Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Under attack

I noticed a little caterpillar on a path and went inside to get my camera. When I returned only a minute or two later the caterpillar was under attack by ants. It was wriggling rigorously and trying to escape but the ants were persistent and as I watched reinforcements arrived. It's amazing how quickly the message was passed along that there was a potential food source. As far as I could tell the caterpillar wasn't injured but maybe the ants knew more than I did.

 In the two photos below the caterpillar is still very active and so are the ants. Presumably the ants are nipping or stinging the caterpillar.

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Australian beauties

We arrived home after our trip to the west to find the garden filled with flowers. They are all Australian plants.



Flinders Ranges Wattle


Geraldton Wax

Silver Princess

Australian Hibiscus


Gold Dust Wattle

Emu Bush

Silver Princess



Eucalyptus preissiana


Darwinia citriodora

Hakea 'Burrendong Beauty'


Saturday, 26 August 2017

Please don't step on the dinosaurs

The Big Ant at Poochera
Nothomyrmecia macrops Dinosaur Ant
Last week we were travelling towards Port Augusta after dark and needed to refuel so we stopped at Poochera. This Big Ant model is near the service station at Poochera but I've since read that the town has featured their ant in public art all over the place.

Years ago I had read Edward O Wilson's book about ants, called The Ants, the only professional science work to have won a Pulitzer Prize  - for general nonfiction - in 1991. In that book he tells the intriguing story about this famous ant.

The Dinosaur Ant Nothomyrmecia macrops is the world's most primitive ant and was first collected in 1931. Unfortunately the label was not very helpful so entymologists from across the world looked for the ant north of Esperence in Western Australia for 46 years. In 1977 Robert Taylor and a team of scientists was driving across Australia to look again and stopped after dusk at Poochera in South Australia. Robert was taking a nature break in the scrub and found the ant. It is now thought the EP on the label of the original specimen referred to Eyre Peninsula not Esperence. The town is now a mecca for entymologists across the world.

The ant is a beautiful golden colour and its stings are very painful for humans. Luckily only three people have been stung! The ants live in a colony underground and after dark the workers leave the nest and climb a nearby tree to look for insects. If an ant finds an insect it stings it to death and immediately takes it back underground. By dawn all the workers have returned to the nest and the entrance is obscured.

 So, if you ever visit Poochera please don't step on the dinosaurs.

Thursday, 24 August 2017

A post for Nan

Time to post an explanation for the pause in posts.

Last week were staying with my cousin Diane and her husband Stewart at Capel (between Busselton and Bunbury), reminiscing about the fact that we were staying there 12 months ago when we heard that my father had died and consequently had a quick drive back home across the Nullarbor.

We had a lovely day with Diane and Stewart exploring the coastline around the Margaret River area down to Augusta and next day packed up to leave for Albany and Esperence before heading back to Victoria mid-September. But it was not to be. We heard that morning that Phil's mother, Shirley Phelan, had died. So once again we had a quick drive back across the Nullarbor to Kerang.

Yesterday was a beautiful day in northern Victoria and we held a small family ceremony, complete with bagpipes, at the Mitiamo Cemetery in the Terrick Terrick National Park, a cemetery in the middle of a beautiful forest of Murray Pines and eucalypts, native grasses, daisies and lillies. Then we had a service at the Kerang Uniting Church that was filled with friends and family from afar, united by our love and respect for a delightful 92-year-old lady. I've blogged about Shirley and the Alford family several times and you can find the links here and here and seach for in the side panel of the Backtracking blog.

So, the photos on this post are from our visit to the Cape Leeuwin and Margaret River areas.

Public art on the coast at Margaret River

Fungi in home garden, Capel

Storm aftermath. Huge piles of seaweed on beach at Capel.

Capel beach

Busselton jetty

Canal Rocks

Canal Rocks

Drone, Canal Rocks

Margaret River

Margaret River

Cape Leeuwin

Cape Leeuwin. Bluebottles washed up in storms.

Cape Leeuwin

Cowaramup feature cows in their main street

Monday, 14 August 2017

Elizabeth Quay, Perth

Public art, Elizabeth Quay
This blog is a nature blog rather than a travel blog but I'll make an exception. We went to see the bell tower in Perth and discovered a new quay has been constructed right next door. Elizabeth Quay is quite delightful, small and interesting. There is a island with a playground, a water feature, a foot bridge, gardens and several retail outlets including cafes of course.

Bessie Mabel Rischbieth OBE 1874-1967 by Jon Tarry. She was a social advocate.

Foot bridge, Elizabeth Quay

Love locks and fountains at the bellltower

View from the bell tower
And a bit of nature. There were cormorants and seagulls on the island as well as a darter. There were two female darters who didn't seem to mind humans in close proximity.
Female darter
Water feature, Elizabeth Quay

A model posing for photos, Elizabeth Quay
We were amazed to see that the authorities (state or council) have allowed the development of hotels or multistoried units surrounding the quay. In the photos below you can see that building has started. In the future the views of the bell tower and from the bell tower and the city will be severely compromised but the view from some high-priced hotel room or unit will be stunning. Crazy. Money talks.

Bell tower and cranes, at left
View of developments from the bell tower.
PS We discovered that, as seniors, we could buy a $1.30 ticket for the ferry to South Perth from the quay that entitled us to travel back and forth for two hours. We only went across and back once.