From Film Diary 18 January 2012 to Abroad
This trip was different from any other I have been on in that I was ill with bronchitis when I left Australia and only recovered towards the end of my 18 day stay in Londn. As far as I know I had never had bronchitis and the last time I was really ill overseas was in Israel in 1974. But enough about being ill. More…
An email arrived from the Liaison Librarian: Art & Design at Middlesex University, the final home of my alma mater Hornsey Collge of Art. She confirmed her interest in receiving the copies of ‘Gravy’,the college magazine I edited from 1965 to 1967. They are still in the folder in which I kept them after publication.
I received an email from Dave Allan addressed to Steve confirming that he had loaded the test data files I had delivered and that there were no problems accessing them. I’m off overseas on June 9 and will be kept busy checking and possibly delivering the completed files after I get back in mid July.
Night filming 72 with Mark and Hugh, the last of the season as the nights are now rather cool and fauna activity decidedly less. Nonetheless, towards the end of our walk I filmed a moth that wasn’t a Granny’s Cloak, a spider that wasn’t a Brown Huntsman and the unexpected highlight, a Dwarf Crown snake which was at Mark’s feet when he first noticed it.
I sent out another 16 emails to literary agents, mostly in London, but some in New York. Six of the initial batch (all from London) replied. I emailed 3 submissions and posted 2.
Because of Peter Hall’s work and holiday commitments, he won’t be available until the end of September. He suggested I try and get alternative quotes, which I did. I was given the contact details of a company who would have charged more than double Peter’s quote. After that I asked Steve once more if he knew of any IT expert at Bond University and this time he came up trumps. Following initial email contact and a meeting, I today received a quote from Ben Sinclair, a young computer whiz, which is half that of Peter Hall. What is more he can start the work when I get back from my overseas trip.
My son Simon and his fiancée, Nicole, were married on the 5th anniversary of their first date at a winery at the foot of the mountain, so I did not have far to travel. It was a perfect day, sunny, indeed hot for a while. Bride and groom were radiant, the venue’s lawns and the surrounding countryside were verdant, the food was plentiful and tasty and the mountain provided a spectacular back drop.The speeches were heartfelt, informative and much enjoyed. It was refreshing for me to be socialising with so many young people.
My article ‘Lazy Journalism’ was published today, to which this is the link:
Today I received an email from Nigel Fechner, a mycologist at the Queensland Herbarium in Brisbane. Based on my description in the email I sent him, the fungi I filmed on 30 March (see Film Diary below) are Phallus multicolor a close relative of the Crinoline Stinkhorn, Phallus indusiatus. The skirt of P. multicolor is shorter than that of P. indusiatus and is less likely to fully develop and may even appear to be non-existent.
The larva (caterpillar) of the Cyana Meyricki moth builds a stunning cage-like cocoon, a tapered oval in plan, out of its setae or hairs, which are numerous and appropriately long. The larva suspends itself in the cage and emerges as a moth through a gap in the taper. We have seen plenty of cages in a variety of locations, including 11 on the door of the neighbouring garage to the one where I film my moths. I have also filmed a cage in the rainforest at night. A few months ago I was checking some footage of a Wood Duck nestling 10 ducklings when the next sequence grabbed my attention. It was of a caterpillar climbing the wall of the garage where I film my moths. It was covered in long dark hairs and, based on the abandoned exoskeleton of larva in the cage, it was about the right size. So I asked Steve to capture some frames and sent them to Dr David Britton at the Australian Museum in Sydney who is an expert on the moth. Today I received an email from him agreeing that “it is highly likely that this is the larva of the Cyana meyricki”. He refers to the long serrated hairs on the body matching those that are used in the cocoon. I am not aware if any footage exists of the larva building its cocoon.
Night filming 70 at the Knoll National Park, with Mark, Dan & Jenny. I filmed a cricket grooming, a native cockroach, a Damsel fly and, for the one and only time, mating Stick insects.
Was told about some strange fungi on a property and having had a look, decided to come back and film them. I took them to be Crinoline Stinkhorns whose skirts had failed to deploy. They were growing in wood mulch. The fungus has a remarkable skirt which descends from the cap to the ground. I also filmed a Case moth larva on the move in the mulch.
Today I emailed a dozen literary agents, 10 of them in London, one in Brisbane and one in Melbourne, asking if they would consider my book “One small place on earth… Celebrating Biodiversity Where You Are”.
In seeking to submit my latest article for the Brisbane Line, I contacted Martin Leet only for him to tell me that he is no longer the editor. He referred me to Karyn Brinkley, the CEO of the Brisbane Institute, who has taken over from him. I phoned Karyn and we had a cordial conversation, of which the upshot is that I today submitted the article.
Have been regularly filming moths on the garage, but today was surprised to see 3 Emperor moths, Syntherata Janetta close together. They are a large, impressive moth. The previous example of the species I filmed, was in December. She was laying eggs in what seemed a most unsuitable place - on the garage’s side wall.
Received an email from Jeremy Deller, whom I contacted after reading a Guardian Weekly article about him, asking if we might meet during my stay in London. He requested me to email him when I’m in town.
Vanessa forwarded an email she received today stating that we had not been shortlisted for the Queensland Museum public art project. It’s a pity, but hardly unexpected.
Every other year I like to undertake a UK/Europe trip. After mulling over possible dates, I opted to get the whole thing over and done with between the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the London Olympics. This meant travelling earlier in the year than I prefer which unfortunately also meant no return visit to stay with Herbert and Gil Distel near Vienna. Today, my trip took more solid shape with confirmation that my deposit for my London accommodation had been received.
Night filming 65, with Dan and Jaap and his partner Louise. This was Jaap’s last night shoot for the foreseeable future, because he and Louise have embarked on their journey of discovery around Australia aboard their converted bus. In honour of Jaap giving me his spotlight when he left the mountain last September I ordered a new reflector which Mark expertly fitted the other day. I filmed a beetle, an ants nest in a hollow log, a Net-casting spider with its net beautifully spread to engulf unsuspecting prey crawling beneath it and an Earth Star fungus. Normally I don’t film fungi at night, but Earth Stars are short-lived.
In addition to my ongoing email exchange with Anna about the Light/Sound Workshop, I have had a brief exchange with Ian Helliwell, who is interested in the history of electronic music in Britain and wanted to know about the musical component of LSW. Based on an essay about LSW I wrote for my degree, I told Ian that we made contact with the BBC’s radiophonic workshop and that the sound component was only addressed when we devised a demonstration or performance.
For reasons I do not wish to go into, John’s visit was not a success. Unfortunately we did not really hit it off. I was able to show John a fair variety of local fauna and flora on the mountain and in some of the adjacent World Heritage Areas. We also did a rainforest night walk. One regularly hears of internet ‘friendships’ which fail the test of meeting in the flesh. I did not think this would happen to me.
The second and concluding day of filming a nest of Black-faced Monarchs from the deck of a high-set house which resulted in the camera being just slightly below nest level. Two adults kept busy feeding 3 chicks. Yesterday I briefly filmed a Grey Goshawk on a nearby tree, possibly one of the fledglings from the nest I filmed last November.
After a meeting and exchange of emails, I received a costed proposal from Peter Hall for the IT restructure of the website. The need for this was apparent from the moment the site became a Content Partner of EOL. In the intervening 2 ½ yers no new gallery images have been added to the site. By contrast I have over 550 frames in my facebook albums. Christina’s design will be retained, but I need to be able to upload content and Christina’s IT structure does not readily allow this to be done. I got in touch with Peter via a mutual contact. My thinking was that I had to get a grant to cover the cost and advised Peter accordingly. Today I also happened to receive a quarterly financial report which, lo and behold, revealed that I had sufficient funds in a poorly performing property trust to pay him.
Today I filmed some large white fungi in a garden. As often when I film fungi, I noticed some ant activity, though not a lone ant crawling over and under the cap, but the occupants of a nest scurrying among the blades of grass. The trick for me was to locate an area of grass used by a sufficient number of ants and large enough to show the paths they took without the individual ants being too small for me to adequately reveal their anatomy.
Received 2 emails from Vanessa confirming that our EOI for the public art project at the Queensland Museum had been submitted and receipt acknowledged. It was a lot of fun working on the submission which reflected a genuine pooling of ideas by Vanessa, Kat and me. The EOI had to be about our intentions and approach, rather than about our idea, which I think has a lot going for it. Only Vanessa has what one might call a profile in public art but it is not really established. I’m ever hopeful, but I am not holding my breath, as they say here.
