Hiking Nerd Meets Lady and the Tramp – Ridge Track, White Rock

“Mum, you’re such a nerd!” My daughter may be right but given she’s a self-confessed anatomy and biochemistry nerd, it was a sign of affection rather than  criticism.

I guess many of us have  obsessions but some are regarded as  nerdy rather than cool. I’d just related an incident that occurred while hiking and this was her immediate response. I asked for her reasoning. After all, it seemed like a perfectly normal activity to me. Let me describe the situation and you can decide if the label is justified.

While admiring  these colourful caterpillars near  White Rock carpark, I accosted two passing hikers  I assumed to be nature lovers.

Josephs Coat Caterpillar

Josephs Coat Moth Caterpillars

After their initial fright at my excited hello and crazy hand gestures, one of the women whipped out a Lepidoptera (butterfly and moth) field guide and  flicked through to the exact identification page. Now I wouldn’t have to spend hours hunting down the name of this beautiful creature on the Internet and if my search had been unsuccessful, I had also been saved a few sleepless nights puzzling over its identification.

Field Identification Guide

On the same page were two other moth species I was to find (below). How lucky was that!  It would have been even luckier though if I hadn’t cut off the information below the pictures needed to identify those two.  I think they are both day-flying species of the tiger moth families,  Arctiidae and Aganaidae.  

Spotted moth

Spotted Moth

Why does this tale prove the nerd status, I hear you ask in amazement. Here is Tough Cookie’s reasoning. I am a nerd because:

  • I noticed the caterpillars in the first place
  • I got excited by the discovery
  • I cared desperately about what species they were
  • I overcame my introverted nature to hail down two complete strangers passing by and,
  • I actually expected them to care about it as much as I did.

I think she is exaggerating, don’t you?   Anyway, I’m sure all of you equally-as-normal readers are just as anxious to know what they are as I was.

These impressive caterpillars are the larvae of the day-flying Joseph’s coat moth, Agarista agricola, which is the top picture of the field guide page I photographed.

Josephs Coat Caterpillar

They usually eat the vines of the Vitaceae family, including the Australian native grape and cultivated grape species. I could see the dried tendrils of defoliated vines wrapped around the shrub the creatures were on. I’m not completely sure but I think they were attempting to eat the shrub leaves because they were deprived of their usual diet. You can see the chewing attempts in the next picture. Perhaps I am wrong, though, and this is another plant species they do normally eat.

Josephs Coat Caterpillar White Rock 2

I also noticed what appeared to be parasitic eggs on some of them (below). I wondered if they would survive to pupate.

osephs Coat Moth caterpillar with parasitic eggs White Rock

I face a constant dilemma when hiking. The Yaddamun Track  I wrote about last time is not my usual kind of walk. Due to the long distance and unpleasant conditions, a good speed needs to be maintained. Most of the time I choose shorter walks because I enjoy making discoveries along the way. It’s easy to miss little treasures such as fungi, shy birds, insects and interesting rocks if you are going at break-neck speed.  After annoying my walking companions with a curiosity-induced snail pace, I’ve usually opted to walk solo so I don’t feel the pressure to hurry, but in doing so, I face another problem. I love to have others with me to share the excitement of discovery.  It’s just not quite the same on my own.  Thankfully I have a camera so I can still enjoy (belatedly) sharing my nerdy excitement over nature discoveries with you on my blog.

People often ask if I am afraid of walking alone in the Australian bush. The dangers of snakes and spiders are often mentioned.  My response is always that I am more afraid of negative encounters with humans or being involved in a car accident enroute than I am of creatures that crawl or slither. I have a healthy respect for snakes and spiders and take precautions, but it is not always possible to prepare for the irresponsible or malicious acts of humans.

Spider

In fact, when the dangers of spiders are mentioned, I’m reminded of a girl I went to school with. Ingrid was a gentle and kind soul who loved animals and I remember reading that she refused to remove spider webs from the outside of one of her homes as she believed they helped control the sandfly and mosquito population. Spiders did not harm her. What killed her in the end were the actions of a violent man.

Common lynx spider

Having said this, the unexpected appearance of a giant hairy spider crawling on the inside of my car windscreen while I was driving at 100km/hr on a busy motorway could have resulted in a violent end for me and the other occupants. Fortunately, I froze rather than swerved madly or let go of the steering wheel. By the time I could pull over safely, the enormous arachnid had disappeared into the dark depths of the interior fittings never to be found.  If you want a holiday from family taxi-driving services for a few weeks it’s a very good strategy to employ. According to my family, the bus and train services are less wildlife friendly than my aging car.

Orb weaver

After such a drawn out introduction which isn’t really a proper  introduction since I still haven’t actually told you what this post is about, I’d best get down to business.  After reading four blog posts about White Rock Conservation Estate I bet you thought (and hoped) you’d heard the last of the place. Well, not quite yet. This is the last one. I promise!  There is just one walk left to describe – the Ridge Track.

I’ve lived in the White Rock region for nine years now and have seen a phenomenal amount of land clearing and development. Actually, I think it is strange that we refer to it as development. This sounds far too upbeat for me. I find it difficult to view the bulldozing of forests as positive growth.

Although I’ve been told White Rock Conservation Estate is protected, I’ve heard those words before about other areas which have since been “developed” and so over the past few years I’ve tried to catalogue the wildlife species I see on my walks as evidence of White Rock’s  habitat value. While I will be describing and sharing photos of the Ridge Track, first I’d like to share some of the birds and insects I see regularly. To view other species please check past posts, Lured by the Big Dog,  Seeking Solitude, and The Art of Hiking.

