Irediparra gallinacea

This morning, Cass took me to one of her favourite nearby birding spots, where I was delighted by the Comb-crested Jacanas, Irediparra gallinacea. Look at those feet, evolved for walking on water plants!

By late morning I was at Samford Conservation Park, meeting up with artist and environmental educator Bethan Burton. She’s a treasure! Our few hours together weren’t nearly enough. We observed an interesting butterfly whose forewings seemed to be transparent; she later texted me an ID: Cressida cressida, the Clearwing Swallowtail or Big Greasy — funny name! Gorgeous butterfly! Lovely woman!

Bruguiera gymnorhiza

Another day, another wetland, this time in the company of my rad SIL, Cass. The Maroochydore Wetlands Sanctuary at Bli Bli is, according to one of their interpretive signs, “home to 180 species of birds, 30 species of crabs, five species of mangroves, and untold species of reptiles, amphibians, insects, crustaceans, molluscs, plants and fungi.” And millions of mosquitoes. I even wore Aerogard, an exercise in futility.

I was particularly taken with the Orange Mangrove, Bruguiera gymnorhiza. It has the largest leaves of all the mangroves in the Sanctuary, bright red-orange flowers, and an interesting method of reproduction. We found a propagule that had dropped onto the boardwalk, and helpfully shot it into the mud below. According to Wikipedia, the propagules are eaten by many indigenous groups in northern Australia and southeastern Papua New Guinea, and there is also evidence of them being eaten in India, Bangladesh, and other parts of Southeast Asia.

Eustrephus latifolius

I’ve been wanting to stop at Boondall Wetlands for the longest time, and today I finally did. The reserve supports various plant communities including eucalyptus and melaleuca woodlands, remnant rainforests, ironbark forests, casuarina forests, grasslands, tidal mudflats, mangroves, swamplands, hypersaline flats and salt marshes.

It’s a great birdwatching site—apparently over 190 species of birds use the various habitats throughout the year—but I visited in the middle of a hot day so didn’t see much bird action. Definitely worth a return visit at other times and seasons.

Grevillea oleoides

My sister lives on a bush block, and there is absolutely no shortage of trees here (mostly eucalypts and acacias). But I still like to add to the assortment when I visit. It started when Mum died and we planted creeping boobialla, Myoporum parvifolium, in her honour (she had breast cancer — get it?) When Dad passed he got a Grevillea ‘Ned Kelly’, to celebrate his love of Australia folk legends. We don’t need the excuse of someone dying to plant a tree; now we do it each time I come.

Mulligans Flat

Last night we went on a guided night hike at Mulligans Flat, a 1285ha (3175 acre) predator-fenced woodland sanctuary near Canberra. Several native species have been successfully reintroduced here, including the Eastern Quoll, a marsupial about the size of a house cat, and the Eastern Bettong, a little macropod, both of which we spotted. We also heard Stone Bush-curlews and saw Superb Parrots, Eastern Rosellas, Sulphur-crested Cockatoos, Eastern Grey Kangaroos, Red-necked Wallabies, Swamp Wallabies, many Common Brushtail Possums and orb weaver spiders, and one teeny frog. It was awesome!

Elaeocarpus grandis

There’s a huge Elaeocarpus grandis tree in full flower in the park near my daughter’s house.

This rainforest tree commonly known as white quandong, blue quandong, silver quandong, blue fig or blueberry ash, is endemic to eastern Australia. It is a large tree with buttress roots at the base of the trunk, oblong to elliptic leaves with small teeth on the edges, racemes of greenish-white flowers and more or less spherical blue fruit, which are edible but bitter.

Indigenous Australians ate the fruit raw or buried the unripe fruit in sand for four days to make it sweeter and more palatable. Early settlers used the fruit for jams, pies and pickles. The fruit of E. grandis is eaten by birds, including the wompoo fruit-dove, southern cassowary and Australian brushturkey.

I have a vintage (1940s) Chinese Checkers set that belonged to my mother; the “marbles” are painted quandong seeds. It looks like this one. I am not sure if they are E. grandis seeds as there are at least a couple of dozen trees called quandong.

iconic wildlife

Enjoying the rainbow lorikeets (Trichoglossus moluccanus) in the palm trees at dawn.

This guy was on the kitchen floor this morning, barely alive. I thought it was a leaf and picked it up, then noticed a leg waving weakly. I put it outside and it must have recovered somewhat because when I came back with my sketchbook, it was gone.

Only a few more days in Aus, so it may be my last honking big spider for a while.