This evening Steve filmed my introduction to the DVDs at the same location we used before, the last house Jaap lived in on the mountain, which adjoins a rainforest creek. He was pleased with the result. A week ago he was on the mountain and recorded 2 hours of soundtrack of the rainforest at night. He had to put up with a truck or two, climbing the steep road which is on the boundary of one national park and with a passenger jet bound for Brisbane flying over another, but declared the sound quality good and clear.
Mark and I went filming in Witches Falls National Park on our quest for finding Harvestmen in daylight. I filmed a rather good fungus, a Donuca rubropicta moth for the first time in rainforest, a pretty red Shield Bug, another moth which was on a rock and so beautifully disguised that I thought it was part of the lichen on which it was resting, and male and female Harvestmen. We first saw a male here on a night shoot in February 2011.
Received an email with John Caddy's flight information regarding his forthcoming week's stay with me at the end of the month. John and I only know oneanother via the internet and I regard him as a good friend. So I am looking forward to meeting him in person and sharing as much of our biodiversity as we can encounter. Other than Clive and Christina, John, who hails from Minnesota, is the only friend who has undertaken to visit me in the nearly 25 years that I have been in Australia so I'm extremely grateful to him.
For our last night shoot of 2011 we went to the Knoll. I filmed an ethereal looking katydid or grasshopper, a sweet, diminutive roosting bird on the end of a branch above the path and a female Harvestman, which, being smaller and duller in colour, is more difficult to film than the male.
This evening Steve added the final bit of narration (which required 6 sessions in the sound suite) to the remaining rainforest at night vision, so we now have the bulk of the content of our next 3 archive DVDs. We still need to do some deletions, dissolves and incorporate interview footage of Jaap, Mark and me, plus a yet to be filmed re-record of my introduction. And I need to do the wording for the slick and commission its design.
For the first time since April 16, I filmed new moths on the garage at Central Avenue. The lights had been left off, thus killing my supply of any kind of moth. I filmed one large moth laying her eggs on the side wall, a rather unpromising spot.
I thought it about time to see if I could encounter Harvestmen during the day, so I went to the Knoll on the 15th and drew a blank, but yesterday in Joalah, I filmed four male and two female Harvestmen on a rock next to the path near Curtis Falls. Even more spectacularly, today I filmed six males in a group on a rock on level ground in Palm Grove. A seventh male was just round the corner. Both here and in Joalah, I thought my eyes wouldn't be up to spying the arachnids.
My last piece for the year, about Abispa ephippium, commonly called the Australian hornet, in reality a Potter wasp, duly appeared in the Tamborine Mountain News. They were as good as their word and have published me fortnightly.
Following a meeting Vanessa Stanley, Kat Danger Sawyer and I had at my place about collaborating on an artwork, Vanessa emailed me details of a public art project at Queensland Museum on Brisbane's South Bank for which she wants us to submit an Expression of Interest (EOI). The three of us had met earlier in the year at a discussion in Beaudesert at the conclusion of a joint exhibition of work by Vanessa and Jaap and then at Vanessa's beautiful and interesting artwork for the Brisbane Festival at the Powerhouse arts centre in Brisbane. Inter alia we discussed the idea of projecting my videos on walls in Brisbane, but the Museum project gives us an early opportunity to work together.
Our night filming took place during a rain shower and under wet conditions, so that everyone present was more concerned about fighting off leeches than spotting animals. Dan's girlfriend Jenny, kindly removed a number of leeches from my clothes. Standing still filming and holding a spotlight is a recipe for leech encroachment. I filmed a different semi-slug to the ubiquitous Black-spotted variety. Strange to think that when I first encountered it, I thought the Black-spotted Semi-slug might be a rarity. It remains one of my nightime favourites. I didn't film a Brown Tree snake that we saw. When I got home and took my trousers off I discovered I had 4 leeches camped round my waist, 3 in front and 1 behind.
PS I am proud of the fact that I managed to stem the flow of blood in such a way that neither my make-shift night wear or my bedclothes had blood on them when I woke up next morning.
Today I celebrated my 70th birthday, enjoying reaching the biblical allotment of three score years and ten. Twenty four of us sat down to a terrific dinner at an excellent Indian restaurant, just up the road. We were all on the outer side of four tables forming a square, so everyone could see everyone having a good time, which for me added to the pleasure of the occasion. As did the fact that Nicole, Simon's fiancee, was able to meet my friends and they her, an all round resounding success. Co-incidentally on the day, I received a letter stating that I had been awarded the RADF grant. The work can begin after January 10 next year. A most unexpected and gratifying birthday present.
Night filming in the Knoll National Park with Mark and Dan. A good haul which included a male Harvestman, a Black-spotted Semi-slug, a Giant Water Spider and one of Australia's largest ant species, highlighted by a large Great Barred Frog with only one eye and a very docile Small-eyed Snake which fortunately for me, preferred the path to the undergrowth. This species is listed as venomous and dangerous.
Following a phone call from Jenny Peat, I filmed 2 Grey Goshawk chicks and an adult, on their nest some 20 metres up in a tree. The adult left the chicks to their own devices and only put in two appearances in over two hours, one fleeting, the other allowing me to get some hopefully good footage. One or other or both of the chicks were visible the whole time.
The Tamborine Times treated my One small place on earth… contributions as a filler rather than as content. At best my video frames appeared weekly (while the publisher was on holiday), at other times fortnightly or worse, so I contacted the Tamborine Mountain News and offered my services to them. The Times appears weekly and contains more pages than the News, which appears every other week. But the News, run by volunteers, is about serving the community rather than seeking the last dollar and today my first piece, featuring a vine thicket, appeared in hopefully its new home.
Martin Leet emailed me confirming that my article 'Biodiversity as Art' was up on the Brisbane Institue site:
http://www.brisinst.org.au/here-and-now/october-2011-issue/5 I thank Martin for giving me the opportunity, which I greatly appreciate, of sharing my reflections on my 13 year biodiversity artwork and what it means to me.
The scripting continues apace and with it the species identification, with emails whizzing to and fro. Today John Caddy emailed me in reply to a frame I had sent him of a mosquito on a leaf at night informing me that the 'mosquito' was a Crane Fly. This necessitates not only a script rewrite, but a script re-record. Just when I thought I had got off lightly after my friend and naturalist Doug White confirmed yesterday, that what we thought were Bush Rats were all Fawn-footed Melomys. Fortunately the required rewrite can be done before recording.
Today an intern at a London art gallery emailed me about Light/Sound Workshop, to which I belonged during my time at Hornsey College of Art. Hers was the second such enquiry following one from the author of a book on the Pink Floyd. But she wanted information about events after I left art college and about which I knew nothing.
The real millipede madness, when zillions of millipedes invade homes in southern Australia, sounds like too much of a good thing. Fortunately the millipedes of Tamborine Mountain appear to confine their swarming to trees, in this instance to some trees in Central Avenue, in particular a Jacaranda, whose rough bark provided some ideal resting places. A pretty amazing subject nonetheless.
Better late than never. I had been getting frustrated by the seeming indifference of some experts conducting a survey of the vulnerable Glossy Black Cockatoo, to footage I filmed of a family in December 2008 and about which they had long known. A few months ago the lead researcher got in touch and Steve and I gave him a time-coded DVD of the footage and today he emailed me with his shot selection.
Tonight was the first shoot of the new season for Mark, Dan and me. The first thing we came across in the Knoll National Park were Red Triangle slugs on a couple of Flooded Gum Trees in the picnic area. These striking molluscs, characterised by a red triangular line around the breathing hole on their mantle, are a new species for the archive. Jaap left the mountain earlier this month, prior to acquiring a converted bus in which to begin touring Australia early next year with his new partner Louise. He generously gave me his spotlight. We caught up with our Harvestmen, more precisely a Harvestwoman. I also filmed a Stick Insect nymph, one of a number we saw.
Having emailed Steve the revised script for Supplement 4 which is more than twice as long as the scripts for Supplements 1 and 2 combined, I recorded the first half of the script this evening in the sound suite at Bond University Film School.
I posted the RADF application today. Hope it works out, but I'm not holding my breath as they say here, particulalry after being informed that a high up in the organisation wondered what my video project had to do with art.
Now that I am immersed in scripting the DVDs, I have been busy contacting various curators at the Queensland Museum and their colleagues elsewhere, in order to identify the species we have been filming at night for the past 3 ½ years. Today an email arrived from Christopher Taylor in West Australia who had identified an amazing harvestman we first saw at the end of last year and which had only been described a year earlier. Chris pointed out that he was only familiar with lab specimens and that nothing was known about the species' natural history. So any observations we can provide could potentially be interesting.
