Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Land Creatures

I keep posting pictures of the amazing underwater life of Shark Bay but have yet to show everything that we see on land as well.  Many people know Australia for its countless numbers of excessively poisoness creatures such as the funnel-web spider, the blue-ringed octopus, and the box jellyfish which have the ability to kill or incapacitate with a single bite or sting.  These are the famous ones, the illusive subject of people's fear and often their reason for second guessing a potential vacation down to this otherwise remarkable country.  As you might guess, the stories are exaggerated and the animals are generally far less common than it would seem.  In fact they are almost always rarities if they occur at all in a given area.  There is much more to be seen and in such a variety.

(Kirk Gastrich)

(Adriana Weil)

One Fancy Beetle (Adriana Weil)

Just above the head there is a beautiful blue stripe.


A Social Huntsman Spider (Adriana Weil)
I have always had a special place in my heart for spiders.  I am not sure why but in Ecuador I chose to study social spiders.  In animal behavior class I chose to do a report on the web building habits of the Hobo Spider in Oregon, and if you have not noticed before the name of this blog is Woven Threads which mainly refers to my attempt at weaving together the random ideas and strands of thought that run through my head but it has another obvious connection to the world of spiders.

It is only in retrospect that I have noticed this pattern.  Here in Australia they have many dangerous and fascinating spiders.  The Huntsman Spider is not particularly dangerous, though it is large and aggressive.  I have had to help a few people out by ridding their sleeping quarters of the beasts now and I have to say I quite enjoyed it.  It is fun for me to watch and think about their actions.  Why do they do what they do?  What drives the choices that make?

The body of the wasp is about 2 inches long.
The other day when I was walking by the pool we noticed a large orange and black wasp wrestling with one of these Huntsman.  It turns out this wasp is called the Spider Hunting Wasp.  It searches out Huntsman Spiders and delivers them with a paralyzing sting.  It will then drag the spider to a burrow and burry it but not before laying a single egg on the spiders abdomen.  The egg hatches and then feeds on the spider until it ready to emerge.  Gruesome but spectacular.  The adult wasps are not even carnivorous.  They feed on the nectar of plants and their flowers.  Wasps are pretty cool too.

Red Back Spider, a close relative to the Black Widow. (Adriana Weil) 

The Birds of australia are an exciting bunch, from the tiny little Fairy Wrens that flit about in the bush to the Emu that plods its way along the roads.  There is a group of  either Collared Sparrowhawks or possibly Brown Goshawks that live right by our trailers.  Every day I hear them call kree-kree-kree and watch them chase the Galahs all around Monkey Mia.  The Welcome Swallows seem to stay pretty well away from that action and go about their business of catching insects on wing most of the day.  The Pelicans and Cormorants (called Shags in Australian) are all over the water.  Most people find them annoying and obtrusive but they can be quite interesting to watch.  

One of my favorite birds here is the Crested Tern.  There are several types of terns that we see each day but whenever I go down to the beach for a swim there is a little Crested Tern that sits on a post out in the water.  I like to swim out to it to get as close as I can and because the post sticks far enough out of the water the bird does not feel threatened by my presence.  I can move right up to it, the bird only a foot or two from my head.  I watch it and chat with it to keep it calm while it watches me and hopefully keeps a look out for any approaching sharks.  I can't get down to the beach every day but most days when I do there is a Crested Tern sitting on that post waiting.

Emu (Adriana Weil)

Emu chicks (Adriana Weil)

Galah (Adriana Weil)

Galahs (Adriana Weil)
Welcome Swallow (Fanny Vessaz)

Sparrowhawk and Galah (Adriana Weil)

Collared Sparrowhawks (Adriana Weil)

Australian Pelican

The lizards of this country are an interesting bunch.  There is an entire group called legless lizard which is exactly what the name implies.  They are not snakes though it would be easy to mistake them for such.  Down below I have put in a picture, though a bit blurry, of a skink called the Unpatterned Robust Slider which actually does have some vestigial legs.  They are little more than nubs helping the Slider to make its way along in the sandy terrain.  The only snake we have come across so far has been the Sea Snake.

Stubby Tail, Shingleback and Bobtail are all names for this Tiliqua rugosa

Sand Monitor (Fanny Vessaz)

(Fanny Vessaz)

Unpatterned Robust Slider (Adriana Weil)

Gecko (Adriana Weil)

Kangaroo (Adriana Weil)


  1. Excellent post. I like the mantis on your face, it reminds me of your 2nd grade show and tell with the praying mantis we found It flew into the teachers hair and she freaked

  2. Haha, I remember that and I've loved Mantises ever since.

  3. OMG - I TOTALLY remember that happening! Ms. Buerger was sooo not happy.