacular jumpers!  I mean ... they can literally jump metres in one bound ... and that makes them hard to catch.  Consequently we end up, sometimes, with little corpses inside our house!  Gross, I know!

It also means they are hard to capture with a camera unless they're sleeping ....

... awww, isn't she adorable!  This is a sleeping female Litoria wilcoxi.  The females are longer in length than the males, almost double the size in fact!  The males make up for their lack of size though  ... with their flair.  When the males are ready to mate, they turn a bright lemon yellow!  Talk about flashy!

Thankfully though, these particular frogs do have one saving grace.  They don't have a vocal sac and as a result, their call is a beautiful soft series of trills which can only only be heard within a few metres of the frog.

Their lovely call is in stark contrast however, to the usual early 'wet' season racket we hear around here at night!  Now I can't tell you all the varieties that are singing on this clip, but this is the lullaby we hear, right now, as we're dropping off to sleep!  (Note:  you will need to scroll down the sidebar on the right, find the Playlist and turn it off before you watch the clip.)

For another great Wildlife on Wednesday post, that just also happens to be featuring a frog, please go on over to visit Lotusleaf at Garden Tropics

Monday, December 20, 2010

Toasty Warm Christmas Greetings from Hot, Hot Downunder.

Wishing all my blog readers a very Merry Christmas and a fantastic Festive Season. Downunder it's the usual horrid hot Summer weather with a hearty dash of horrendous humidity ... Ho, Ho, Ho!

We occasionally head into the city to take an early evening walk along the Strand, which is a very lengthy boulevard right beside the ocean, but even then it's no cooler than our spot out here in the foothills.

I occasionally suffer the torments of the kitchen to do some baking for Christmas.  One of my favourite Christmas treats are the moorish Bailey's Irish Cream Balls ... which are my alternative to Rum Balls, as I really don't enjoy the taste of rum.

Unfortunately the Summer conditions prevent me from spending a great deal of time out in the garden ... it will remain relatively unloved for a little bit longer yet!  Luckily the plants seem to be still thriving and there's still lots of great colour in quite a few corners of the garden.

Of course, as we count down to Christmas, we're getting more and more excited about visiting our eldest son and our grandchildren.  Whilst we'll miss spending Christmas Day with them, we're on the plane the very next morning and heading off for a visit ... can't wait!
That's an old Christmas photo of our dear little ones ... but they're still just as adorable!

Instead of finishing off the post just yet, I thought I'd add two little extras today.

First ...  I'm not sure where I saw this (wish I could take the credit but I can't), and I think it's just spot on!

You know it's an Australian Summer when....

1.  The best parking space is determined by shade instead of distance.

2.  Hot water comes out of both taps.

3.  You learn that a seat belt buckle makes a pretty good branding iron.

4.  The temperature drops below 35deg C and you feel a little chilly.

5.  You discover that it only takes two fingers to steer your car.

6.  You discover that you can get sunburnt through your car window.

7.  You develop a fear of metal car door handles.

8.  You break into a sweat the instant you awake.

9.  You're still soaking wet after you've dried off from your shower.

10.You catch a cold from having the aircon full blast while you sleep during the night.

Now ...  for a bit of fun.  Please go to the sidebar, turn off the Playlist ... and then sing-a-long with this beloved Aussie Christmas ballad.

For other fabulous Mosaic Monday posts, go and take a look at Mary's blog  Little Red House

Friday, December 17, 2010

Skywatching in Early Summer Downunder

I thought I'd join in Skywatch Friday this week and share some early evening sky shots from this week.  Here it's early Summer and it's been hot, steamy, dreary and overcast one minute ... then hot, steamy and rainy ... closely followed by hot, steamy and sunshiny bright!

By the end of each and every day, we all feel a little strained and drained ... then we notice the gorgeous rosy glow in the sky at around 7.00 pm!  It somehow lifts our spirits and we feel refreshed.

Do make sure you check out lots of other fabulous sky shots by clicking on the link at the top of this post.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

It's An Early Summer's Blooming Day In North-Eastern Downunder - December GBBD

It's time for a GBBD (Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day) post from Downunder.  It's early Summer and I took a walk around the garden this morning after another shower of rain.  It was a fairly short walk ... the humidity level rose to 90% after the shower whilst the mercury said 26 deg C, it felt more like 29 deg C even though it was only 7.30 am!   Ah ... the pleasures of what we fondly call 'the build-up' ... the period in between the episodes of pelting rain when we sit and swelter in the humidity and longingly wish for more rain to give us some respite.

So, come along on the walk with me on this early Summer's day.  Grab your cuppa as there's a bit to see.

First we go out through the Greenhouse/Shadehouse garden ...

The Coleus is flowering beautifully ...

and so are all the Dragonwing Begonias.