Am gathering the necessary fire power for the RADF grant. Darryl Jones sent me a glowing letter of support which I got today.
Today I received the Statement of Significance from Simon Smith, who curates my published archive at the National Film & Sound Archive, on which we had worked together and which is central to my reapplying for a RADF grant. It appears to tick all the boxes, so fingers crossed.
Talk about animals knowing what's best for them. Today, after a couple of months not filming because of shot selection for the night footage DVDs, I filmed a pair of Tawny Frogmouths, perched on a vine up against the white wall of a house in Central Avenue, enjoying the Winter sun.
For our 'Rainforest at Night' DVDs, Steve, with Hugh's help, filmed interviews with Jaap, Mark and me talking about our experience of night filming, our favourite creatures, highlights of our 53 night shoots, the value of our night filming. We were filmed in Jaap's back yard which borders rainforest, but which had a handy plug outdoors to power the lighting.
A video frame and brief text of mine were published in 'The Tamborine Times', the first of a fortnightly series, in which I can inform readers about the species rich biodiversity with which they share the mountain.
Maybe 3 weeks ago, Ray, a neighbour of mine, told me how a bird had snatched his lower denture off his balcony table and I told him that I had seen a lower denture in mulch in the park a couple of months before. I won’t go into why the denture was on the table, other than to say that the bird was after food. Today Ray knocked on my door, wanting to know exactly where I had seen the denture. Its replacement was causing him discomfort. We went into the park and were looking for the lost article, when Andrew, a friend of mine newly returned from a year-long overseas assignment, turned up unexpectedly at my place to say hello. Catching sight of Ray and me doing inexplicable things in the park, Andrew strolled over to make his presence known and find out what we were up to. After introductions he joined in the search and within minutes succeeded in finding the denture, exactly where I had left it at the end of April. Ray could not have been more delighted.
I have been working away on the Night Life supplements and Steve has been assembling the preliminary shot selection on 3 DVDs. Tonight we managed to do another 2 videos for vimeo, bringing the total on my vimeo page to 75. For technical reasons, not all my elegible vimeo videos have been harvested by EOL. For the past 2 months I have not done much filming. Things quieten down in winter, though, for the first time in a few years, we are enjoying day after day of sunshine and clear blue skies, typical winter weather for these parts. I love this weather and have really missed it. We are planning for Steve to film interviews with Jaap, Mark and me for the supplements at the end of July.
NIGHT LIFE SUPPLEMENTS
Steve and I have been working on Supplements 4 to 6 of the archive. They will all be devoted to the rainforest at night. Like Supplements 1 to 3 they will each be about an hour long. This means we have had to suspend work on videos for EOL. Our night filming season ended on shoot 53 on May 10. Miraculously, given that I am unable to film in the rain, the continual wet weather hardly interrupted our weekly schedule. I have nearly 10 ½ hours of night footage and have finished part of the initial shot selection. Days of watching footage, logging shots and putting them into my lap top converted to Steve assembling them on his hard drive in 2 hours this evening.
Last night, totally out of the blue, we had an intense hail storm. Fortunately the stones were just a bit larger than pea size and not damaging to vehicles. This cloudless morning I looked out of my kitchen window and saw a hail drift against the garage wall, perhaps 30cm deep. I filmed it from various angles, including close-ups revealing individual stones, and then, following a telephone tip-off, a field all the more white with hail because of the brilliant sunshine. The hail storm had cut an uneven swathe through the northern part of the plateau with my home on its fringe. The hail on Tamborine Mountain featured on today’s tv news.
For a long time I have wanted to film Blue-faced honeyeaters. I have seen them in various parts of the Mountain. They are handsome birds and one can get quite close to them unless, as I discovered today, one is trying to film them. They were feeding on several stands of Red hot poker plants. I had seen the birds for the past few days on my morning walk.
I was surprised by an email from Martin Leet confirming that he had published my article on racism: www.brisinst.org.au/here-and-now/may-2011-issue/6 over which we had had a sustained difference of opinion. I was willing to agree to differ and leave it at that, feeling that it would have been better for someone more knowledgeable than I to address the point which was behind my article; namely that Australia is a much more racist country than its self-image is willing to accept. A trait which I suspect is true of other liberal democracies.
I was unsuccessful in my grant application. Apparently applications for funding contributions to collections seem to require a Statement of Significance, but this was not made clear to us. I must say I was rather annoyed because we included a letter of support from the State Library of Queensland confirming their desire to include the videos in their heritage collections. The RADF letter appeared to indicate that provided the Statement of Significance passed muster we would be awarded a grant. The deadline for the next round is in September.
I returned to film the many species of fungi growing in a sizeable area of mulch in the park opposite my home, having previously filmed a very large species there 10 days ago. Because of the variety of species I was filming for a good two hours. Which may have been why I noticed a set of lower dentures lying in the mulch, not far from the only picnic table in the park. I was mildly intrigued by their presence but left them in situ.
Jaap showed me an insect cluster on a tree in a rainforest patch being given some love and attention by Land Care. I returned with my camera and filmed what looked more like worms than caterpillars, writhing on the tree. I thought of caterpillars because I had seen them clustering on bushes in Bellingen, New South Wales, years ago.
I have been filming the flange roots of Yellow carabeen trees lately, initially in Joalah and MacDonald National Parks, today in Palm Grove. The roots can reach to 8m high or they can extend for several metres from the trunk. I was retracing the path we took on a night shoot a few days ago. Some fungi on a tree caught my eye. On closer inspection the fungi contained an interesting bug which obligingly performed for the camera. I was just about to move on when I noticed a dark line above the fungi which turned out to be a smaller specimen of a spectacular flat worm I filmed in MacDonald NP on a night shoot six weeks ago. I was able to film this worm travel half way round the tree trunk and descend to its base. The worm is one of those intriguing species which have so far defied identification.
VIMEO TO EOL
Steve and I completed another 4 videos from the list of old Standard Definition footage for EOL via vimeo, bringing the total to 54, of which 27 have been uploaded since EOL started harvesting from vimeo. We also made all the older videos devoted to a single species, EOL harvestable.
Tonight was our 43rd night shoot. We have been maintaining a weekly night filming schedule since the start of the season in mid October. Because of a year or more of wet weather, the paths in the national parks have grown increasingly muddy. There was little doing until we were almost out of the Knoll on our way back, when we heard a rustling sound near the path. On examination it turned out to be an echidna jammed under a tree root. Conditions for filming were a bit cramped, but I managed to video the echidna backing out from under the root, steering itself to face in my direction and lumbering towards me blowing bubbles through its snout. It had only seemed like a few months ago that we saw what in all likelihood was this very echidna in more or less the same part of the park, but at the start of our shoot. Before I could set up the camera, it had hidden itself. What seemed a few months was in reality 1 ¼ years ago.
Martin Leet emailed me the link to my first Brisbane Line article of 2011 about the decline of the West.
The grant application was submitted today. We will be informed about the outcome in May.
I have been filming a camp of Grey-headed flying foxes, Australia’s largest bat with a 1m wingspan and weighing up to 1kg, in Joalah NP. Their noise and the stench of their urine are pervasive. Their impact on the rainforest vegetation is noticeable. Even when they are roosting in the tops of palm trees, they are a fair distance from the camera. I filmed numerous adults cloaking young under their wings. Today a drop of bat urine hit my eye. They say urine is sterile. I had long wanted to film flying foxes, thinking it would most likely be at night because I thought they only visited the Mountain for food. It was only recently that I heard about the camp in Joalah.
I have received the information required to apply for a Regional Art Development Fund grant. The grant is for creating data files and DVDs of the 100 plus hours of the video archive for the State Library of Queensland. Steve got the library’s understanding that we include a high resolution version for future editing purposes.
It’s amazing how creatures can take hold of you. About a month ago Hugh Alexander noticed a daddy long legs-like creature when we were night filming in the Knoll NP. It had a tiny body and immensely long legs, but what was utterly remarkable was what we took to be eye stalks, many times its body length. None of us had ever seen anything like it. Well, today we saw 3 in all, at the same spot on rocks next to the path; the third on our way back. In the meantime we found out a bit about harvestmen, but nothing about the ones Hugh discovered. Harvestmen are arachnids (8 legged). Their bodies are unsegmented and the stalks are sexual organs. To totally dombfound us, the third specimen’s stalks had an equally long extension forming a right angle.
