Well, I thought I knew the answer to that. They eat fruits, nuts and nectar. However, today 3 rainbow lorikeets landed on a paperbark tree in my garden which is flowering. They ignored the flowers and started to move among the branches, looking for all the world like they were searching for food.
But what? I haven’t a clue what they were finding and eating. It looked like they were using their beaks to dig something out from under the bark. Nope, I couldn’t see what it was.
If any reader knows what they were hunting for, please share your knowledge.
What is this rainbow lorikeet looking for? The paperbark tree is actually flowering, but it is ignoring those.
The flower of Pittosporum bicolor or Banyalla, a native tree growing near the carpark on One Tree Hill.
I was walking along a track in the Dandenong Ranges National Park near Ferntree Gully when I met a couple of guys. They asked me if “there’s anything interesting to see” down the track from where I had just came. They wanted to know if there’s any interesting “scenery”, by which I thought they meant a lookout point. I said no, but there are lots of plants in flower at the moment and they might enjoy the sight. They looked nonplussed for a moment, and then turned to go back to their car.
I encounter many walkers and “tourists” in the national park. For many of them, the plants in the bush are just “background noise”, something they don’t really notice as they march up and down the tracks, seeking exercise and fresh air. They don’t see the tall, very old trees. They don’t notice the flowering wattles – or any sort of flowering plant. The occasionally encountered wallaby or echidna excites them though, but not plants. And that’s a shame.
I never used to appreciate the bush flora until I started photographing plants. Then I start to notice things. Plants growing among the rocks and nowhere else. Tiny plants hidden among the bracken and grass. Plants growing on one side of the hill but not on any other side. Flowers appearing at certain times of the year. On a fine day it’s a joy to walk off the track and wander along a hill slope, enjoying the folds of the landscape, noticing plants I have never seen before and listening to the wind rustling the leaves of the trees.
Can appreciation of the plants in the bush be somehow communicated to others, I wonder.
A very acrobatic ringtail possum.
Last year I noticed a mother ringtail possum and her 2 kids using the balcony of my house as a walkway to get to the nearest trees. They were not living in my house at that time. For a while after that I lost sight of these possums.
Last night, while I was looking out of my kitchen window, a ringtail possum walked across the window sill carrying what looked like nest-building materials wrapped in its prehensile tail. Ringtail possums are almost never found nesting in houses – they much prefer trees, so I was curious.
Next morning, I went outside and examined the walls of my house, especially the space between the top of the wall and the roof. Sure enough, there is a possum nest on top of one wall. I took out the ladder and climbed up to have a better look. There were 2 possums living in it, possibly the juveniles I saw last year. Evidently they have decided the rolled up plastic lattices I put up to prevent blackbirds from nesting there make an ideal possum nest.
You can go here to see more pictures of these cute, furry animals.
At least not when it comes to identifying that interesting plant I found during a walk in the bush. All the “official” botanical databases are still frozen in the past, with black-and-white line drawings and pictures of dried, misshapen plant specimens. Occasionally, there are tiny, badly processed photos which strain your eye just trying to make them out. Really! And plant descriptions are full of scientific jargon that ordinary folk wouldn’t know about. All I wanted was some nice, BIG pictures of plants.
There are people like me who are passionate about sharing pictures of plants in their neighbourhood. I’ve collected some of these websites and put them in the LINKS section of this blog. Check these out:
A website created by Colleen Miller
A picasaweb album created by David Francis
Now, all that needs to be done is for someone to collect all these nice, BIG pictures and put them into a botanical database. Australian National Botanic Gardens, are you listening?