The official Bureau of Meteorology figures for Observatory Hill, just across the harbour from us, showed 392 mm of rain fell for the four days ending 9 a.m. Monday, with wind gusts of up to 102 km/h. Some big branches fell, including this one which brought down power lines in Euroka Street, Waverton.
As I surveyed the scene, a Pied Currawong flew across the road with a freshly caught cicada in its beak. The bird glowered at me when I pointed the camera at it:
A déjà vu moment for me at the Randwick Environmental Centre! Four months ago I saw a Willie Wagtail and a Restless Flycatcher there and this week I saw another Willie Wagtail and Flycatcher darting about. At first, I thought they might be the exact same birds, but then I realised that the flycatcher was smaller, about the size of a spinebill, and that it wasn’t quite so glossily black.
It perched briefly near me while it scanned the area above:
The bee's life is like a magic well: the more you draw from it, the more it fills with water
Karl von Frisch
In last week’s blog about Ginger Meggs and the Blue-banded Bees, I quoted expert advice that it can be hard to tell the different Blue-banded species apart by fur colour alone. So when I saw two different male Blue-banded Bees a few days ago, I was unsure whether they were of the same species. First there was this one, with lush golden-brown fur on its thorax and good blue iridescence in its stripes.
Last week I noted that there were fewer birds around, perhaps because of the smoke haze and the drought. The same was true for bees. After we finally had some rain a week ago, I walked over to a patch of Guinea Flowers (Hibbertia) where I usually see bees. I found few surviving flowers, and none of the usual bee visitors. However, I did see this Blue-banded Bee settling on one flower.
As she curled up to buzz the pollen, an orange shape appeared behind her:
I’ve done fewer walks this month because of the smoke levels around Sydney. There have been fewer birds to see, but those I saw seemed to be unusually relaxed and cooperative, like this Crested Pigeon near the Coal Loader café.
My old biology teacher, J.A. Wood, introduced me to Dixon Lanier Merritt’s classic limerick:
A wonderful bird is the pelican
His bill can hold more than his belican
He can take in his beak
Food enough for a week
But I'm damned if I see how the helican
Wonderful or not, the Australian Pelican (Pelicanus conspicillatus) has an ungainly comic appearance, with its huge beak and S-bend neck:
The pelican waddles when it walks, and the huge expandable gular pouch beneath its beak shows even when flying: