Stingless Bees (Tetragonula carbonaria) or Sugarbag bees are much smaller and less noticeable than honey bees. Once they came to my attention though, I found them intriguing. I first spotted them in our front garden around a Crepe Myrtle. Their plain black upright silhouettes against a dark background made me think of sci-fi movie space pods:
Then I got closer to one on a Tecoma flower. I could see its stubbly white hair growth and the three simple eyes on the top of its head complementing its two larger compound eyes :
Last week I wrote about the Variegated Fairy-wren as being Sydney’s “other wren”, the wren that it was “other” to being the more common Superb Fairy-wren.
When I heard that there might be more Variegated Fairy-wrens at north Coogee beach, I went there to have a look. Instead, I saw several Superb Fairy-wrens (Malurus cyaneus), starting with this male in his breeding plumage:
The others with him included another male, but this one was in non-breeding (eclipse) plumage.
I’ve always had a soft spot for wrens, perhaps because my wife is called Jenny. I even did a post about an English wren here. But the Jenny-wrens are British birds, and our Sydney equivalents are the fairy-wrens. Most Sydneysiders have seen the little brown females skittering through the undergrowth in local bush reserves, often accompanied by a male in his black and electric blue breeding dress. Usually, these are Superb Fairy-wrens.
The Variegated Fairy-wrens (Malurus lamberti) are shyer and less common than their Superb cousins, so I was pleased to be able to photograph this Variegated male in his breeding plumage earlier this week.
I saw an odd-looking magpie today, odd for North Sydney, that is. It looked like this:
Whereas North Sydney magpies usually look like this (though not usually quite so dishevelled!)
Last Wednesday I saw this pair of cockatoos perched at the top of the fig-trees across the park from me in Larkin Street, Waverton. I had seen them earlier, brunching on the ripe figs.
Now they flew down across the park towards me.....
North Sydney sometimes seems like Rainbow Lorikeet Central. By day, these showy birds can be seen feeding on a wide variety of flowers, like this one on a bloodwood (Corymbia ficifolia):
Wednesday, the 20th May, was officially named World Bee Day, honouring the importance of bees and other pollinators in the world’s ecosystems.
Bee Day is a recent Slovenian initiative, reflecting the great love of bee-keeping in that country. Its focus is almost entirely on the honey bee, even though honey bees comprise just 7 out of the 16,000 or so species of bees worldwide. This is a typical European Honey Bee (Apis mellifera), photographed in the Sydney Botanic Gardens:
Since COVID-19 isolation began, more and more people are walking in the areas I usually visit, often with dogs in tow. One result is that the birdlife is also practising isolation from human-infested areas! I was pleased therefore when a small bird put his (size 24) foot down on a tree trunk close to me in Lane Cove National Park this week:
So far this blog has been light on flowers. However today is the second Sunday in May, which is Mothers’ Day in Australia. As this is a traditional day for giving flowers, I thought now would be a good time to remedy my omission.
These photos aren’t of local (New South Wales) flowers, however. They were all taken on one day nine years ago at two spots near Kalbarri in Western Australia. Neither location was your typical flowering meadow; this was one of them, on the Murchison River.
I’m not familiar with most of these WA flowers, so I’ll let the photos speak from themselves, with just a brief afterword.
Just before the COVID shutters came down in March, I was walking in the Burrewarra Point reserve at Guerilla Bay when I saw a black cockatoo. It flew into some nearby undergrowth, but flew off before I could get a clear view of it. I then followed in the same direction and before long I saw what looked like an orange flare in a casuarina tree.