The processionary caterpillars of the bag shelter moth,  Ochrogaster lunifer, nest at the base of trees or in bags suspended in trees.  These larvae are covered in hundreds of barbed hairs which can cause serious irritation to humans.

Bag shelter moth processionary caterpillars

Bag shelter moth processionary caterpillars

They’ve also been associated with stillbirth and abortion in mares. It seems the mares may ingest the remains of moulted caterpillars and the barbed hairs carrying bacteria penetrate through the gut and cause infection leading to the death of developing foals.

Bag shelter moth processionary caterpillars

There is some  molecular evidence that the caterpillars that form hanging silken bags and those that make nests at the base of trees could be separated  into different species, however, according to entomologist, Martin Steinbauer, this needs to be complemented with morphological data and examination of types.

Bag shelter moth processionary caterpillars

As the mass of wriggling larvae consumed the leaves on this branch, I noticed a couple of individuals sharing a piece of leaf and was immediately reminded of the scene from Lady and the Tramp where the two canine sweethearts shared a long strand of spaghetti.

Processionary caterpillars

Lady and the Tramp spaghetti scene

Then along came another caterpillar to make it a threesome and spoiled the romantic vision.

Three processionary caterpillars

The next caterpillars may be the larvae of the glasswing butterfly, Acraea andromacha.

Glasswing caterpillar

Glasswing butterfly 2

Another species  I’ve noticed is the evening brown butterfly Melanitis leda which resembles a leaf and often eludes my eyes and camera.  These butterflies lay their eggs on the leaf of tall grass which will be the caterpillar’s food.

Evening brown butterfly White Rock

This isn’t a great shot of what I think may be a small green-banded blue butterfly, Psychonotis caelius, which commonly feeds on Red Ash.

Small green-banded blue butterfly

And here’s an unusual sight. An unknown butterfly species speared by a barb on a cobblers peg seed.

Unknown butterfly 2

Unknown butterfly

It wouldn’t be the Australian bush without the drone of cicadas.

cicada

I’ve seen many more species of birds at White Rock than I’ve been able to photograph. Most of my shots are of fluffy rear ends or faces obscured by twigs and grass. When I blow up the shots on my screen their expressions have me suspecting that the birds take pleasure in this hide and seek game.

I think these are variations of  female and male variegated fairy-wrens. I’ve never been good at bird identification and many of my shots are blurred but I want to share them in order to show what lives at White Rock. Feel free to correct me.

Female fairy-wren

variegated fairy-wren white rock 3

variegated fairy-wren white rock

Red-backed fairy-wren

red-backed fairy wren

The next one is a male golden whistler.

Golden whistler

After hearing eastern whipbirds for most of my life, I saw my first one clearly only recently. Eventually I managed to grab a few dodgy pictures through the branches as proof. By contrast, Brian from bushboy.blog  who lives in New South Wales, sees them regularly in the garden and takes far better photos than I do.  See what I mean about birds playing hide and seek with me?

Whip bird white rock

Mistletoe birds are another rarity for me but I pointed my camera at a flash of red recently and finally caught one on camera.

Mistletoe bird

Red-browed finches are a common sight along the fire-trails.

red-browed finch

Occasionally I spy fan-tailed (pictured)and channel-billed cuckoos.

Fan-tailed cuckoo

Fan-tailed cuckoo

Eastern yellow robins, rose robins,  sacred kingfishers, Australasian fig birds, tree creepers, king parrots and pale headed rosellas are common sights.

Eastern Yellow Robin

eastern yellow robin

Possibly a female eastern yellow robin?

Possibly female golden whistler white rock

Possibly a rose robin.

Female rose robin

Sacred kingfisher

Sacred Kingfisher

King parrot

King Parrot White Rock

Australasian figbird (female and male)

Australasian fig bird

Australiasian figbird

Tree creepers

tree creeper

tree creeper

And of course, I also see honeyeaters. The first is a yellow-faced honeyeater.

Lewins Honeyeater White Rock

Honeyeater White Rock

I see many more species than I am able to photograph. I just hope that the new developments encroaching upon the area don’t come with pet cats. I’ve lost most species of birds and lizards from my own backyard since the arrival of three new cats in my street. To hear the garden now silent of bird calls and devoid of the rustling of skinks and dragons in the leaf litter is disheartening.  At the same time I’ve noticed a big increase in insect pests in my yard since their disappearance.

Many varieties of fungi, lichen and other small treasures can be found at White Rock also if you patiently search, especially after rain.

fungi

fungi

plants

fungi

The trunks of White Rock’s native trees may also change through the seasons, especially after prescribed burning. I find the colourful resins and “bleeding” of trunks appealing.

resin

tree trunk

Before my obsession with flora and fauna sends you to sleep, it’s time to describe the Ridge Trail which is an alternative route to using the wide 6.5 km return multi-user fire trail  used to reach the impressive White Rock formation.  The Ridge Track can also be used to form a circuit rather than backtracking over the multi-user trail.  It is much harder but I think far more interesting, with its narrow paths meandering through thick bushland and barely existent tracks over rocky ridges.  I don’t have a GPS to track the distance but I estimate it to be shorter than the multi-user trail. It probably takes just as long or longer though, due to the more challenging terrain.  Families with young children are better suited to the multi-user trail option.

The entrance to the Ridge Track is not very well marked, another reason why it is less used.  Begin at the carpark picnic grounds and follow the regular multi-user fire trail signs to White Rock. Keep watch for wallabies and kangaroos feeding in the long grass and bracken ferns by the road.

white rock trail

wallaby

kangaroo

When you come to this junction, instead of continuing along the multi-user trail to your right,  you need to take the left branch instead and then watch out for a narrow entrance on your right.