VIMEO TO EOL
Today I received the great news that EOL is now able to harvest videos from vimeo. Compared with generating new website gallery pages and converting the data they contain to XML, making the videos harvestable only involves providing the binomial (scientific name) and family to which a species belongs, adding some specific tags and including the relevant licensing agreement.
ATLAS OF LIVING AUSTRALIA
I received an email from Lynne Sealie, the communications manager of ALA, which is an international partner of EOL, praising our website and flagging various linkages, including displaying my images on their site.
I felt somewhat daunted by the thought that I have such a backlog of images to get onto EOL.
30 December 2010
Maintaining weekly night filming sessions, we returned to the Knoll National Park. I filmed some intriguing small beetles, a large hunting spider devouring its prey and one of the strangest creatures I have filmed on our night jaunts. It was a daddy long-legs with huge eye-stalks and tricky to film because there wasn’t much of substance on which to focus. It was on an earth bank. Its second pair of legs were inordinately long. We’ll have to research what species it is.
I filmed two moths of a species new to me on the Central Avenue garage and then did some night filming in Palm Grove National Park in mizzle. I filmed a Grey Huntsman Spider, a small moth, a white spider in its web and two large specimens of the Giant King Cricket; the antennae of the second, stirred by a fair breeze, lit up against the dark. By now the rain was piercing the canopy and I had to stop filming.
My son Simon and I travelled to Palam Vihar near Delhi to celebrate his grandfather Andy’s 90th birthday. One of Simon’s missions was to buy an engagement ring for his girlfriend Nicole, which we did with help from Andy’s wife Maggie. She took us to some well-regarded jewellers shops in Delhi to which Simon and I returned the next day; Simon eventually making his purchase.
I emailed Christina explaining that we need to increase the number of gallery pages on the website in order to provide EOL with more data and requesting information for Steve to be able to do this from here. In just over five years we have created 13 gallery pages totalling 156 images, whereas in less than a year I have uploaded over 300 images to my ‘One small place on earth . . .’ Facebook page. Of course I am not comparing like with like, but we do need to try and improve our productivity.
I have been able to film at night on a weekly basis, which is very gratifying given that I am unable to film in the rain and we have had constant showery weather. This time we were in MacDonald National Park and I filmed snails, a fly and a pair of skinks, the female with eggs. The high point was filming two newly emerged Green Grocer Cicadas, the most common species round here.
We have had a lot of rain throughout the past two years. A spring-fed creek has regularly formed a pond in a dip in a small property not far from where I live. Late in the day I filmed a pair of Wood Ducks roosting and saw that they had ducklings. Eventually the ducklings emerged and even entered the water. There were ten of them. Then they returned to their mother and I filmed them all managing to fit beneath her wings, which appeared to even exceed those of an aircraft in their ability to extend.PS On November 10, I filmed nine ducklings and shortly thereafter they had moved to the property to the rear.
A CONTENT ‘CONTENT PARTNER’
4 November 2010
The first I knew that The Biodiversity of Tamborine Mountain had become an EOL Content Partner was an email I received today addressed to Content Partners about the appointment of EOL’s new Executive Director and another stating that I could now check last month’s usage of my data on EOL.A quick visit to my EOL gallery revealed some long-standing errors and omissions. Still, it is a relief to at last be a Content Partner after 18 months of to-ing and fro-ing. The Content Partner page on which my website appears is here.
25 October 2010
This was our second night filming session of the season, just six days after the first. We went to the Knoll National Park and I filmed a Richmond River Snail, which has a conical shell; two eye-catching caterpillars suspended on threads; a glow worm curtain; a bush rat which miraculously clung to a bush for several minutes, even repositioning itself before moving on at an unhurried pace; a Black Spotted Semi-Slug, one of my favourite denizens of our rainforest; and a Net-Casting Spider which I had never previously encountered. It was much smaller than I had anticipated and I managed to get some footage of its net, which it appeared to consume.
On the day before I left for Europe I had emailed Katja Schulz in the hope that she could arrange for the remaining corrections to the XML data to be carried out while I was away. Alas, no such luck. On October 11 I received an email from Katja stating that she could not publish my material until she received updated information. I sent this today, in the form of a corrections document which listed every error I had found on the EOL preview site, plus one or two on my website.
We always see swallows on the Mountain, flitting about the shops or perched on overhead wires. For the first time I had the opportunity to film these attractive birds. I found an eminently filmable nest on top of the security alarm of a real estate office. The nest contained five young and both parents had all their work cut out feeding them.
My biennial catching-up with family and friends in the antipodes. Read about my travels here.
Dallas copied me the corrected XMLs he sent to EOL, which will hopefully be acceptable.
Simon booked our tickets to Delhi online. He got us an excellent deal. We depart Brisbane on November 30 and return December 11. The reason for our trip is to celebrate Simon’s grandad’s 90th birthday.
A first for the archive: I filmed a Spotted Pardalote in the birdbath in the Wild Garden. I had never seen, let alone filmed one before.
Received a rather dispiriting email from Katja Schulz confirming the errors in Dallas’ XML files, although she acknowledged that EOL’s information for content partners ‘is a bit sketchy’. The upshot is that she has asked us to resubmit our material.
Having read Chris Palmer’s timely and groundbreaking book ‘Shooting in the Wild’, about the trials and tribulations of wild-life filmmaking, with his welcome emphasis on the appropriate ethical requirements of the genre, I emailed him my appreciation of what he had done. I recommend his book to all who feel that deception, misrepresentation, and exploitation of animals has no place in natural history documentaries.
I wanted to reprise a memorable shot of a vine, descending from the canopy and spanning Cedar Creek in Joalah National Park which I filmed in 1999. Because this entailed a lengthy walk, Mark kindly carried my tripod. Before we proceeded beyond the end of the designated walking track I filmed a number of vines. Thereafter we were still on a defined, if somewhat overgrown path, crossing and recrossing the creek. I had forgotten how beautiful and dramatic the scenery was in this part of the park. Given that it was winter, I filmed a surprising number of fungi. It seems that for fungi damp conditions are more important than warmth. Eventually the path was claimed by jungle and we were obliged to turn back. We saw no sign of the vine. I could not tell if we had passed the place where I filmed it or whether it lay tantalisingly, further down streame.
You can read about My First Two Hours in Portugal here. It isn’t socio-political enough for publication in The Brisbane Line . . .
Received the last of eight daily emails from Peter Hendry, an expert with whom Doug White put me in contact, following a presentation of my DVD Looking Out For The Overlooked at the June Landcare meeting. In one of his emails he referred to difficulty with images. I thought he was referring to mine, but it turned out he was referring to some of the reference images used to identify my moths. I wonder if the Queensland Museum knows of him. I had some moths identified via the museum. This took quite a while. I sent Peter my email, with six moths for him to identify, in the morning and received a reply that afternoon.
At long last I heard from Katja Schulz again. She told me that The Biodiversity of Tamborine Mountain is on the verge of becoming a Content Partner on EOL. She provided me with a preview of all the pages to which I have contributed images and it was a thrill to not only see the list but very pleasing to click on an entry and see my video frame on the page. I emailed her, pointing out a couple of errors and asked her if she wants me to go through all the pages before she publishes them.
This evening I helped Steve capture 166 frames I have selected from recent tapes for our image bank.
My friend Robyn Ashwin phoned me to report a flock of Wompoo Pigeons feeding in a fig tree behind her house. The tree was not as big as the one next to Palm Grove where I filmed the Wompoos last July, so I was able to get better close ups this afternoon.
I received an email from the Greenscreen Festival stating that my entry had not been selected for screening. This came as no surprise given that entries are made by broadcasters and the like.
Last year we stopped our night filming on May 12. This year we are carrying on because the results continue to make it worthwhile, even if some of the creatures are hibernating. We continue to see possums and Leaf-tailed Geckos. Tonight, in Joalah, I filmed a spider securing its egg sac on a leaf suspended by a strand of web a metre from the ground. I then filmed a small snail which appeared to be growing a shell, although it had some of the characteristics of the semi/snail slug. Finally I got some good footage of the eel in the pool with the bridge. The water was much clearer than the first time I filmed the eel here. Of the golden orb spider there was no trace, just bedraggled bits of web. We arranged to film again in a fortnight.
Creating and upkeeping my Facebook page, and producing eleven new YouTube clips and the documentary for Greenscreen, has pushed writing articles for The Brisbane Institute to one side. My first article this year for The Brisbane Line is titled Ignorance. Today Martin Leet has emailed me the link to it. You can read it here.
