The Christmas Sheep!

At last, it’s never really Christmas here until we see the sheep at the shopping centre all decorated up!

The Christmas sheep strike again!
The Christmas sheep strike again!

Surprising as it may seem, this year the sheep decoration appears to be more subdued.

Santa on board.
Santa on board.
Nothing like a bit of festive headgear.
Nothing like a bit of festive headgear.
All dressed and ready to party.
All dressed and ready to party.

Merry Christmas and a Happy 2015 to you all!

Rainbirds and Christmas flowers

It’s been raining overnight here. When I let the cat outside this morning I saw something I’d only witnessed once before, birds washing themselves in the trees. They do this by flying into the thickest leaves and then ruffling their feathers and pushing themselves onto the leaves to get thoroughly wet.

Our semi-resident Grey Currawong is thoroughly 'wetted out'
Our semi-resident Grey Currawong is thoroughly ‘wetted out’

Our semi-resident Grey Currawong was in the thick of it, along with a Pied Currawong. They started out in the branches of our Omeo Mallee (Eucalyptus neglecta) and Kurrajong (Brachychiton populneum), but by the time I got my camera they’d moved into our neighbour’s Chinese Elm (Ulmus parvifolia). They were clearly having a ball!

The Grey Currawong having a post-bath preen
The Grey Currawong having a post-bath preen

In my ongoing annual Christmas quest for non-traditional Christmas flowers I bring you a really worthy candidate. This is my Pomegranate bush, which despite its small size still managed to give us several large fruits last year.

My pomegranate bush in flower
My pomegranate bush in flower

I don’t think you can beat that for Christmas colour!

Local pollinators

At this time of the year our front grassy woodland-type garden is alive with butterflies, bees, hoverflies and pollinators of all descriptions. I was trying to get a shot of my favourite Australian bee, the Blue-banded Bee (Amegilla), but although I saw them I had no luck getting a photo. I did however get to see plenty of other insects and take lots of out of focus shots of insects feeding on our paper daisies and also our native pelargoniums.

The most commonly seen butterfly in our garden at this time of year is Vanessa kershawii, the Australian Painted Lady and if you look behind it, in the photo below, you can also spot another smaller butterfly, called a Grass Dart, probably Ocybadistes walkeri (or possibly O. flavovittata).

The large butterfly is Vanessa kershawii and the smaller one behind it is  a Grass Dart, probably Ocybadistes walkeri
The large butterfly is an Australian Painted Lady, Vanessa kershawii and the smaller one behind it is a Grass Dart, probably Ocybadistes walkeri

I have to thank¬† Len Watkin of the Australian Moths Online for pointing out to me that this small creature wasn’t a moth, rather it was a butterfly.¬† Martin Purvis who looks after the Australian Butterflies website confirmed my identification (from what he could see in the photos).

The Grass Dart taking a rest on a nearby Pelargonium leaf, 28 November 2014.
The Grass Dart taking a rest on a nearby Pelargonium leaf, 28 November 2014.

But it’s not just butterflies and moths that pollinate flowers in the garden. While I didn’t have any luck with capturing a photo of the Blue-banded Bee I did spot at least two others. One very small one looked like a Stingless bee, but I’m unclear whether they are found in the ACT. The other I think is a species of Leafcutter bee.

My clearest shot of what I think may be a Leafcutter Bee, 28 November 2014.
My clearest shot of what I think may be a Leafcutter Bee, 28 November 2014.

Talk about carrying a load of pollen.

A species of Leafcutter Bee?
A species of Leafcutter Bee? Look at the pollen on its legs.

I will keep trying to photograph a Blue-banded bee in my garden and who knows what else I will spot! If you are interested in identifying Australian Bees I suggest you check out the Aussie Bee website.