Saturday, September 11, 2010

mysterious oak from Sherwood Forest (UK)

Here is our local Terminalia spp. again however I have also put in two photos of oaks from Sherwood Forest (UK). 
Which numbers are they?


Friday, September 10, 2010

oops!.... the mother got left behind

female sunbird                

                                                                                               photo courtesy of Uta Heidelhauf. Copyright.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Birds of the sun

The yellow-bellied Sunbird, Nectorinia jugularis is a real star here in the tropics.
Male sunbird
with dark blue-black feathers on throat
About 2 weeks ago a couple of sunbirds were checking out the real estate at my place but decided not to build here. 
They have built their nest elsewhere though because the male is feeding alone, which means his partner is caring for the chicks. She usually comes out later for a feed and both mother and father bird assist in feeding their young.

Today, September 9th is the first time  since nesting began where I have noticed the mother appear along with the father out feeding again.

The exotic passiflore they love grow outside my work window so I see them feed several times every day. 

I spray the the leaves of the torch ginger, Etlingera elatior with the hose and they bathe in the water drops nestled on the leaf. They turn it into a bit of a roller-coaster ride the way they slide up and down these leaves. Very entertaining to watch.
I have never seen them use the birdbath placed nearby for other species.

Sunbirds, originally from the mangroves, have adapted well to our urban life.

Nesting close to us humans is to protect their young from predatory species who are nervous about approaching our territory. 

They lead a nectarivorous lifestyle coming from the family Nectoriniidae. They are the only representative from this family in Australia and exist only along a narrow range of the northern tropics, from Cape York to Gladstone, QLD.

Their bill is long and slender to sip nectar from tubular-shaped flowers and they feed their young with nectar and insects. They check my windows for spiders every morning when attending to their routine food gathering. 
Great way for observing them closely.

Their call is a high-pitched dzit dzit or a hissing whistle, tss-ss-ss. Try it yourself!

torch ginger


photos of sunbirds used with kind permission from Uta Heidelhauf, Copyright.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

1st day of spring, September 1st, 2010

Terminalia babe

Great, it's just we don't get spring up these parts. 

Happy springtime to all you southerners, lucky you are leaving behind the coldest winter in 20 years.

I was heading south into town yesterday and noticed all the winter evaders, scurrying off south for the summer, towing their snail homes behind them.
Nothing like a bit of humidity and wet weather to scare them off.
It will be nice to have the roads back although they are getting congested without the annual invasion.

There has been no 'Dry' this year.  The longest break of no rain was 13 days straight in June. mid-August, 9mms of rain was enough to wake up many plants earlier than usual.  
 I worked frantically in the garden and fed all the plants as the new growth was introduced to the sun and rain. 

With the rain from the past few days totalling 64.5mms the carpet will remain green for now

Nature is certainly displaying her unstable tendencies, an early message for an unpredictable, unstable buildup/wet season perhaps.

Rainfall is measured every morning as close to 9am as possible. All mentions of rainfall volumes on this blog have been collected from the rain gauge in my front yard unless otherwise stated.

Now August has finished I have been able to tally the months rain and the consecutive tally.

Total rainfall for the year up to the end of August is 2082mms which has surpassed our annual average of 2000mms. Still 4 months to go before years end. 
It was at the end of July we surpassed the 2000mm mark.
We will just have to wait and see.......I will keep you posted.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Green carpet or brown?

Green carpet or brown?

Looks like it's going to be green. Rain has been filling up the gauge.

August is the new October.

The weather warmed further about 6 days ago. Trees have been pushing out new growth and flowering trees are 1-2 months early.

The crocodiles have woken. A few of us spotted one at the beach about 2 metres long only 2 days ago. 
We gathered together unconsciously, in the mammalian way of forming a defence position.

Bobbing along in the waves near the creek mouth entrance, the same creek where I had earlier taken photos of the mangroves, the young croc dared not take us on.

 So, what this croc is telling me is the current climate conditions are perfect for reptilian cousins.  Now I will be on the look out for snakes.

What a bountiful, abundant place this part of the world is, the northern tropical belt of Australia. Good rainfall, lots of foodstuffs, tea, coffee, grown locally, sold locally, consumed locally.

Perhaps the build up has already started, we will have to wait and see... 

Thursday, August 26, 2010

More of today......

Italian loofah

young pineapple


Today in the Garden

prolific chilli

water spinach     
cherry tomato buds

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

This week, back at the ranch....

A walk around the garden...... 

Italian loofah will produce zucchini-like edible fruit...


spinach bush

just about ready......


the office


remnants of a sunbirds' decoy nest

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Today, 10th August 2010 I received an email from Katherine (the town) in the Northern Territory (approx. 330kms south of Darwin) letting me know the dry season is in full swing. Which means in 'Territorian', tropical terms, it's now safe to organize a BBQ or other outdoor pursuit knowing it won't rain.

Having lived in Darwin in a past life, the tropical seasons in the 'Top End' and here in North Queensland are quite different.  

In the Top End they experience an intense build-up season, generally good 'wet seasons' with days and nights of endless heavy rain and predictable dry season days. 

