Thursday, 25 November 2010

Colourful Callistemon

I had a look at the schools and colleges photo competition display in the gardens the other day, there are some very nice pictures in there, worth a look.  One of the categories was the subject of 'colour' - well there is plenty of that in the gardens at the moment!  I have been impressed lately by the Callistemon (Bottlebrush) in the gardens, they are all flowering beautifully and there are so many different shades of red, pink yellow and white. 

This photo is taken near the CSIRO gate, the red Callistemon is called 'Firebrand' and the pink one is Callistemon polandii called 'Peak Downs'.

  Here are some more very pretty ones from around the gardens, the first is Callistemon pearsonii.  The last with the butterfly (sorry, I'm not sure which - it wouldn't open its wings!) is not on a Callistemon but a Melaleuca - Melaleuca Sieberi these two genus are hard to tell apart.   Indeed, I have read on wikipedia that Callistemon is now placed in the genus Melaleuca.

These little beetles are interesting too - there have been swarms of them around the Melaleuca in the last few days, I guess they are some sort of pollen beetle in pollen heaven with all these beautiful flowers, unfortunately I'm not - I'm just sneezing my head off with hayfever!  

Friday, 19 November 2010

Bowerbirds - love-making in the love nest!

Well, today I really had a 'David Attenborough' moment in the garden.  Perhaps the Satin Bowerbird Ptilonorhynchus violaceus has become comfortable with me having my lunch nearby and coming to inspect his bower.  Or maybe he isn't as shy as he has been making out!  Anyhow, after waiting around near the bower for a while and taking some photos of the beautiful Bottlebrush flowers nearby (which I will save for another post) I sensed a little activity around the bower... sure enough, there was a female Satin Bowerbird sitting in the bower!
The male was nearby and he came closer, beginning an amazing ritual.  He made some fantastic whirring and chirping noises as he hopped about a little then stood still, fanning out his tail.  He paraded in this way very slowly around the bower, watched by the female, who occasionally lowered herself, looked around at him and inspected the bower.  A couple of times she left the bower and he re-arranged a few of the blue bottle-tops, all the while making some elaborate calls and with a very 'macho' stance!  In fact, perhaps I will name him 'Austin Bowerbird'!

Now, for the very exciting part - I captured these moments of Bowerbird passion on video!!  So I can share this amazing spectacle with you all.  In this first video you can see and hear the elaborate dance the male makes.  He then stood still and posed for a while making some quieter noises. 

The female then wandered off for a bit, so Austin Bowerbird decided perhaps he needed to make a few adjustments to the love-nest: he re-arranged a few of the blue bottle tops and then hopped off towards the female with one - perhaps a gift for her?

Finally, the moment of passion arrived! 

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

The Bowerbird's Bower

Yesterday I went to the gardens for lunch without my camera and I'd never been more frustrated at not having it with me... I had found the Satin Bowerbird's Ptilonorhynchus violaceus bower! I first discovered the mature male Satin Bowerbird in the gardens over a month ago now, and managed to get a picture of him for this blog in early October.  So I rushed back to the gardens as soon as I could at lunchtime today and took some pictures of this amazing structure.  It is about a foot (30cm) high and is a little hidden within some bushes.  The range of blue objects he has found to decorate it are amazing, all the same shade of blue too!  You can see a close up of a peg below.  There was also a couple of pretty yellow flowers I think he might have also put there.  Incredible.

I wonder what the Satin Bowerbird would have used before blue plastic was invented?
In my rush to get to the gardens I hadn't really noted what the weather was looking like and as soon as I had taken the pictures of the bower the heavens opened.  Its been so wet in Canberra recently, though now its heating up its starting to feel more like tropical than English rain, but there is plenty of it!  So I made a dash for a shelter nearby and ate my lunch there, amusing myself by taking pictures of raindrops falling on the shelter and on some leaves. 

Once the rain stopped I carried on wandering in the gardens.  The water dragons appeared again after the rain and nearby I noticed the huge Gymea Lily Doryanthes excelsa is starting to flower, it will be spectacular in a few days or so when it is in full bloom.  I also noticed there seems to be a new trail through the gardens that must alter weekly, called the 'In flower this week walk', what a great idea!

There was a little sign about the Aboriginal use of the Gymea flower next to it in the garden: The Gymea flowering stem grows up to 4 metres high, but it was roasted and eaten when it is only about 0.5 metres high and as thick as a man's arm.  The roots were also roasted and made into a sort of cake.  The name 'Gymea' comes from the Wodi Wodi tribe of the Illawarrra district near Sydney.  

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Tango in the gardens

There is a great event on at the Gardens on Sunday, a Tango concert with some Argentinian musicians and youth music in Canberra: More details here

My partner Edd and I are Tango dancers, but unfortunately we won't be able to go to this event as I will be dancing Flamenco - we have a great Flamenco artist coming to Canberra to give some workshops, Paloma Gomez, an unmissable opportunity.

If you are curious about the beautiful music of Tango and this most romantic of dances do go along and see what its all about!  Here is a picture of Edd and I dancing (taken in Sydney earlier in the year).  I love this picture as it captures some of the romance and mystery of Tango: