Swell Sculpture Festival 2014 (part 1 – the animals)

The spring sunshine was in full force on a perfect day at Currumbin on Thursday. The Swell Sculpture Festival is a yearly event, and some sculptures go down to the Sculptures by the Sea event in Sydney.

The beach was postcard-perfect, and despite school holidays not yet starting there was a goodly attendance. I’ll start with the animal sculptures, as they are always my favourites.

Erebus by Glen Star

Erebus by Glen Star

Plastic stings by Lauren Gray

Plastic stings by Lauren Gray

Seagull by Ibrahim Koc

Seagull by Ibrahim Koc

Animal with attitude - note the lorikeet colours

Animal with attitude – note the lorikeet colours

Another animal with attitude

Another animal with attitude

Best dressed by Mark Turner

Best dressed by Mark Turner

Wolf by Ivan Lovatt

Wolf by Ivan Lovatt

Post colonial colony by Catherine Lane and Linelle Stepto

Post colonial colony by Catherine Lane and Linelle Stepto

Intervention by Michael Van Dam

Intervention by Michael Van Dam

Hatchlings by Adriaan Vanderlugt

Hatchlings by Adriaan Vanderlugt

Sea change by Janna Pameijer

Sea change by Janna Pameijer

Happy Birthday Mr President by Gillie and Marc Schattner

Happy Birthday Mr President by Gillie and Marc Schattner

Octopus attacks by Filthy Luker and Pedro Estrellas

Octopus attacks by Filthy Luker and Pedro Estrellas

In the next post, I’ll show some of the non-animal subjects.

Posted in Art, The sea, Travels | Tagged | 1 Comment

It’s spring and a naturalist’s thoughts turn to …

… snails, actually.

After the record rains last week (in 24 hours Lismore 139 mm; my back deck 103 mm – although the absolute record for my back deck is 187 mm in 24 hours a couple of years ago; and anecdotally for Ballina, because the automatic weather station broke, over 200 mm), there’s a certain something in the air. Looking for birds last week at the Wilson Nature Reserve in Lismore, I stumbled across this land snail shell …

Pedinogyra rotabilis

Pedinogyra rotabilis

Perusing Stanisic et al.’s Australian Land Snails: A Field Guide to Eastern Australian Species, vol 1 (Bioculture Press 2010, available from CSIRO Publishing) I’m guessing it’s the southern flat-coiled snail (Pedinogyra rotabilis). The flat profile (see the final photo) and distribution make this likely. [Update: The Australian Museum's malacologist has confirmed this ID.]

Thersites richmondiana_2Thersites richmondiana_3John Stanisic (the “snail whisperer”, author and snail researcher extraordinaire) is interviewed at Radio National’s Conversations. Among many fascinating details, he gives a recipe for escargot which can be made from the introduced European snails that roam our veggie patches. He says a French chef was induced to try it with native snails, but the result was “a black blob”. It could be a way, and I’m sure permaculture folks have already thought of this, to turn a pest into a resource.

I’ve eaten some interesting stuff on my travels:

- bird’s nest soup, bech-de-mer (sea cucumber) and jellyfish soup in Hong Kong

- whale in Japan (bought specially for me as a guest, so I couldn’t refuse – frankly, I don’t see why it can’t be given up: it’s a bit like abalone, more texture than flavour)

- natto (the slimy, stinky, fermented soya beans beloved of many Japanese)

but I’m not yet ready to have a go at European snails. Besides, it’d deprive the local birds and lizards of a feed, wouldn’t it? That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it!

Posted in Molluscs | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Native plant lists for Bungabee and Bentley areas

When revegetating land, it’s helpful to know what was originally in the area and what seed banks are likely to be in the soil once you get rid of the lantana and other weeds. These are the plants that are mostly likely to survive if you plant them or allow the seedlings that pop up on their own to mature. Doing a condensed version of the TAFE bush regeneration course focusing on botany rather than such things as fence construction or chainsaw use, thanks to a government grant, made me aware of ways to do this.

I managed to get hold of a couple of lists via National Parks. They were done by Alan Roberts and Rob Kooyman. They are a bit out of date, but should give an idea of what’s living in the McKellar Ranges at the Boundary Creek (Bentley) and Bungabee State Forest areas. Just ignore the pencil scratchings – they are my notes. The ‘M’ means I’ve found them on my property.

