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.
Thursday, 31 December 2015
Wednesday, 23 December 2015
|Going down - 600 metres from top to bottom. I'm not a great fan of heights, but this one's worth it.|
|Headwaters of the Snowy River.|
|Massed Silver Snow Daisies Celmisia sp., above and below.|
|Flowers in front of the Ramshead Range.|
|Alpine Sunrays Leucochrysum alpinum.This has recently been raised from a subspecies of L. albicans.|
|Silver Ewartia Ewartia nubigena.Named for Alfred Ewart, Australia's first Professor of Botany as a stand-alone position, |
appointed to Melbourne University in 1905.
|Cascade Everlasting Ozothamnus secundiflorus.|
|Dusty Daisy-bush Olearia phlogopappa.|
|Candle Heath Richea continentis, above and below, form massed prickly colonies in swampy ground.|
|Snow Beard-Heath Leucopogon montanus grows as an erect shrub lower down the mountain,|
but above the tree-line it lies flat to the ground or sprawls over rocks.
This mat form is typical of many species in these harsh wind-swept environment.
|Alpine Stackhousia Stackhousia alpina.|
|Sky Lily Herporlirion novae-zelandiae.Of course one shouldn't have favourites, but I can't help it in the case of this delightful ground-hugging |
blue-tinged lily, found, as the name suggests, in New Zealand as well as Australian mountains.
|Mountain Celery Aciphylla glacialis.Surely one of the most spectacular members of Apiaceae, the celery and carrot family.|
|Purple Eyebrights Euphrasia collina.|
Euphrasia means 'delighting', and it always works for me!
|Alpine Mintbush Prostanthera cuneata.A beautiful aromatic shrub which grows close to the rocks, allowing it stand upright.|
|Alpine Rice-flower Pimelea alpina, a tiny herb.|
|Bitter-cress Cardamine sp.|
|Alpine Water-Fern Blechnum penna-marina.I'm always surprised to see ferns growing in a situation where they spend weeks of every year |
buried in snow, but these are hardy, and grow among the rocks which provide a heat sink.
|Yellow Kunzea Kunzea muelleri.This low-growing shrub can dominate vast areas of hillside - see below.|
|Alpine Orites is in the Family Proteaceae, not well-represented at these elevations.|
|Its always seemed a mystery to me that Snow Gums (above and below) are called |
Eucalyptus pauciflora - 'sparse-flowering'!
Clearly not named by someone who knew the tree.
|The Alpine Spotted Grasshopper Monistria concinna is regularly found feeding on the mintbush,|
despite its aromatic supposedly insect-repelling foliage.
|Spotted Alpine Xenica Oreixenica orichora;|
thanks for the i.d. Suzi!
|And it wasn't until I looked at the moth photo more closely that I noticed|
this tiny flower spider lurking with intent.
|Australasian Pipits Anthus novaeseelandiae work across the ground taking insects from foliage.|
|Little Raven Corvus mellori enjoying the last light of day in a Snow Gum.|
As well as gleaning the mountain insects, they have adapted well to human habitation.
|This little fish is also found at lower altitudes, in waters too warm for the trout.|
Meantime, I hope that Christmas, if it has significance for you, is a time of happiness and peace - and that you can get out and enjoy nature wherever you are.
|Old Snow Gum, Charlottes Pass, with Main Range behind.|
Thursday, 17 December 2015
|Rainbow Bee-eaters Merops ornatus, Karumba, tropical Queensland.|
The bee-eaters overall are one of the most colourful bird groups - this is the only one found in Australia.
|Rainbow Pitta Pitta iris, East Point, Darwin.|
The name species name also means rainbow. This angle doesn't give you the best view of its assets,
but you get the idea.
|Rainbow Lorikeet Trichoglossus moluccanus, Emerald Botanic Gardens, Queensland.|
This widespread and familiar parrot is still expanding its range - it really is spectacular.
|Superb Parrot Polytelis swainsonii, Mulligans Flat NR, Canberra.|
A threatened species which has taken to coming into Canberra in recent years,
probably spurred by drought years. An unhelpful name, but hard to argue with.
|Mulga Parrot Psephotus varius, outback Western Australia.|
Widespread in the inland - not just in mulga (Acacia aneura) - it boasts four obvious colours.
|Red-capped Parrot Purpureicephalus spurius, Albany, south-west Australia, where it is endemic.|
|Double-eyed Fig Parrot Cyclopsitta diophthalma, Cairns, tropical Queensland.|
Australia's smallest parrot - only 14cm long - and packed with colour!
|Wompoo Pigeon (or Fruit Dove) Ptilinopus magnificus, Cairns.|
This is a glorious big pigeon, whose name comes from its call. Try saying it slowly and sonorously -
lots of gravitas!
|Golden-tailed Sapphire Chrysuronia oenone, Waqanki Lodge, northern Peru.|
|Masked Trogon Chrysuronia oenone, Tandayapa Lodge, Ecuador.|
All trogons are spectacular, but are not always easily photographed in the canopy;
here however they come down to the compost heap!
|Many-banded Aracari Pteroglossus pluricinctus, Wild Sumaco Lodge, Ecuador.|
Aracaris are small toucans, a notably colourful group.
|Saffron-crowned Tanager Tangara xanthocephala, Inka Terra Hotel, Machu Picchu, Peru.|
This bird was in shadow - in the sun the crown is more obviously saffron!
Collectively, tanagers are among the most brilliantly-coloured birds in the world.
|Red-crowned Barbet Megalaima rafflesii, Bako NP, Sarawak.|
The Asian barbets are now regarded as being in a separate family from both the African and South American ones -
all are spectacular.
|Rubycheek (or Ruby-cheeked Sunbird) Chalcoparia singalensis, Batang Ai NP, Sarawak.|
The sunbirds, of Africa and Asia, are another group in contention for
Colourful Birds of the World Award.
|Unidentified grasshopper, Blanquillo Clay Lick, Peru.|
|And another, also unidentified, from the rainforests of Mt Kupé, Cameroon.|
|And at last, one I can put a name to - the Galápagos Painted Locust Schistocerca melanocera,on Sierra Negra, Isla Isabela.|
|Sally Lightfoots are found all along the Pacific coast of the Americas,|
and they are one of the real features of the Galápagos.