I last heard from Katja Schulz on March 11. Dallas emailed her the changes he had made on April 11. I emailed her on April 22 asking her if EOL had received his email. I emailed her again on May 13. And now I have sent her an email titled ‘Limbo’, because that is where I appear to be with EOL. Katja has tended to be quite prompt in replying to my emails, so this silence is out of character, rather worrying and by now unacceptable.WORLD PREMIERE
19 May 2010
This morning I screened ‘One Small Place On Earth . . .’ at the May meeting of the Probus Club attended by about 50 members. It may be its one and only screening. The documentary seemed to be well received and there were plenty of questions afterwards.
I decided to film the golden orb spider I had filmed two nights ago in Joalah, when Steve took footage of me filming and Jaap talking about why he loves spotlighting. This was a species more common further north. The spider had been extremely active at night. Now it was motionless in the middle of the web. Nearby was a fallen, seemingly dead branch, several metres long, sprouting new growth, which I filmed. A bonus was a male and female Log Runner, a medium sized ground-foraging bird, which I filmed in the undergrowth.
I was at the Knoll National Park to film some fungi I had noticed during our night filming a few days earlier when I saw a lace monitor in the picnic area on the look out for scraps. He was a large specimen and I was able to get some good shots of him patrolling the open ground. The monitor did not have things all his own way. A number of scrub turkeys were also after a feed and one repeatedly went for the monitor’s long tail, pecking at it viciously, so that the monitor formed his tail into a horizontal fiddlehead shape to make it a harder target for the scrub turkey. I didn’t film enough of this drama. I went in search of the fungi and only noticed them on my way back.
Today I posted the data disc to Sakkeer Hussein, comprising a number of my YouTube clips he had requested for his classroom project. Steve and I had to complete the Greenscreen DVD and eight new Youtube clips before we could turn our attention to compiling the data disc.
Sakkeer, a zoology teacher from Kerala in India, first got in touch in December last year on YouTube with a request to use some of my video clips for his teaching aid project for biology students. He has uploaded hundreds of clips of his own and other footage, covering a vast range of life forms including microbes. Here is his channel.
I had a bit of a win when I renewed my domain names for two years. I was able to renew both names for the price of one. The price has not changed from the beginning. I also have biodiversity.net.au.
When visiting the travel agent last week, I was told that my airfare to Europe had gone up by $800. The outward journey involved the added expense of an overnight stop in Singapore. My plan to incorporate a visit to India to catch up with my ex father-in-law, Andy, a couple of months before his 90th birthday, was becoming unaffordable. I enquired about fares for a straightforward Brisbane/London return flight and was quoted a price $2000 cheaper. Then, following phone calls to find out if I could stay with Andy for his birthday, which I can, I today booked and paid for my UK/Europe flight with the intention of travelling to Delhi with my son Simon in December. My UK/Europe dates remain unchanged.
Greenscreen Festival sent an email confirming the safe arrival of my entry the day before the deadline. Steve and I were up against it for the past couple of months, clocking up the hours to produce a documentary about me and my work called One Small Place On Earth . . . Originally I had planned a DVD along the lines of The Beauty of Overlooked Things, but with the extra dimension of night footage. Steve advised me to try and conform to the expectations of the festival organisers by changing to a documentary format. Time and money were always going to be a major constraint. We had to courier the DVD to Germany. I am glad we made the documentary. It is something on which I hope we can build.
Dallas sent an email, copied to me, with the amended XML file to Katja Schulz.
Received an email from Herbert Distel confirming the dates for my short stay at his house near Vienna at the end of August, to which I am greatly looking forward. I have booked my UK/Europe, August/September trip with a week’s stay in India on my way home. I was a schoolboy the last time I was in Austria.
John Caddy emailed me the link to the new Kingdom Fungi pages on his website Morning Earth which includes four of my frames. A couple are on the first page. Keep on scrolling down till you get to the ‘Anemone Stinkhorn’ frames.
I received an email from Gold Coast City Libraries ordering five sets of Supplements 1 to 3 of the Archive which were published at the end of 2009. This was in addition to recent orders from other buyers of the original publication of the archive in 2006. Every little helps to defray my production costs. Fortunately the project does not depend on sales since it is not about achieving sales.
On February 23 I filmed a pair of ducks with three ducklings on a temporary pond created by a storm-fed spring which had filled overnight. I pass the pond on my daily walk and kept my eye on the duck family. I was amazed that the ducks had committed their brood to this pond. Today I filmed just 2 ducklings; one had perished. They were away from the pond, near the property boundary and had grown considerably. I moved closer to them whereupon they and all the other ducks flew over the fence and did not return. We have had good wet seasons for the past two years, culminating in a record-breaking 354mm in 24 hours on the Mountain on February 6/7.
Katja’s email reply to Dallas, copied to me, listed the problems EOL had. Dallas has undertaken to make the necessary changes at a further cost to me.
Katja emailed me saying that Dallas’s XML file failed validation and needed further work. I forwarded Katja’s email to Dallas and he copied me in on his reply to her, which was all Greek to me.
Four months ago I asked Dallas Wallace, a local IT expert, if he could scrape the website gallery to create an XML file for the Encyclopaedia of Life to complete the process of The Biodiversity of Tamborine Mountain becoming a Content Partner. After a succession of missed self-imposed deadlines by Dallas, I today sent the file to Katja Schulz at the EOL.
Tonight we filmed in Witches Falls National Park for the first time. It takes longer to get to the rainforest proper, but we felt we should at last try our luck there. The first creature I filmed was a Giant Barred Frog, regarded as endangered. Not surprisingly, I had never seen the frog before. Later we saw a Rough-scaled Snake, one of a handful of the Mountain’s dangerous snakes. It obligingly stayed still in the vegetation close to the path. Unfortunately Jaap’s spotlight was playing up so I only had a limited opportunity to film it.
For the first time since I started using my HDV camera, I was able to film an intriguing event in the form of a host of yellow butterflies attracted to the yellow flowers of a native tree on which they apparently breed. I had never seen so many of the butterflies. In the last few years I only ever saw four or so, but now there were a score or more.
Late in the afternoon I stopped to talk with a couple of ladies who have guided me to some excellent subjects for filming, when I noticed a pair of White-headed Pigeons perched on a power line. These birds are not that common. It was years since I had filmed one, high up in a tree, and partly obscured. A man who lived in the street explained that the birds were attracted to the birdfeeder of a nearby house. I decided to go and get my camera only to find that the birds had gone. However, within moments of my arrival one of them returned to the power line in front of the house. I started to set up, but the bird flew out of sight onto the house’s verandah, only to reappear on the top rail of the balustrade, allowing me an excellent shot. This is a large bird as are a number of Australia’s other pigeons.
Received the Greenscreen Festival 2010 call for entries. The festival is in Eckernfoerde, Germany, in September and entries must be in by April 16. I entered last year’s festival with my DVD The Beauty of Overlooked Things.
In a further attempt to make my work more accessible, on the basis of ‘if you can’t beat them, join them’, I today sent an email to 40 recipients asking them to be a fan of my new Facebook page: ‘One small place on earth . . .’, which has just been set up with the help of the daughter of a good friend of mine. Apart from its interactivity, the good thing about the page is the fact that the nine albums are grouped according to subject, unlike the website gallery which reflects the generally random way in which the archive is compiled.
I posted the replacement MOV file to Simon Smith together with the DVDs of Supplements 1-3, so we can claim that they have now been officially published, complete with slick and their own species list. The supplements are each on a single DVD in the one case and the set costs $150.
On 30 November, the day after I got back from Cambodia, I bumped into Jaap at North Tamborine. He told me about a confirmed sighting of a Tiger Snake on the Mountain two weeks previously. I spoke to Doug White who explained that the snake had been seen at night in MacDonald National Park. I suggested to Doug that the Queensland Museum and the Environmental Protection Agency needed to be told because the snake is not recognised as occurring on the Mountain. Today Jaap sent me photos of the snake, which certainly looks like a Tiger Snake. I had to remove the Tiger Snake frame from my Gallery based on what I had been told by Jaap, the Museum and the EPA. Once I know that the Museum accepts the identification, we can restore the frame to its rightful place.
My second visit to film Golden Whistlers from the living quarters of a house next to the Wild Garden. The house is raised on poles, so that the camera was on a level with the birds, who either perch on a wild tobacco tree or a more leafy White Bollygum tree. I had long lusted after this very pretty bird with its beautiful, full throated song. The male has a bright yellow underside, a black head, a black collar beneath a white throat, and olive green and black wings. The female has a white underside and fawn head and wings.