I had an interesting experience in Darwin where I stood in the middle of my abode. When I looked through the window towards the front yard it was teeming rain and when I looked out the backyard the sunshine was bouncing off the purple bougainvillea!

The Top End also have life-enhancing storms, magnificent shows of nature, some of the best on earth I would contest. Words fail to describe the sensations experienced when witnessing these shows choreographed by nature. 
They are common too, just about everyday in the build-up, somewhere a storm cell will appear in the vast, blue background.

So the tropical season in Queensland? 

Seasons here stick to no routine, just do what they want, when they want. 
Good metaphor for us locals and why people are invading us in peacetime. 
They love our laid-back demeanor.

Here is what today looked like, in the middle of the dry season:

 These photos were taken about 4pm.

We get few storms here but cyclones are many.

According to Testaments from the Bureau of Meteorology (, Queensland has on average 4.7 cyclones per year. I will research the NT and WA  tropical areas and report in another blog.

 The Bureau of Meteorology website is like oxygen to many in the northern tropical belt. is affectionately known locally as the 'bom(b) site'.
Comprehensive enough for me to check it out in the rainy season to decide whether to hang the washing out or not! The site is an excellent source of information about cyclones, so if you're a recent invader to the tropics, you can combat much fear if you inform yourself all about these natural phenomena.

Check it out for yourself. 
It covers the whole country and is tax money well-spent.

blue days passing and mangoes flowering

Was just about to write about the return of blue skies but they have gone again already.
Some gentle rain fell overnight, all of 2mms and some frisky, light mists continue to fall as I scribe. 
The birds are loving it and the drying, fading landscape will be carpeted in green again.

I have dug in for mango flowering photos and here they are.            

The ubiquitous mango tree.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Mango Madness

Out in the treescapes of far north Queensland, right now are the flowering mango's.

Here is how they perform their show:

 Mangifera indica............King of the Fruits.

They are everywhere, all the more noticeable because of flowering. The drive along Ellis Beach on the way to Port Douglas puts on a real show at mango flowering time.

Part of the initiation into becoming a northerner, is having the experience of squelching mango between the toes from kicking the fruit in it's bounty. 
(Not deliberately, of course. That would be cheating)

I will go and dig a few more flowering mangoes out of the picture file.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Plants of the New World.

Meet Plumera pudica, known by the common name of frangipani or recently, orphan.

Yep. Was a surprise for me too.
They don't even look similar although 'tis not surprising.

Winner of  'Plant of the year' in 2007 at the US National Tropical Plant Industry Exhibition, Plumeria pudica came out as a debutante then.

This wonderful plant promises to be all the things the more common frangipani, Plumeria rubra is not.

P. pudica is not fussy about living in dry or cold regions, so in areas west of the coastal strip, including the tablelands, this plant would probably thrive. 
Hey, what about England? Maybe this plant would be worth a try in the southern parts?

Has anyone seen P.pudica on the tablelands? The Top End? The Kimberly's?..... ...........England?

The common frangipani, P. rubra  flowers for about 4 months of the year, is naked of foliage and has a reputation for attracting pests and rust, however P.pudica flowers for about 10 months of the year, is virtually evergreen and resistant to pests and diseases. What a bonus!

Now for the.........


According to the gospel of Google, the common name for this frangipani is .........bridal bouquet!

This has provided much mirth because the plant was given up by an independent, single, never-married woman and adopted by an independent, single, never-married woman. 

Neither of us were aware of the common name.

I have been thrown and caught (OMG) a bridal bouquet.

Unknowingly I have planted it out the front near the entry so I guess any prince in paupers' disguise who enters here and  recognises the plant will................................................ (complete this sentence in the comments column for your own creative ending).

Have fun!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Dreaming of endless, cloudless, blue skies....

.....however when I opened my eyes it had to remain a dream.

The cloudy sky and unstable weather remains. Perhaps we are cursed because of the sheer numbers of Victorians who have come lately? Did they bring their weather here?
I console myself with the great choice I made in my life not to reside anywhere south of the Tropic of Capricorn. 

I was surprised to find 15.5mm of water waiting in the rain gauge this morning, especially for this time of the year. We have been getting some dribs and drabs but mostly 0.5 to 1.5mms. Hardly worth a mention in these parts.

A total of 26mms over the past 4 days will continue to keep everything green. 
It certainly makes the dog easier to find than when it's dry and brown, which it often is. 
This usually surprises people who don't live in the tropics, the expectation is of green, green, permanent green.

Cane harvest is trying to get into full swing however the rain is a bit of a dampener at this time.

The rain has been a fabulous welcome to a new orphan I have taken in and given a new home. Here is a pic taken only a few days ago, transplanting occurred a few days before that, during the moon's waxing cycle.

Do you recognize it?
 Is there anyone familiar with this new introduction to the plant world?

It comes with a shadow, like us all.

The orphan's plant name will be revealed in the next blog, along with some characteristics.
I will continue to show how well she grows so watch this space.....

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Terminalia Trappings

Now I am sure there are a lot of people locally who have recognised the familiarity of these images.
The common name is beach almond.
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