Teddy Bear Bee

Amegilla bombiformis

I’ve been unsuccessful ( [Update]Found some! ) so far in my search for the Australian native Blue Banded Bee that is responsible for these Holes and Burrows in Sandstone. I found something else though! It’s another native Australian bee called the Teddy Bear Bee.

While in the garden I head a loud buzz coming from a bush. It was of low frequency and sounded like it belonged to something of decent size. After a short search I found it’s source, a single large chunky bee flying from flower to flower. It didn’t land and instead hovered briefly in front of one flower before moving to the next. It looked similar to a European honeybee but it was larger and chunkier. Despite several attempts I couldn’t get a sharp photo, below is the best of a bad bunch.

Teddy Bear Bee in the garden

Teddy Bear bees are found in Eastern Australia ( possibly Australia wide) as well as New Guinea and the Aru Islands to the north. They are a solitary bee, females make a single nest in soil in places such as river banks and other sheltered locations.

Sources and more info

Cycad is at it again

It’s been 5 years since the cycad sprouted new leaves, it’s just done it again! According to this University of Wisconsin page many cycads produce leaves, at most, once a year. Which I take means that it could be several years between growths. Before this year the last few years have been very dry here, I wonder if the cycad has been waiting for more water before sprouting.

A new generation of leaves just starting to emerge from the center of the Cycad
They grow fast, this photo was taken 6 days after the first

This is the first time it sprouted new leaves back in 2012. All 3 times it’s been mid December.

Sources and info

Middle Harbour River Monster

Since the Covid restrictions and working from home I’ve been doing a lot more running on the local trails. While running down by Middle Harbour river in the winter months some days the water boils and churns like there’s something very large thrashing about down there! It’s happened on many occasions but it’s only been once or twice that it’s been close enough to get a decent look at. The thrashing covers a patch of water approximately 3×3 meters and is usually close to the shore. It can stop and start over a period of a few minutes, each time lasts between 5 and 20 seconds.

Could it be this? ( Photo by Jimmy Jim Jim Shabadoo flickr.com )
Or maybe this! ( Photo by Greg Chiasson flickr.com )

I’ve still not been able to catch a glimpse of what is causing it but seeing the splashes from closer up it looks like it’s a school of large to medium fish rather than one large thing.

These are the only photos I’ve been able to get. They are taken from a long distance away. Now that it’s summer it’s stopped. I’ll try to get some better pictures next Winter

Mystery creature(s) thrashing about in the river. It only happens in the winter months
This is the closest photo I’ve been able to get. I’ve seen it closer but still not able to tell what is causing this

Channel-billed Cuckoo

Scythrops novaehollandiae

Even though the Channel-billed Cuckoo only visits northern and eastern Australia from around August to March I’m surprised not to have taken note of it earlier. It’s a distinctive looking bird, quite large with a huge beak and red eyes. In flight it looks sleek and almost hawk like. The other birds don’t take a liking to it ( and for good reason! ) and can be seen chasing and harassing it.

Channel-billed Cuckoo sitting in a tree in the front yard. Wouldn’t want to get pecked by that!

As well as their distinctive appearance Channel-billed Cuckoos have an unmistakable screeching call. Commonly heard in the early morning and evening they sometimes go off in the middle of the night, I’ve been woken a few times.

Channel-billed Cuckoos are brood parasites which means they lay their eggs in the ready made nests of other birds. The Cuckoos don’t hang around and leave it up to the host parents to feed and raise their young along with their own chicks. Sadly for the host family the strength and aggressiveness of the Cuckoo means that the host young are out competed for food and most often do not survive. No wonder the local birds don’t take a liking to them!

They are large birds with a wingspan of up to a meter. You start to get an idea of their size when they spread their wings

I’d like to get a photo of one in flight, I’ll post an update if I do.

Sources and further info