Have you ever seen what looks like a blue-green grain of rice flying in the sun, like this?
If so, and if you live in Australia, it’s probably an Emerald or jewel wasp from the Primeuchroeus genus. Like many iridescent creatures, the apparent colour changes depending on the angle of the light falling on it, and ranges from pale blue-green through a much darker turquoise to a deep emerald green.
Here’s a closer view of this wasp, which really is about the size of a grain of Basmati rice –:
One of my favourite collective nouns in English is “murder” – as in a murder of crows. As far as I know, there isn’t a collective noun for cuckoos, perhaps because in Britain the cuckoo is mostly solitary. Here, however, a collective noun is not inappropriate for its cousin, the Channel-bill cuckoo, as this bird often travels in groups of 2 to 5.
In Europe, the male cuckoo’s call is welcomed as a harbinger of spring. In Sydney, the call of the Channel-billed cuckoo is also a harbinger of spring, but not a very attractive one. Graham Pizzey’s description is apt – ‘Voice: Awful – a raucous deliberately-spaced shout of “oik”, “awk” or “wark”, repeated .... often at night’. Unfortunately there are plenty of fig trees around our house, so we hear their ‘awful’ voices day and night at this time of year.
My choice therefore for a collective noun is a “cacophony” of cuckoos. (It could also be applied to cockatoos and perhaps kookaburras, but that’s for another discussion.)
Channel-billed cuckoos don’t look so pretty either. They have a zombie-like colouring – ash-grey plumage with red-rimmed eyes - and a heavy, grooved beak, as you can see:
By our back door is a grape vine which is currently flowering, although it’s not very obvious. The flowers on each bract have what I think of as “air petals” – in other words there are no petals, just anthers and stamens, and they look like this:
Despite the lack of petals, the flowers seemed to be attractive to a couple of little reed bees (exoneura sp), like this one: