Saturday, November 22, 2008

Flood Critters

With all the storms and rain we've been getting, the wildlife has changed around here: 

Most of the trees behind our house are gone, so there are less birds. Also, the flood way next to the house has been full of water for a week now, so we're starting to see ducks down there! Yesterday I spotted this little guy clinging to the patio door. Right out of a Telus ad!

Now here's something that had me worried today: I spotted these ants moving their eggs and larvae into our house. I don't care about a few ants in my walls, you can't avoid that here. But the last time I saw ants moving their eggs to higher ground was last saturday, and the next day we got hit with hurricane winds, torrential rain and huge hail. They're preparing for something ... I hope they're over-reacting this time.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Macro fun

After yesterday's events, I just spent a quiet Saturday at home. Macro photography really relaxes me, so I got out my camera and sat in the grass and had a close look at what I could find. 

I'm getting better with manual focus and at controlling the very shallow depth of field this lens produces. Here's some of the cool stuff I found.

This spikey beetle was a great subject, very slow moving and VERY cool looking.

Maybe this young praying mantis is the same one I shot a while back when it was a baby ?

Some vegetation. This is a close-up a bottlebrush flower bud

My rainbow chilies, lookin' fine !

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Noosa Critters

Here's some pics of critters we saw while camping last weekend in Noosa.

This big guy greeted us on the first morning. He's a Gould's Monitor (aka Sand Goanna) and was about 1m long.

Gorgeous tongue!

This Green Tree Frog was pretty annoyed at us taking picture after picture, lots of flashes for those senstitve eyes.

This is a Garden Orb Weaver. It was fairly small (~2 cm) and had cool spikey legs.

Here's a different kind of monitor lizard, this one's a Lace Monitor, they climb trees with ease.

Skink. There were LOTS of these.

Another Skink.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Baby Mantis

These last couple of days, I noticed these weird ant-like bugs crawling around the outside of the house. They're black and about the size of a large ant (~1cm). But when you look closely, you'll notice the front legs are more like a mantis and their fat abdomen is actually a long skinny abdomen that's curled up ... So I did a quick search, and sure enough, these are mantis nymphs, it's pretty cool how they disguise themselves as black ants like that, it must help them survive...

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Cool Insects

Just a few shots of some cool bugs I found while out on a macro photography run around the house. I'll spare you the spiders this time, instead I have this cool grasshopper. He was tiny but I caught him resting on a basil leaf and got this shot.

Tiny but colorful little fella.

Later, as I was showing Clo some weird fungus spores under a leaf, we both jumped as this guy started moving. We didn't see him at all, yet he was huge, about 15-20cm long !

Stick-insect (Mantid)

Can you spot him ?

Double-Barred Finch

These little guys have been become regulars over the past few weeks when the big birds aren't around. They eat the smaller seeds that the parrots don't seem to like as much, so they're a great addition to our little garden ecosystem.

They're tiny, so much so that gravity doesn't seems to affect them in flight, they just flutter lightly from once place to another. I like them because they look like they've had their face painted.

Not a great picture, but it gives an idea of the size of these little birds

Bye bye!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Spider Sniffing

This week I bought a pretty powerful LED headlight with the hopes of getting some night rides on the mountain bike. But then Dan told me that with a powerful flashlight, you can see spiders at night. It's called spider sniffing and it's really cool, it does work !

You just walk around at night with your light mounted as close to your eyes as possible facing forward and when you look down into a field, you'll see the reflection of spider's retinas from really far away, even small ones. Because they have 8 eyes, chances are one of them is pointing your way and you'll see a reflection.

I managed to get a picture of what it looks like to spot one from far away. Click on the pics to see properly.

The big ones are Huntsman Spiders from what I can tell and the smaller ones are burrowing Wolf Spiders. Both very common in Queensland. The ones in these pictures had sizes ranging from 2cm for the little guys up to 10cm leg-span like this one on the fence.

My setup for these shots was my Canon 60mm EF-S macro, plus diffused flash + LED headlight, so the lighting almost looks like daylight, but these were taken in pitch dark.

Notice the two outer eyes on the top row, they're inside a cavity and facing almost completely backwards!

Mmmm, fuzzy !

Sunday, August 24, 2008

I'm ready for crocodiles !

... little ones.

You might have already read our big blog posting about our holiday in Port Douglas, but I kept this picture for this blog because it's funny and it fits nicely with my critter theme.

Poor little guy was pretty cold. I guess they have to be to stand still for pictures.


Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Wild Bird Feeding


As you may or may not realize, it's winter here. Which means the reptiles and insects are pretty rare on these cold(ish) days. But the birds don't care, actually they're probably having a harder time finding food by themselves and are happy to fill the critter-picture void created by the "cold" season. (FYI nights are 8degC, days 22degC, harsh :-p )

The parrots we get coming around to our bird feeder are wild. Some don't mind us being outside as I'm sure they're used to the sight of people, but they aren't tame by any stretch. So I'm happy to say that after many weeks of getting closer and closer to them with limited success, we finally earned their trust enough to let us feed them "by hand". Ok, they're not exactly perched on my shoulders or eating out of my hand just yet, but still ... one small step ... and hey, I was really excited to be that close to them.

The feeding line up

A happy cockatoo and a happy gecko hunter!

Clo gets in on the action

Extra trivia: Did you know the Crocodile Hunter was afraid of parrots ? Here's a excerpt from a Larry King interview that explains why:

[Irwin is holding a Macaw parrot and explaining why it's endangered]

KING: I thought you were afraid of parrots.