White Rock Ridge Track

There should be a wooden post and possibly a sign (but don’t count on it).

White Rock Ridge Track

Alternatively, you can take the usual multi-user trail to White Rock and return via the Ridge Track. If you choose this last option you’ll see signs to the Ridge Track on your left after reaching the top of steep wooden steps at the White Rock monolith.

Much of the lower part of the Ridge Track trail is narrow, eroded and flanked by thick scrub (except after prescribed burning).

scrub at white rock

As you walk higher you’ll hit the rocky more open paths of the ridge line and notice grass trees, termite mounds, towering native trees and flowering shrubs.

Termite mounds

Ridge Track

Ridge Track

The terrain is uneven and in parts poorly marked but if you keep following the ridge line you will eventually see the top of White Rock in the distance. Along the way you’ll have distant views of Brisbane city.

Ridge Track tall trees

Balancing Rocks

Ridge Track

View of Brisbane

White Rock

As I’ve mentioned in past posts, White Rock has spiritual significance for the traditional Indigenous Owners and they ask that you respect this by not climbing the structure.  It doesn’t matter how often I visit the rock, I am still fascinated by its beautiful sandstone patterns and the unusual weathered shapes of  outcrops. The late afternoon sun turns the rock golden and I always leave the area feeling more at peace.

White Rock

White Rock

White Rock

White Rock

As I wrote earlier, the benefit of a short trail means you don’t have to  walk fast. You have more time to observe – to immerse yourself in your surroundings. While I  appreciate the  physical challenge of a long walk it doesn’t give me the same kind of buzz as a slow  wander of discovery. That’s why repeated walks at White Rock can be so rewarding. Even though I know the terrain very well, I’m not exaggerating when I say  there is always something new to be found if I take the time to look closely. There’s enough hurrying and busyness in this world already. Being able to slow down is a relief and a refuge in itself – for me anyway.

Thanks for reading. 🙂

UPDATE 21/07/17:  Please check the Ipswich City Council Website here before you visit for updates on access roads while development is being carried out.

*Click here for a Guide to Walking Trails  at White Rock – Spring Mountain Conservation Estate.

80 thoughts on “Hiking Nerd Meets Lady and the Tramp – Ridge Track, White Rock

    • Haha…thanks, Marina. You are kind. I’m pleased that you appreciate my flora and fauna “rantings.” I sometimes wonder if people get tired of them. I’ll always be a nature nerd. My daughter is correct. My main reason for sharing so many nature shots of White Rock is because it’s a special place to me and I really hope it stays protected. Best wishes. 🙂

  1. Wow! What an amazing post! Fabulous images and interesting read, Jane! Hey not nerdy at all. You just have a great passion for the natural world and want to learn all you can about it! I have been labelled sad and nerdy for my love of the natural world and my ever searching and thirst for knowledge. But I feel the richer for it, whilst those that criticise and poke fun I feel are the poorer.

    Thank you for sharing! Wonderful 🙂

    • Thanks very much, Pete! I don’t mind the nerdy label really. If nerdy means being passionate about the natural world then I am happy to be one. 🙂 I’m glad to read that you also share an appreciation for the natural world. I think it is a gift to be able to delight in such things in a world that is often very materialistic and profit-driven. The more we know, understand and love about the natural world, the more likely we are to be motivated to protect it from destruction. Thanks for your enthusiasm and support. It’s much appreciated. Best wishes. 🙂

      • You are welcome, Jane 🙂 I have to agree, learning and knowledge, and showing and explaining how amazing and trully wonderful the natural world is with all its fascinating and diverse life forms is the best was to protect it for future generations to enjoy, and to ensure the longevity of threatened species and habitats across the globe.

        Thank you 🙂

    • Thank you very much, John. I’m glad you appreciate the nerd in me. I’m not sure how long this blog will keep going. I don’t have much time left these days for it but I do really enjoy sharing what I see with you and my other friends. When the news is full of destruction and sadness, it helps me to look to the natural world for comfort and motivation to keep going every day. I hope you have a lovely weekend. 🙂

  2. If that’s what it takes to qualify as a “nerd”, then I am in the club too. How rare though to encounter folks like that on a trail!
    You did a fine job of cataloging the area’s birds! So many species!
    Fascinating post!

    • Thanks very much, Terry. I know you appreciate those slow walks of discovery too. When I am true to my nerdy self, I am far more content. Yes, wasn’t it amazing that the hikers had a lepidoptera field guide and knew the correct page? I must admit, I don’t generally grab just any old stranger. These two were geared up ready for a long walk and were carrying binoculars which was different to the usual lycra-clad runners I see. I hope Montana is being kind to you lately. You have such incredibly beautiful mountains there. So different to my local surroundings. Best wishes. 🙂

    • Thank you very much for reading and commenting, Susan. When I look up into the giant eucalypts on this walk I am often reminded of your fondness for them from when you spent some time in Australia. Some of the ones at White Rock are so tall that my neck starts to ache while scanning for sleeping koalas. Apparently they live at White Rock but I am yet to see one there. I hope you are well and still enjoying your own adventures. Best wishes. 🙂

  3. Lovely post, I enjoyed it although the photos of the birds made me sooooooooo nostalgic. I definitely feel as you do on hiking…I’ve hiked more than 13 miles up a 14,000 ft mountain in four hours before, but I’ve also spent the same length of time on a 1 mile stretch of trail in a jungle. You never know what you’ll find and sometimes it’s better to be alone. I’m not as serious as Mary Oliver, but I definitely get it: http://i.imgur.com/twN1BAR.jpeg

