Tag Archives: Australian

Cats are lovely pets but;

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And there’s other reasons to discourage cat ownership..

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Predators are disappearing world-wild, including from our seas. On land this can have unforseen effects. The left diagram below is what we have done, and the right is what the science suggests we should do. The problem is these decisions would effect on-farm income.

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However agriculture and conservation can work together. Rabbit hemorrhagic disease virus in arid South Australia released 4 threatened study mammals from feral predation. The result was the 4 species’ removal from the IUCN Red list.

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So next time you see a spider or cockroach in your cupboard remember your own actions and decisions also have consequenses.

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No rabbits this Easter!

Small mammals in this country under the 5kg weight range are being decimated by introduced cats and foxes, but how many of us understand this is a part of a global extinction event that is underway?

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Yellow-footed antechinus, recently photographed on Goulburn river bank amongst fallen logs and flood debris. This species is one of the few small marsupials still seen in the wild in Victoria (and can be active in daylight hours). Each year ALL the males die after mating.  

squirrel glider in hand

Squirrel gliders are rarely seen however. This little chap was found in a bad way on a road and brought to the Bohollow Wildlife Centre, Kotupna Vic and was my first chance to see one close up….a truly beautiful creature. These gliders are capable of a 90meter ‘flight’ and are mainly found in non-fragmented dry sclerophyll forest on inland slopes of the great divide. We have all but destroyed such places, hence Petaurus norfolcensis’s increasing rarity.

A human devised technologically based system has replaced the natural system. This pie chart shows how humanity and our domestic animals now dominate the planet’s biomass.

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Fossilized carbon has been used to make this change and has heated our planet.

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Carnaby black cockatoo’s dead from heat stress. This bird has decreased 50% in 45 years! I went to school in Albany WA and these birds were a daily part of my world, I walked through a pine forest on my way to school, they love pine trees.

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Red-tailed black cockatoos in WA (race Naso) are now classed as ‘near threatened’ and only 500-1000 Vic birds (race graptogyne) still exist, and are listed as endangered. 

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It is likely your children and their children will be living in a much reduced biome. So don’t teach your kids about fluffy rabbits and cats, Aussie kids need to know about Aussie warm and fluffies.

Do You See Jesus in your morning toast?

Do you see Jesus in your morning toast?

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Monsters in floorboard woodgrain?  “Researchers used MRI technology to monitor brain activity and determined that the frontal cortex, where expectations are generated, sent signals to the posterior visual cortex, which processes the…” blah blah… it’s just letting imagination flow. Nothing abnormal about this, artists (and scientists) should use this ability daily.

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I’m waiting to hear of a robot which has…. imagination.

Today I’m making arid-land escarpment ‘rocks’ for our MIFGS installation, from cardboard. How? By using my imagination. Children with instruction do this all the time.

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Sadly most people seem to lose this ability as they age. Adults these days require computer generated props or gaming software in order to learn to play. Commercial game makers have become a billion dollar industry by usurping adult imagination.

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Life generally is governed by silent rules e.g. choosing which side of the road to drive, how to speak in a civil way, how to eat with ‘manners.’

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This is something which is governed very much by culture. In China slurping as you eat and messing the table is considered appreciative of a meal, not so in the West. Nose blowing with handkerchief however, is not considered etiquette in the East. I sometimes think a lack of understanding of ‘foreign’ body language is an under-examined cause of conflict.

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Making artwork is one happy place where rules do not apply, in fact artists have a habit of purposefully abandoning accepted ‘rules ‘or ‘manners’ to extend an idea, or experiment on audience reaction. The naked human body is an example of this and has been used by generations of artists in every conceivable manifestation. e.g. Stelarc hangs his naked body on hooks http://stelarc.org/?catID=20325

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If asked how I make or why use a particular method, my answer is inevitably; I use what works for me. Power-saws, hammers and even boots are used to achieve shape. Or, how to determine shape, colour or surface?

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Look at nature; it’s there for the asking.

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So if you see Jesus in your morning toast, don’t despair, you may be an afflicted artist too.

MIFGS, Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show opens at Exhibition Buildings Melbourne, and surrounding gardens, 16th  – 20th March 2016. We will be in the Boutique Garden section.

Of cukoos and a marsupial mice

A recent trip to Barmah  National Park saw me swagging it on the banks of the Goulburn river for a couple of nights on Philippa and Ian’s property, a tiny remnant of original red-gum forest. Sugar glider sounds woke me in the middle of both nights, eerie but satisfying to my ears. Waking on the second dawn I  watched a very active yellow-footed antechinus hunting for prey.

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Yellow-footed are the only antechinus I know which is active by day (diurnal) and I have seen them climb huge eucalypts to take blossom nectar at 9.30 am. How they manage to avoid crows and other predators amazes me.

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I was in the area to establish details for a 2 week visual arts workshop, talk and exhibition with The Grain Store for April 2015 centered on species loss. Opportunities to meet Yorta Yorta representative Sharon Atkinson and other shakers and movers who work in the Nathalia area was appreciated. Time was spent immersing myself in the locality and I was lucky  to see a superb parrot feeding in roadside box forest.