Now what is that I spy draped across the front of the red Dragonwing?

What a charming sight ... like little diamonds glistening in the morning sun!  As I turn around, my eyes fall on another enchanting display.  It's the stunning Mauve Dancing Lady ... Globbi winitii.  I just love this beauty!

Then I spot a tiny delicate little beauty right besdie the Globbi ... it's the first bloom on my Geranium 'Jester's Jacket'.  What a delight!

I noticed that the Calathea ornata hadn't quite opened up yet ... still saying its morning prayers perhaps!
We'll tip-toe out quietly and have a look outside the greenhouse/shadehouse garden at what's going on in the new outdoor garden bed.  Now there's a cheery vision ... it's Mussaenda 'Calcutta Sunset' showing off first thing in the morning!

How bright and cheery are those little yellow star flowers?

There's also the fluffy vision of Euphorbia 'Diamond Frost' ...

... and the welcome sight of the gorgeous white Pentas right beside it.

Now let's take a quick stroll down the hillside driveway ...  accompanied by the call of the Spangled Drongo, looking resplendent this morning with its long forked tail, glossy black plumage and blood red eyes,

all the while listening to the little Kookaburra learning how to sing like its mother ... he's not very good just yet!  He sounds more like a hoarse opera singer, but I'm sure he'll be laughing with gusto before too long.

I spot the very last spray of Jacaranda mimosifolia flowers left in the tree at the top of the hill driveway.
While the sight of those delicate lacy bright green leaves will surely make me sigh, I swoon over the lavender flowers ... and will miss them when they're finally all gone!

The brilliant foliage of one of the many Hibiscus rosa-sinensis 'Roseflake' bushes catches my eye quickly ...

... but then, I turn and see my stunning Cassia fistula - Golden Shower Tree - is in full bloom at the end of the driveway!  I rush on down barely noticing the blooms high up on the branches of the Plumeria ...

... yeah, yeah quite pretty ...

... but take a look at this!  I stop to drink it all in.

It really does look magnificent this morning full of little golden buds and those superb bright golden yellow blooms.

If you look closely enough, you'll also see just a couple of bottlebrush blooms on my Callistemon citrinus right beside my Cassia.

Then alongside my Callistemon is my Citharexylum spinosum, commonly known as the Fiddlewood, and it's covered in sprays of tiny pristine white flowers which are attracting lots of little bees at the moment.
Here are the three beauties towering over my head.  Just as well my camera has a great zoom button!

Now, as I swing around, I am greeted by another terrific beauty ... my white Mussaenda philippica.

I just adore the frilly frothy white blooms on this shrub.
Righto ... it's getting sticky and steamy out here ... so let's head back up the driveway, under the arches of the draping Hibiscus schizopetalus - my Japanese Lantern Hibiscus.

Time to head back inside, down the pergola stairway, past the wonderful windmill fronds of the Pritchardia pacifica or Fiji Palm ...

... strolling through the Courtyard Garden a little too hastily ... tripping past the dazzling Wrightia,

... the darling Dahlias

... the delicate Peace Lily

... the definitely different curled-up caterpillarish-looking new unfurling fronds of the Tree Fern

... the dazzling cascade of Dichondra 'Silver Falls' ...

... and the delightful show of the Evolvulus  Pilosus 'Sapphire blue'.

Oh dear, I think the heat and humidity is getting to me ... what's with all these d's?   Definitely, time for my early holiday morning daily double ... tea and toast out in the shade of the Courtyard Garden!   Look, Mother Nature has already decorated the table for me.

For other GBBD posts, make sure you visit Carol at May Dreams Gardens.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Mosaic Monday ... Early Summertime Downunder.

As the northern hemisphere heads into a cold, frosty Winter, down here we're racing towards a hot, sticky Summer.  December is the first month of our Summer and I thought I'd share some of the iconic aspects of early Summer here in my corner of the northern tropics of Australia.

(Just a little hint if you want to view these images in enlarged format ... simply click on the mosaic and when it opens in a new window, click on the magnifying glass ... you'll get a closer look at each shot!)
Going from top left:
... looking out at bright brilliant blue skies behind tall white-trunked Gums
... chilling out on the verandah when the cool breeze gently blows
... spotting the last of the Jacaranda flowers
... watching the gloomy rain clouds roll in over the hills
... finding a shady spot out in the courtyard
... noticing the bright red Hibiscus hanging from the pergola
... observing a mother Kookaburra feed her young
... listening to the loud Cicada chorus
... smelling the gorgeous fragrance of the Plumeria blooms
... enjoying a leisurely holiday lunch with friends out in the courtyard (complete with fans)!

... and last, but by no means least, enjoying the colours and textures of the plants out in the garden.

For more fantastic Mosaic Monday posts, make sure you go on over to Mary's blog Little Red House

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