Happening now and coming soon

Townsville Cultural Fest has already begun and runs over the weekend. Visit its website for more information and then visit its new location near the Rockpool for international food, crafts, healing arts, etc, and a great entertainment programme.

Sundalah.jpgSundalah yoga day is only ten days away. I’ve been to the event in previous years and enjoyed it as a low-stress, low-commitment way of checking out what yoga can offer.

Visit them on FB or at www.sundalah.com.au or simply download the programme (pdf).

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Life has been busy recently, mostly in good ways, but normal service (roughly two posts per week) is about to resume.

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Demystifying science-speak

Here is a great table of word substitutions for scientists to make when talking to non-scientists, or for non-scientists to mentally make when reading scientific articles. I saw it on Real Climate and, like the person who posted it there, thought that it deserved a wider audience. It comes originally from a lecture by Richard Somerville at UC San Diego on communicating climate science, part of this course.

Terms that have different meanings for scientists and the public

Scientific term  Public meaning  Better choice
enhance improve intensify, increase
aerosol spray can tiny atmospheric particle
positive trend good trend upward trend
positive feedback good response, praise vicious cycle, self-reinforcing cycle
theory hunch, speculation scientific understanding
uncertainty ignorance range
error mistake, wrong, incorrect difference from exact true number
bias distortion, political motive offset from an observation
sign indication, astrological sign plus or minus sign
values ethics, monetary value numbers, quantity
manipulation illicit tampering scientific data processing
scheme devious plot systematic plan
anomaly abnormal occurrence change from long-term average


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Eastern Dwarf Tree Frog

golden-green Eastern Dwarf Tree Frog amongst leaves

Eastern Dwarf Tree Frog

The Dry season isn’t the best for frogs but this Eastern Dwarf Tree Frog, Litoria fallax, seemed comfortable enough amongst the shady leaves of a tree on the edge of the Town Common. He was spotted by my companions on another of Wildlife Queensland’s monthly  field trips, one which introduced me to the boardwalk behind the Sustainability House in Rowes Bay. In the Wet, of course, the boardwalk passes over very swampy ground – ideal frog territory – but now it has all dried out.

According to frogs.org.au (the best online froggy information source I know of) the species grows to “less than 30mm” long; 25 – 30mm is common and about right for this one. Colours are somewhat variable but the whitish streak from eye to shoulder (very obvious in my photo) and the dark streak from eye to nose (less obvious) are normally present. Wikipedia confirms all this and adds that the species is very common along our Eastern coast from about Cairns to central NSW.

Frogs don’t often appear on Green Path, simply because so many of my subjects are drawn from my own suburban garden and we don’t have any permanent water. Making a frog pond is one of those nice ideas which has never quite become reality although there are plenty of sites online which give instructions, advice and encouragement - visit SGA, FNPW or BBY if you want to do it yourself.

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There’s still life in a dry-season garden

Honey-bee on pentas flower

Honey-bee on pentas flower

I have been saying for a few weeks that insect activity in the garden has dropped off with the drier, cooler weather and it’s true. (It’s true every year, of course, and I documented the changes here in some detail in 2011 and 2012 - see this post). That doesn’t mean, however, that there are no invertebrates at all at this time of year. For example, I took the photos on this page in one slow ramble around the garden last week.

brown bee on leaf

Small native bee, only about 7mm long

metallic fly on leaf

A very small predatory fly, Dolichopodidae family

grey-brown fly

Robber fly, Asilidae

orange beetle

Orchid-munching Dendrobium Beetle on leaf of Golden Orchid

orange spider on web

Spider with prey – a fly or a small wasp

brown spider

Spider hiding in dead frangipani branch

I could also have photographed plenty of ants, especially the Rattle Ants and Green Ants, and the common blue blow-flies. I did see one paper wasp, Ropalidia revolutionalis (photo here, on Flickr), but their nests have emptied in the last few weeks so I guess it was one of the last of the season’s hatchlings. I don’t know if the Mud-dauber wasps, Delta spp., suffer quite the same drop-off but I do know they are still around.

As for spiders, there are lots of the small spiky Gasteracantha sacerdotalis and quite a lot of even smaller spiders. The larger one I found in the hollow frangipani branch (definitely a male and perhaps Eriophora transmarina) is a species that spreads its web each night and takes it in again each morning, and I really don’t know how many of them we have.

And where are the butterflies? None posed for me that afternoon but we’re still seeing occasional Cairns Birdwings, Ulysses, Common Eggfly and Grass Yellows. If you don’t know them, using the search box in the sidebar will find you plenty of older photos of all of them.

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