Redback on the Toilet Seat

Hope you enjoy this famous Aussie Song by  Slim Newton

Title: “Redback (Spider) on the Toilet Seat”

Redback

There was a redback on the toilet seat,

When I was there last night.
I didn’t see him in the dark,
But boy I felt his bite.
I jumped up high into the air,
And when I hit the ground.
That crafty redback spider,
Wasn’t nowhere to be found.

I rushed into the mrs,
Told her just where I’d been bit.
And she grabbed my cutthroat razor,
And I nearly took a fit.
I said ‘Forget what’s on your mind,
And call a doctor please.
For I’ve got a feeling that your cure,
Is worse than the disease.’

There was a redback on the toilet seat,
When I was there last night.
I didn’t see him in the dark,
But boy I felt his bite.
And now I’m here in hospital,
A sad and sorry plight.
And I curse the redback spider,
On the toilet seat last night.

I can’t lie down, I cant’ sit up I don’t know what to do.
The nurses think it’s funny but that’s not my point of view.
I tell you it’s embarrassing and that’s to say the least,
For I’m too sick to eat a bite,
While the spider had a feast.

And when I get back home again, I’ll tell you what I’ll do.
I’ll make that Redback suffer for the pain I’m going through.
I’ve had so many needles, I’m looking like a siv.
I promise you that redback hasn’t very long to live.

There was a redback on the toilet seat,
When I was there last night.
I didn’t see him in the dark,
But boy I felt his bite.
And now I’m here in hospital,
A sad and sorry plight.
And I curse the redback spider,
On the toilet seat last night.

By Slim Newton
(I Loved hearing this Poem/Song recited to us as a child – thank you Dad)
Kerrie

Tiliqua Rugosa Asper

Tiliqua Rugosa Asper

This little fella is also known as Shingleback and he is found in the arid and semi-arid areas of eastern Australia. The Shingleback’s habitat does not reach the eastern coast. The other three subspecies of Tiliqua Rugosa are found in the State of Western Australia.

The Shingleback is slow moving
The Shingleback is slow moving

Appearance

The images with this post show the Shingleback is:
• Heavily armoured
• Slow moving
• Short with a wide stumpy tail
• Blue tongued
The Shinglebacks colouring varies from cream to dark brown.

Tail shaped like the head to confuse predators
Tail shaped like the head to confuse predators

Common names:

The Shingleback is commonly known as
• Two-Headed Skink,
• Stump-Tailed Skink,
• Bogeye,
• Bobtail,
• Sleepy Lizard and
• Pinecone Lizard.
I think Shingleback and Pincone Lizards are my favourites!

Common name is Pinecone Lizard
Common name is Pinecone Lizard

Defense Mechanisms

Adult Shinglebacks are 26 to 31 cm long. They have a heavy body for their length. Their legs are short and it is difficult for them to lift and move their body.

Dingos and snakes may predate on these lizards but the greatest threat is feral cats, foxes and dogs, and being struck by vehicles.

These lizards need to sun themselves and sometimes choose road and road verges.

The Shingleback uses three defence mechanisms namely their:
• Armoured body
• Tail resembles their head to confuse predators, and
• Threat response
The Shingleback does not have autotomy. This means unlink many lizards and skinks it cannot shed or discard an appendage to escape a predator.

I was fortunate at this sighting to capture the threat response vividly.

Shingleback threat response
Shingleback threat response

Diet

Shinglebacks are omnivores. This Shingleback was sighted in early spring when he was sunning himself. They spend much of their time foraging for preferred food including insects, vegetation and flowers.

Brumation

The Shinglebacks tail contains fat reserves for Brumation.
During research for this post I found this word – BRUMATION
Well it turns out Brumation is like hibernation but different metabolic process are involved.
Shinglebacks are reptiles. Brumation is triggered by dropping temperatures and reducing hours of daylight. Shinglebacks will wake during brumation to drink water but they will go months without food. The length of brumation depends on temperature and the condition of the reptile.

Reproduction

Shinglebacks are viparous – wow here is a third new term! That means they do not lay eggs. Instead the embryo develops in the mother leading to a live birth. A typical brood is 1 to 4 offspring relatively large given the size of the mother.

Pairing

These lizards are monogamous and their pairing extends beyond the breeding season. Pairs return to each other for many years.

Family Life

Offspring stay with their parents for several months. Parents share the parenting duties. The male acts as look out. When the offspring leave they will stay near as part of a colony of closely related members.

I love the Shinglebacks blue tongue. There are other species of blue tongue lizards in Australia which I will show you – as soon as I catch them on film.

By Amanda Jackson

Superb Fairy Wren

Superb Fairy Wren

 

These birds were photographed at the edge of what I like to refer to as the superb Fairy Wrens’ habitat, in central Queensland. The male with the blue marking is quite ruffled by the hot winds.

fairywren_female

These little birds are quick when they move they even sing in bright musical trills. They are delicate and beautiful. They live in in family groups. These groups have more than 100 birds. This group was small, about twenty, birds living in the reeds and weeds (see the female) as the edge of a   water hole. This male took a vantage point to have a look around.

