A few old trees make all the difference when you’re doing a bird survey. The bare, newly planted paddocks on Carkella and Adnamira were limited to a few species, mainly parrots (galahs,red-rumps, rosellas) and a small family of magpies.
For the third time in three years, many of our trees are looking like ghosts of their former selves.
The immediate, obvious, culprit is the Christmas Beetle (an anoplagnathus species of scarab), a bit of seasonal joy in a shiny suit. If the weather’s right, it digs its way up from underground in November or December, munches its way to February, then dies.
Their larvae are called “curly grubs” around here and can be found pretty much wherever I’ve tried digging – from high up on hillsides to the sandy soil along the river, under the casuarinas. They don’t seem to lay their eggs where they feed, necessarily. Beetle bodies lie thickly under our eucalyptus nicholii peppermint gums that they don’t eat at all.
I hoped that meant that peppermint gums poison them, but I think they just like the shade. The shade that they remove elsewhere by eating the leaves of the Blakeley’s and Yellow Box gums. Continue reading
A late addition to the collection of trees we’ve been planting this year has been a group of trees that have just graduated from the Australian National University.
They’re now decorating the slopes of our box-gum woodland plantation with tasteful stainless steel pendants and copper necklaces identifying them.
Just the thing we’re working on. Continue reading
Lovely. Continue reading
When the wind gets above 45km/h every gap and crack in this old house begins to whistle. The walls are two feet thick, made of rammed earth, but many of the windows are single-glazed and rattle…a lot. Even the ones that are double-glazed seem to have gaps for cold drafts.