Saturday, 18 February 2012

Jottings from the Tropics: 18 February 2012


The red-browed finches are building again. They visit my garden because it contains plenty of nesting material. I am not one for keeping things tidy. Some of my neighbours have slashed and mown their gardens into the sort of temporary submission that just encourages vegetation to fight back. The price of a lawn in the Wet Tropics is eternal vigilance. Those lawns certainly look beautiful, but so does a red-browed finch trailing a long grass stem as it flies to its new nest. And I can get the finches for far less effort.

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Oh, that sounded smug.

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Peaceful doves are usually everywhere except rainforest, but when it has been dry and warm here for a few days they often drop in. When I lived in Townsville, it was difficult to avoid them. More than once I’ve almost trodden on a dove that could not be bothered to move when I approached. They are like short-beaked, grey-feathered, cooing flies, although they don’t often land on you, they rarely explore the bin and no one manufactures fast knockdown dove spray. So not really like flies at all. But they are ubiquitous and reluctant to shift.

In Townsville, that is. Here, they take flight the instant you think about taking a photo. One moment, a peaceful dove is standing in a patch of sunlight, looking like a pastel sketch with its neat black bars on a warm grey background and a smudge of pale blue around the eye. And the next moment, it’s gone. Who would imagine that peaceful doves could be so difficult to photograph?

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A very large mosquito flew into the house today. I was surprised it didn’t make a thump when it landed on the desk next to the computer, because the insect was about 15 mm long. The size should have been enough of a clue, but I also got a good look at it: Toxorhynchites. Fortunately for me — and it — adult Toxorhynchites are not blood-feeders, but take nectar and plant juices. The larvae prey on other mosquito larvae, which gets a thumbs up and a very gentle pat on the back from me. If I see it again, I’ll try to get a photo before I usher it outside.

5 comments:

laurak@forestwalkart said...

here in florida, as far as i know...ALL the mosquitoes are blood suckers. maybe they could learn to be vegetarians like THAT one of yours.

and it's a pleasant thought that it IS a vegetarian...or *fruitarian* ??...considering the size! if it were a bloodsucker...i imagine you could get light headed pretty fast... :/

laurak@forestwalkart said...

OH...about the lawn...much easier and definitely critter attracting...to just let things be...

Denis Wilson said...

I agree about the "lawn" thing.
Mine grows until the Dandelions take over, I feel obliged to prevent them seeding, so I get a guy in to mow/slash them down.
Are you having camera problems? I crave a Possum or Tree Kangaroo shot.
Cheers
Denis

Snail said...

Laura, I'm reminded of the Tony Hancock sketch where he offers to be a blood donor. On finding out that it involves more than the fingerprick test, he exclaims:

"A pint? Why, that's very nearly an armful!"

Snail said...

Denis, I've got the paddies to keep some of the grass down, but they are very choosy about it!

My camera and lenses are suffering from the usual effects of a the Wet Season, but the main reason for the dearth of possum and tree kangaroos is that I haven't seen all that many around lately. And the ones I have seen, have been hidden in the trees. Sorry!