    • Hi! Thankyou for your comments and for sharing the Mary Oliver poem which has always been one of my favourites of hers. So beautiful. Like you, I am not quite as serious about walking solo as she is, but I can certainly relate to her sentiments. For many years my young children always accompanied me on walks, along with at least one dog. It made me happy to see the delight on their young faces when discovering simple things. Of course, we often frightened away birds and other creatures before we had a chance to see them! I did not mind though. Now that my children are in their 20s they are obviously busy with their own interests so we don’t share walks often. I do see so many more creatures while I’m walking solo these days. When I was a child, I mostly saw large birds like magpies and crows or the common sparrow. I put that down to my family and most people in my neighbourhood always having cats. It was quite amazing to me when I grew up and moved away from home, how many bird species I saw in my now cat-less backyards and farms. I really hope the residents of the new housing development next to White Rock do not let their cats roam freely as that would devastate the bird and lizard population. If you are ever back in Australia it would be a pleasure to walk with you. Yes, I can imagine there would be times you miss Australia. Best wishes and thanks again for the poem reminder. It’s lovely. 🙂

        • Yeah, it can be so hard to know what decision to make sometimes and often there is that lingering doubt afterwards. I’ve never been out of Australia but that is not by choice. I think if I had the opportunity to work in other countries while young and it was good for my career, I’d do it. I do have restless genes though… I wish you all the best with your new job. 🙂

        • Yes, it is a battle isn’t it? We have local regulations which prohibit dogs wandering the streets here and this seems to be enforced by council and accepted by owners. Unfortunately, it is more difficult to police the situation with cats. I can understand why people don’t want to restrict their animal’s freedom but by allowing their cats to roam in Australia, they have contributed to a devastating loss of native species, including lizards, birds and small mammals. Native species of mammals here seem to also be more susceptible to death from toxoplasmosis which cats carry. I really enjoyed the company of cats as a child, but knowing what I do now, I couldn’t bring myself to having a cat which is allowed freedom to roam the neighbourhood. My garden is usually silent these days thanks to the effects of local neighbourhood cats. After my little old dog died, the cats began hunting in my fenced garden. Cats roaming in other countries may not be a problem and may in fact be necessary to help control rat problems but here they cause too much damage.

          • Roaming cats are a problem here too. In an e-mail exchange in my neighborhood a year or two ago, a woman complained when a neighbor’s cat not only wandered through her yard but even scratched her. The cat’s owner got huffy and said, falsely, that the city of Austin treats cats as wild animals and that therefore cats can roam wherever they want to and the other woman should just put up with it, even in her own yard. I knew that isn’t the case, and I double-checked with the city; I confirmed that if the neighbor’s cat wanders into the woman’s yard, she has a right to catch it and turn it in to the city, which would charge the owner a hefty fee to get it back. All that may be a moot point, however, because coyotes live in the area and occasionally make meals of straying pets. Some might call it poetic justice.

            • I think many people don’t realise the health risks to humans of letting cats roam free as well. I had cat scratch fever in my 30s from helping an elderly neighbour catch and remove stray cats causing her problems and while it may be a mild illness for many, I had more severe symptoms and was ill for several months. For someone whose immune system is compromised (such as a patient undergoing chemotherapy), a toxoplasmosis infection from cat faeces in garden soil or children’s sandpits can be lethal. For environment and health reasons I think owners have a responsibility to control their pets. Part of the problem with cats in Australia is that they have few predators and thrive on eating wildlife. I hope legislation and greater awareness help to improve the situation in the future. 🙂

    • Thank you, Tom. A very handy thing about caterpillars and fungi is that they move very slowly which makes taking shots much easier. Birds are another matter. That’s why I am envious of people like you who take such wonderful pictures of them – especially those action shots! Good health to you and Mrs Tootlepedal. 🙂

  4. Wow Jane, how do you get such great photos, those photos are amazing! Great to see you out and about again, I really look forward to my Mildly Extreme fix;) I suspect that most people that love the natural environment would all fall into the ‘nerd’ category, I know I’m guilty as charged – although I normally prefer ‘bushwalking dork’ on my blog. Stay safe Cheers Kevin xo

    • Thanks, Kevin. I’m not sure about amazing but I appreciate the encouragement. Some of those bird shots in particular are very blurry. I take hundreds of shots of birds that only show their fluffy rear ends or just a very well defined tree branch or blade of grass. I am sure they enjoy teasing me sometimes. “Let’s just have a game with this amusing human.” It’s been a while since I’ve heard the word “dork” but I’m sure it can be applied to me also. I’m learning to embrace all these labels as compliments these days. Haha. Anyway, thanks for reading and commenting as usual. Keep on walking! 🙂

  5. Hey Jane!
    Australia definitely feels like another planet to me. Those wriggly, hairy caterpillars and the bleeding tree trunks! Incredible, really incredible stuff.
    It’s sad to hear about how felines are bringing havoc to your neighbourhood, at least from a bird point of view. Here in London I’m being serenaded every morning by a gang of parakeets who have obviously escaped from someplace and have liked it here (can you imagine the Sun’s front page? “IMMIGRANT BIRDS IN LONDON!”), it’d be sad to see them gone because of some cat. Which goes on to prove my point, i.e. that dogs are better than cats. No dog has ever been quick enough to catch little birds!
    Fabrizio

