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Film Diary / 09.07.2020

Seeing is believing. This morning I photographed a lichen growing on a pvc reflective guide post next to a culvert. Lichens seem to flourish as readily on man-made as on natural surfaces. They are grouped in growth forms which describe their appearance. The most common, fruticose (shrubby), foliose (leafy) and crustose (flake-like) account for the majority of lichens that people are likely to see. It is estimated that 6% of the earth’s land surface is covered by some 20,000 known species of lichen. There are more than 3,000 Australian lichens around 15% of which are endemic.

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Film Diary / 11.06.2020

The last thing I would have expected to see this morning was a frog, and at the garage where I find most of my moths. I had to cut my walk short to return home and fetch my camera. This encounter was a wonderful instance of the natural world functioning as gloriously as ever regardless of the pandemic afflicting homo sapiens.  The frog is nocturnal and hides beneath fallen leaves, or burrows into loose soil during the day. This one may have been disturbed from its Winter quarters. Over the years I have encountered dozens on my night filming walks in rainforest, a preferred habitat of the species. This was the only one I have seen in daylight. The frog ranges from mid-coastal Queensland to mid-coastal New South Wales, with isolated populations in northern Queensland and Victoria. Length is 6.5 – 10 cm.

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Film Diary / 26.04.2020

Although the Australia-wide corona virus lock-down is highly effective, it appears to be particularly so in Queensland. I am allowed my morning walk and visits to shops and even nearby friends. I don’t recall a more glorious or warmer Autumn in my 33 years in the country, with day after day of bright sunshine and deep blue skies. My walks continue to prove most productive at the garage. Today, and four days ago, I found moths which are new to my album. This morning’s  was among only a handful present, which always enhances the thrill of discovery. Both were very small, yet their marking caught my attention and made me wonder whether I had seen them before. Both belong to the family Nolidae and are similarly coloured, but differently patterned. Were it not for the pandemic, the marvellous expert on whom I rely for species identification, would be on an extensive overseas trip and I would have had to wait until his return to write up an already extensive haul. He and his wife got no further than Perth, where they languished for a week or so before finding a flight back to Brisbane.

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Film Diary / 12.04.2020

For several years I have regretted a decline in moth numbers at the garage, though last Winter this did not result in a decline in the number of new species I photographed. If anything, their number increased, which is fortunate indeed. This year, after two months of good rain since Christmas, the moths returned with a vengeance and subsequent good rain kept them coming. Even when that petered out and dry, sunny weather set in, the numbers have still been impressive – as good as they have ever been. Today I photographed an Australian moth which is the most widely distributed of any in my album. It occurs throughout the country, with populations in the centre, the outback, the ranges and the coast, because it feeds on over 100 plants and is regarded as a pest species on a number of crops. It has also invaded New Zealand. On April 7, I photographed a plume moth. The species is distributed in Africa, including Madagascar, and in east and south-east Asia, including Japan and New Guinea. In Australia it is found in Queensland. The moth seems to be a rarity.

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Film Diary / 25.02.2020

I filmed the impatiens hawk moth caterpillar in March 1999. This morning, nearly 21 years later, I photographed the moth. It is found as various subspecies, from India through to China, Japan, the Philippines and Australia, where it occurs in every state and territory other than the Australian Capital Territory. The caterpillar attains a length of 7 cm and is more colourful and  spectacular than the moth. Wingspan of the moth is up to 8 cm. 

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Film Diary / 08.01.2020

The 75 mm of rain we had for a few days during Christmas, made all the difference to our night walk in Palm Grove. I didn’t film a thing on the preceding walk because the flora and fauna were so distressed by the prolonged dry weather. And the walk before that yielded very little. Thanks to the school holidays, Dan was a welcome crew member. Penny Aagaard, her cousin Jenny Peat and Jenny’s brother and his granddaughter completed the party. The creek near the entrance had probably been refreshed by the rain, but was still almost non-existent. It was all the more remarkable that Dan spotted a large crayfish a short distance from the track. I filmed it without the tripod. I also filmed a net-casting spider whose abdomen displayed large patches of green – a feature I had not seen before – a large click beetle and an antechinus, which was a first for the archive, now in its 22nd year. Both Dan and Penny attracted leeches. I was mercifully spared.

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Film Diary / 07.01.2020

The new year got off to a splendid start for my project as well as for time spent with my family. This morning I photographed an Australian white ibis on the roof of a neighbouring building from my rear stairwell window. I had seen the bird a couple of days before on a nearby street corner and yesterday, in the park in front of my home. It was a specimen whose white body plumage had become brown-stained. I nonetheless suspected the bird was a white ibis, a species I had never encountered on the mountain, rather than a freak variant of the straw-necked ibis, flocks of which regularly visit here. The white ibis is a denizen of the coastal strip. Not only did Marg Eller, the bird expert I turn to for species identification, confirm that this was indeed an Australian white ibis, her husband Jeff sent me a spread sheet he had assembled of bird lists compiled by naturalists going way back. The only previous authenticated sighting was on a list compiled by the formidable Hilda Curtis in 1942.

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Film Diary / 21.10.2019

Passing the garage on my walk this morning, I noticed a geometrid moth on one of the window panes. On closer inspection it was a species already represented in my album. However, there were numerous, unfamiliar smaller moths. Fortunately I had my camera with me to photograph a splendid foliose lichen on the trunk of a cycad I happened to see yesterday. One of the moths was tiny. I photographed it at 6 or 7 times optical zoom. I have emailed the lot to Peter Hendry and am eager to see what he comes up with. I can’t explain what brought the moths out last night because there was no rain.

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Film Diary / 01.08.2019

Robyn Law, a night filming crew stalwart, showed me twin bowerbird bowers in a garden which she looks after, a short drive from my place. Twin bowers, which are separate structures that stand close together, are an even greater rarity than double bowers, whose two passages share a dividing wall. I filmed the remains of a double bower in April 2010. The builder appears to have blocked off the right-hand passage by moving its side wall next to the dividing wall. I have been unable to find an explanation for the twin bowers, which are the only ones I have ever seen. They contain more twigs than other bowers I have filmed, presumably because there was such a plentiful supply at the construction site.

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Film Diary / 17.07.2019

After a six months gap, I filmed with my video camera this afternoon. I went to The Knoll to film the giant vine I had intended to film a month ago, except that the camera batteries were both flat. For good measure I also filmed the buttress or plate roots of a yellow carabeen tree I had passed many times without seeing that its buttresses were an impressive height, perhaps because the tree itself was not that big.