my view of the natural world

Archive for June, 2010

Sleeping in the sun

The peace at my usual place by the river was interrupted by noisy visitors so I walked further away and found a place on top of a hill away from that noise.  I settled down to read a book while my horse grazed nearby and the dog explored and then returned by my side.  After a while, the midday sun took effect on me, and I lay down and closed my eyes….listening to the sound of the horse biting the grass in a regular rhythm …and then that took effect on me…..

When I awoke, I realised the horse had also followed suit and was having a nap – while the faithful dog kept watch on us.  What it is to have such marvelous friends!


Catching the warmth of the sun

It’s been chilly here this week and I’ve sought out warm places to sit while outside.  I found one place by the river – north facing, sheltered from the wind and when the sun came out from behind the clouds it was a little sun trap.  A weathered old tree branch provided a great habitat also for skinks and this little fellow was as curious of me as I was of it. These tiny creatures are lovers of the sun too of course and there were several darting along the timber at intervals, catching the insects or enjoying the warmth.


A jewel find – Chalcopterus Beetle perhaps.

I was collecting firewood from a dead gum tree and under the bark came across three absolutely gorgeous beetles – they looked like jewels with their rainbow coloured jackets.  The closest I’ve come to identifying them is the Chalcopterus Beetle – the habitat fits and the metallic sheen, but not the rainbow colours, as that beetle is said to have a plain coloured metallic sheen.  A gentle creature nonetheless and one I took great care not to harm.

CHALCOPTERUS BEETLE FACTS

Identification
The Chalcopterus Beetle is a dark coloured oval beetle with a metallic sheen. The head is black and the wing covers take on a blue or green sheen depending on the angle of the light.

Habitat
Found under bark of Eucalyptus trees

Classification

Class: Insecta
Order: Coleoptera
Family: Tenebrionidae
Genus: Chalcopteroides
Species: sp
Common Name: Chalcopterus Beetle

Exploring

I took a little trip to a place further downstream from my local river, to a place called – wait for it – White Cliffs.  Aussies are sometimes so lacking in imagination! I’m sure this area had a name given to it by the original inhabitants, the Aboriginals, but there are none left to tell me. It’s a rather special place, it being the nesting area for water birds and also, the cliffs are used as nesting sites for the visiting Rainbow Bee Eater each summer when it arrives from further north in the tropics.  Access to the area is difficult fortunately, which means the birds are mostly undisturbed.  In the summer it would be rife with snakes, which is why I took the opportunity in midwinter to walk to this spot.  I must admit however, I did feel like an intruder, so I didn’t stay long.  Some places are meant to be left alone.


Standing on tiptoes

My little dog and I have much in common…..especially our shortness of legs.  Perhaps that’s why we both enjoy being on board the horse – it raises us above our limited view.  And we’ve both learned to stand on tiptoes…..


Rarely seen Hydromys chrysogaster

This delightful Australian native aquatic creature lives in my nearby watercourse but is very shy and I rarely get a chance to view it for more than a fleeting second, let alone get a photograph of it but yesterday I got lucky and managed to get a few shots – albeit without a chance to change settings.

Once upon a time the Hydromys chrysogaster – otherwise known as the water rat – was quite plentiful but their numbers were severely reduced during the Great Depression when they were hunted for their pelts.  Since then, environmental factors have impacted on them and I’ve never seen or heard more than one at a time here although I have seen another further upstream.  It has webbed feet on its hind legs which distinguishes it dramatically from the introduced rodent – the European rat.


Swimming perspectives

Depending on one’s own perspective, a situation can look quite easy or difficult.  This poor ant found the puddle on the side of the road quite difficult but was doing its best to swim across when I found it.  Those tiny legs were paddling at quite a rate but progress was very slow….    I helped it by providing a small twig it could catch a ride on and so reach the other side safely.  Ants are of course, noted for their determination and it may have reached its destination unaided….but being  one with small legs myself, I felt some sympathy for its situation!


The force of fungi

Rain in early winter brings to the surface the fruiting bodies of fungi in all their various forms – some simple and others quite weird but all are wonderful.  The so-called simple organism is capable of great feats I think – for example, like this fungi pushing its way upward and breaking through the crust on the surface.  Always a time of magic enchantment when I find one of these peeking through.


What makes something perfect?

Travelling through apple orchards recently I had to stop and reflect on modern growing methods.  Instead of pigs, geese or other livestock running in the orchard and eating the fallen fruit and at the same time fertilising the ground, the unpicked fruit is left for months to rot on the ground or mummify on the trees, thereby becoming a potential breeding ground for pests and diseases.  Chemicals are used instead….with all the problems they cause.

Even once the fruit is picked it is frequently treated with more chemicals….to make it shiny or somehow more appealing to the consumer – as if a natural fruit is not appealing !!

This apple looks great to me – despite a small flaw on the outside.  And yet it’s been rejected.  Shame shame shame.

Time for consumers to get real and change their expectations and to stop worrying about how it appears but be more concerned about how it’s grown.

” An apple a day keeps the doctor away” goes the old adage – BUT ONLY WHEN IT’S NOT LOADED WITH CHEMICALS!


A work of Art

There was a mist here yesterday morning and I took the opportunity to get a little further away from home to see what gems I could find with my camera.  Mist doesn’t occur here very often so I wanted to make the most of it.  I’d finished shooting a landscape and was walking back to my vehicle when I spied this web hanging from the fence.  That I thought was most beautiful.  The builder of it was not to be seen – perhaps it was taking refuge elsewhere from the cold and it was only crazy photographers who were out in the near freezing conditions!


Precious Water

Sparkling, energising water.  I wonder how much longer this will exist?  When will humans understand that without it we cannot survive.  We can – and have – survived without oil.

Even the water in this image is polluted by viticultural practices further upstream.  And we can most certainly survive without wine despite the lobbying by powerful wineries to the government for handouts.