    • Hi Fabrizio!
      As you know, I’ve never been out of Australia and yet I am still surprised by the “alien” quality of some of the flora and fauna I see here, so it must be even more strange for those who come from other countries. 🙂
      I like cats but their introduction here and irresponsible pet ownership have led to much damage to our native wildlife. Much research is/has been conducted on how much feral cats kill. They also spread toxoplasmosis which kills native species. Even well fed pet cats still kill. Cats that are kept inside permanently or have outside “cat runs” are the only felines that are really safe for Australian wildlife. You’re right, dogs can cause damage here too but don’t usually have the agility to catch small birds or climb trees. I get frustrated by local councils who make people register dogs but don’t enforce the same rules on cat owners. Cat faeces in children’s sandpits are a health risk as well. I can understand their use in other countries to kill rodents on farms and where they have a less fragile ecosystem though. I’m amused and delighted that you are enjoying the tunes of escapee parakeets! Haha…yes, that newspaper headline wouldn’t surprise me. We have media like that in Australia too, unfortunately! It is always lovely to hear from you, Fabrizio and appreciate your thoughtful and interesting comments. Thank you. Best wishes! 🙂

  6. Nerdy or not, we nature lovers are the lucky ones of the world, aren’t we? Some gorgeous shots in this post, Jane. I especially like the parasitic eggs on the caterpillar and the oozing blood-like resin. And your Aussie birds are just amazing. I also relish my slow, all-alone walks–just me and (often) my camera. I love my regular dog walks, too, and the occasional walk with another person. But for sheer pleasure, to observe the small details and slowly unfolding things, nothing beats a solo excursion. Thanks for sharing yours.

    • Thanks very much, Brenda, When I feel disheartened by personal issues and world events and then something in nature picks up my spirits, I feel particularly lucky to be such a nerd. I’m thankful I’ve usually lived in places that have a garden or local parks and bushland to walk in. Even when I lived in a tiny flat I was still able to have a few pot plants and a terrarium for a green “fix.” I feel for the many people who don’t have that opportunity.
      I wonder what the eggs on the caterpillar were from. I’d planned to return to see if the caterpillars pupated but completely forgot about it. Given how many had parasitic eggs, I assume they wouldn’t have survived in the end. I never tire of the colourful tree resins I see. That bright red one was a first for me. It really glittered in the sunlight and the crumbled portions on the ground looked like gem stones.
      Even though I enjoy the company of others, it is usually easier to spot wildlife on one’s own although my eyes aren’t so great these days. This can result in me and the creature getting quite a fright. More so me if it’s a snake! Anyway, thanks for taking the time to read and comment on my blog. I appreciate your kind words. Best wishes. 🙂

    • Thank you, fellow nerd! 🙂 It’s a very special club to be part of, hey? Maybe we need a few more politicians who are nature nerds… Best wishes! 🙂

    • Thanks very much, Michael. 🙂 Yes, I can tell from the Mt Gravatt Environmental blog how much you enjoy spending time in the natural world. I and many others really appreciate the time and effort that you and other volunteers put into protecting the area and in educating the public about the local flora and fauna. Thanks so much for all your hard work and your passion. I must get back to the area again now that it’s winter. I remember that many of the native species flower in the cooler months. I’ve still not explored all the trails. Best wishes. 🙂

  7. I would much rather be nerdy than otherwise! My walks are usually accompanied by other people who are much less interested in the treasures I find than I am. I’m always getting left behind and have to photograph at speed, which isn’t the best way of recording wildlife. All our neighbours have dogs or cats and the cats spend a lot of their time in our garden which annoys me quite a bit.
    What a shame it is that your neighbourhood is being ‘developed’. Even if the developers are environmentally aware and try to reinstate some kind of green area the damage has been done and the diversity has disappeared for good.
    Your photographs are beautiful and absolutely fascinating. I am glad you are making a record of all the wildlife species you see on your walks. That information should be invaluable to those who oppose any over-development.
    I hope you are well.
    Best wishes and love, Clare xx

    • Hi Clare!
      I read your comment quickly this morning but have been out all day and unable to type out a reply until now. I was actually on a mountain getting so distracted by taking nature shots on my own that I missed a sharp turn and ended up completely on the other side of the peak to where I was supposed to be!! This meant a hasty retreat back to where I was supposed to turn off, and later, a rapid walk down the mountain to get to the carpark before dark. I had a headlamp and spare batteries but after my last adventure walking on paths criss-crossed by tree roots in a rainforest, and given the track was narrow and a bit wet, I didn’t want to risk it. On this occasion, I probably took my nerdy traits to a dangerous level. One needs to concentrate on walking in the right direction on mountains! 🙂 Anyway, I am home safely now so no harm done, except for a racing heart…
      It can be hard when you are with others and don’t feel you can take the time to get a shot you really want. Macro shots of fungi, flowers and insects are particularly hard to do quickly and of course it can take patience and quietness to watch for and capture bird images. Hurrying to catch up to your walking companions doesn’t make that easy, that’s for sure! If only we lived near each other and could go on a slow walk together. We may never get very far but we’ll have plenty of pictures and memories!
      While I am living here, I will keep recording the species I see at White Rock. Thank you for all your lovely words of encouragement as usual, Clare. You are always so very kind. Best wishes and love to you as well. xox

      • Thank-you, Jane. I have been off-line for a few days and am (yet again) trying to catch up (my life story!). I am glad you managed to get back to the car before dark. I have often become so engrossed in what I’ve been watching that I’ve wandered off the path and it can be quite a worry until I recognise where I’ve got too! No mountains here in the flat(ish)lands to get stranded on though! What a pleasure it would be to walk with you and spend time looking at the little details that I miss when marching along with my family! ‘Where’s Mum?’ ‘She’s taking pictures of weeds again!’ xox

  8. I’m glad you walk at a slow pace Jane. These photos are amazing. Their clarity and the detail you capture with them is really enjoyable. I know that feeling of being excited about seeing something in nature and just wanting to share it, and yes, with full expectation others will be equally excited. I’ve never thought of it as nerdy, though. More as, appreciative and closely connected with the wonder of nature. Thanks for an enjoyable post.

