I've been a Canberran since moving here from Adelaide on the first day of 1980. I now live in suburban Duffy with my partner Louise Maher, ABC 666 radio and on-line journalist. Among my early memories is following Sleepy Lizards (Shinglebacks) around the paddocks north of Adelaide, guarded by the faithful bull terrier. I have always been passionate about the natural world, trying to understand how it works, how the nature of Australia came to be, and sharing those understandings. My especial passions are birds, orchids and mammals. For much of my life I have been a full-time naturalist, running bush tours, writing books etc, doing consultancies, presenting a regular radio slot on local ABC, chairing a government environment advisory committee and running adult education classes. Recently I have eased back somewhat, but am still writing, teaching, doing some radio work and running overseas tours - as part of my fascination with our Gondwanan origins I've been running tours to South America for the past decade. I was awarded the Australian Plants Society Award in 2001 and the Australian Natural History Medallion in 2006, both for services to education and conservation.
Wednesday, 24 April 2013
Sunday, 21 April 2013
|Blue Pincushion Brunonia australis Goodeniaceae, north of Perth, Western Australia.|
|Hand Flower Cheiranthera cyanea Pittosperaceae, Wee Jasper, New South Wales.|
The common name refers to the oddly-positioned anthers (the genus name means 'hand-anther').
|Narrow-leaved Squill Chamaescilla spiralis Anthericaceae, Esperance, Western Australia.|
A delightful lily, which can grow en masse from pure sand.
|Nodding Blue Lily Stypandra glauca Phormiaceae, Canberra.|
|Blue Tinsel Lily Calectasia grandiflora Dasypogonaceae, Moore River National Park, Western Australia.|
One of those which looks bluer in my mind than it does in this photograph.
|Smooth Flax Lily Dianella longifolia Phormiaceae, Canberra.|
|Blue Lechanaultia Lechanaultia biloba Goodeniaceae, north of Perth, Western Australia.|
One of the most breathtakingly blue flowers I know; quite stunning.
|Blue Fingers Cyanicula caerulea, Canberra.|
|Waxlip Orchid Glossodia major, Canberra.|
|Bluebeard Pheladenia (Caladenia) deformis, Alligator Gorge, South Australia.|
|Two sun orchids; Thelymitra media and T. ixioides, Ulladulla, New South Wales.|
|Mountain Beard Orchid Calochilus montanus, Canberra.|
The shiny blue smooth plates on the labellum seem very good candidates for a structural blue,
formed by layers of cells over a dark background.
|Tasman Flax Lily Dianella tasmanica, Namadgi National Park.|
It seems that blue berries get their colour from a waxy layer scattering blue light.
|Bluebush Maireana sedifolia, Gawler Ranges, South Australia.|
Here the blue is from a waxy leaf coating which helps protect from water loss in a harshly arid environment;
perhaps the colour is an incidental byproduct of this.
Friday, 19 April 2013
|Young Marine Iguanas on jetty, Isla Isabela, Galapagos.|
Wednesday, 17 April 2013
|Green Tree Ant nest, Darwin. The 'glue' can be seen as white material at the bottom of the nest.|
|Green Tree Ants dismembering a dragonfly, Litchfield National Park.|
|Leafcutter Ant trail, Manu, Peru.|
These trails of ants carrying leaf segments above their backs as long as the sun lasts
are an integral part of South American rainforests.
|Nor do all leafcutters restrict themselves to leaves!|
|Leafcutter Ant nest, Manu, Peru. |
A big colony can house millions of ants.
|Leafcutter Ant queen, Sacha Lodge, Ecuador.|
Sunday, 14 April 2013
|My tent; note the shower system to the left. On request it is filled with warm water; the flow is regulated from |
inside by pulling chains to turn it on and off. Very sophisticated I thought!
|My verandah; a most pleasant place to sit, read, write and contemplate.|
|The view from the verandah. over the low woodland to the distant lake in front of the hills.|
|Camp dining room.|
|African Finfoot Podica senegalensis, early morning Lake Mburo. |
This is an intriguing species whose only relatives seem to be the Masked Finfoot of south-east Asia
and the South American Sungrebe.
|African Fish-Eagle Haliaeetus vocifer Lake Mburo. |
Their pulsing whistling duets are one of the most evocative sounds of Africa.
|Malachite Kingfisher Alcedo cristata; no matter how often I see this little jewel - and it is widespread across Africa - it is never enough.|
|Parks staff washing vehicles in the lake - and yes, there are crocodiles here!|
|Swampy habitat, Lake Mburo.|
|Saddle-billed Stork Ephippiorhynchus senegalensis, a magnificent big hunter of fish and frogs, and a close relative of the Australian and Asian Black-necked Stork.|
|Greater Blue-eared Starling Lamprotornis chalybaeus; the magnificent glossy starlings of Africa constantly delight me.|
In southern Australia the only starlings are two highly destructive exotic species,
which can't provide much satisfaction here.
|Impala Aepyceros melampus, truly a most elegant antelope.|
|Waterbuck male Kobus ellipsiprymnus; another typical Lake Mburo resident.|
A powerful antelope, rarely found far from water.
|Sunset, Lake Mburo National Park.|
Wednesday, 10 April 2013
|Male Gippsland Water Dragon Itellagama (Physignathus) lesueurii, National Botanic Gardens, Canberra.|
|Unidentified skink, Cooktown, north Queensland. Any assistance gratefully received!|
|Male agamid, Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda.|
|Southern Cassowary Casuarius casuarius, Wallaman Falls north Queensland.|
(Taken through a car window!)
|Blue-faced Honeyeater Entomyzon cyanotis, Griffith, New South Wales.|
|Blue-footed Booby Sula nebouxii, Puerto Ayora, Galapagos.|
The bluer the feet, the more attractive the owner to the only one who matters.
|Andean Ruddy Duck Oxyura jamaicensis, El Calafate, Argentina.|
|White Tern Gygis alba, Lord Howe Island.|
|Dusky Woodswallow Artamus cyanopterus, Canberra.|
|Painted Locust Schistocerca melanocera Sierra Negro volcano, Galapagos.|
Like so many other Galapagos residents, they are found nowhere else.
|Tropical Rockmaster Diphlebia euphoeoides, north Queensland.|
|Black-headed Skimmer Crocothemis nigrifrons, Canberra.|
|Shining Oak Blue Arhopala micale, Cairns, north Queensland.|
|Urania Moth, Manu National Park, Peru|
|Euchromia creusa, north Queensland. Here the blue is not (mostly) in the wings, but in body scales. |
Presumably the principle is the same however.
|Sally Lightfoot Crab Grapsus grapsus, Galapagos.|
|Soldier Crabs Mictyris longicarpus, Cullendulla Creek Nature Reserve, New South Wales|