26 April 2017

The touch screen on my new Canon developed a fault at the end of March. Today I collected a replacement from Videopro in Brisbane and can expect to be without my camera for a minimum of three weeks. Fortunately the viewfinder and filming were not affected by the fault.

 19 April 2017

An email arrived from a producer who works on a science news program called Daily Planet on Discovery Channel, Canada. He is producing a story on animals that use nets to catch their prey. He came across my videos of net-casting spiders on vimeo and wondered if he could use my footage. Trawling through my vimeo pages I found four videos devoted to three species of spiders, all filmed at night. I am inclined to give him the go-ahead provided I’m credited as the videographer. A few years ago an American production house wanted to use my footage but the agreement they asked me to sign put me off. We’ll see what transpires with this lot.

 12 April 2017

Night filming with Jaap and Mark in Joalah is only worth noting because it was the first such foray  since February 22nd due mainly to crew availability and only one rainy night. I filmed a moth, a spiny rainforest katydid instar, a carpet python and a snail which looked new to me.

 11 April 2017

This morning I booked our flights to Easter Island and beyond and paid the deposit on resort accommodation there. Simon is joining me on my trip and wanted to include Buenos Aires. We shall also be overnighting in Santiago between destinations. I want to go to Easter Island because of its remoteness, having been inspired by a tv series about Britain’s overseas territories which include 3 of the remotest inhabited spots on earth. Easter Island, although it belongs to Chile, is in that august company. At Art School in the ‘60s I created a totem poll inspired by a moai in the British Museum. Little did I imagine then, that I would have the prospect of visiting its place of origin more than five decades later.

 8 April 2017

The bolls on the cotton shrubs in the mountain garden have opened during the past two or three weeks, over two months after I photographed a flower. The property owners feared I might miss out on the bugs which infest the shrub until they noticed one and then another. I had to look carefully to find them. I returned with my camera and filmed a female Cotton Harlequin Bug and a lone nymph which is more spectacularly coloured than the adults. The females grow to a length of 20 mm.

 4 April 2017

I got back from a brief stay with Simon and Nicole (my son and daughter-in-law) in Longreach late yesterday. I missed the drenching this part of the world received from ex tropical cyclone Debbie. Alas, so did Longreach which needs the rain, whereas south east Queensland doesn’t. A friend who lives near my place recorded 345 mm of rain over two days. I fell in love with Pepper, a four month old cattle dog puppy who is the latest addition to the household. Numerous birds visit the garden, including a Little Kingfisher which I had seen last year.

On the second evening we had a convivial dinner at a noted outback pub and pulled off the road to drink in the night sky in all its glory, aided by a uniformly flat horizon and the absence of any moonlight. Shadowy kangaroos, illuminated by the headlights, lined both sides of the road home.

Next day we drove to a town in the neighbouring shire with a pub and perhaps three dozen dwellings, seeing some emus as well as cattle and sheep along the way, also visiting an abandoned sheep station which has been made into a national park.

On my last full day we were invited to visit Camoola, the family property of Simon and Nicole’s best friend, Ann-Marie. She took us on a tour of the land which has an austere beauty with wooded areas, expansive open ranges and even a line of low hills on which a communications tower is located. On the way there we saw a bustard and on the way back, a brolga.

My return flight was delayed by six hours because the plane from Brisbane was grounded at Blackall and a replacement had to be flown in from Moranbah, a mining town. At least the delay meant I avoided peak hour traffic between Brisbane and the Gold Coast.

Mite 300 IMAGES
 26 March 2017

Today I uploaded the 300th image to my ‘Other Fauna’ Album. It was of a male Spiny Leaf Insect, the first I have seen, which I photographed this morning. I have filmed females on three occasions, including once in rainforest at night. Only ‘Moths’ has more images. The males grow to 11 cm long and are not as bulky as the females, which grow to 20 cm.

 16 March 2017

This afternoon I loaded a new SD (secure digital) memory card into my point and shoot at macro range PANCAM. The old card contained at least 14.7 GB out of an available 14.8 and I didn’t want to find myself photographing a subject which couldn’t be captured because the camera had run out of capacity. I first used it on 15 June 2014. Card 1 contains some video clips and I should think about 1,500 photos.

 14 March 2017

Today I completed the paper edit of the first videos recorded on memory card. The initial seven are footage from the demo camera. The rest are from the camera I bought in January. Once again, after a long interval, there are garage moth videos as opposed to the videos of moths filmed intermittently at night. I have 25 videos in the pipeline and over two hours of material from the second memory card for Steve to download, which should yield several more.

 7 March 2017

I returned to Eagles Nest this morning to really get to grips with a magical subject I chanced upon yesterday afternoon, when I popped in to see the owners who are good friends of mine. I noticed that an abandoned potter wasp nest showed signs of being refurbished, so I went to get my camera and filmed the new work. The wasp duly appeared and eventually entered the nest, remaining there for a long time before emerging. I thought I noticed a second wasp.

Carefully positioning the camera to avoid the flight path, while getting a good view of the building site, I was rewarded by repeated visits of indeed two wasps. One continued to spend time in the nest. The other wasp flew in to work on the nest, but was chased away by the wasp which had been inside. For a reason not apparent, rubbing their abdomens with their hind legs was one of the wasps’ activities at the nest.

The glory of this event is that I first filmed the live nest in March 2010, attended by a single wasp. In October 2014 I filmed the decayed nest, revealing numbers of exposed cells. Two of them are still to be covered over. Nearly seven years later to the day, the nest is live again. Viewing the footage I now have doubts over the identification of the original wasp which is the same species as today’s wasps. I shall have to send the frame of it to an expert to find out whether it is Abispa ephippium or Abispa splendida. I find it hard to comprehend how an insect can construct such an intricate and durable structure.

PS  8 March:  This morning there were as many as three wasps and plenty of conflict, though there may also have been co-operation. A new entrance in a completely different position had been fashioned overnight. There was no trace of the old entrance, which dated from the original construction.