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Film Diary / 14.11.2018

Our walk in Palm Grove, nearly proved fruitless for me. By the time I had set up to film a black-spotted semi-slug on the shell of a giant panda snail, the semi-slug had vanished. However, Lumart had shone his uv torch on lichens on a rough-hewn stone wall on either side of steps leading to the picnic area portending spectacular images. There are many rocks in the park, so I anticipated achieving good things filming lichens on them. But the results were poor. The lichens on the wall had been exposed to sunlight, those in the park were shielded by the understory and canopy.

On one side of the steps some of the lichens resembled larva flows and magma, others emitted a brilliant yellow light. On the other side of the steps, the lichens looked like rock paintings of a kind never achieved on earth, one with three bright white/green circles forming a triangle on a crimson ground. PS I went back to the wall next day and filmed the lichens in daylight. They looked very dull in comparison.

 

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Film Diary / 09.11.2018

There have been some hot days, plenty of rain in October, but overall, Spring has been cool. I have photographed on 18 days with my PANCAM since July 1, (mostly moths, but also birds, a lacewing, a spider and the smallest stick insect nymph I have seen), compared with 11 days for the entire second half of 2017. Today, I filmed European honey bees drinking at a birdbath in a friend’s garden. I had never seen this activity and hadn’t given the matter any thought, but I was entranced by what I saw. The bees spent plenty of time drinking and relaxing. The plants which attract blue-banded bees aren’t in flower. I can’t wait to find out if I will be able to film them drinking.

 

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Film Diary / 24.10.2018

Tonight, at The Knoll, we completed the first night filming walk of the new season, which started late because of unusually cold weather and recent rain. It was great to see Robyn again, after a long absence while she waited for a hip replacement operation, from which she has thankfully made a good recovery. Mark, Jaap Lumart and Karen completed the crew.

We saw plenty of creatures including a metre long brown tree snake, plenty of spiders, a couple of snails, a small and emaciated leaf-tail gecko, two great-barred frogs, black-spotted semi-slugs, a crane fly, caterpillars, millipedes, glow worms, and male and female harvestman. I filmed a new, smallish beetle. I also got a few okay seconds of the eel which lives in Sandy Creek, now full after a week of heavy rain. On the way back from dropping off Jaap, I swerved to avoid a large carpet python about to cross the road.

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Film Diary / 17.10.2018

Apparently, they have been there for a few days, but I only noticed them when I drove past at lunch time today – an adult tawny frogmouth and chick, perched on a wood chip pile in the park opposite my apartment block. The pile is all that remains of the tree which contained the nest, from which they had been summarily evicted, because council workers cut the tree down last week. In an attempt to make amends, the council has surrounded the pile with ‘do not disturb’ signs. They are due to remain in place until the chick is able to fly, which is reckoned to be in about two weeks’ time.

Although they resemble owls, tawny frogmouths are not raptors, lacking talons, and a beak capable of ripping flesh apart. They catch their insect prey on the wing. The birds occur throughout mainland Australia and Tasmania. Use the images and videos search to see what they look like.

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Film Diary / 26.06.2018

Dragon head fits the bright green caterpillar I found on this morning’s walk. I have never seen its like, with four menacing horns growing from its head. But it is smooth-skinned and harmless. Tailed emperor, Charaxes sempronius, is the name of the butterfly it becomes. The butterfly has a wingspan of up to 11 cm. It occurs throughout Australia other than Tasmania, though mainly in tropical and subtropical regions.

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Film Diary / 18.06.2018

That is how emails from Chris Burwell of the Queensland Museum, who has long been my mainstay on insect identification, are now titled. Chris doesn’t just provide an attribution when possible, he adds snippets of fascinating information. Today’s arrival was a gem. Without Lumart’s sophisticated uv torch, we would never have seen the shield bug on the forest floor, one night in April this year. I filmed it under the spotlight as well as under uv. It was a female Peltocopta crassiventris which is unique in transporting her hatchlings under the concave underside of her abdomen. This feat qualifies the species for inclusion in a CSIRO list of five of Australia’s most amazing examples of animal behaviour.

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Film Diary / 09.05.2018

On my morning walk I happened to glance towards the garden with the cotton shrubs and noticed the bolls dotting the vegetation with their white fluff. I crossed the road to take a closer look and was regaled with a profusion of harlequin bugs clustering on leaves, on unopened bolls, crawling on stems, which totally eclipsed anything I saw and filmed last year. The bugs were early to late instars, with countless males replacing the lone specimens on the shrubs I saw previously. There may have been a greater number of adult females  than before, but because of the profusion of instars it was difficult to tell.

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Film Diary / 28.04.2018

This evening we filmed in a new location, 696 Main Western Road. In addition to Mark, Lumart and Jaap, the party included Karen, a skilled photographer and the owners of the property, Cobie and Kate. They have planted extensive areas of native vegetation to compliment some of the splendid, mature trees which adorn the 3 ½ acre grounds. Mark found several moths for me to film, a juvenile red triangle slug (among several fully grown specimens) and the pièce de résistance, a Robust Velvet Gecko. This is a beautiful creature with a broad, dark grey stripe from its eyes to the tip of its tail, covered in whitish,  lichen crypsis (mimicking) patches. It was attached to the outside of a window at a good angle for filming. The gecko is nearly as big as its leaf-tailed namesake. It is aptly named with its plump body, limbs and tail.

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Film Diary / 20.04.2018

Peter Hendry and his wife left on a 3 ½ month overseas trip 6 weeks ago. This means that I have to upload new moth images to my album with a record of their file number, so that in due course I can attach them to emails to send to Peter. This is by way of a back story for today’s moths at the garage. Moths enjoy vegetation, so the removal of a large tree and various shrubs from one side of the drive a year or more ago has affected their numbers at the garage. Moths enjoy rain even more, which they did last night, resulting in a greater number than I have seen for months. I photographed three of them; one was a species new to me, but I won’t find out what it is until July, alas.

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Film Diary / 28.03.2018

This evening, Mark, Lumart and I were at The Knoll. Lumart has a torch which emits ultra violet light. The most striking effect is achieved on the mottled scorpion, which lights up in spectacular fashion. After recent rain, there were large numbers of scorpions around and I filmed a lone specimen which was static for a long period and then moved off. I also filmed a mating couple, pincers clasping pincers. The pair were on a root. The male pulled the female off the root, relocating just below it. I also filmed a plant shoot with just two leaves, whose venation responded to the ultra violet.