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Polytelis swainsonii

These beautiful 40cm long birds which formerly nested in Victoria have suffered habitat loss for decades and nesting in this state is now very limited and still declining. They require extensive hollows in mature large eucalypts near to or over water courses, located 5 -7km or less from box trees for forage.  Most box forest has been cleared and is now irrigated agricultural land.

From Barmah I travelled to Bendigo where I am in contact with other people intent on changing humanity’s current environmental impacts. I took a couple of hours off in wet weather to walk a small part of Crusoe reserve and was rewarded with close up sightings of what I think were….

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Rufous whistler female adult going by the call…

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Yellow robin, probably a fledgling

 

 

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and below….

 

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a colony of yellow-tufted honeyeaters .

Superb fairy wrens were everywhere. On close inspection I chanced to see a cuckoo which at first I thought was looking for suitable host nests surrounded by wrens, but soon realized I was looking at a fledgling totally intent on filling itself with caterpillars which were feeding on the surrounding Common Woodruff.

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most likely a fan-tailed cukoo Cacomantis flabelliformis 

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Cuckoos, including the ‘cuckoo clock’ European bird are actually birds of the tropics and I’m betting this little specimen was gorging itself in preparation for a long flight to New Guinea or Indonesia

Bird observations in southern Flinders Ranges, South Australia

 

November is nesting season in the southern Flinders Ranges, so almost all the following observations included adults and juveniles in various stages of fledging.

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Rainbow bee-eater Merops (Merops) ornatus , a most beautiful bird

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Brown tree-creeper Climacteris (Climacteris) picumnus

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Adelaide or western rosella Platycercus adelaidae up there with the most beautiful parrots…. and young below

adelaide juvenile

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White-browed Babbler Pomatostomus (Morganornis) superciliosus…. and teaching feeding to young below

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Dusky Woodswallow Artamus (Angroyan) cyanopterus…… and young below

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Willie wagtail Rhipidura leucophrys

Willie wagtail Rhipidura leucophrys…… and nestlings below

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From the Flinders I travelled up to Coober Pedy where I was to meet Dr John Read.

Storm north of Port Augusta

North of the gulf and Port Augusta the weather was unusually wet and stormy, and the vegetation  reduced to  treeless arid. The normally dry salt lakes contained water!

Hart Lake

To be continued..

 

Bee trapeze artist

WATCH A BEE SWING BY ITS TEETH

Honeybee numbers have crashed in Europe and America and we do not really know why. Australia’s bees are still ok, probably because we still have a broad range of wild nectar producing plants. Farmers the world over are using herbicides to kill “weeds” which means there are less roadside/cropside meadow-lands. If bees are stressed they die young which stimulate younger bees to forage before they are ready, seehttp://www.smh.com.au/technology/sci-tech/australian-scientists-may-have-solved-the-mystery-of-bee-colony-collapse-20150209-13a6ss   Bees are a main human food crop fertilizing species , and below is a list which rely on bee pollination. If bees go, these go.

Apples
Mangos
Rambutan
Kiwi Fruit
Plums
Peaches
Nectarines
Guava
Rose Hips
Pomegranates
Pears
Black and Red Currants
Alfalfa
Okra
Strawberries
Onions
Cashews
Cactus
Prickly Pear
Apricots
Allspice
Avocados
Passion Fruit
Lima Beans
Kidney Beans
Adzuki Beans
Green Beans
Orchid Plants Custard Apples
Cherries
Celery
Coffee
Walnut
Cotton
Lychee
Flax
Acerola – used in Vitamin C supplements
Macadamia Nuts
Sunflower Oil
Goa beans
Lemons
Buckwheat
Figs
Fennel
Limes
Quince
Carrots
Persimmons
Palm Oil
Loquat
Durian
Cucumber
Hazelnut
Cantaloupe
Tangelos
Coriander
Caraway
Chestnut
Watermelon
Star Apples
Coconut
Tangerines
Boysenberries
Starfruit
Brazil Nuts
Beets
Mustard Seed
Rapeseed
Broccoli
Cauliflower
Cabbage
Brussels Sprouts
Bok Choy (Chinese Cabbage)
Turnips
Congo Beans
Sword beans
Chili peppers,red peppers, bell peppers, green peppers
Papaya
Safflower
Sesame
Eggplant
Raspberries
Elderberries
Blackberries
Clover
Tamarind
Cocoa
Black Eyed Peas
Vanilla
Cranberries
Tomatoes
Grapes

 

 

Phascogale in the city

Most city slickers have never heard of, or would  recognize a phascogale. So I made one and installed it in Louis Joel Gallery Melbourne.

louis joelIts at least a meter long, so now there’s no excuses.  And if you’re wondering, that’s a Leadbeater possum  looking on. But you wouldn’t expect city slickers to know about them would you?