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Film Diary / 03.05.2017

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… Read Complete Text

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Film Diary / 12.04.2017

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.

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Film Diary / 08.04.2017

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.

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Film Diary / 14.03.2017

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.

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Film Diary / 07.03.2017

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… Read Complete Text

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Film Diary / 22.02.2017

This evening we concluded our night filming walk in The Knoll National Park, begun last week, when there were so many interesting subjects (two moths, two spiders, a butterfly and a beetle) that we barely got past the second bend in the path.

The big attraction at The Knoll is Hadronyche formidabilis, which resides in a tree next to the creek close to the furthest point of our walk. This spider has the most potent arachnid venom on the planet.  By tickling the trip lines with a twig, Mark causes the spider to leave its web thinking it is about to pounce on prey instead of the end of vegetable matter. This was the fourth occasion I have filmed the spider and this time I set myself up to get frame-filling close ups. The spider gave a bravura performance, leaving its web several times and hanging on to the twig in full view. On one take, its grip was so powerful that when it retreated into its web carrying the twig with it, Mark had to wait quite a while before it let go. For the record, this is post 450.

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Film Diary / 01.02.2017

Tonight  was my first night filming foray with the new camera. We are approaching our 150th walk. A little while back we felt that we might run out of subjects to film only to find that we encountered one fresh nocturnal highlight after another. This evening was no exception. Mark, Jaap, Lumart and I were in Joalah National Park. Mark tickled the trip lines of a trapdoor spider lurking beneath its slightly ajar door. It pounced on the stick before withdrawing to its previous position. I also filmed a Golden-crowned Snake maneuvering on a fallen tree lodged against the bank of the pool below Curtis Falls, a Gordian Worm swimming in the pool and a Pie-dish Beetle scurrying  around some small rocks.

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Film Diary / 20.01.2017

After breakfast, I filmed three of the four moths I had photographed at the garage on my morning walk; the fourth having flown away. Filming moths at the garage has become an all too rare pleasure. It is nearly a year since the previous occasion which in turn was the first since June 2015. One of the moths was a new species for my website. It was a fitting way to inaugurate my new camera.

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Film Diary / 28.12.2016

This morning I took the Canon into Palm Grove National Park to film the aerial roots of a Bangalow Palm, the fallen Moreton Bay Fig tree, volcanic rocks on the slope above the school path and a male harvestman on a rock where I once filmed six in close proximity. The greatest benefit of a fully functioning camera was accurate focus from wide to zoom. The sunlight created strong contrast which I tried to overcome by adjusting the exposure, but the controls are not as handy as on the Sony and will take some getting used to.

This evening two guests made for an extra large party on our night walk in The Knoll. The old crew of Mark and Dan only lacked Jaap’s presence to be fully reunited. This was the first opportunity to try out the Canon at night. Because it has a better sensor than the Sony, the focused beam of the spotlight resulted in over-exposure, particularly on wide shots. Resorting to a version of manual exposure improved the image quality without getting the exposure right. I filmed a great barred frog, a female poinciana longicorn beetle depositing her eggs in a tree, two resting… Read Complete Text

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Film Diary / 14.12.2016

Mark has retired from teaching and joined Lumart and me on the 138th night filming walk. We paid a return visit to MacDonald National Park, having failed to complete the circuit in mid-November. There was plenty to see, for instance skinks, a variety of snails, spiders and cockroaches, fungi, Giant Stinging Trees, and some beautiful ascending and descending vines. Even after so many walks I always find compelling subjects to film; this time an Orchard Swallowtail Butterfly, a katydid instar, a moth, a Greengrocer Cicada completing its moult and a Short-beaked Echidna up against a tree before it slowly waddled off into the black.

PS  I photographed a second moth on the 11th which I recognised as probably the same species as one I had filmed a few years ago. Only my expert had got the species wrong and had to consult a colleague who specialises in the Lymantriidae family. An email awaited me after tonight’s walk which contained the specialist’s verdict.