    • Hi Gail,
      Thanks for those encouraging words about my photography. I’m gradually improving over time but birds are still a big challenge for me. I’m just not quick enough. Things that don’t move are much easier. 🙂 One day I might actually work out how to use the spot tracker feature correctly. I’m thankful that due to personal circumstances, I was able to be my children’s school teacher. We lived in rural and remote areas and I would often conduct a “class” on daily walks. Sharing nature discoveries with my young ones was always a joy. We didn’t have access to TV channels or Internet for 5 years so our outdoor adventures were the most exciting aspects of our lives for a while. I have wonderful memories of that time with them. I’m glad you enjoy and appreciate the wonders of nature too. Thanks very much, Gail, for reading and for your continued support. Best wishes. 🙂

  9. Your first caterpillar pictures are just amazing, it’s the first time I see this species!! I’ve never even seen the moth. The park looks amazing and the golden hour seems the perfect time to visit these rocks!

    • Hi Gin!
      It’s lovely to hear from you and thanks for the encouraging words about the shots. I’d never seen those caterpillars before either and I can’t remember ever seeing the moth it turns into. I didn’t get very far on my walk as they were just near the carpark. I wish I’d gone back to look for cocoons. White Rock is one of those under-valued spots. It needs to be seen in different seasons and at different times of the day to really appreciate its beauty. As I’ve also written, much more can be seen if one walks slowly and looks rather than madly dashing to get the walk finished. I’m very fond of the area. I hope you are doing well and enjoying plenty of adventures still. I’m sorry I’ve not been blog hopping much these days. I’ve been trying to get myself a bit more organised in life to do other things and we also had a wedding in the family. Best wishes. 🙂

    • Thank you very much, Agness. White Rock Conservation Estate is not very well known and at first glance walkers may think there is not much wildlife to see but I hoped by sharing these pictures others would be able to appreciate what can be found if you just go slowly and look carefully. Best wishes. 🙂

    • Thanks, Marylou. You are kind. It’s easy to take pictures of caterpillars and trees as they don’t move fast. Birds are a different story though. They are often far too quick for me. Often I don’t notice them in the foliage until they fly away. I have hundreds of blurry shots! I hope you have a lovely weekend. Thanks for reading and commenting. Best wishes. 🙂

  10. I consider myself more of a weirdo but I guess a nerd is quite similar – again, we have so much in common! Ha ha We are intrigued by so many of the same things. I found those bleeding tree trunks quite interesting. And the caterpillars in a bag? We have something we call bag worms here. They don’t harm anything but the tree. Which reminds me, I saw an infestation on my young pear trees this morning while feeding Emma and Ronnie their morning apples and blackberries. I need to get out there with my pruners and cut the limb and torch the worms. They spread like wildfire this time of year!
    Thanks for the usual belly laughing… as you know I have a strange sense of humor!

    • Wierd? Now that’s another description I’ve been given, Lori. Haha. Then there is strange, odd etc. One of my children told me I am like Hermione from Harry Potter when I get all caught up in facts about nature. Given that her character was rather popular with readers I am going to try to take it as a compliment. I can’t say my nerdy/weirdo ways ever made me popular at school! I’m delighted to read of similarities I may have with you, Lori, as I really admire you. You are a pretty amazing human being. I remember reading that you have bag worms there and that you need to prune the trees. The bag moth caterpillar here can eat a lot of leaves but since they seem to only feed on abundant native species that aren’t used for food sources, they aren’t something that is usually controlled. As I wrote though, they can be a problem for pregnant mares and some owners attempt to kill nests on their properties. Their hairs are also very irritating so people avoid touching them. I often see their long processionary trails on walks. It is interesting to see what happens when something interrupts their line, such as being run over by a car or bike wheel. Sometimes they get so confused the caterpillars form a spiral pattern and can’t seem to continue on. I imagine your bag worms could cause a huge mess of your fruit trees. I’m glad our caterpillars leave orchards alone. I wouldn’t like to have to deal with the hairy creatures! 🙂
      Thanks so much for hanging in there reading and commenting on my blog. Your encouragement is so kind. I struggle to get back to it these days and have not been actively reading other blogs. I had big personal and working plans for this year and haven’t yet achieved them. It’s a work in progress… xx

      • I completely understand. I’ve been absent a lot this summer. A stress fracture to my right foot has me taking it easy… meanwhile nothing gets done in our pecan orchard. Oh well, everything is as it should be, right? I think of you often, Jane. We share a special connection with nature. And… of course I’m addicted to reading your humorous stories! 😀

        • Oh dear, sorry to read about your foot. There is nothing you can really do but not use it much and give it time to heal which must be frustrating for you as I know you always have so much to do. I’ve always been a planner/dreamer. Being still when there is so much that I feel needs doing/changing is a challenge for me. I guess that’s why walks in nature can be calming. Watching all the creatures and plants go through life cycles keeps my busy state of mind in check I think. I hope that foot heals soon! 🙂

  11. A kaleidoscope of colourful images Jane, great stuff. My son says the same kind of thing as Tough Cookie, constantly. Apparently my even speaking to strangers is a cause of much embarrassment, lol. Wear your nature nerd badge proudly!