Bentley flora and fauna 1/3

Boundary Creek, Bentley flora and fauna 1/3

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There’s a hole in the paddock, dear Lise, dear Lise

… and it’s because new fencing is going in. Our neighbours dug some post holes and inadvertently performed a small wildlife survey via these ‘pit traps’. Here’s the very common striped marsh frog (Limnodynastes peroni) …

Striped marsh frog, Limnodynastes peroni; photo by Lise Bolton

Striped marsh frog, Limnodynastes peroni; photo by Lise Bolton

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Posted in Animals on land, Frogs | Tagged , , , , , , | 8 Comments

The rise and fall of the red phallus fungus

A couple of posts ago, I reported on the fruiting body of a stinkhorn fungus, Phallus rubicunda. I promised Denis I’d keep an eye out for the development of more, and as luck would have it another one popped out a few days later.

I took a photo a day at around 9 a.m. every morning from beginning to end. Sorry, folks, that’s 27 photos, but it gives a good idea of the “life cycle” of the fruiting body.

A Tramp in the Woods posted a series of photos a couple of days ago on his Phallus impudica, from the Forest of Dean in the UK. There I found out that the “egg” is commonly called (in the UK) a “witch’s egg”. He also has nice photos of flies feasting on the spores, attracted by the disgusting smell. It’s the middle of summer in the UK, but the middle of winter here, so “no flies on us”, as we say.

The witch’s egg above the old fruiting body splits and the fruiting body starts to emerge …

PR_24_6

24 June: The fruiting body starts to emerge while the previous one shrivels

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Micro monster … and the kitchen sink

Not the best of backgrounds, but I takes ‘em as I finds ‘em … it’s a house centipede (Allothereua maculata) in my kitchen sink. I’ve been enjoying David Attenborough’s documentary series, Micro monsters, hence the association. It is not an insect, but a chilopod.

House centipede, Allothereua maculata

House centipede, Allothereua maculata

Wikipedia says, among other things:

The body of Allothereua maculata is made up of 15 segments and bears 15 pairs of long legs. The body is pale brown with dark markings, and grows to 20-25 millimetres (0.8-1.0 in) long. It bears one pair of antennae on the head and a similarly long pair of caudal appendages at the tail end.

The Atlas of Living Australia says:

Description: Medium-sized centipede with extremely long legs and antennae, and compound eyes. Runs very fast and easily drops legs to avoid capture.

Biology: Active at night. Often found under rocks and in litter. Prefers humid, moist areas. A free-ranging predator of ground-dwelling insects. Prey captured by ensnaring in the long legs. Prey consists of smaller ground-dwelling insects and spiders.

Habitat: Bushland areas in southern Australia but may also be found in gardens [and kitchen sinks].

Native status: Native to Australia.

Maximum size (cm): 3.

Diet: Carnivore.

Danger rating: Harmless [to people].

Colours: Blue, grey, yellow.

Distribution: Southern Australia.

Habitat types: Terrestrial.

It’s nice to think of it beetling around (centipeding around?) the place at night cleaning up other insects, in company with larger spiders that munch up cockroaches. My very own cleaning service!

Posted in Animals on land | Tagged , | 8 Comments

Lattice fungus – not

Fungi are popping up all over at the moment, despite the general lack of rain. This one was in the eucalypt forest near the dead water rat on neighbour Jackie’s property. It’s a stinkhorn fungus, and she says this one was living up to its name.

Lattice fungus, Ileodictyon gracile

Lattice fungus, Ileodictyon gracile (photo by Jackie Cooper)

The ‘arms’ are a little thicker than in most of the photos on the web, such as on Fungimap, but I can’t find another one with such thick ‘arms’, so I’ll have to assume it’s still Ileodictyon gracile. If anyone knows any better, please let me know.

Update: Thanks to those who responded – I agree with  Brigitte (local botanist and fungiphile) and Gaye (see comment below) that it’s an older Pseudocolus fusiformis – see Gaye’s post on it. She confirms that the smell, described by Jacki, is really bad.

The Royal Melbourne Botanic Gardens do fungi ID but need a real specimen rather than a photo, and fair enough. So I’ll wait until Jackie lets me know there are more in her garden. Maybe I can “transplant” some to mine – or at least get some spores – but a loooong way from the house of the descriptions of the smell are anything to go by!

The stink comes from the brown goop on the arms – the spore mass. Australia Fungi – A Blog has further information and photos.

Let’s have some rain so we can have some more fungi!

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