About Me

My photo

I've been a Canberran since moving here from Adelaide on the first day of 1980. I now live in suburban Duffy with my partner Louise Maher, ABC 666 radio and on-line journalist. Among my early memories is following Sleepy Lizards (Shinglebacks) around the paddocks north of Adelaide, guarded by the faithful bull terrier. I have always been passionate about the natural world, trying to understand how it works, how the nature of Australia came to be, and sharing those understandings. My especial passions are birds, orchids and mammals. For much of my life I have been a full-time naturalist, running bush tours, writing books etc, doing consultancies, presenting a regular radio slot on local ABC, chairing a government environment advisory committee and running adult education classes. Recently I have eased back somewhat, but am still writing, teaching, doing some radio work and running overseas tours - as part of my fascination with our Gondwanan origins I've been running tours to South America for the past decade. I was awarded the Australian Plants Society Award in 2001 and the Australian Natural History Medallion in 2006, both for services to education and conservation. In January 2018 I was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia for 'service to conservation and the environment'.

Sunday, 31 December 2017

Farewell to 2017!

Continuing my tradition of recent years, to mark the changeover of years I've selected just one photo from each month of 2017. As ever I don't make any pretences to photographic excellence, but have chosen the pictures because of their associations, and in most cases because they are ones I've not previously used this year in a blog posting.

It's been another busy year with some exciting natural highlights; as I get older I feel increasingly the need to make the most of every month of every year. I hope you can enjoy my selection of 2017 photos, and maybe it can encourage you to think about your own highlights.

A tailed weevil Rhinotia sp. (probably suturalis or brunnea, but I don't know enough to be sure), family Belidae.
I was delighted when I came across this lovely weevil in a bushland area known as Bluett's Block, not far from
where I live in Canberra, as I'd not seen anything like it before, and this is an area I've recently started exploring.
I've learnt that the group tends to specialise in acacias, but beyond that we don't seem to know much about them.

White-lipped Snake Drysdalia coronoides, Yerrabi Track, Namadgi National Park.
This is a lovely little snake, the most cold-adapted in Australia, and one I don't see all that often, though
it's not uncommon in the high country of the Australian Capital Territory (and from New England in northern
New South Wales south to Tasmania). This was a highlight of a most enjoyable summer walk in the
Snow Gums of the southern part of our territory.
Grey Goshawk Accipiter novaehollandiae, Tomakin, south coast New South Wales.
A wet weekend at the coast was greatly enhanced by this magnificent bird - which I'd never
successfully laid lens on before - perched on the powerlines in the pouring rain
by the busy highway.
Golden Orb Weaver Nephila edulis, Duffy, Canberra.
This handsome lady was too busy wrapping up dinner - an unfortunate fly - to notice us watching her
at close range from our balcony; she probably wasn't particularly aware either of the little male spider
in the web by her feet, hoping for some scraps. I loved the way the web glowed golden in the sunlight.
The view south from Cooleman Ridge Nature Reserve.
Another walk, this one in autumn, and much closer to home. In fact Cooleman Ridge is the closest reserve to our house.
The purple hue in the Red Boxes Eucalyptus polyanthemos was the sun's reflection from
 hundreds of thousands of buds ready to survive winter and burst into spring flowers.
The looming hill behind is Mount Tennent, in the far north of Namadgi National Park.
A reminder of how lucky we are to live in the 'bush capital', where everyone lives close to such a reserve.
Rose Robin Petroica rosea, Nowra, southern New South Wales.
At my partner's parents' home on the outskirts of town; this glowing little bird, not a common garden bird,
spent a morning flitting around the lawn and perched on the clothesline. A delight.
Indri Indri indri, the largest of all living lemurs, Antasibe-Mantadia NP, eastern Madagascar.
Tragically, this magnificent animal, which communicates by singing duets, is listed as Critically Endangered;
hopefully this baby will survive with its parents and siblings and in time start its own family.
Spending time with these superb animals early in the trip was a high point of a
thrilling but challenging trip to Madagascar.
Giant Day Gecko Phelusma grandis Ankarana National Park, northern Madagascar.
Madagascar is home to 110 known gecko species, a number rising by the year, 90% of them endemic.
This is more than double the species of Australia, which is some 13 times the size.
One group, representing a third of the island's species, has reverted to diurnal living, with smaller eyes and
often remarkable colours. This one was in the park, but we also had a couple of these jewels in
our cabin at the edge of the park.

Box-leaf Wattle Acacia buxifolia Black Mountain Nature Reserve, Canberra.
This was a disappointing spring for wildflowers in Canberra, with very little rain and almost no orchids, but
it started promisingly, and we can always rely on the wattles! I remember on this early spring day
being filled with the optimistic enthusiasm that spring always brings me.
Inca Tern Larosterna inca, Pucusana, south of Lima, Peru. Restricted to the cold Humboldt Current of
Peru and Chile, it must surely be the most glorious tern in the world. We went south as soon as we got to Peru,
and on the first afternoon did a memorable boat trip round the rocky headlands and islets of this little
fishing village, steeped in seabirds, with the Inca Terns the stars for me.

Jaguar Panthera onca, Three Brothers River, Pantanal, western Brazil.
Surely my wildlife highlight of the year, after a decade of looking for Jaguars in Peru and Ecuador,
when we were able to follow, in a small boat, three adult cubs and their mother as they walked along
the river bank  through the forest, probably hunting caimans.
I'll never forget the moment this big youngster stopped and stared closely at us for a few seconds
before returning to more important issues.
Freckled Duck Stictonetta naevosa, Jerrabomberra Wetlands, Canberra.
Probably Australia's rarest duck, with no close relatives, it nonetheless visits Canberra relatively regularly
in small numbers, especially when it's been dry in its heartlands to the west of here.
I'm always very pleased to see them.
So, that was my 2017 - or rather that's one version of it. As I said at the start, I hope this can prompt you to your own reverie of your natural history year.

Thank you for doing me the honour of reading this, whether you're a regular or you've just come across this. I hope you find your way back to this blog in 2018; meantime, have a happy and exciting start to 2018 - naturally!

(And remember that you can get a reminder when the next post appears by putting your email address in the Follow by Email box in the top right of this screen.)


Harvey Perkins said...

Lovely, Ian. Thank you.

Ian Fraser said...

A pleasure Harvey - thank YOU for taking the time! Have fun tonight.

Margie said...

Great to read snippets from your colourful year, Ian. I particularly liked the goshawk & the jaguar pictures. Best wishes for an inspiring, healthy & joyful 2018.

Ian Fraser said...

Thank you for your kind comments Margie - glad you enjoyed it. Those would be high among my favourites there too. A happy and healthy 2018 to you both too, and maybe we'll even see you there!