Wednesday, 31 October 2012

500 and counting

Sandy Straits and Beyond celebrated his 500th blog by writing a retrospective this week. Coincidentally this is also my 500th blog and I'm also looking backwards.

My first blog was in April 2007. It was an experiment with a medium I wasn't familiar with and I wasn't sure I'd find enough to write about! But here I still am over five years later, still writing about amazing and interesting things in nature. It's been fun, the whole process, from deciding what the topic will be, sorting photos, finding references and the actual writing. And, of course, exploring the Australian bush. And I love reading the other Australian nature blogs.

I also wrote travel blogs when we holidayed overseas, and I've recently started one to write about another hobby of mine, family history. People often say that I must spend a lot of time blogging but I really don't. Maybe it shows! Mine isn't the most popular blog on the planet but there are a few regular followers - friends, family and fellow bloggers - and I'm continually amazed how often my visitors arrive because they've done a google search or image search. And I'm amazed that so many of my visitors are from overseas given that it's a blog about Australian nature. I hope they enjoy their visits and learn something about our wonderful country as well.

Here are a few of my blog's stats. I know. There are stats, and then there are stats. But this is what Mr Google thinks.

Five most visited blogs?
                           Round the twist
                           A bearded orchid
                           See through to the sea
                           Feather-heads and pussy tails
                           Point Addis
Five top keyword searches?
                            emu bush
                            bush peas
Apart from Google and Blogger the top referring sites? Thank you guys.
Top five countries of origin?
                            United States of America
                            United Kingdom

I wonder if I'll make it to 1000?

Monday, 29 October 2012

Constructing a case

Today I revisited the bush that had the case moths in abundance and noticed that a lot of them were quite active. One in particular was manipulating a small stick that it had already cut. It seemed to be 'licking' the surface of the stick I thought perhaps it was laying down an adhesive coating prior to placing it on the case. This is a small video.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Hovells Creek

Hovells Creek, west of the You Yangs
It was a regular outing for the birding group but this time we visited a special place. Hovells Creek meanders through private property west of the You Yangs and it's home to birds that we don't see very often in other areas around Geelong.

Despite the gale-force winds we saw a lot of birds - beautiful Rainbow Bee-eaters and Striated Pardalotes nesting in the holes in the sandy riverbanks of Hovells Creek, Jacky Winters, a pair of White-winged Trillers, Rufous Whistlers, a Black Falcon, White-browed Woodswallows, martins, Fan-tailed Cuckoos and Red-rumped Parrots and many others.

It's a pleasure to go birdwatching with such skilled people. They observe behaviour and jizz, listen to vocal fragments, catch a glimpse of colour and unerringly pinpoint the species. For them the joy of observing the birds never diminishes. I watch and learn.

Waiting for the Trillers to return to their tree.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Capturing Flora

The Art Gallery of Ballarat is a great place to visit any time but an extra-special exhibition is a real bonus. We went to see Capturing Flora: 300 years of Australian botanical art, an exhibition of drawings, paintings, etchings and prints of Australian flora.

Most of the art work is from the gallery's own collection - a pretty impressive effort. The Director of the gallery states (in his forward to the book of the same name that has been produced to complement the exhibition) that the impetus for the exhibition was Helen Hewson's book Australia: Three Hundred Years of Botanical Illustration published in 1999.

We saw works by Ferdinand Bauer, John Hunter, Sidney Parkinson, Celia Rosser, Henry Andrews, Walter Fitch, Rosa Fiveash, Louisa Ann Meredith, Margaret Flockton, Margaret Stones, Robyn Mayo and many others. We saw books opened to display etchings and wonderful hand-tinted illustrations. We heard heard Jean Dennis in person talking about her paintings of the Brachychiton genus. I was personally taken by Lauren Black's watercolours of Tasmanian mosses.

And we saw an illustration in a book of poisonous plants in Queensland, done by Margaret Anderson Hope who was a Tasmanian. I recognised the name and when home checked my family tree database and, yes, she's a distant relative. Here's a photo of Margaret holding a posy. The original is in the Allport Library and Museum of Fine Arts in Tasmania and they also hold an album of Margaret's paintings called 'Wildflowers of Tasmania'.

Monday, 22 October 2012

The curious case of the calytrix and the case moths

One shrub in my garden, only one of many, is covered in case moths. It's a Calytix tetragona that was covered in a mass of pink flowers several weeks ago. Now I'm wondering if the moths have been there a while or just arrived. And I'm wondering what it is about this particular plant species that they like.