Having checked Steve’s DVD master of Supplement 3, I was horrified to discover some content errors, such as a misplaced sub-title and a split second loss of image. These errors were on the MOV file I had posted to the National Film & Sound Archive 3 weeks ago. So I alerted Simon Smith who sent an email to Steve querying the nature of the error because there was nothing technically wrong with the MOV file. Steve emailed a reply explaining that we were dealing with incorrect content.
Night filming at the Knoll National Park. Jaap had fitted a new battery to his spotlight. Olle Bakker, on a visit from Sweden where he now lives, had carried my tripod in the rainforest when I was filming the original archive and took on the job for old times’ sake. This was his first experience of night filming. I filmed beetles, a ladybird, a Brown Huntsman spider, a cricket, trapdoor spiders and a Brushtail Possum.
An email arrived while I was in Cambodia, with some final IDs from Matthew Shaw, the Supervisor of the Inquiry Centre at the Queensland Museum. I have sent several emails with requests for species identification in recent months, particularly for the new Gallery pages, with EOL in mind [The Encyclopedia of Life] www.eol.org. I have been wary from the outset about being able to become a Content Partner. We have to upload our website content as an XML file to the EOL website. I have been in touch with a local IT expert and am still waiting for his advice on whether this can be done at an affordable price. Meanwhile, Matthew pointed out some of the constraints the Museum has in handling enquiries like mine. It is worth quoting extensively from his email, which struck me as very fair-minded. Read it here.
Of late I have visited Europe every other year with the intention of seeing another part of the world in the intervening year. Because of the global financial crisis I had no intention of going anywhere in 2009 until the lure of cheap airfares prompted me to book a week's stay in Cambodia (entry 7 April this year) to at last realise a long-cherished desire of mine to see Angkor Wat. By the time I had made all the necessary arrangements, my week overseas turned out to be just about the most expensive of any I have experienced during a lifetime of travel. But what a week it was . . . More
I was pleased and relieved to learn via recent phone calls and an email exchange with curator Simon Smith, that the National Film and Sound Archive will be adding Supplements 1-3 to their collection. Today I posted the MOV (data preservation) files to him. We are not quite ready to publish. Angela McKinstry is still working on the slick for the case which will house all three discs. Thus, the NFSA is yet to receive the DVDs, which comprise the published version of the supplements.
The first night filming jaunt since May. We chose the Knoll National Park and our first encounter was the rare sighting of an Echidna which hid before I could set up to film it. We filmed another semi-snail. The first one we saw was in MacDonald National Park (entry for 6 January 2009) which can be seen on Night Life 2 on my YouTube and Vimeo channels. They are remarkable in that they have a hump which is covered by a soft membrane instead of having a hard shell. Unfortunately Jaap’s battery was playing up, which curtailed our filming
Today Steve and I met Serena Coates and Dave Allan at the State Library to discuss preserving the unedited archive. We are looking at creating discs in the form of data files to be downloaded onto the library’s computer server. Steve will provide Dave with a demo disc containing different data files so that he can select the one he finds most suitable.
The Scrub Turkey mound has become much bigger thanks to yesterday’s rain. The turkey was very active on and around his mound. Previous dry weather made it hard for him to achieve the correct mound temperature for eggs to be incubated, so he went walkabout and the only scratching he did was for food. Scrub Turkeys seem to alternate between being indefatigable and indolent.
On 28 April, I emailed Steve with a list of 264 frames to be captured as stills, a fifth of which were of night footage. An early result of this massive capture is the addition of four pages to the Gallery, including one (Page 10) devoted exclusively to night shots. This represents a 44% increase in the size of the Gallery. Christina has just about completed the work, bar the addition of a few IDs for which I am waiting. Since each page only contains twelve images, we have plenty of stills for future use.
Following a request from PSnews, which is the online magazine for Australia’s public servants, to re-publish my latest Brisbane Line article, I received an email with the links to the features page and to the article. They made some interesting changes, which I think improved on the way the article originally appeared. Read it here.
The start of a new season of filming moths on the garage I belatedly discovered as a good location for this purpose (see my entry for March 26 2009).
Have embarked on filming a Scrub Turkey, mound gathering and mound building in the Wild Garden. The work is undertaken by the male. He uses his very powerful feet to scratch leaf litter from the ground within a radius of 25 metres from the mound site, by repeatedly retracing his steps and ultimately leaving bare ground behind him. Nothing appears to stop him. He will scrape his material over rocks and the roots of large trees, ending up with a mound which may contain up to four tons of material – earth, leaves and sticks.
My latest article is titled The Immature Mature, as flagged in my June 1 blog entry. Read it here.
On a day I was checking out various parts of the Mountain for recording good birdsong (which we can always do with, for our Supplements and YouTube clips), I happened upon three alpacas grazing the lush grass of a paddock near the golf course. I regard them in the same light as the Asian Water Buffaloes, which were the first creatures I filmed with my new camera in April 2007 – as welcome exotics.
I collected the camera from the repairer. This was the first camera fault I have encountered during the entire project. I damaged my previous camera when I failed to stabilize the tripod, looking on in helpless horror as it fell to the ground. That piece of negligence cost me $700. Repairing my current camera cost $508.10.
More of WHSHT emerging from the woodwork in the form of an email from the musician David Toop seeking information in connection with a project of his on the late John Latham. John was a bit of a father figure to us young artists when we started WHSHT. David contacted me via the website. He said some nice things about my project.
Today a fault occurred in the camera’s tape loading mechanism. It would not descend. Fortunately the ejector still worked so I was able to retrieve my current tape.
I received an email from an expert on lichen in reply to my query about Image 12 on Gallery Page 8. He was able to identify three different species of lichen on the one small area of tree bark – amazing.
For the past fortnight I have been filming Wompoo Pidgeons in a Moreton Bay fig tree adjacent to the house on whose lawn and drive I have filmed the pademelons. The tree merges into the rainforest of Palm Grove National Park. Wompoo Pigeons are typical of the breed in Australia, visually striking and of an imposing size, particularly this species which has a pale grey head and neck, green wings with a yellow band, a purple breast and yellow abdomen. The tree is as much a favourite place of the pigeons as the lawn is of the small marsupials; there must be twenty or so birds in its canopy. They are elusive to film and always stay a long way from the camera.
Because of my wish to become an EOL Content Partner, I need to identify as many of the species on my Gallery pages as possible and emailed a request list to the Inquiry Centre at the Queensland Museum. I received a very prompt reply, directing my plant species queries to the Brisbane Herbarium and advising me that the fauna identification may take some time. I also emailed a mycologist whom I met at a forum in Brisbane (see blog entry for 25-27 June 2007) for help with identifying fungi, and a Mountain resident who is an expert on grasses.
Steve posted ten new video clips on my YouTube Channel. also created a new Vimeo Channel for me and posted the clips there too. Six of the clips form a Night Life series and of the others, one introduces Wollubinia Dorsii, the freshwater turtle officially announced to science in January this year and named after my friend Marcus Dorse.
I spoke to Lenore Thiele the other day to find out if she had made any progress identifying a most unusual fungus I filmed in the rainforest and she mentioned that she had seen pademelons (the smallest kangaroo-like marsupials) grazing on the lawn of a house next to Palm Grove National Park. Sure enough, when I had a look yesterday some pademelons were there. Today I had my camera with me and filmed pademelons on the lawn and in the bush land adjoining the house. The people renting the house told me that they had counted as many as 17 pademelons on the property at one time. Although you can frequently hear pademelons in the park, you have to be very lucky to film any (see Film Diary 11 February), so I’ll make a point of returning to the house.
On the 26th I received an email from Katja, Species Pages Coordinator for The Encyclopedia of Life (EOL), in reply to an email I sent to EOL some time back expressing my interest in contributing to the project. The remit of EOL is to illustrate and document every species known to science. It has some heavyweight cornerstone institutions and a steering committee on which equally illustrious institutions are represented.
I emailed Steve the frames from Tape 27, which I selected today, for him to capture to complete Stills 9, bringing the total number of images to 266. Half the Tape 27 images are night frames (I am still filming Tape 28), so you can see how up to date Stills 9 is. Christina will be able to select the best images to add to the Gallery. I hope we can create a gallery page just of night images.
Today I emailed Steve the material from Tape 27 to be added to the new clips we want to put on YouTube and Vimeo. The email included titles.