    • Thanks, Rob. It’s surprisingly what can be found at White Rock. Unfortunately, the entrance road into the conservation estate has been fenced/gated off for a while due to a housing development bordering it. I’ve no idea when I’ll be able to have access again. I miss walking there. Haha…yes, children of a certain age do tend to find their parents’ conversations with strangers very embarrassing. I must admit that I sometimes enjoy their discomfort. I’m a bad mum. 😉 I’ve just got back from a trip in NSW – inland and on the coast. It was brief but lovely. Best wishes! 🙂

    • Thanks very much. I’m glad you appreciated the delights of White Rock. I’ve just got back from a trip away from Internet but have looked at your hike as requested. It looks like there are some wonderful places to explore in Hong Kong. I’ve never been. Thanks for sharing your adventures in your blog. Lovely work. Best wishes. 🙂

  12. Hi Jane, Perhaps you will want to add a field guide for butterflies, moths and caterpillars to your hiking kit as a result of your recent experiences at White Rock.
    I hope your dedicated documenting of the creatures and plants which can be found in the White Rock Reserve will contribute to its ongoing preservation in the face of encroaching development.

    • Hi Margaret, You’ve read my mind about the lepidoptera field guide. I will add it to my wish list of books. There is a beautiful new field guide to Australian spiders out now which I would love to have as well. I find trying to identify them by googling a little frustrating. I recently returned to White Rock and the entrance road was still fenced/gated off due to nearby construction of a housing development. I don’t know how long access will be blocked. While driving there I saw several pet cats wandering the street near the borders of the conservation estate. That was one of my major concerns about a development being right at the edge of the estate. I hope the local council will eventually change its rules to limit the roaming of cats as they kill so many birds, reptiles and small mammals. Thank you for reading and commenting again, Margaret. I appreciate your thoughts. I hope you’re not freezing down there. I was recently visiting the NSW coast near Coff’s Harbour and it was quite chilly. In the west, Glenn Innes dropped to -4C while I was passing through. A little different to Brisbane weather. Best wishes. 🙂

  13. Ah, Joseph’s coat. From the pictures of the caterpillar I’d have expected a popular name with zebra in it, but I can see how the variegated adult calls up fantasies of Joseph’s coat.

    Your “curiosity-induced snail pace” mirrors my photographic one. I sometimes go on organized field trips because the leaders can identify so many things, but almost from the get-go I fall behind because I stop to take pictures.

    • Hi Steve,
      Yes, the striped caterpillars do suggest a zebra -inspired name don’t they? I find it interesting how different the larval patterns can be to those of the adults. The colours and patterns of some caterpillars resemble the adults closely while others look vastly different. The colour and patterns of butterfly chrysalids surprise me as well. The common crow butterfly is black and white but its chrysalis is a beautiful silver. When I first saw one many years ago I was slightly disappointed to discover the resulting adult wasn’t quite so glamorous!
      Ah, Steve, it seems we share the honour of usually being the last in a group of walkers. The combination of curiosity and wanting to capture images makes being a straggler a compulsory state for me. I am happy to share that status with you. 🙂
      Thanks for taking the time to read my blog and comment despite my long absences from the WordPress community. I appreciate every comment you make. I hope all is going smoothly for you there? Best wishes. 🙂

      • Yes, all’s well. Eve and I have been on two big trips already in 2017: four weeks in NZ, then after a bit of recovery and an 8-day trip to the central part of the United States, followed by another pause, 3 additional weeks on the road in the United States. Next week we’ll celebrate our 30th anniversary. Woo hoo!

        • You have been busy! How wonderful that you’ve had so many trips, especially the return to New Zealand which I know you enjoyed so much last time. I managed a short trip (4 days) in New South Wales recently and visited a few new spots which I will eventually share in my blog. Congratulations on your upcoming anniversary! Thirty years is certainly cause for celebration. I hope you share many more years together, Steve. 🙂

          • Thanks, Jane.

            Good to hear you made at least a short trip to NSW and accumulated enough (many? a great many? too many?) photographs to eventually put together some posts about it.

            A recent American television series about the history of the earth included a few looks at your Karijini National Park. I was immediately smitten and would love to visit there, but it’s so remote, and accommodations beyond simple camping are expensive during the cooler months. Have you ever been there? If not, is it on your list of places you’d like to visit?

            • Haha…the answer to your first question is far too many photographs. On each walk I decide I am going to be sensible about taking shots as I really don’t have much storage space left on my laptop or external hard drive and I am very indecisive about what photographs to include in a blog post. I usually fail at adhering to this plan though. That’s another reason why it takes me so long to finish a blog post these days.

              Onto your second question. I’ve never been to Karijini National Park but I can understand why you would become smitten with it. It is a spectacular area. I would also love to visit the region however with it being in a remote area of Western Australia it is a little tricky, and as you say, accommodation is expensive if you don’t camp. There are similar beautiful areas to visit in WA and some of these may be easier to access. I’ll ask some friends about it. I’ve never been to Western Australia but have more opportunities to travel in the next couple of years. There is magnificent coastline as well. I’m sure you and Eve would love exploring the state. The condition of inland roads can vary a great deal which affects access particularly in the wet season. I hope you are able to make it over here. Your camera would love the colours and the geological features of the landscape. 🙂

  14. Wow Jane, you’ve really got into your bird photography with your new camera since I was last regularly blogging and reading blogs. Some fantastic spots there. I’m jealous! And how beautiful are those caterpillars! I have just started to pay attention to insects. I’ve been very impressed by the colourful caterpillars I’ve seen on the River Lilies in my backyard – they make a mess of the plants but the caterpillars themselves are so decorative! I believe they share a latin name with the River Lilies “Crinum”. Looking at your beautiful pictures has reminded me to pay more attention to this kind of thing. Looking forward to reading more about your hikes!

