22 July, 2009

Peterson Creek, Yungaburra

On a cool but sunny afternoon, Maria nad I went for a walk along Peterson Creek. Under some shady rainforest trees some fungus was glowing brightly despite the recent dry weather. A little further down stream at Snodgrass Pool I thought I saw something under the far bank. A look with the binoculars showed it to be a Water Rat, Hydromys chrygaster.After grooming for about ten minutes it ran along the undercut bank and up to a hole. It almost fell backwards out of the hole. I am not sure if the hloe belongs to this rat or something else. The path to a Platypus burrow is usually more smoothed than this one was.
Then it was off to look for dinner.A female Little Bronze Cuckoo, Chrysococcyx minutillus, almost sat on Maria's hat but landed on the branch above her head instead. The picture below shows the colour of the wing with some lighton it. In full sun the wings have a strong bronze sheen.
We saw three species of parrots, four honeyeaters, three cuckoo-shrikes, two skinks and a Platypus. As we walked back through the village a flock of 20 Sarus Cranes flew over in V formation.

19 July, 2009

Mystery Picture

Can you tell what this is? Just for fun you can enter you answer on the quiz on the top right hand side of the blog.

More Platypus

A north Queensland female Platypus showing the structure of her leathery bill and the golden patch below her eye. It is obvious that I have mislead some of you by saying in the past that their eyebrows are golden; sorry. Platypus have no teeth but use bony plates to grind the food brought to the surface in their cheek pouches.
Here is a view of the hind foot of a female.
And below is the spur of a young adult male.
Bergman's principle illustrated!

Thanks to Stephen Kolomyjec for the pictures in this blog.

17 July, 2009


The Platypus is unique in the true sense of the word. Another overused word is icon but in this case I think it is apt to say that the Platypus is an Australian icon.
As an egg laying mammal it blongs in the sub-class of monotremes. The other living family of monotremes are the echidnas.Stephen Kolomyjec from James Cook University has been studying their genetices. To do this he must catch the animals. Here he is setting his nets in the late afternoon as most activity will occur around dusk and dawn.
Once a Platypus is in the net it must be retrieved. As there are no weights on the net there is no rush as the animal can swim to the surface to breathe. However Stephen is keen to avoid stressing the animals.
Holding it by the tail, he frees it from the net. Into the bag it goes. The gloves are in case it is a male. Males have a spine on their hind leg, linked to a venom gland. Envenomation can produce a lot of pain for the unwary researcher.
Back on land the young female is measured and microchipped.
Have a look at her front feet. Beyond the long claws the webbing extends to make a huge paddle. Most of the swimming effort is made with the front legs.
Once I was explaining to a group of tourists that the Platypus was the only venemous Australian mammal. A fellow towads the back said, "Bullshit," just loudly enough for me to hear. As we left the site I asked him which other Australian mammal was venomous. He turned to his companion and said, "He obviously has not met my first wife!"

13 July, 2009

Pretty in Pink

A pink bottlebrush has been attracting lots of attention and not just from the people passing by. Above is a Macleay's Honeyeater. This is one of eight species of honeyeater in the garden at the moment.
Flies and wasps also come to the nectar and pollen.
This tiny Trigona bee is stingless and lives in a hive in an old pot by my water tank. There are many species of skippers but I think this may be a Grass Skipper of some kind.
The Zodiac Moth flies during the day, is large and colourful with small tails on the hind-wing. New Guinea has a butterfly which mimics this moth and hence gains from the nasty taste of the poisons stored by the moth. Birds soon learn not to try eating the moth.
Below are two species of Jezebel Butterfly and one which looks like it might be.
Scarlet-banded Jezebel, Delias mysis.
Common Jezebel, Delias nigrina.
Jezebel Nymph, Mynes geoffroyi.