I set up my camera to film the usual birdbath in the Wild Garden this afternoon. Activity was intermittent, but during the last flurry, a Rose Robin appeared frame left and after splashing about for maybe 20 seconds or so, (I haven’t seen the footage yet) flew off frame right. This was another new species for the archive.
This evening Steve and I worked on the Darryl Jones interview at his place. Steve had completed most of the editing and needs me to film a brief cut-away sequence to help finish the edit.
At last Steve and I were able to take up Clive’s suggestion of creating a Peter Kuttner YouTube Channel. We had recently posted the first new video in 18 months, opened up our Vimeo account and several new posts are underway.
Martin Leet sent me the link for Is Life Sacred? – my latest
A couple of days ago I received a phone call from a man who was unsure who I was and who was unknown to me – until, after some stalling on my part and hesitant persistency on his, he introduced himself as Herbert Distel, a well-known Swiss artist whom I had met in Hamburg in November 1968 when I was co-curating an exhibition of avant-garde European art and he was one of the artists. He was phoning from his home near Vienna to inform me that his Museum of Drawers (to which I contributed a piece of multi-coloured bread), was in the process of going online and that next year would be its 40th anniversary. The museum contains 500 artworks by 500 artists housed in a cabinet with 20 drawers
After meagre spoils night filming in Joalah National Park, usually the most reliable source of subjects, Jaap and I agreed to resume filming in early October. Other than the ever-abundant birds, little is stirring among the Mountain’s fauna in late Autumn and Winter. Indeed our previous foray a fortnight ago in MacDonald National Park was unique in that for the first time in over 18 months I found nothing worth filming. However, I was still able to film a moth on the garage in Central Avenue today.
I have received a number of complimentary emails about
The archive is an artwork, but given its running time of 18.5 hours it is unavoidably not as accessible as I would wish; hence my desire to show its scope and essence through video installations. Since March last year I have been exchanging emails with John Caddy, a marvelous poet and photographer who lives near Forest Lake in Minnesota and runs the Morning Earth website. He is profoundly into biodiversity, which he celebrates with a daily photograph and poem emailed to subscribers worldwide. I acknowledged his, in my experience, unparalleled work and unburdened myself to him in an email today, bemoaning the fact that I found that none of the art administrators and hardly any artist in the art and ecology movement as I have encountered it, appear to be onto biodiversity. They are either too urbanized, too interventionist or too limited in their approach to nature to take on biodiversity.
I pointed out that to make biodiversity an artwork requires above all a recognition of what constitutes a life form, plus an openness to the minutest detail, such as his photo of the track of a grub in bark, and a love of life and beauty. I also drew the parallel with my concept for a blue-chip documentary series about biodiversity which I took to Wildscreen 2006 – where I spoke to many of the great and the good about it. My position was then, and remains, that all the marvelous natural history documentaries deal with aspects of biodiversity, but there is a gap in the record of the genre because there has been no series about biodiversity itself which is needed in order to bridge the gap in understanding between the word’s increasingly widespread use and its meaning. I concluded by saying: ‘So there you have it, thwarted in two areas of endeavour, but fortunately able to carry on filming nature’s marvels in this one small place on earth.’
For over a year I had been after Lenore Thiele, a retired ecologist, to let me film her digging up a fungus, to reveal more about its constituent parts. Naturally she was reluctant to dig in the National Parks, but today she told me about a suitable specimen near her house. When I called round ready to film, she showed me some fungi in her garden and I told her that they would make good subjects, so she dug and I filmed. It was just as well that we took the opportunity, because the fungus she had in mind, a far bigger specimen, had been damaged and it was located under a hedge, which would have made filming far more difficult if not impossible.
For the first time since November 2007, we posted a new video on YouTube and took steps to open a Vimeo account with a 60 second clip of a tiny ant dragging the leg of a King Cricket up a large rainforest tree at night. The leg is many times the length of the ant. What is totally amazing about filming at night is the fact that the creatures we illuminate were going about their business in total or near total darkness. It is truly a different earth at night, still an active if relatively silent one.
A varied day which included a frustrating attempt to film a couple of Scaly Breasted Lorikeets near my home. Once common, these birds have become a rarity, usurped by the Rainbow Lorikeet. That night I filmed the release into the rainforest of a couple of Carpet Pythons which had been captured on Mountain properties.
I paid for my trip to at long last see Angkor Wat, taking advantage of some very cheap air fares. I will be away for a week in late November, which is just right because, given the present global economic situation, I had not intended to travel overseas this year.
Was notified by email that my entry for the Green Screen Festival, The Beauty of Overlooked Things, posted on 20 March, had safely arrived in Eckernfoerde. I received no notification that my entry to FICA 11, an international environmental film festival in Brazil, posted 12 February, had been received. I don’t really regard myself as a filmmaker, but welcome the chance to circulate my work, which such festivals offer. Ideally, I would like film festivals devoted to natural history to include a category for environmental artists.
An excellent day. In the morning I filmed Wollumbinia dorsii, a newly recognised species of fresh-water turtle, named by its discoverer after herpetologist Marcus Dorse of Tamborine Mountain, a friend of mine. The footage was shot in Marc’s garden and includes him holding the turtle. Later on, I filmed a Graceful Tree Frog on the library window in North Tamborine and a stunning insect on the adjoining Westpac Bank window.
The day got better, because that night in the Knoll National Park, I filmed a spectacular moth, a Giant Panda Snail – they are huge - and a Brushtail Possum. The possum was clinging to a tree, only a couple of metres above the ground and remained there for a long time looking at us looking at it. I was able to get some good close-ups of its tail and its paws. Eventually it leaped to an adjacent tree and my view of it was partly obscured by vegetation. Fortunately I managed to zoom onto its pointed nose, at the end of which a large drip formed which duly succumbed to the effects of gravity. As we were nearing the exit, Jaap told us to be still because he had seen a snake crossing our path. It turned out to be a Stephen’s Banded Snake which is rarely sighted because it is nocturnal. It is also venomous and dangerous. The snake remained near the edge of the path, moving slowly so that I was able to get several minutes of footage.
Six days ago I paused on my morning walk to talk to some people I know who happened to be at their front gate, which is set back from the road, when my gaze was directed to the presence of several moths clustered around a pair of lamps on either side of the double garage door. The lamps remain on all night. I was gob-smacked. I had passed this garage most mornings for years on end and hadn’t noticed a single moth until that morning’s chance conversation. Many of the moths were tiny and could not be noticed from the street, but some were large enough to be clearly seen. For several days since, I have filmed an assortment of beautiful moths in greater numbers than at the shopping centre in North Tamborine, my erstwhile stamping ground for gathering moths. A couple of days ago I even filmed a fair sized Titan Stick Insect. It doesn’t bear thinking about the moths I have missed over the years at this location.
When I started night filming I may have shot five minutes or less of footage during a two hour walk. Now, the amount of footage has doubled. Tonight in the Knoll National Park, I was able to film a couple of Brushtail Possums. Our previous encounters with possums in the rainforest had been too brief for filming. The second possum was particularly endearing as it waited in a branch high overhead until I had finished filming two spiders on the tree’s trunk.
Another night filming session in Joalah, which yielded plenty of delights, not least because we had the alert presence of a young woman, who spotted a number of good subjects, the most unexpected of which was a Titan Stick Insect. It was a medium-sized specimen. The insects can grow to a length of 250mm. However, the truly exceptional sight was a roosting Azure Kingfisher on a branch above the self-same pool where I filmed the eel. The bird was a new species for the archive.
There was a time, lasting many years, when, much to my disappointment, I failed to see any pademelons – a small marsupial related to the wallaby – on my visits to Palm Grove National Park, where they had been common. However, for the past few years they have been present in numbers, not only near the entrance, but deep within the park. They are skittish creatures. If you don’t manage to see them you can hear them pounding the ground as they bound out of danger. Today, I managed to film a pademelon who had not retreated out of sight, but had paused to watch me from a safe distance. I was able to set up my camera to give me a clear view. After several minutes of the pademelon looking at me filming, it was gone. Filming it was a pure bonus as I was in the park to add to my footage of tangled and knotted vines.
I received a reply from the minister’s senior policy advisor declining to provide a grant, but directing me to possible funding sources.
My next piece for the Brisbane Line was to be Is Life Sacred? but somehow another article thrust itself forward, diverting me from my intended course and I found myself writing Grumpy Old Men and Women. It was timed to appear in the February issue, the first of the year, but the editor felt it was too frivolous or polemical and declined it. Well, what’s the point of having a blog if you don’t publish your own writing. So now you can read here, what the Brisbane Line turned down. I still want to write Is Life Sacred?