 

fairywren_male

By Amanda Jackson

 

Say Hi to Willy Wagtail

Say “Hi” to Willy Wagtail

This fellow and a few of his friends were caught in a summer shower but seemed to be very happy and posed for me!

Happy Willy Wagtail

 

I would love him to show his tail fan.

This lovely little bird (about 20 cm) makes me feel very happy.

They flit around and sing a musical song.

Though they also have a scolding voice and an alarm call if they need them.

Their tail fans beautifully and when they land or stand they fan their tail and sway or wag it as if they think their tail is lovely too.

Everything about them is energetic and fun.

Willie Wagtails are found throughout Australia’s mainland and parts of Tasmania.

 

 

willywagtail

Cheers

By Amanda Jackson

 

 

Flock of Little Corellas

Flock of Little Corella’s

In the Australian bush there is every chance you will be buzzed by a flock of birds.

Many species are noisy and sociable.

Pretty much like Australia’s people!

flockofcorellas

This is a flock of Little Corella’s that came upon my Canadian friend and me while we were walking.

 

pairofcorellas

 

You can see from the close up shot that they were looking right at us – I think they were enjoying screeching at us flying low and wheeling around and around until they headed off again.

I have traveled in Canada and found our birds were noisy by comparison to their Canadian cousins.

Little Corella’s like living inland from the coast.

They have yellow under wings and tail and a short crest on their head which is white.

They are 36 to 39 cm in size.

People sometimes confuse them for Sulfur Crested Cockatoos but these are a bigger bird, have a large yellow crest on their head  and their style of flight is quite different.

Cheers

Amanda


 

Pale headed Rosella

This beautiful bird is called a Pale Headed Rosella

There are two races: one with more yellow around the neck and chest (adscitus) and the other without (palliceps).

That’s why I call this one very pale.

Palliceps live in central southern Queensland.

They are about 30 cm in size.

Pale headed Rosella’s are part of the family “White Cheeked Rosella”.

Other white cheeked Rosella’s live in the northern and eastern areas of Australia.

 

paleheadedRosella
Photo by Amanda

 

All the best

Amanda

This is not a Grey Falcon

This is not a Grey Falcon but it could fool many!

About a year ago I started bird watching and took my Camera along to some bushland near my home. I didn’t know very much about birds. I just looked, listened and tried to get a few photos. The second day I became very excited over a grey bird that dived quickly from a very high perch in a tree.

This photo is the best I could get:

IMG_5902 (3)

When I got home I put all the photos I had taken onto my computer. I then proceeded to identify each bird using the Simpson and Day Field Guide. The last bird was this grey one.
The best match I could find was the “Grey Falcon” – a rare bird.

Identification process for the Grey Falcon:

The Grey Falcon is grey with black streak under eye, black wing tips, white under belly with fine dark streaks, grey tail, and tail and wings faintly barred .
The habitat of Grey Falcons is woodland, plains and scrub in the arid interior often near waterholes.

The birds features include; eye brown, bill grey; eye ring, and cere and legs yellow.

Grey Falcons may be seen singly or in pairs. When hunting they fly very fast, close to the ground and pounce on prey. Normal flight is rather slow alternating wing beats and gliding. Grey Falcon can soar to great heights and spread their tails as they rise.

What to do with a rare find?

A fundamental principle for beginner bird watchers where there are two species your specimen could be:

If one is commonly found in the area you are in and the other is not known to be found in the area you are in … then your bird is probably the one commonly found there!

When it comes to grey birds of prey there was only one option at this location a Grey Falcon. But what would be the chance someone on their second day bird watching would find a rare bird.

So I surfed the net until I found a professional ornithologist searching for Grey Falcons. I sent him an email with my images and asked him to please identify my bird.

Clue: Look closely at the image and you will see a dark band about two thirds of the way down the tail.

pay attention
Look closely

This actual marking confirms the bird is a Nankeen Kestrel. The Nankeen Kestrel is a common species ( meaning it has a strong population)

However Nankeen Kestrels are not grey on their back and wings. The standard colouring of a Nankeen Kestrel is rufous (red-brown).

This means my specimen is not a rare Grey Falcon but it is unusual in that it is a grey Nankeen Kestrel.

From this point on I have been hooked and I do hope to find a Grey Falcon one day.

How to help researchers and our declining and/or endangered species:

This experience with identifying unusual grey coloured Nankeen Kestrel is an example of how you can help researchers and maybe help save declining species.

I have set out these steps in a previous post, and will repeat them here for our readers:
1 familiarize yourself with the species and its habit
2 observe carefully every chance you get
3 take a note of exactly where you are and what you see and find
4 report anything you might see to this website and to the National Parks and Wildlife authority for the State you are in.

