Sunday, January 30, 2011

Austral Ellipsidion cockroach

Our grand-daughter spotted this beautiful cockroach this morning sitting on the leaf of a dahlia bush :

binomial name : Ellipsidion australe
common name : Austral  ellipsidion

It is a last stage instar - ie last step on the way to becoming an adult.

This is one of many native cockroaches -  the pest cockroaches are all introduced and this unfortunately has given this type of beetle a bad name.

The spider lillies are in full bloom again:

And one of the new chooks became a carpet python meal overnight :

That was about an $18.00 main course meal for this native "friend" !
-I only bought it last week.  It has been replaced with two more today and I will make sure to lock them in a snake proof enclosure from now on.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Scribbly Gum

Yesterday, late afternoon during the Australia Day street party, this Scribbly Gum was highlighted by the late afternoon sun-  it shone like a beacon with the white colour of the trunk. This tree is probably over 100 years old -  there were some really massive Scribbly Gums on the 2 properties at the end of the street but unfortunately some have gone now.

Eucalyptus  racemosa:   scribbly gum

It is a tree to 20m on deep sandy soils usually on coastal lowlands. We have several on our property, nowhere near as large as this one.  The scribbles on the trunk are from moth larvae.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Giant Valanga

This morning whilst weeding a front garden bed  this grasshopper was

It is a native grasshopper  called a  Giant Valanga
Link to the usual info site:

It is off to become chook food after the photography session

On our letterbox there has been a paper wasp nest growing. This morning we took down some insect spray to kill the wasps and remove the nest. They have a nasty sting when disturbed and being on the letterbox was not

They are the common paper wasp  - Polistes sp  (probably humilis)

Link about these :

Also not garden related:

Mary's cat called Astro.  He is about 3 months old now.

Australia Day here today -  there is the usual street party later on  this afternoon- hopefully it stays fine and no thunderstorm develops.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Magpie Moth

Spotted this moth on the back lawn this afternoon:

Magpie Moth - Nyctemera secundiana:

I initially thoughtt it was a small Common Crow butterfly but soon  realised it was a moth by the way it held the wings at rest.  The food for this species
is the weed Thickhead  or Crassocephalum crepidiodes of which we have a lot.

Our garden has now dried out enough to get serious again - on the weekend
 we weeded the vegetable garden ready for some more plantings.  Also we
planted a new Meyer Lemon  and a grapefruit variety called Honnef's Surprise. The latter is similar to the Poorman's Orange -  a New Zealand grapefruit variety that we like but couldn't get here. Both citrus have been planted well above ground level to get better drainage. This was done by using 4 bales of sugar cane mulch to retain a barrow load of soil and compost :

Anne pruned the Tropical Peach as well.  Some other fruit trees were staked up as they leaned too much after the prolonged rain.   Figs are in full swing
-jam was made today as the quantity is too much to eat fresh.  Yard  long beans from one of the aquaponics growbeds continue to be picked every 2 days . The ants are getting into it though and need to be hosed off -  they are spreading/feeding aphids that seem to like this plant but hosing works well enough.
The trees that fell over during the heavy rain/flods I had cut off about 1 m from the ground and stood up-so far the Moringa has sprouted and has one Kauri and one Papaya.  Just shows it is worth doing this especially for small to medium sized trees that are worth trying to save.  Long term  I wonder though how good the root structure will be.  
 We also bought 2 more chooks on the weekend (Australorps). These are for the enclosure where the ducks live. It was getting overgrown with weeds  and hopefully they will clean it up.

Heavily into academic work for the next few months so will be out in the garden less.


Friday, January 14, 2011


Finally the weather is ok enough to start moving around the garden. The ground is still very sodden with ponds of water in quite a few spots but the flowing water seems to have stopped for now.
We were looking today at places we could establish better drainage to try and stop water running directly down the property. This will involve using the bobcat I have access to and create contour based structures of furrows and mounds.  There is no way that will be happening though for a while yet as it would be a recipe for making a huge mess.

The fig tree is loaded with fruit - we picked several today  and lots more coming on. It surprises me that the fruit fly, possums and birds don't get into this fruit :

Also the Bunya tree up the back has dropped this year's nuts -  there are only 5 this year. These will be stacked in a dry spot for a couple of weeks until I get around to splitting them open to extract the edible nuts that are inside the large outer structure that is also called a nut - it gets a bit confusing!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Brisbane Flood

We went to have a look at the flooding today (without getting in the way)
Mt Gravatt did not really provide much of a view and even the  Gateway bridge was a waste of time. The solid bridge sides prevent any real view of the river. Bulimba was better:

The river is way wider than usual and a very muddy brown colour. There was an anchored yacht nearby that was obviously bow down into the water- the anchor chain length must have been too short for the  river depth.  One street we tried to go down was blocked off.
Another fine day here largely with one or two showers so far. Lots of dragonflies around and spotted another Orchard Swallowtail butterfly. Anne took some shots of it flying around and  managed this one :

It is not identifiable from the photo but it is a nice "action" shot.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Small green banded blue butterfly

Yesterday morning whilst having breakfast in the usual spot - the verandah -  this small butterfly was hanging around:

binomial name :   Psychonotis caelius
common name : Small green banded blue

The photograph doesn't display the  bright blue colour of the top side of the wings.  Host plant is the Red Ash or Soap wood ( Alphitonia excelsa).  This tree grows well here and seedlings appear regularly.  I leave them if they are in a reasonable spot.

Regarding our floods : Damage so far : 2 kauri trees fallen over,  1 Moringa fallen over 3 Papaya fallen over, about 30 drowned plants including some native olives that were doing really well, and a variegated pohutukawa that wasn't cheap to buy at the nursery. Some of the small Lomandras I planted also seem to have rotted.   Fortunately we are well out of harms way and will not be affected any further but it is still disturbing to see so much destruction and loss of life in SE Queensland. I hope it is not a sign of things to come with climate change.  On a brighter note -  a beautiful fine day today (so far!)
The only produce we are harvesting at the moment is yard long beans from the aquaponics system :

They are about 400mm long  and we pick a handful every 2-3 days

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Orchard Swallowtail Butterfly

Whilst I have posted about this before, we spotted this butterfly in our yard a few days ago :

I am fairly sure it is a female Orchard Swallowtail Butterfly . It was a bit ragged looking so must have been on its last legs. The host plant is citrus so I must check for caterpillars from it in a few days.

Also spotted this colourful spider in a simple web in the rose garden. I have been unable to identify it unfortunately.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Rainbow Bee-eater

Whilst having lunch today on the verandah, we noticed some birds hanging around in the next door bush.  They were sitting fairly high up in a dead gum tree before swooping down and catching dragonflies (probably - as there are lots of them flying around at present) before returning to a branch to eat the catch. After having a good look with binoculars they were identified as the Rainbow Bee-eater. Anne took some pictures using the SLR camera with zoom. This one was the best :
Merops ornatus

This one lacks the black crescent under the chin and the colours are not as vibrant as in the reference book we have, so maybe it is a juvenile. This is the first time we have spotted these birds, but they  may have been around in other years without being noticed as they seem quite a shy bird species.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Wivenhoe in flood

Not much happening in our yard at present - we have had so much rain recently and the ground is totally sodden. Today my ride- on mower became bogged just backing it out of the shed where it is kept. It is still bogged and is covered with a tarp as more rain is on the way.

This afternoon we went up to see Wivenhoe in flood - all the flood gates are open on the dam wall and the sight was quite spectacular -  a mini Niagara falls!

I am heavily into some academic work at present so there will be less posting  - well until we can get back into the yard if it ever dries out