Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Wildlife on Wednesday - Unexpected and Unknown Guests

On our property we certainly see quite a few of the unwanted guests like snakes:

These horrid creatures pop up everywhere in the garden ... they're also quite at home on our verandah ... and occasionally inside our house!  

But over the years we've been living out here in amongst the bushland, we've also had a number of unexpected guests ... and I'm referring to the wildlife variety, not those cousins that turned up from down south!!  Although ... they might just fit the category!  Anyway I digress ... I've managed to catch photos of some of the strange creatures that have wandered through our property and I thought I'd share them with you.

Now, keep in mind that we live on three acres surrounded on two sides by bushland ... and the only way into our property is down a long driveway wedged in between two other properties that sit closer to the street ... also remember that we live in a rural suburb far from the city itself.

One of the first unexpected visitors were the snails!  I had never in my life seen a real snail ... not as a child living in a small country town on the coastline nor as an adult living in our city's suburbs!  It wasn't until the first 'wet' season out here in the bush that I spotted snails! ... and they breed them big out here!

They have never caused any damage whatsoever in my garden ... so I'm quite happy for them to stay.  There was, however, one unexpected guest that I certainly did not want around!
Cute and cuddly?  No folks ... this was the Guinea Pig from hell!  He munched his way through my Greenhouse Garden in a matter of days ....
... see that bare patch in front of the cute little creature munching away on my Happy Plant ... yes that was a patch of thick, lush vegetation before this marauding muncher got to work!  This creature decimated the entire area in a matter of days.  Of course, while he was busy gorging himself we attempted to find his owner.

We tramped the street ... and that is no mean feat.  Our street is bordered by large properties ... mostly around three or more acres large ... and it's a long tramp between neighbours.  Our neighbours also tend to have very large, mean and cranky dogs patrolling their fence lines ... and while you might stand at the front gate and yell ... because so many of the houses are actually set back from the road a considerable way, you can't always be heard.  So after our good-hearted but unsuccessful efforts at finding this horror's home, I'm afraid to say his demise was rather sad and undignified.

Another little horror ... and an unknown guest this time .... is this thing ... a centipede perhaps?
I came across it out in the courtyard.  It was huge with nasty claw feet and those wicked claw things at it's end!   I gave it a wide, wide berth.

Then there was this sight on our stairway when I got home from work one day.
Now we have had chickens ... and ducks ... but absolutely no turkeys!!!  We had no idea where it came from ... and we had no chance of capturing it either as it was a speedy little demon!  We thought about doing a doorknock down our street ... but, as I've said before, it's a long walk between properties out here and the reception received from the neighbourhood dogs is not always that friendly!!!  Anyway eventually he wandered into our next door neighbour's yard and was looked after very well ... until Christmas!!!  No more needs to be said.

We often see paper wasps around our place ... their nests are a common sight ...
 ... but this particular nest was something I had never seen before!  It reminded me of the sugary fairy floss on a stick that we used to get at the Show!  I never did find out what sort of winged creature had built it.

Now, finally, this was one of our strangest visitors.  Upon arrival home from work late one afternoon, I spied this creature on our back verandah.  I thought at the time it must be some sort of skink ... as it had lost it's tail.  Skinks drop their tail when they feel threatened ... and that's exactly what it seemed had happened to this amazing creature.
I hurried inside to get my camera and just got this shot before it took off into the cupboard and hid.  I never did get to see it come out from the cupboard ... and I've never seen it since.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Mosaic Monday ... A Splash of Sunshine.

This year I'm attempting to push the boundaries.  I'm having a go at growing a few plants that are definitely not suited to the conditions and climate in my dry tropics garden ... I've dubbed this tremendous, ridiculous feat as The Great Bulb Experiment (documented in my other blog).

Well ... I've had more success!  One of the Jonquil Soleil D'ors has bloomed ... and I'm absolutely chuffed!  I've never grown anything like this before ... and really wasn't expecting it to bloom at all.  I just love wandering out into the Greenhouse Garden first thing in the morning and being greeted by this cheery sight!
We've been having so many dreary dull Winter days ... which is so uncharacteristic of our usual Winter weather.  This little ray of sunshine really does brighten the day!

Here are some other bright cheery mellow yellow sights out in the garden right now ... in mid-Winter ... north-eastern Downunder.

For other fantastic Mosaic Monday posts, make sure you visit Mary at Little Red House.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Wildlife on Wednesday ... Red-Tailed Black Cockatoo.

Following on from last week's WW post about a really noisy winged visitor ... this week I'd like to introduce another loud and raucous visitor to our garden.  We see them quite regularly throughout the year ... well, we generally hear their harsh grating shrieks first!!

They're mainly arboreal and love foraging in the canopies of the Eucalyptus and Acacia trees.

This is the magnificent Red-Tailed Black Cockatoo.  There are four sub-species of this bird, but it is Calyptorhynchus banksi macrorhynchus that is quite a common sight across western, northern and eastern Australia.  While both the male and the female have a short crest, a stubby beak and a long tail ... there are some differences.  

The male is jet black, with a broad band of bright red in his tail and a dark grey beak.

The female is duller black, with yellow speckles on the head and breast, and yellow patches in her tail. Her beak is whitish in colour.

A female will lay two eggs but only one young ever grows up to leave the hollow in a tree in which the eggs are laid.

Around here, we usually only see these birds in small groups of males and females.  Further out west, they can be spotted in flocks of over 1000 birds.   There is a common 'bush myth' here in Oz ... no, nothing to do with the ex-President of the US ... it's all about these beautiful black birds.  Apparently if you see three of the these cockatoos together ... that means rain is three days away.  If you're travelling in the outback and you see two thousand ... yes ... that's how many day until the next rain!  I'm not sure where these massive flocks of cockatoos are finding food out there, when there's supposed to be drought for months on end!

