Sunday, December 22, 2013

Brisbane River from pedestrian walkway on Eleanor Schonell Bridge
Christmas is high summer in Brisbane. The skies are blue, the breezes warm and the birds often raucous. Barbies are more common than traditional Old World feasts, but some insist on sweltering away in the kitchen to produce the ham, turkey or roast they remember from childhood. The native Brush Turkeys have nothing to fear, though, although reputedly they aren't such bad tucker. Well, nothing to fear from cooks, but gardeners are likely to chase them out of the veggie patch when they try to turn it into a mound of compost.
Male Australian Brush Turkey
Surprisingly, although Australia boasts 38 genera of cicadas (32 endemic), and cicada-season runs most of the year (August through June), the City days have been free from the intense droning that I remember from field work in the nearby scrub. That's quite likely because it has been dry and many cicadas do not emerge until after the rains have commenced. Each evening at dusk, however, for about 15 minutes the air fills with the trilling of cicada, one of the Small Bottle Cicadas and probably Chlorocysta vitripennis (Westwood, 1851) or a closely related species. 
Female Small Bottle Cicada
The cicada's common name comes from the bloated and empty bottle-like bodies of the males: the females are more sleek and apparently less likely to escape the attention of young proto-entomologists in the morning. 
At this age insects are still a wonder and not a yucky bug
If you'd like to learn more about Australian Cicadas, then Lindsay Popple maintains an excellent website at:

Saturday, December 7, 2013

One Reason for Moving the Home Bug Garden

A tale of two cities
The shift in locations for the Home Bug Garden is under way - and none too soon as Alberta gives me a chilly farewell and Brisbane a warm reception. Some wandering will be in order and a final HBG Oz may take a while, but my peregrinations will start popping up here.
Brush-tails prefer apples to mangoes - De gustibus ...
It is all different here, and yet familiar as the memories come back one-by-one. Perhaps Queensland is not as spectacular as Alberta in relief or size of its native mammals, but it is hard to think of anything else that it lacks. And I prefer Ring-tails to Red Squirrels, although the former are more of a pest if you are trying to regenerate native plants.
Ring-tailed Possum - a confirmed herbivore
Lots of insects and spiders too.
Brown House Spider has Ant-lion to dinner
And then there are the mangoes.