After staying in several garden-free English B&Bs, it was delightful to arrive at Mimosa Lodge in Cowes, on the Isle of Wight, where there was a half-acre of garden AND sunshine. I could hear a number of birds as we pulled in. However, when I went outside after unpacking, I discovered that much of the wildlife activity was coming from insects in the flower bed next to the breakfast terrace, and in the nearby flowering trees.
The first thing I noticed was the darker coloration of many of the honey bees. I concluded that these must be British Black Bees (Apis mellifera mellifera).
Last Tuesday I went to an excellent talk on Powerful Owls, by Dr Beth Mott and Ronwyn North. I remembered afterwards that I’d not posted anything about my own owl sighting last year.
I had been walking along a path in a neighbouring suburb where I’d been told to watch out for an owl. A little way along I noticed a woman with a camera (who later turned out to be Ronwyn North!) intently observing something. I didn’t want to spook whatever it was, so I approached slowly. A Powerful Owl (Ninox strenua) was in the trees. A long-held ambition of mine had just been realised.
In Weymouth, England, I saw this plump little wren performing to all who were prepared to listen.
“ ….. “
(“Ready when you are, maestro?”)
Recently I was walking past the Shore school basketball courts when my attention was caught by a particularly shrill chorus of noisy miner abuse occurring in a small tree. I investigated, and as I moved around the tree, a small owl gradually became visible behind the noisy miners. It was a Southern Boobook owl (Ninox boobook).
I hadn’t been for a walk westwards from our house for a while, so I set out on Wednesday not expecting much. Turns out I saw quite a lot. First, was this young Australian Magpie (Cracticus tibicen) with a centipede in its beak. I sighted it near the bowling club, but it ignored me, being busy warbling at its parents and getting warbled back. Magpie warbling has a lovely liquid sound, so I listened until it was interrupted by other birds.
If you ever see something glinting on a flower, look more closely – it might be a Neon Cuckoo Bee (Thyreus nitidulus). It’s hard to capture its appearance in a photograph, even with a bit of post-processing. In reality, the effect in direct sunlight is more like a small string of electric-blue neon lights, as its name suggests.
North Sydney – my home suburb – holds Sydney’s second largest CBD. However its parks and bushland areas, and those of neighbouring councils such as Willoughby, host a surprising variety of native flora and fauna. These bush areas are maintained by dedicated council staff, often working with local resident volunteers.