Saturday, January 31, 2009

On Holiday!!!

Just to say our Blog will be a little quiet for the next three weeks. We're now at Sydney airport awaiting our flight to Bangkok - 3 days there and then we join P&O's Arcadia for an 18-night cruise back to Sydney. I'm not sure if we can upload photos on the ship but if we can .... then 'watch this space'!!!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Moths

We have some very interesting guests at the moment, entomologists from the CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation) which is a Government body based in Canberra, who are spending five days here doing field research on moths.

Over time I've taken these photos of various interesting-looking moths and now at last I can name them! One of the scientists, Dr Ted Edwards, is the co-author (with Dr Paul Zborowski who is also here) of "A Guide to Australian Moths" and kindly identified them for me. Ted has loaned us a copy while he's here and we'll certainly buy one for our wildlife library. Full of fascinating information (we never knew how interesting moths were!) very easy to read and a great help with identification.

Dr Marianne Horak is also here and, alongside Ted, is working to classify and 'sequence' moths for their DNA.

We certainly didn't realise that Australia has over 22,000 species of moths but only about 400 of butterflies - North America on the other hand has only about 12,000 species of moths but over 700 of butterflies!

These are two species of Hawk Moth - the top one is Ambulyx dohertyi and the one below is a species of the genus Theretra. The bottom one is Bracca rotundata.


Monday, January 19, 2009

Butterflies and Recycling

After the rain out come the butterflies! Dozens flying around today, mostly the beautiful blue Ulysses as in this little clip but also Green Triangles, Swallowtails and several we have never seen before and all very difficult to photograph as they seldom stay long in one spot.

I was just coming back into the house when I saw what looked like a butterfly but at a very odd angle. A closer look revealed these Green Ants with a wing off a dead butterfly, taking it home for dinner - now that is true recycling!

Friday, January 16, 2009

More rain

Most of my blogs seem to involve the weather these days so I hope I'm not boring you!

Today started with a picture-perfect sunny morning and we really got stuck into the garden and house-cleaning. Everything grows so incredibly fast here that gardening is mainly madly pruning and cutting everything back. And at this time of year all the grass needs cutting at least twice a week as you can almost watch it growing behind the ride-on mower.

Then after lunch the skies darkened and down she came - 50 mm or 2 inches of rain in about half an hour - so torrential that the gutters had no hope of coping and as you can see we had waterfalls all around the house. In the distance through the gap in the trees you can just see the edge of the dam - actually its the earth wall of the dam - and within a few minutes it was overflowing like Niagara Falls. (No danger of flooding the house or the cabins as all buildings are on high ground!)

A few days ago Port Douglas, an hour away from us, had a whopping 900 mm (36 inches) in 48 hours - and that is a LOT of rain even for the Tropics! The rainy season really has started earlier than normal this year as it usually doesn't really get going until the end of January, and into February and March. That's the time most folks here make the most of the quietest visitor-time to take their own holidays ... in fact in two weeks time we'll be taking off for three weeks ourselves - more details soon!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

It's a beautiful day

Yes, the rain has gone, the sun is out and everything's fresh and vibrant again. Yesterday ex-tropical cyclone Charlotte moved over Queensland to the south of us causing major flooding across much of the north, especially in the Gulf country and from Cairns southwards. We had another 6 inches of rain to add to the 5 inches the day before but it didn't cause us any problems - the Wet Tropics is very used to that sort of rain.

The rain did bring out some spectacular insects - this beautiful dragonfly was on the outside of our kitchen flyscreen - it was about 10cm or 4 inches long. We don't know what it is but hope to find out next week when we have some entomologists staying with us!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Lovely Rain

A wonderful sight this morning to see our wetlands-dam full up to the brim again. Last night we had 120 mm or nearly 5 inches of rain with more forecast later today. Well, after all this is the Wet Tropics and it is officially our Wet season!

The first cyclone of the year is forming in the Gulf of Carpentaria which is a long way to the west of us and too far away to affect us directly - it just means that North Queensland will have a few rainy days ... and the 24-hour surround-sound frog-symphony is still in full voice!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Termites!

One of the little problems of living in the tropics is that termites (white ants) love timber - ANY timber, ANYwhere unless it has been suitably treated. So, as our visitors start to slow down with the arrival of our rainy season it's time for some annual maintenance.

The three cabins are solidly built with steel frames and Hardiplank cladding but the inside skirtings and door frames are timber and, you guessed it, termites have had a feast in 'Birdwing Bungalow'. Peter has a special termite spray so the ants have been killed and over the past couple of days Eddy, our local handyman, has replaced all the eaten-out timber and I'm now busy with the paintbrush.

The termites had also had a field-day with our timber fencing at the start of the driveway - this is some of the damage they'd done - so yesterday Eddy also replaced all the beams and this morning Peter took the tractor down and we cleared all the debris, plus a good accumulation of weeds and fallen coconuts and fronds and it's looking much better, now just awaiting a coat of paint.

Friday, January 2, 2009

The pools are alive with the sound of ... FROGS!

New Year's Eve and the heavens opened! Within a couple of hours the dam was starting to fill and suddenly the rainforest was literally 'alive' with the wonderful sound of tree-frogs - a 24-hour-a-day symphony. In fact 'Turtle Pool' in front of one of the bungalows and which features in the first couple of frames of the video is, as you can hear, so noisy at the moment that we're reluctant to book any guests into it!

Although this post says it's 1st Jan it's actually the 2nd Jan here in Australia. It's taken me a couple of days to send a New Year greeting (Happy 2009 everybody!) as yesterday morning we were, er, rather 'fragile', having spent New Year's Eve in the company of a couple of guests - and far too many bottles of red wine! I do remember that about midnight we found a little Rocket Frog on the floor - that's Tia having a smooch! I can report that it did not suddenly change into a handsome prince!