What's so special about this spider?
Well, firstly, it's really tiny - about the size of a pinhead. Even if
you're looking at this on a smartphone, you can probably see it larger
than life size.
It's also pretty cute. Sorry arachnophobiacs.
What makes it special to me, though, is that it's the hundredth species of spider I've photographed at my house. Sorry again, arachnophobiacs.
The diversity of animal life that's all around us never ceases to amaze me, but I've been stuck on 99 spiders for quite a while so this made me happy. I'm on 558 insects, so let's see how long it takes to reach 600.
Thursday, 24 May 2012
The land my house is on used to be part of a horse property. When we bought it, there were a few trees - Eucalyptus rudis (Flooded Gum), Corymbia calophylla (Marri), and two species of wattles. There were no native understorey plants - just a whole lot of weeds. The only birds that liked to hang around were the large ones - magpies and galahs, mostly. Since introducing a wide variety of flowering natives, we're now a regular stopover for many species of smaller birds.
Posted by Larena Woodmore at 1:52 pm
Monday, 2 April 2012
Last Spring, I found some footprints next to the shed and realised that a bandicoot had been visiting. I wanted to set up a camera trap (night vision camera with motion detection) to get a photo, but was too cheap to buy a commercial trap. Here's the cheap solution.
You will need:
- A PC or laptop, and somewhere safe, dry, and preferably powered, to place it, e.g. the shed. I haven't included this in the cost, because I already had a netbook and most people have some sort of PC.
- Motion capture software. There are a few free options, but I chose Dorgem because it was easy to set up and worked really well.
- A webcam with infra red LEDs (some "night vision" webcams have visible LEDs). I got one for $1.49 + $4.69 postage from eBay seller 24hrseclub
- A clean jar with flat sides, large enough to put the webcam in. A square Golden Syrup jar is ideal.
- Padding to hold the webcam steady in the jar, e.g. bubble wrap, a bit of foam or a chopped up stress ball.
- A knife to cut a hole in the lid, and some waterproof tape to tape up the hole.
- You might also need a USB extension cable. These are a few dollars on eBay, but I already had a couple that came with thumb drives.
What you do:
- Install the software on the laptop, and test the camera to make sure it works.
- Put the laptop somewhere safe & dry, near the place you'll be placing the camera.
- Cut a hole in the container's lid, just large enough to push a USB cable through.
- Put the webcam into the container. Push in enough padding to hold the camera's lens against the wall of the jar. This is important to prevent the LEDs from reflecting off the plastic and ruining the image.
- Run the cable (with extension if necessary) to the laptop and plug it in.
- Tape over the hold in the top of the jar, and any USB cable joins, with the waterproof tape.
- Just before it gets dark, start the motion capture software and leave it running overnight.
Posted by Larena Woodmore at 7:05 pm
Friday, 2 March 2012
Now I can't say for sure that the neighbours' cat did it, and the body was a bit too far gone to check for injuries, but there are clues:
- Next door has a cat, and I've seen it in the places the bandicoots visit at night
- The body was on top of a low wall, not on the ground
- In recent months the remains of two twenty-eight parrots have been scattered nearby
- She's 18 years old and too slow to catch one
- I've shown her bandicoots and birds before and she'd rather chat with them than chase them
- She has a cat run, so unless an animal climbs into the run she doesn't have physical access to it
The Bones bit
By the next day, it had stopped smelling and the hide beetles arrived. This means the body had been there for at least four days by the time we found it. It also means I was able to add hide beetles to my photo collection - this is the 101st beetle species I've found at my house.
The beetles are still around, slowly cleaning the fur & skin away. I'm waiting for them to finish so I can do my next Bones activity, and check the skeleton to see if there is evidence of a cat attack. Just so I know.
Posted by Larena Woodmore at 2:07 pm
Tuesday, 21 February 2012
Wednesday, 28 December 2011
At the Perth train station a couple of weeks ago, there was an elderly lady wearing a fly net under her hat. I didn't notice her until, waving her arms about, she shouted "When will they spray this city for flies?"
|Great Red-Eyed Flesh Fly|
Western Dung Beetle
* OK, to be fair, maybe she was just misinformed, or had a bad experience with flies once. Maybe she saw The Fly as a child and was scarred for life, or something. but, hey, she was shouting to the world at the train station!
Posted by Larena Woodmore at 9:59 am