Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Friday, November 30, 2007

Snake, Dog Haircuts, and a big, big Fly

Thursday 29 November was a day of varied interests and activities. There was a male Satin Bowerbird calling actively, near its display "bower" in George's yard. It was carrying something in its beak, which I cannot identify. Presumably it is part of its "display" routine. Pardon the poor quality image, but it was photographed at long range, through a pane of glass. It is rare to get a chance to photograph a "blue bird" as they are pretty secretive. So this one, with some display material in its beak was definitely worth trying to record.
As you will know, I seldom publish photographs of "road kills". The following snake images are published not for "ghoulish" interest, but for educational purposes. It is to show that local Copperheads (a terrible misnomer, by the way) are distinguished by their small heads (relative to body size); the yellowish scales underneath, which can usually be glimpsed along the side of the snake, (i.e., when the snake is live, and normally lying flat on the ground). In the first image you can see the edges of the belly scales visible on the side, along the first one third of the body length. In the local Robertson Copperheads, the back (upper side of the snake) is usually a dark slatey grey, which is NOT SHINY. In the Southern Highlands, if you have a shiny "black" snake, it is likely to be a Red-bellied Black Snake.

Firstly, I discovered that a Copperhead Snake had managed to get itself run over in George's driveway. Seeing as the driveway is very short, and steep, (therefore it is a slow speed driveway) the Snake frankly must have been pretty careless in getting itself run over. I am sure my friend George is a careful driver (and unlike many locals, he respects Snakes), so the snake was probably killed by being backed over, at about 5kph, as George reversed out of his garage, and up the steep drive. As I said, probably a careless snake.

Then I went over to Steve and Celeste's place, to try and clip Lena, the Mini Schnauzer, and Edith, the Poodle Dog. We had some problems, as the clippers were not very sharp, and when we tried to change the blades, we could not get the new ones to "click into place" (as they are supposed to do). And the blades on my clippers are in need of sharpening, or replacing.
Anyway, Lena eventually got more or less "pruned". Edith got "Poodle Toes" (clipping around the feet, up to the ankles), and had her muzzle shaved. Suddenly she looked more like a"proper poodle". There had been some debate as to what her real breeding was, as she looks quite like a Bedlington Terrier, we think.
After the grooming session, both dogs went a bit crazy, dancing around, with Edie nipping at Lena's feet, or her bottom. Lena would then retaliate, and chase Edie, and so it would go on, round and round. Their "play" was quite good natured, despite appearances. Eventually we separated the dogs, just so Lena could rest in the car, free from hassles.Their chosen "playground" was an area of excavated Robertson red basalt soil, where Celeste and Steve are building a new studio. You can see why both dogs need the have their hairy feet trimmed, to minimise the amount of red dirt which they collect on their feet.

Earlier in the afternoon I took the opportunity to photograph a very large March Fly which was inside a window. From the look of this fly, it is what I would have called a March Fly. But the Museum Australia website indicates that this might be an Eastern Golden Haired Blowfly, Calliphora stygia (Family Calliphoridae).
From the underside you can see the huge mouth piece. True March Flies, (or Horse Flies) can inflict a painful bite with their mouths.
The Chew Family's website (from Brisbane) indicates it might in fact be a "Flower-feeding March Fly", not the blood sucker I had assumed. Either way, with the large mouthpiece, I would not trust this fly not to be a stinger. But, I am not an entomologist.

Incidentally, the silhouette photo shows remarkable detail of the legs and feet, the two antennae on the front of the head, and the wing pattern. (Click to enlarge).

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