Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Nature study while gardening

This morning was directed towards weeding and digging a bed for some cucurbit mounds.

I had barely got started on this when a large flock of Woodswallows made their noisy presence known high overhead.  I had unfortunately breached Birder's Rule #1 and left my binoculars indoors.  By the time I got them and returned the birds had gone.  I had no idea which of the 3 probable species they were. Fortunately another nearby (perhaps 2km away), and better organised birder had a similar flock (he counted 100 birds and there were more) about 30 minutes earlier and he suggested most at least were White-browed Woodswallows.  (see below for an update)

Hanging the binoculars and camera nearby I returned to my toil.  The first sighting was a high-speed Spotted Burrowing Frog.  It did not hang around for a photograph to be taken.

The invertebrates were generally more cooperative.

There were several species of ant of various descriptions going about their business.  This one actually paused long enough to be imaged.
I have no idea what type of animal this one is.
There were a large number of these beetles feeding on the leaves of mallow.  They were quite small and very active.  Possibly a Leaf beetle (family Chrysomelidae)?  Anything that eats mallows is GOOD!

Finally a spider.  From a comment at a recent ANPS outing and follow up on this interesting website it appears that this is a wolf spider.
The least cooperative invertebrate was a very small, uniformly dark cricket/grasshopper.  Its habitat and colouration suggest it is one of the 700 species within the family Gryllidae.

The next day another friend reported that the Woodswallow flocks had been present in the area for at least one day earlier than I had realised.  On returning home I kept my binoculars handy while in the garden and saw no Woodswallows: however I did see 3 Brown Falcons circling over the vicinity of our house for about 2 hours.  They were very vocal and 2 of the birds appeared to be flying in concert - certainly one kept dropping its feet in some thing like a display routine.

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