    • Hi! It’s lovely to hear from you. I, too, have been largely absent from the blogging world this year. I have hundreds of photos sitting on my hard drive though. I will get around to sharing them eventually…I hope. Life is very full right now.
      I love this new camera. I still haven’t learnt how to use many of its features but considering how cheap it was and my lack of technical expertise, I am delighted with what it can do. Birds which were once just a blur in the distance, I am now able to identify. It’s got a great built in zoom.
      I think starting this blog forced me to slow down and find small things to photograph because many of the local walks aren’t very scenic. It’s mainly dry bushland. Much of White Rock is not very interesting at first glance but things like these caterpillars and little birds can be found when walking at a snail pace. The thing I like about insects is they tend to be easier to photograph than birds, which peek at me from behind branches and grass stalks or fly off just as I focus on them. I have many shots of fluffy rumps! I suspect they enjoy teasing me sometimes. I think I remember reading your entertaining blog post about removing orchard swallowtail caterpillars from your trees? They were prolific here also but for some reason have disappeared this year. It’s amazing how quickly they can strip a tree in large numbers. I hope you continue to enjoy your own adventures too. I’m jealous of your backyard productivity. Mine has been quite neglected for a long while. The mosquitoes and midges usually drive me indoors. Thanks very much for reading and for your encouraging comments. I always appreciate your feedback, Nic. Best wishes. 🙂

  15. What an amazingly informative post, but I’ll have to re-read it to take in all the information.

    Would you believe I have my Australian Bird Guide open at the wren page right before I started reading this post. The first wren photo is of the female Splendid Fairy Wren I believe. The blue headed one below it is the male.

    I will keep this post book-marked so I can finish reading it another day. It is sooooo long, but utterly fascinating.

    (Note: thanks for ‘liking’ my recent post. I accidentally wiped out all the blogs l follow a few months ago when unwell and its only if one of these bloggers ‘likes’ or ‘comments’ on my own blog that I’ve been able to use the link and re-follow them. I should just have un-ticked ‘receive email notifications’ when I was ill, not deleted the whole list. So now I’m re-connected with you as I couldn’t remember your blog’s name).

    • Hi Vicki,
      Thanks very much for commenting. I haven’t been regularly reading blogs this year as I have had a lot of family and other activities happening and my life is in transition. I’m still occasionally blogging when I can though. I was considering visiting Melbourne again later this year and wondered how you were going so checked in on your blog. I was extremely pleased to see you are still sharing your wonderful pictures. Please forgive me for not keeping track of what’s been happening in your life. I do hope you are doing ok despite your tiring and painful health conditions.
      Yes, the blog post is verrrrrry long. I guess I am trying to make up for having posted very little this year. 🙂
      I thought the blue headed one was a superb fairy wren at first as well but the little bit of red had me checking my book again to find the shape of the blue was different. I get quite confused by the transition stages of the wren males when they are juveniles or not in breeding season. They can vary so much. I’m sure many of the birds in the past that I thought were superb fairy wrens could have been the variegated species, especially when all I see is often a splash of blue.
      I was going to put my blog on private temporarily for personal reasons but then I discovered by doing that I would lose all my current subscribers. I wish there was a way to keep them but make my blog private sometimes. Sometimes it’s easy to press the wrong buttons as well, especially the blue “publish” one right next to my draft which is also near the save option. I would hate to accidentally publish some of my messy drafts. My eyes get tired from the computer screen these days.
      Thanks for the kind words and link you put on your blog post. I hope everything is going smoothly in your life and you continue to enjoy photography and nature. Best wishes. 🙂

      • Thanks Jane.

        I put my blog on private a couple of weeks ago to change the template and immediately had a couple of followers send me an email to be linked privately, so I realised I should have uploaded a post saying that it was temporarily going ‘private’.

        You won’t lose any subscribers by putting your blog on ‘private’….. only that no one (subscribers or not) would be able to view it, so feel free to do so. We’ll all stay linked until you are able, or feel, you want to blog publicly again.

        I’ve had severe migraine type headaches for some 6-7 months now and brain, neck & further lumbar spine MRIs which revealed a little more that I would have liked to see – further deterioration including a slipped disc in my neck (which explains the severe neck pain), let alone the 6 slipped discs in my lower spine making sitting for long difficult. I also am having trouble with viewing the computer screen.

        Some results from Path. tests still to come.

        Take care of you and don’t worry about blogging or returning comments. Best Wishes Vicki x

        • Thanks for the information about the subscriber situation if I need to go private for a while. I must have read the information wrongly.
          I’m so very sorry to read about the further deterioration of your spine and other increasing problems. It sounds horrible. How frustrating for you. I wish I could help in some way. Chronic pain and physical incapacity is so draining. I don’t know how you keep going. All the best, Vicki. xx

  16. Pingback: FOR THE LOVERS OF AUSTRALIAN BIRDS & INSECTS……. | Living with Nature

    • Hi Paol,
      Lovely to hear from a new reader. Thanks very much for your enthusiastic response. I’m not blogging much these days but there are quite a few old posts in the archives. Hopefully, I’ll get myself organised to write something new again soon. I’m pleased there is something on my site that appeals to you. Best wishes. 🙂

  17. Great read!!! Live the hiking tale 🙂 I gave ya a follow. I have a few hiking tales myself you might enjoy, would appreciate the follow back. But otherwise thanks for the tips and story 🙂

    • Hi Zane and Evelyn, Thanks for reading, commenting and following! I checked out your blog and am pleased to follow. What great adventures you are having and I’m so them you are able to experience them despite your fading sight. I hope if anyone reads this comment they will also take the time to check out https://fadestoblack.wordpress.com/
      If anyone wants inspiration and encouragement to travel and appreciate life I’m sure they will find it on your blog. Beautiful photos and entertaining writing. Thanks very much for sharing your enthusiasm for life. All the best! 🙂

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