Lately I’ve wondered whether the phrase “pollinator count” sends pollinators scurrying for a leaf to hide under. Last week, on several formal ‘pollinator counts’, I saw very few bees. For example, one count yielded only a blue-banded bee, a teddy bear bee, and a few honey bees. Another, no bees at all.
It was a different story on informal walks this week (though pollinator numbers were still smaller than they had been in summer). For example, a few days ago I saw a stand of Salvia flowers (Salvia leucantha?) in Waverton Bowling Club being visited by a variety of bees. First, this Teddy Bear Bee came in to land on a flower:
A few days ago to celebrate my recovery from a foot infection, I took a walk—an approved outing for socially distanced exercise, of course, where I just happened to be carrying a camera. This was also the week of the Autumn Wild Pollinator count so I wanted to make a couple of observations as well.
First stop was a Hibbertia plant where in the past I always saw bees. Now, alas, there were none. A Coastal Rosemary a few metres away was still half-dead from the drought, so again I saw no bees. Then I noticed another Hibbertia with just a few flowers on it, and yes! A bee! One bee after ten minutes of walking.
When I first saw this Blue-Banded Bee, she was grooming pollen granules out of her fur. Here, she is cleaning the underside of her left wing.
Driving south on the Princes Highway five kilometres past Mogo on the NSW south coast, I noticed a blue lay-by sign that said: Waldrons Swamp Rest Area - 5kms.
Waldron is a family name, so on a whim I pulled into the rest area to see what the swamp had to offer. At first I couldn’t see any wildlife activity, and then I spotted some Eastern Spinebills flitting around bottlebrush trees near the main road. This male was one of them:
Two weeks ago I posted photos of Topknot pigeons, including some in a fig-tree at Jerrara Dam near Kiama. On that same walk at the Dam, I saw this female Bowerbird perched near another fig-tree. The light was good, allowing her remarkable eye colouring to show clearly.
Broulee Island Nature Reserve is a rocky hillock about 500 metres across, connected to the mainland by a sandy isthmus. I visited it briefly during my trip to the South Coast two weeks ago. As I was standing on a rocky stretch of shore photographing some thornbills on the nearby hillside, I noticed this big black bird behind me with something in its beak.
These pigeons have been the bane of my life lately—I could never get close to one even though they flap round regularly in Sydney in summer—but I find them fascinating: they look so exotically eccentric. A topknot pigeon is a conventional grey pigeon except that it has a red beak and eyes, and a forward grey crest like a bulbous forehead as well as a trailing red/brown ponytail crest. Here’s what one looks like:
Nearly three months after the bushfires, I visited the coast south of Sydney last week. It was wonderful to see how resilient old Mother Nature can be after all the devastation. I found mile after mile of burned forest furred with new green growth, like this stretch in Mogo state forest:
It was an impressive demonstration of the ability of eucalypts to survive extreme temperatures – on occasions steel signs were melted by these fires – and it was noticeable that it was the thicker limbs that survived. This tree in the Currumbene forest was one example:
Small brown birds aren’t always easy to identify. Here’s one I saw on 29th February.
When I first saw it, it was in long grass below a thick bush. It had seen me too:
Watching Little Corellas (Cacatua sanguinea) can be great fun. Take this one reclining on the grass at Sydney Uni with a sprig of leaves in its left claw.
Walking through Badangi Reserve, I spotted a greyish bird on a low branch. It immediately flew up into the canopy and I was able to get a quick shot.
Although its head was in deep shade, I could see clearly its white underside with dark streaking, and this made me think it was either an Oriole or a Figbird. The insect in its beak suggested an oriole, but both species take insects. The bird then flew to a more open spot: