17 February, 2011

Parasites and Carnivores

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Regarding parasites, many of the gum trees around the farm where I currently live have large woody mistletoe plants hanging from their branches (below left) which are just coming into flower. Australia has 10 genera and 65 species of mistletoe and I think this one (above) is Amyema pendulum. There are several large dams on the farm (below right) with beaches kept clear buy the fluctuating water levels, perfect for a swim although the water is still a bit murky following the floods and one day we found a dead sheep floating in the water. Not to worry he was fresh.

As for carnivores, growing in the open patches of sand that are kept damp by seeping ground water there are tiny Pimpernel sun-dew Drosera glanduligera (bellow) plants only a few inches across. If you stand still for only a moment you end up covered in biting ants as I found taking these photos. The ants seem to be their main food, the leaf curling up around them as they struggles to get free of the sticky hairs.

Whilst on the subject of carnivores I thought it would be fitting to include a gallery of some of our eight legged house mates. The most impressive of which was the huntsman spider top that was a good five inches across and was gingerly extricated from the house with a squeeze mop. As well as looking around at the ground for snakes you have to look up as well when walking through the bush to avoid getting an orb spider (second down) across you face. (third and fourth down) A hairy chap we found living on the BBQ, didn't seem too happy to be put in a glass. The hermit crab of the spider world, many of the webs in the bush have a curled up gum leaf hanging in the middle of them with a tiny spider tucked inside.

08 February, 2011

The Second Biggest Rock in Oz.

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For the next few months my time will be spent in Stanthorpe, southern Queensland while I'm buissy picking apples to fund my travels. Finally the rain has stoped and at last I had a day off when the sun was shining, so I took a second trip to Bald Rock national park. This time I was able to see the rock in its entirety as it was previously shrouded in cloud.

The smoothe granite face of Bald Rock striped with lichens and moss.

The mass of Bald Rock is second only to Ularu in Australia. Precariously balanced on top of the rock and strewn throught the surrounding gum forest are many large, weathered rounded boulders, stacked up as if purposfully. Some seem as if one good push could role them away, I had to fight the inner devil in me.

The balancing rocks, the emblem of Stanthorpe.

The rock nesteles in tall white barked Eucalyptus trees. The view from the summit across the canopy is particularly green as the trees are covered with fresh green growth following the wet weather and have yet to age to their charastic glaucus blue. Strips of bark metres long dangel from the trunks, peeling away revealing the fresh white beneath.

Peeling Eucalyptus bark.

Crevices in the rock provide foot holds for wild flowers to take hold. Eventually trees take root and combined with rain and frosts eventually break down the rock into the smaller bolders arround its base. The spiny sead heas is from Lomandra longifolia.

Lomandra longifolia.

Cracks in the rockd provide warm homes for lizards with luxury views. 

Dipodium punctatum a paracitic orchid drawing its nurrishment from the roots of Eucalyptus trees.