Another interesting fact about these beauties ... some of these birds have been known to live for 100 years in captivity.  In the wild, they can live to around 20 years.

There are a couple of other bloggers who have also posted interesting posts that fit in with the Wildlife on Wednesday theme ... so please check them out!
Rosie at Leaves n Bloom
Lotusleaf at Gardentropics

or  is lighter-coloured than the males'.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Mosaic Monday ... A Touch of The Blues!

No I'm not feeling the blues ... quite the opposite.  Success!  It's the first bloom on my first ever Dutch Iris ... and I couldn't be happier.

The Dutch Iris is part of a lunatic experiment I'm attempting this year here in my part of tropical Queensland ... I've written a post about this on my other blog for those who are interested ...
Out In The Twilight Zone - My Great Bulb Experiment.

Here's some more of the 'blues' in the mid-Winter garden here Downunder.

There's our gorgeous mid-Winter blue sky surrounded by (clockwise from top left) Evolvulus, Salvia guarantica, Viola, Pansy, Salvia farinacea, another Viola and a Torenia.

For other fantastic Mosaic Monday posts, make sure you visit Mary at Little Red House.

I thought I might join in Smiling Sally's Blue Monday as well.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Flower Flaunt on Friday - mid-Winter in Oz

 It's a glorious mid-Winter's day in my north-east corner of Downunder ... it's what I call a 'blue sky, blues goodbye!' day.  The sky is clear, no clouds at all today as far as the eye can see ... and the sun is shining warmly ... the cool 15 deg C start this morning quickly turned into a lovely 24 deg C day! 

 For more lovely Flaunt Your Flowers on Friday posts, make sure you visit Tootsie at .........

My poor garden has not had much attention from me lately ... still in recovery mode ... but today I got out there just to take some shots of a few of the lovely flowers smiling at me today.

I was so pleased to see my neighbour's Tabebuia pallida covered in blooms.  It stretches over into my yard and is visible from our Courtyard Garden ... such a gorgeous sight as I wandered out there this morning.

The Tabebuia impetiginosa that's growing in our Driveway Garden bed is still blooming ...

and leaving a carpet of beautiful pink trumpet-shaped flowers all over the leaf litter around the tree.

Back to the Courtyard Garden ... there are many plants beginning to flower now.

It's lovely to see the Kalanchoe blossfeldianas in bloom again.

There's also different Petunias, Violas and Pansies flowering ....  although it appears that in my abscence some greedy little caterpillars have been hard at work munching away at most of my violas and pansies.  You just can't turn your back away for a minuter out there!!!

I'm loving the double purple and white Petunias this year.

Gazania, Osteospurmum and Gerbera are in bloom.

To finish off, there's my new 'Hot Pink' Pelargonium, Pentas, Turnea ulmifolia and Bracteanthas.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Wildlife on Wednesday - Rainbow Lorikeet

For this Wildlife on Wednesday post, I'm showing another stunning bird that we are just so, so lucky to be able to see flying around our garden.  They can often be seen feasting on the nectar of our Cadaghi Gums in our hill driveway garden.

They are the magnificent and unmistakable Rainbow Lorikeet - Trichoglossus haematodus.

You can see from the photo that it would be hard to mistake this breed for any other species of parrot with its blue head, bright red beak and colourful plumage.  I took these photos while we were staying at Magnetic Island ... which is just a short ferry trip away from my city.  These two particular Rainbow Lorikeets were very, very friendly!!

Both sexes look alike, with a bluey-mauve head and belly; green wings, tail and back, and an orange/yellow breast.

The Rainbow Lorikeet is a familiar sight in coastal regions across northern and eastern Australia.  Their continuous loud screeching is a familiar sound around my place and because they cluster in groups, the noise can be quite deafening at times!

They mostly forage on the flowers of shrubs or trees to harvest nectar and pollen, but they also eat fruits, seeds and some insects.

There's another blogger posting a Wildlife Wednesday post today ... so go on over and have a look.  Lotusleaf is showing some of the great wildlife she sees in her South Indian garden:
Lotusleaf's Garden

Friday, July 9, 2010

Flower Flaunt on Friday - start of mid-winter in Oz.

I've had a few days break from blogging ... I've been enjoying time with my grandchildren ... oh and my children!  They always complain my visits are never about them!!!  Anyway, I've made it back just in time for another Flower Flaunt.  To see many other great Friday Flower Flaunt posts, make sure you visit Tootsie's
Fertiliser Friday / Flaunt Your Flowers
Right now it's the start of our mid-winter month - yes it really is Winter in July here - and this is the time of year that both my Tabebuia impetiginosa and Bauhinia variegata are beginning to bloom.  They will both lose most of their leaves as the Winter progresses and be left with bare branches covered in fabulous blooms.

Here's the Tabebuia impetiginosa ... the Dwarf Pink Trumpet Tree ...
... and the Bauhinia variegata 'Alba'.
There's now a lot of petunias making an appearance ....
and so many of the potted plants are in bloom .... such as Pelargonium 'Emotion', Azalea, double Impatiens, Verbena, and Violas.  My little Bromeliad has bloomed too ... sorry I'm not that good with the names of Broms!

Others in bloom include Bractenatha bracteata - Everlasting of Straw Daisies, Scutellaria suffrutescens - Pink Texas Skullcap,  Ivy-leaved Pelargoniums, Angelonia and Dahlia.

Then there is of course my fabulous Winter bloomers ... Euphorbia pulcherrima - Poinsettias.

 Finally, there is my stunning Euphorbia leucocephala - the Snowflake Bush.  I simply love the splash of white this adds to my Courtyard Garden at this time of year.
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