A couple of weeks ago the Tall Boy and I flew off to Australia.
|Media is the drug of the cattle class.|
First stop after escaping customs at Melbourne was my uncle's home.
We had a cuppa and then a tour of his wonderful cavern-like music room which is full of all the kinds of equipment required to create the layers to make music CDs.
Next was a stroll to a lunch-time spot, then a post-lunch walk around the local wetlands area that, since the breaking of the drought, has filled with water and has been slowly filling up with more and more birds.
I doubt we'd have seen more than one or two, but when you're with TB, suddenly they seem to appear. Almost all were new to me.
|Malcolm Creek Wetlands, Craigieburn, Melbourne.|
|Pretty little Red-rumped Parrots (Psephotus-haematonotus)|
|There's a hole in my tree, Eliza, Eliza...|
|...and a rainbow lorikeet in it, nesting.|
|Red wattlebird (Anthochaera carunculata)|
The Australian Wood Duck with its pretty patterned plumage is common throughout, but rather special in that it seems to have no living close relatives.
There was apparently one contender that in the late C17th was spotted within 100 miles from where I live in New Zealand, but before it could be properly identified, it became extinct*. What a sad story! This duck (Finsch's Duck) used to be the most common duck in New Zealand, weighed about twice the Aussie wood duck, and was probably flightless.
|Wood Ducks (Chenonetta jubata)|
|Australian raven (I think)|
We had a lovely evening meal with the family, and the next day were taken as far as Moonee Ponds (where the famous Dame Edna Everage previously lived as an average Australian housewife) railway station to continue our travels into Melbourne city.
Just before we piled into the car, I noticed a spooky hairy creature on the trunk of the tree in the front garden. I was sure it was a gigantic tarantula but on examining the camera images I was taking, it seemed to be a mass of black caterpillars huddled together.
My Aunt has identified these as sawfly larvae. Probably the Steel-blue species. If it is these, I'm glad I didn't climb up and get too close and annoy them, as they are also known as 'Spitfires', because they eject an irritating substance from their mouths when disturbed.
|Saw-fly larvae. (Perginae perga?)|
|On the highway to Moonee Ponds.|