My Travels / 04.04.2017

I got back from a brief stay with Simon and Nicole (my son and daughter-in-law) in Longreach late yesterday. I missed the drenching this part of the world received from ex tropical cyclone Debbie. Alas, so did Longreach which needs the rain, whereas south east Queensland doesn’t. A friend who lives near my place recorded 345 mm of rain over two days. I fell in love with Pepper, a four month old cattle dog puppy who is the latest addition to the household. Numerous birds visit the garden, including a Little Kingfisher which I had seen last year.

On the second evening we had a convivial dinner at a noted outback pub and pulled off the road to drink in the night sky in all its glory, aided by a uniformly flat horizon and the absence of any moonlight. Shadowy kangaroos, illuminated by the headlights, lined both sides of the road home.

Next day we drove to a town in the neighbouring shire with a pub and perhaps three dozen dwellings, seeing some emus as well as cattle and sheep along the way, also visiting an abandoned sheep station which has been made into a national park…. Read Complete Text


Other / 26.03.2017

Today I uploaded the 300th image to my ‘Other Fauna’ Album. It was of a male Spiny Leaf Insect, the first I have seen, which I photographed this morning. I have filmed females on three occasions, including once in rainforest at night. Only ‘Moths’ has more images. The males grow to 11 cm long and are not as bulky as the females, which grow to 20 cm.


Other / 16.03.2017

This afternoon I loaded a new SD (secure digital) memory card into my point and shoot at macro range PANCAM. The old card contained at least 14.7 GB out of an available 14.8 and I didn’t want to find myself photographing a subject which couldn’t be captured because the camera had run out of capacity. I first used it on 15 June 2014. Card 1 contains some video clips and I should think about 1,500 photos.


Film Diary / 14.03.2017

Today I completed the paper edit of the first videos recorded on memory card. The initial seven are footage from the demo camera. The rest are from the camera I bought in January. Once again, after a long interval, there are garage moth videos as opposed to the videos of moths filmed intermittently at night. I have 25 videos in the pipeline and over two hours of material from the second memory card for Steve to download, which should yield several more.


Film Diary / 07.03.2017

I returned to Eagles Nest this morning to really get to grips with a magical subject I chanced upon yesterday afternoon, when I popped in to see the owners who are good friends of mine. I noticed that an abandoned potter wasp nest showed signs of being refurbished, so I went to get my camera and filmed the new work. The wasp duly appeared and eventually entered the nest, remaining there for a long time before emerging. I thought I noticed a second wasp.

Carefully positioning the camera to avoid the flight path, while getting a good view of the building site, I was rewarded by repeated visits of indeed two wasps. One continued to spend time in the nest. The other wasp flew in to work on the nest, but was chased away by the wasp which had been inside. For a reason not apparent, rubbing their abdomens with their hind legs was one of the wasps’ activities at the nest.

The glory of this event is that I first filmed the live nest in March 2010, attended by a single wasp. In October 2014 I filmed the decayed nest, revealing numbers of exposed cells. Two… Read Complete Text


Other / 02.03.2017

Today I posted the USBs with the 123 SD and 48 HD species videos to the NFSA. On Tuesday Steve and I put the finishing touches to the videos. Steve had to find the three missing SD videos, which he did. I discovered a taxonomic error in an old SD video which we had to re-title and render. Five HD videos were missing from Steve’s excel sheet and had to be found, which they were, and the last video required the taxonomic information to be added to the opening title. Then Steve had to copy the videos and excel sheets onto the USBs, which was done overnight so that I could collect them on Wednesday.


Other / 23.02.2017

Steve emailed me an excel for the remaining HD videos which we will include with the SD videos. When completed, we will be able to provide the NFSA with a fully up to date collection of species videos, including four we uploaded in January. We will produce the next videos from material on a memory card from the new camera. Based on the vimeo record, I discovered that three videos were missing from Steve’s SD excel list, bringing the total to 123.


Film Diary / 22.02.2017

This evening we concluded our night filming walk in The Knoll National Park, begun last week, when there were so many interesting subjects (two moths, two spiders, a butterfly and a beetle) that we barely got past the second bend in the path.

The big attraction at The Knoll is Hadronyche formidabilis, which resides in a tree next to the creek close to the furthest point of our walk. This spider has the most potent arachnid venom on the planet.  By tickling the trip lines with a twig, Mark causes the spider to leave its web thinking it is about to pounce on prey instead of the end of vegetable matter. This was the fourth occasion I have filmed the spider and this time I set myself up to get frame-filling close ups. The spider gave a bravura performance, leaving its web several times and hanging on to the twig in full view. On one take, its grip was so powerful that when it retreated into its web carrying the twig with it, Mark had to wait quite a while before it let go. For the record, this is post 450.


Other / 14.02.2017

This evening Steve gave me the Excel document for the SD Species Videos we will be sending to the NFSA (National Sound & Film Archive). It is about a year ago since we sent them the HD videos. Once I get into the swing of things it should be plain sailing. There are 120 videos for which I need to provide taxonomic and descriptive information. Among them are some of my earliest videos on Vimeo uploaded six years ago.


My Travels, Other / 11.02.2017

I have long thought I arrived in Australia at the end of February thirty years ago, but couldn’t remember the date. Wanting to mark the occasion here, I ferreted around to see what I could find and came across an old UK passport which unfortunately replaced the one I arrived with, the following year.

Happily, my old metal document case yielded the key paperwork relating to my move, including the Qantas ticket for my flight from Heathrow to the Gold Coast. I landed at Sydney on February 11. I remember over-nighting at the airport hotel, scarcely believing I was actually in Australia and only a relatively short distance and a matter of hours away from folding Simon, my beloved five year old son, in my arms. He had preceded me to Australia with his mother and her partner nearly a year before.

I was forty five years old when I came to Australia, straight from London to Tamborine Mountain, where I have lived ever since; my longest ever sojourn in the same place. Australia has been extremely good to me, allowing me to live a better life than I ever could in the UK, both materially and,… Read Complete Text