Just because they are pretty …

bBee on feathery white flower
Honeybee visiting a Water Snowflake in the Palmetum lagoon

Most of my photography is documentary rather than artistic in that I am trying to take clear, self-explanatory photos of my subjects – insects, spiders, birds and so on – for scientific purposes rather than beautiful and evocative shots. It would be lovely if I could do both at once, of course, but I can’t choose  location and lighting or ask my subjects to pose for me and clarity is my primary goal.

Sometimes everything comes together and I end up with attractive and entomologically interesting shots, and other times I find myself with attractive shots which have no great scientific interest, such as these three. The top one was taken in October and shows a common (European) honeybee feeding on a common aquatic plant. The Water Snowflake (Nymphoides sp.) is part of a large family of waterlily-like plants whose leaves float on the surface of the water while the roots are anchored in mud below.

black and gold bee on pink flowers
Carpenter Bee feeding on Maiden’s Blush flowers beside Ross Creek

Maiden’s Blush, as I have said before, is much hardier than its name or appearance suggest. This one is flourishing in full sun beside Ross Creek (I took a photo of a butterfly on it back in May – click here to see it and read more about the park).

When I stopped there a week before Christmas the white mangroves along the creek were in full flower and I took several photos of them. It wasn’t until I got home and saw them at full size on the computer screen that I realised I had taken a photo of a tiny fly as well.

star-like white flower
White mangrove flower beside Ross Creek

I have been thinking about photography in more general terms lately because I spent a lot of time preparing a series of my non-wildlife photos for a gallery exhibition and then putting it on a virtual gallery here on Green Path. I have medium-term plans to add galleries of wildlife photos, chosen for their attractiveness more than their usefulness; meanwhile, the general offer here will have to suffice.

Bottlebrush and birds

Our red bottlebrush (Callistemon) has joined the mango (now just about finished), paperbark, poplar gum and macadamia in bursting into flower. It is far smaller than the first three, although still three or four metres high, and the flowers are attractive to the birds as well as to us.

Lorikeet amongst bottlebrush flowers
Rainbow Lorikeet (Trichoglossus haematodus) amongst bottlebrush flowers
Lorikeet feeding on bottlebrush
I wonder if it tastes as good as it looks?

I have seen Friarbirds feeding on the blossom, too, and a few insects – native bees, for instance.

Lesser Wanderer

Here’s a butterfly which is common in the Townsville area but
a rare visitor to my garden, the Lesser Wanderer or Plain Tiger, Danaus Chrysippus.

Orange butterfly on yellow flowers
Lesser Wanderer on Yellow Cosmos

I don’t know why it doesn’t visit us more often but suspect the reason is the lack of food plants for its larvae. The caterpillars eat various milkweeds, absorbing poison from them which later protects the adults from birds – see learnaboutbutterflies.com for more – so the weedy banks of nearby Ross River would be much better for them.

The Yellow Cosmos in the picture are self-seeded from last year’s planting. They are doing very well since we got our first rain a week ago.