Have fun wildlife watching

By Amanda Jackson

The Storm Boy Story Line

The Storm Boy Story Line

Storm Boy is a 1976 classic Australian film. It is a story of communion between a boy and a pelican. The movie was promoted in 2001 DVDs as “His free spirit roams with his pet Pelican, Mr Percival, and his secret Aboriginal friend Fingerbone Bill.”

Fingerbone Bill gives the boy the name Storm Boy. The way of life for Storm Boy and his father is hard and remote. Their survival, like Fingerbone’s survival, is connected to and reliant upon the land. They are living in Coorong a coastal area of South Australia. While his father is fishing for their livlihood Storm Boy has solitary time to paddle his raft and explore the wetlands.

The central characters are storm boy (played by Greg Lowe), his father (Peter Cummings) and Fingerbone. These characters demonstrate living with the land. By this I mean living from what nature offers as opposed to altering nature and trying to force the land to produce. Fingerbone is played by David Gulpilil with his trademark brilliance. David’s work is a credit to the Aborinial people of Australia.

The movie is visually spectacular with lovely water, sky and birdlife images.

The movie has a strong conservation message. At the time hunting and dune buggies was permitted in the Coorong. Shamefully the shooting was indiscriminate. Dune buggies damaged fragile dune ecosystems.

The sound track is beautiful. It is clear and haunting. It accompanies the imagery and use of silence very effectively. Silence is very effectively used in this movie. In Aboriginal communication, and in spiritualism, silence is very important.

Communion

Communion is the sharing or exchanging of intimate thoughts and feelings, especially on a mental or spiritual level. The relationship between Storm Boy and Mr Percival is clearly an extraordinary communion. Fingerbone brings the focus to spiritual matters by sharing the traditional story of Pelican and foretelling a storm will follow the killing of a pelican. After this death Storm boy becomes foster parent for the orphan pelican hatchlings.

The Pelican chicks are raised. Storm Boys relationship with Mr Percival is special. When set free Mr Percival returns. There are beautiful images of them playing and finding comfort with Mr Percival sitting on Storm Boys lap.

With shooters again in the Coorong it seems Mr Percival may have been killed. Storm boy searches everywhere and he cannot find Mr Percival. The scene is sad and lonesome as Storm Boy walks along the beach in the bleak last light of day. His father offers him words of comfort and the hope “if he’d been killed you would have found him”. But the heavy rain, wind and thunder can be heard. Storm Boy is silent. He knows a pelican has been killed.

With the new day Fingerbone comes for Storm Boy. Fingerbone found Mr Percival and he was dead. He has buried him. Fingerbone shows storm boy the grave … and a clutch of new pelican chicks.

This movie in the context of communicating aboriginal spiritualism and in the concept of communion between people and animals contains a glaring inconsistency. Aboriginal spiritualism and communion with regard to Pelican is beautifully done. However the scene with the Red Belly Black Snake is unnecessary, inconsistent with the treatment of Pelican, and an incorrect portrayal of aboriginal spiritualism.

In this scene the snake comes towards Fingerbone Bill and Storm Boy while they sit on a log reading. Storm Boy is frightened and Fingerbone shoots and kills the snake.

Killing the snake was unnecessary as it posed no risk and safe conduct around snakes has been known by Aborigines for many thousand years. Killing the snake is the same as killing pelican in the spiritual context. Aboriginal people respect the snake as much as the bird and a much as the person. Aboriginal spiritualism does not allow them to kill any animal unnecessarily. There is no concept of snakes being bad. Snakes have their essential role in nature.

Communion is subtle and real. Sometimes dramatisation take communion so far the plot requires an animal to comprehend a range of steps and perform a rescue. In Australia there was a long running television series “Skippy” where a kangaroo assists the park rangers to perform rescue and capture crooks. Similar concepts in the televisions shows “Lassie” and “Flipper.” In my view it is unnecessary and inconsistent for the pelican Mr Percival to be essential to a rescue of men stranded at sea during a storm. Storm Boy is the movie adaption of the 1964 novel of Colin Thiele. I have not read the book but am curious to see if this aspect of the plot was included in the book.

Coorong National Park

The novel was published in 1964. In 1966 Coorong Nationa Park was established. The National Park is a 447 square kilometer park south east of Adelaide, South Australia. The wetlands of this area are internationally significant and provide a breeding ground for many water bird species. The species include pelican, ducks terns, swans, grebes, cormorants. Many migratory species visit these wetlands. The geography consists of sweeping sand dunes on the Younghusband Peninsular which shelters a series of saltwater lagoons and wetlands.

The Coorong is the tradition land of the Ngarrindjeri people. The land is the center of every aspect of aboriginal life. Saying that land is culturally significant to aboriginal people does not express the full meaning of the land to aboriginal people.

I look forward to visiting Coorong National Park one day it will be a fantastic place for photography, bush walking and canoeing.

If you have been to the Coorong, or seen Storm Boy, I would love to hear from you.

Amanda Jackson