IRWIN: I am. You might see my head's way back, and I'm shaking like a leaf.

KING: Because?

IRWIN: Have a look at that beak.

KING: Have you been bit by a parrot?

IRWIN: I've had a lot of nasty bites by parrots, and it hurts. I set up a big wildlife hospital at Australia Zoo. In fact, it's the biggest wildlife hospital in Australia. And last month, we had 80 koalas come through and 27 parrots and, I think, 13 of those bit me.


Monday, July 21, 2008

The right tool for the job


With all the birds we've been getting at our bird feeder, I was getting frustrated with the quality of my low-end telephoto lens. I was thinking I'll wait until I'm in Toronto again and go shop around for a deal on a Canon 100-400m zoom or something.

Only things is, it'll be a while before I'm back in Canada and the birds are here now, so when I read good things about this new lens, I thought this could be the lens I'm looking for. Well sure enough, the initial reviews are very good and when I saw that I could get it for the same price here as in Canada, I went for it.

Here's my new Sigma Bazooka, it's HUGE!

Sigma 150-500mm F5-6.3 APO DG OS HSM

I'm still getting used to it, it's heavy (2.0kg), but it has image stabilization so hand held is still possible with good light.

Here's a sample shot I took with it. I re-sized it to 1600 pixels on purpose so you can see the detail in the feathers, I'm really happy with this shot. Standard sharpening (40/1/0) was applied after re-size.

ISO400, 1/800, f7.1, 150-500mm @ 450mm

We went back to Lone Pine Koala sanctuary on Sunday so we'll have more pics up soon.


Saturday, June 21, 2008

Always Look Down


We've been told by a few Australians that you should always look where you walk anytime you're in the bush. In Canada, most of the things to look out for on a hike would be at eye level somewhere on the horizon. Things like bears, elk, squirrels, low branches ...

We went for a bushwalk with Nick from work and his wife Mariana this morning and were reminded why Australians always look where they step: snakes!

Mariana and Clo almost stepped on this snake.

From the look of the raised scales on it, I'd say it's a harmless keelback snake, but some Aussies have said it's a King brown (venomous). Then there's the Rough-scaled snake that kinda looks like a keelback but IS venomous!We didn't exactly piss it off on purpose to find out ...


When we got back, I saw this moth on the wall above the BBQ (where the geckos usually hang out). It was pretty big, I'd say12-14cm (5") wide. Pretty cool pattern too, classic "fake eyes" looking back at you.


Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Leech walk


This weekend, we went for a hike in the sunshine coast hinterland. It's a very nice place to walk, typical Australian rainforest: lush and beautiful.

Except it's been raining for the last week up there, so it was a little swampy. And no swampy trail would be complete without leeches. No, the leeches here aren't venomous or anything, just annoying. They grab on to you as you brush up against leaves or just climb up your shoes if you stop. No one got bit, though they did make for a funny (paranoid) walking pace for everyone.

Little guy: No one was willing to let the big ones crawl around them for a picture!

Fun fact: Leeches are closely related to earthworms... except leeches have razor-sharp teeth, *growl* hehe


Sunday, May 4, 2008

Clo's birds


Here's a small picture assortment of different birds around the house. Clo took most of them, she loves the birds here, I also took a few.

One of the trees just behind the house started flowering this week. It's a "Weeping Teatree" (Melaleuca leucadendra) and has thousands of little white bottlebrush blossoms. We noticed the smell, it's pretty strong, not exactly pleasant, but not foul either, a sort of "sweet stink" is the best way I can describe it.

It must actually be sweet because this morning as we were enjoying our sunday morning pancakes, Clo noticed 3-4 rainbow lorikeets chirping and feeding on these flowers.

Share the love

Once again, YouTube turns a decent movie into a fuzzy mess,
oh well, you get the idea ... and the sounds!

This next one is pretty funny, while the picture isn't great, if you look closely you'll see a Kookaburra on the lower branch, a Blue faced HoneyEater above and to the left, and also a Noisy Miner right at the top. The Kookaboo captured a mantis or stick insect (probably caught it with its lasers, right ?) and the other birds were trying to make him give it up by poking him from behind. Crazy monkey screaming ensued.


Clo really likes these guys, they're called Galahs. The reason Clo likes them is you usually see them huddled together 2 by 2 (couples) on power lines in the morning. They mate for life and they always stay together. Clo spotted these two feeding on clover in the park one afternoon. I think they look like a cross between a pigeon and a parrot. :-D


Monday, April 21, 2008

Carpet Python

Now this is getting interesting!

We came home from doing the groceries tonight, Clo was putting away the food and then calmly said: "There's a snake climbing up the window !?" Sure enough, this Carpet Python was climbing up the security screen, with some kind of small animal in its stomach. It eventually fell down to the window sill and slithered across the BBQ then down past the garden and back into the ravine next to the house. I'm guessing it was looking for somewhere warm to digest that yummy morsel.

The window, the python.

Clo loves snakes!

Sticking its tongue out for the camera

Slowly making its escape ...

Along the BBQ cover

Down the propane tank

Into our garden and under the fence
(Look at my beautiful chili peppers)

This one was ~1.2m long, they average 2.5m so this was just a youngin'. They can grow to 4m and have been know to eat cats and small dogs. Pythons are not venomous.

Crickey, that was cool !