Saturday, September 5, 2015

A Visit to Healesville Sanctuary

A few days back I joined a small band of Heyfield Birdos for a visit to Zoo Victoria’s Healesville Sanctuary. It was my second visit – after 50+ years.

Either John or Jack are going to do a blog post, so I’ll restrict my entry here to a link to to a folder on Google Drive for some of the photos I got on the day. I was very impressed with the place. The walk-in aviaries meant the birds were accustomed to human presence and they just carried on feeding, preening, nesting, breeding, etc while we clicked away with our cameras almost set to ‘macro’!

Another couple of links that other 'bird tragics' might like to explore...


Sunday, August 30, 2015

Blue on Cannibal

Today at Mt Cannibal, consistent with Mrs Gouldiae’s observations - the blue flowering shrubs in the bush are among the first to appear in spring – some Common Hovea and Purple Coral-pea were catching the eye on the lower slopes.

Common Hovea is a widespread straggling to erect shrub found in heathy woodlands of Vic, Tas, SA, NSW and Qld.

Good old Hardenbergia or Purple Coral-pea needs no introduction but is always pleasing to see it twisting and climbing through the bush. Now a common garden plant with numerous cultivars, in the bush it can be found down the south-eastern coastal strip of the mainland and throughout Tasmania.

To cap the ‘blue theme’ at cuppa time a Superb Fairy-wren family visited us at the picnic tables. The dominant male was in his full blue uniform but wouldn’t come too close. The juveniles were happy to hop closely by however.

Seems things are hotting up.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Spring Bee Here?

It doesn’t feel like it just now, but a few days back we had a touch of spring weather. The Wax-flowers, (Eriostemon sp/Philotheca sp?), in the front garden began exuding their aromatic oils from their leaves.

It didn’t take long for the local Honeybees to locate the shrubs and begin collecting nectar and pollen. I imagine the bee colony they belong to is probably depleted considerably after the winter months.

By all accounts, any excess drones – the males that mate with the queen then die – are killed off at the end of summer to help preserve food supplies for the winter. The female workers collect the pollen and nectar, guard the colony, build and maintain the nest, etc. 

Apart from the honey they provide directly, Honeybees and other insects put food on our tables by pollinating about 30% of our food crops. They also pollinate 80-90% of all wild flowering plants.

Pollen packet on the hind leg is clearly visible in this close cropped shot
Wild Honeybee colonies can consist of up to 50,000 individual bees. Each colony has its own odour identifier, produced by the queen and passed onto the drones and workers. Should a colony grow too large, or should the queen lay too few eggs, a new queen is produced by the workers and the old queen will ‘swarm’ with a few workers to begin a new colony in a new location.

Useful and amazing creatures, Honeybees deserve our respect and regard.