Night filming in Joalah National Park with Jaap once again showing the way. The highlight was filming a Long-Finned Eel in the pool below a cascading Curtis Falls, following good seasonal rain. The pool was tranquil and the eel meandered in the water in good view. I had seen a couple of eels in this pool and further down stream and tried to film them in daylight without success. It beats me how eels manage to ascend from the ocean to 500 metres above sea level.
Today, following a phone conversation with his senior advisor, I posted a letter to Andrew MacNamara, Queensland Minister for Sustainability, asking him for a grant so that Steve and I can put the 40 hours of the unedited Standard Definition archive onto a Raid hard-drive (mirror back-up) in 20 minute sequences. This will enable the State Library to create DVDs as needed. It will also enable the Library to migrate the material to future preservation and access technology.
This evening I was at Steve’s working on the soundtrack for Supplement 1, having recorded the narration in a sound booth at Bond University Film School late last year. Hopefully one more week will see its completion. I will revise the script for Supplement 2 so that we can record the narration for it. Supplement 3 will be an interview in two parts with Darryl Jones, an ecologist and Associate Professor from Griffith University. It was filmed just before my overseas trip last year and last November. I plan to issue the 3 supplements at the same time.
Night filming in MacDonald National Park with a Dutch friend, Jaap, who has a good spotlight and knows where to find fauna. Have not viewed the footage. Filmed a garden orb spider in her web, plus several spiders at the entrance to their burrows. Not sure which species – wolf spider, mouse spider, northern funnel web (just as deadly as the Sydney species)? Filmed one of several great barred frogs we saw in the park. One portion of fallen tree trunk next to the path contained two large millipedes, a slug/snail, a leaf-tailed gecko and a rare black-soled frog. Also filmed a glow-worm and its curtain of sticky strands for trapping prey.
When I woke up on 29 December, I drew back my bedroom curtain, opened the sliding door onto the balcony and went back to bed to listen to the 7.45 news, as is my wont. As I lay there I saw what looked like a huge tangle of spider web caught in the morning sunlight beneath the seat of a garden chair. Then I saw it was green and wondered how vegetation had somehow been blown behind the chair. When I got up and took a closer look, the sphere of bits of branch from the tree outside my balcony, looked vaguely familiar. I had filmed a similar but larger structure before, in a tree, but devoid of any greenery. Still uncertain, I prodded the sphere and met with resistance. This was indeed a ring-tailed possum’s dray. Unfortunately, some of the vegetation fell off. This enabled me later to film a bit of tail, which poked through the resultant hole. The next day the dray was somewhat dishevelled, due to the possum’s going and coming, and I was able to film other bits of possum. A neighbour to whom I showed the dray pointed out that there were actually two possums sleeping in it, so I filmed bits of both. The possums did not return the next day or the day after, so I removed the dray.
In the park opposite my dwelling, I filmed two parent and two young tawny frogmouths (an owl-like bird), huddled close together on a low branch in a pile of fallen vegetation caused by a freak storm three weeks ago. The frogmouths are nocturnal, but were sleeping in a completely exposed position. Both Currawong and Magpie, quite large diurnal birds, let them be. The camera angle could not have been better and I was eventually able to get quite close. In the afternoon they had partly changed their position. The siblings remained where they had been in the morning but the parents were on a low branch in another part of the pile, near a power pole. They were all a bit more active by now and I was able to get some close ups of preening and of their wide-open eyes.
Jaap had told me about some lace monitors or goannas he had seen on a number of occasions around Panorama Point overlooking Tamborine Gorge. In the afternoon I drove to the end of the sealed road below the Point, got out of the car and took in the scene. I didn’t see any goannas, but was intrigued by some black birds in the trees near the track. I set up my camera to film them before I realised they were a pair of glossy black cockatoos, a species I had not filmed before. The under side of the male’s tail is a vivid red. The female has yellow marking on her head, reminiscent of that of the yellow-tailed black cockatoo, but a more golden tone and a red and yellow barred tail. The location was not ideal for afternoon filming. Fortunately the birds hung around for a long time feeding on pine cones and I was able to get some good footage. I returned to the spot a number of times without seeing the birds or goannas, but I caught sight of a small plant with blue berries nearby which I filmed. Its identity baffled a naturalist to whom I described it.
Following a visit to my place in October by Jo Ritale, Manager, Original Materials Heritage Collections, I wrote her a letter confirming my intention to donate, in due course, the unedited DVCAM tapes and associated papers of my archive to the State Library. I also mentioned my intention to put the tapes onto a hard-drive for access on DVDs. Jo replied by letter just before she left to take up a post in Melbourne, acknowledging my donation and providing contact details for her successor.
Quite out of the blue I received an email from Art Vogel, the Curator of the Leiden Botanical Garden, whom I met briefly on my visit there in late August. Constance, the information officer at the Garden, had forwarded him an email I had sent her. He is very keen on cycads and has an impressive display of them, including specimens from South East Queensland. One of the Mountain’s small national parks mainly comprises a grove of palm-like Lepidozamia peroffskyana. Art wrote about a cycad hunting visit to Australia in 2003 and of his recent travels in Mexico where he was impressed by some huge cacti. I attached a couple of frames of the Mountain’s very own huge cactus, a Cereus jamacaru, to the email I sent him. The cactus is a native ofBrazil, resembles a tree and grows to 9m or 30’ tall. Its trunk is 45cm or 18” in diameter, so this is as good a specimen as one is ever likely to find.
Today I filmed a second interview with Darryl Jones. In the rush to complete the Beauty Series DVD before my overseas trip, I clean forgot to mention the first interview I had filmed with him on the 3rd of July. The second interview was needed so that Darryl could talk about global warming and its effects on the local biodiversity. He also spoke about Tamborine Mountain as a place where the southern and northern limits of species overlap and about the age of the Mountain’s rainforest. For the first interview I asked Darryl to talk about some of the basic science of biodiversity, touching on species grouping and identification and key relationships between species. Then I wanted to hear about the distinctive features of the biodiversity of South East Queensland and its vulnerability, ditto for Tamborine Mountain. Finally Darryl spoke about a pet subject of his, harking back more than 20 years to his research into scrub turkeys conducted on the Mountain. The males construct mounds containing up to 4 tons of material in which the females deposit eggs. The young hatch and emerge from deep inside the mound and are left to fend for themselves. Their flight feathers are fully formed, the rest are down. They can fly on day one. They need to. The bird has several more surprising characteristics. Little wonder it is a favourite of mine.
From time to time Jenny Peat, secretary of the Progress Association, phones to tell me about something film-worthy in her garden. This time I had the opportunity to film the quite rare Fletcher’s frog, which she is encouraging to breed. Although I was running out of tape I managed to get some good footage of a female.
EMAIL FROM STANS VAN DER VEEN –
HORTUS BOTANICUS, LEIDEN
27 October 2008
Stans (Constance) van der Veen emailed me pictures of the giant Arum lily, which was supposed to have flowered on the night of my visit in August. Except that they were a day out in their calculations. In any case because I had to get back to Amsterdam I could not have stayed for the duration of what wasn’t the flowering. These plants are famed for their size and the rarity of their flowering and are notorious for the foul odour they emit when in bloom. Stans’ backpack retained the odour a month after the event.
After a break of three months I resumed filming and the first subject which caught my eye was a white flower. On my daily walk I noticed more and more white flowers and so for more than a month I mainly filmed plants with white flowers. Some flowers had entirely white petals, some started off with white petals which later turned blue or pink and some had bits of colour at the base of their petals. As I viewed the tapes towards the end of my white flower spree, I tallied the different plants and came up with more than 50, though I went on to film a few more afterwards.
As with my 2006 trip, my visit to the UK and Europe had two purposes – to further Sandrine Meats’ Whsht research as well as progressing archive spin-offs (namely video installations based on the archive) and to catch up with family and friends and tour familiar and unfamiliar places. More...
The two parcels I sent via courier, containing the DVCAM master tapes of the published archive, a set of the DVDs, the original revised script and copies of the signed interview releases, have arrived at the National Film & Sound Archive.
Now is a good time to respond to Clive’s request for a blog piece about my early career! More
The forum was held at Griffith University in Brisbane. I was particularly interested in presentations about biodiversity projects in South East Queensland by two professors from the university.
See the Press Release.
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