About Me

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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'.

Thursday, 15 March 2018

A Brief Walk on Black Mountain; a rain cheque!

The best laid plans etc - a family emergency intervened this week, so the second part of our series on the Southern Hemisphere conifers must wait another week. (And I must prepare for a radio interview this evening on my new book!) Instead here's a very brief report on a walk in which I participated last weekend, on Black Mountain, the hill that looms over central Canberra, part of Canberra Nature Park, dominated by dry sclerophyll forest. 
Part of the walk route, especially dry at the end of summer.
The main trees in this picture are Brittle Gum Eucalyptus mannifera.
The walk was organised by the active community-based Friends of Black Mountain, and led by Dr. Suzi Bond, Canberra's butterfly guru, and author of the recent and excellent Field Guide to the Butterflies of the Australian Capital Territory. As soon we arrived at the top of the mountain we were surrounded by active Imperial Jezebels, 'hill-topping', ie a gathering of displaying males for mating purposes, also known as a lek. They were manically chasing and showing off, impossible for me to photograph, but here's what one looks like sitting still!
Imperial Jezebel Delias harpalyce, National Botanic Gardens, last September.
A couple of others I did manage to photograph - ie they did sit still!
Marbled Xenica Gleitoneura klugii.
Tailed Emperor Charaxes sempronius.I found this one to be especially striking, and it was new for me
(I really am very much a beginner in this game!).
Of course there are always other animals to be seen too.
Young Jacky Lizard Amphibolurus muricatus, sunning on a rock.
This is a common little dragon locally.
Golden Orbweb Spiders Nephila edulis mating.
He's the little one and there's an 80% chance that this will the last thing he does before she eats him...
Another orb web spider wrapping a packed lunch; I think this was another Xenica,
but the whole process took less than 30 seconds, so it was hard to tell!
And on that somewhat macabre note I must leave you for this week; next time things should be back to something slightly closer to normal!
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Susan said...

I'm not surprised you've never seen a Tailed Emperor before. They are never abundant and I would have thought Canberra was getting rather southern for them.

Ian Fraser said...

Well that makes me feel less inadequate - thanks Susan!