28 August 2017
It is a month ago to the day since I last filmed, having been engaged on a pet project, of which more in due course. This morning I filmed a broken strangler fig in MacDonald National Park whose trunk mysteriously snapped off some thirty feet above the forest floor. The fig was old and vast, one of a pair standing side by side. The fallen trunk generated an immense clearing, bringing down lesser trees, including palms.
8 YEARS LATER
21 July 2017
An email arrived from the Queensland Museum entomologist who has identified numerous species over the years. He was unable to offer a firm verdict on any of the four images of insects I sent him three weeks ago. But he confirmed that the leg being pulled up a large rainforest tree at night by a lone ant we uploaded on vimeo 8 years ago, was not that of a cricket, but of a spider. I have corrected the video settings and the website.
7 June 2017
Today I uploaded the 70th Gallery Page. One challenge is trying to limit the preponderance of insects. The new page contains a bird, a mollusc, a reptile, a grass, a cycad, an aerial shot of the plateau and six insects. For once, none of them are lepidopteran.
4 June 2017
Looking back through the blog, I notice that I first filmed the Cotton Harlequin Bugs on the 8th of April. On the 17th I filmed a female with her newly laid eggs, discovering that she would stay and guard them until they hatch. On various subsequent visits there she was, a marvel of maternal constancy. This morning I filmed the nymphs scrabbling in a clump on the egg casings a day or so after emerging, with the by now rather wan-looking female, on an adjacent stem.
28 May 2017
Having just completed our 150th walk I thought it might be interesting to delve into the history of the walks and tally how many we did per season (broadly, October to May). In doing so I discovered I was one walk short in the total to this season’s end. We have actually completed 153. The 150th occurred a week earlier than the ‘official’ date. I didn’t start numbering the walks until a few seasons had passed. And then, I didn’t number every walk. The tally per season is: ’07 –’08 = 5 ’08 – ’09 = 10 ’09 – ’10 = 13 ’10 –’11 = 26 ’11 – ’12 = 19 ’12 –’13 = 16 ’13 – ’14 = 13 ’14 –’15 = 16 ’15 – ’16 = 16 ’16 – ’17 = 19. You will notice that in the second season we doubled the number of walks of season one and in the fourth, we doubled the number of walks in season three.
I next tallied how many walks we had done in each of the national parks. Joalah topped the list with 47, followed by The Knoll with 43, MacDonald with 31, Palm Grove 25, Witches Falls (less accessible than the others) 6 and 1 walk in Jaap’s former property in West Road. I am confident that any errors in the individual totals will not alter the ranking.
21 May 2017
An email from Showrunner Productions in Perth arrived this evening – the third time they have contacted me. They are interested in using footage from my videos of assassin bugs for their latest series which focuses on Latin American animals. Typically, the email mentioned an urgent deadline while requesting high resolution files. I replied immediately refusing permission because the assassin bugs in my videos are Australian species.
17 May 2017
We toasted the 150th walk with a half bottle of champagne at the start of the 151st because Jaap, who spotlighted the very first walk, was able to accompany Mark, Lumart and me in Palm Grove on what may be this season’s last walk. The night was beautiful, the air still. I filmed a fungus and ants, a mayfly with 3 tail cerci (long filaments attached to the tip of the abdomen), a small stick insect on a leaf, a ‘new’ spider and two snails. We saw, but didn’t film, a nocturnal vignette. A large ant was wandering on an earth bank dotted with the burrows of several trapdoor spiders, until it came within range of a small spider lying in wait at the entrance to its burrow. In an instantaneous, single movement the spider seized the hapless ant and vanished into the depths with its prey. This triggered the door to snap shut on the carnage so that one could be excused for thinking it had never happened.
8 May 2017
This evening I received an email identifying a roosting bird I had recently filmed at night in rainforest. It was a new species for the archive. This, I had not expected. Finding a new species of bird to film is increasingly rare. Whereas the opposite appears to be true with moths. Encountering a juvenile Pacific Heron a few weeks ago, having long before filmed an adult, was exciting. But a new species beats that.
150th NIGHT WALK
3 May 2017
Tonight at The Knoll, Mark and Lumart were present on the 150th night filming walk. The series began at the end of December 2007. The intention is to go on a walk once a week. However, we do not film during the cooler months and crew crying off and rain on the night drastically affects the number of occasions we manage to film. The total does not include the rare instances when I didn’t film anything at all. I feared this might be the case tonight until we saw a giant panda snail devouring a fungus which was part of an interesting cluster, so I filmed both. I also filmed some tiny fungi and a slime mould. After cyclone Debbie there is plenty of water in the mountain’s creeks. I hoped to see the eel, whose presence in Sandy Creek we never suspected until it appeared just over two years ago in a pool which formed immediately downstream of the bridge thanks to ex-cyclone Oswald. Alas, there was no sign of the eel in the pool. To our great joy it was spotted in the pool immediately upstream of the bridge, but did not linger long enough for me to film it.
For the statistically-minded, the 50th walk was in April 2011, the 100th in May 2014. After the 53rd walk, which occurred in May 2011, I produced 3 scripted and narrated supplements to the Archive under the title ‘The Rainforest at Night’ on 3 DVDs, each about an hour long.
DAILY PLANET LATEST
29 April 2017
The American production house wanted me to sign away my peace of mind in exchange for not being able to guarantee that I would be mentioned in the credits. Discovery Channel Canada submitted a similar release form. I refused to sign it because it did not include a credit for my footage. Today I received a new form with a ‘Special Thanks: Peter Kuttner’ clause which I duly signed and returned.