the garden as habitat


Sometimes the camera picks up what the eye doesn't notice. In this case, the bee harvesting pollen from a lavender flower is rolling the pollen into a ball and holding it between its lower legs.


Dragonflies inhabit the garden but are hard to photograph because of their size and shimmer. This photo, a bit hard to see, shows two dragonflies mating. They were there for about a quarter of an hour. You can see the so-called 'mating wheel' formed when the male dragonfly grasps the female's neck with his hisanal appendages, raises his abdomen and invites the female to bend her abdomen to join her genital organ with his copulating organ. 


This dragonfly conveniently posed for me, when the light was right. You can tell it's a dragonfly not a damselfly because at rest the wings are held apart, not together. Dragonflies are described as aquatic insects. I'm not sure how they manage in my garden without a pond, but they do.





Summer's here, and Magpies and other birds depend on the birdbath for their daily drink and wash. I have to remember to change the water every day and scrub it out so it's clean.



I spend quite a bit of time trying to photograph spider webs. It's difficult, so much depends on the light. Rain presented an opportunity, glistening drops highlighting the pattern. This huge web in the front garden was spun by a teeny tiny unidentified spider. The web is so strong, it sways in the strong wind but doesn't break. The tensile strength of a spider web is comparable to steel.


This magnificent small spider is a Garden Orb-weaving spider, aka Eriophora biapicata. I observed it in the back garden above a wallflower bush, aka Cheiranthus cheiri. The web is usually constructed in the evenings, designed to catch its prey of mostly flying insects. The lifespan of this spider is usually about a year. The eggs are laid by the female in late summer to autumn. They are encased in a sticky cocoon that sticks to foliage. I have noticed these eggs in the garden, and try not to disturb them.

While taking the photo of the spider, I noticed a dragonfly hanging off a branch of the C. cheiri bush. It is clearly a useful plant for providing habitat for insects and spiders. And it isn't even a native of Australia! It's European, but has made itself at home here, and survives hot dry summers with no extra water.

So, although I am still trying to use plants endemic to this area, I won't exclude plants like this Wallflower that grows well and provides habitat for wildlife.

Comments

  1. Wonderful web in your garden! I love the delicate picture of the dragonfly and even the brutal magpies on your birdbath look pretty.

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  2. Your photos are just magnificent. Those spider web shots are brilliant. It's amazing isn't it when we actually slow down, take the time and really look around our gardens. I'm always amazed at the life out there, some of which I only notice when I look at certain photos close up!!!!

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  3. I love that first photo with the rolled pollen. So nice to see what actually goes on in our gardens in more detail. Thanks for sharing.

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  4. I think its wonderful when wildlife moves into our gardens, it shows we are doing something right. Years ago, early one morning in the summer, I saw a dragonfly larva climb up an iris stalk and proceed to turn into a dragonfly. The skin split and it took about1/2 an hour for it to emerge as a beautiful dragonfly. I woke my husband and we sat watching it - wonderful!

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  5. Isn't it amazing what we can find in the garden when we plant a habitat and spend time in that habitat. I think that is what I miss the most in winter....the critters who are mostly sleeping except for some birds and mammals. Wonderful pictures!

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  6. himself was watering today, and a lizard was enjoying his shower.

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    1. how wonderful, it has been a couple of years since I have seen the little skink who frequented the garden, and there have been no other reptiles before or since.

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  7. At first I mistook the spider web for a web of tiny lights you had strung in the garden! It is wonderful to observe even the tiniest forms of wildlife. I also have dragonflies in my garden without a pond, though I do have several birdbaths.

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    1. It's a bit of a mystery, I don't think birdbaths would be suitable for laying eggs in and hatching into larvae.

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  8. The bejewelled spider webs are absolutely beautiful - well done for getting such good pics. I think spiders are one of my favourite inhabitants of my garden, so many different ones, and I become very protective of them. Weeks of rain have turned my Secret Garden into a wilderness and as everything is overgrown, the name is becoming quite apt.

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    1. it sounds divine - I wish I could train the spiders in my garden not to build their webs over the paths. It's so easy to not notice them until you've torn them by walking through them.

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  9. Great shots. I wish I could lure a bird to my bird bath, I've not had any takers yet!

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    1. I think if you have the right sorts of plantings they will come. Or they'll just come if they're thirsty. Good luck, it is a joy when they do come. (Of course, they're like children, know what they want and do what they want ... lol)

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  10. Very educational. I didn't know any of the differences between dragonflies and damsel flies. Magnificent spider web!

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  11. They're amazing photos of your spider's webs and of the magpies, Sue. It doesn't happen very much that people regard their gardens as refuges any more ( if they're not designer makeovers or productive farms or downright neglected ), so it's always good to visit yours, where I get a real sense of care.

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    1. I think the tide is starting to turn a bit. I've noticed two workshops in the last week on habitat gardening, one run by Boroondara Council and the other by Sustainable Gardening Australia.

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  12. My garden functions as a wildlife refuge first and foremost. Every plant choice I make has to revolve around their needs. Because to have a garden without wildlife feels selfish and pointless - the ultimate in human arrogance. Lovely photos. :o)

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    1. It is weird to me too to think of a garden as purely decorative, instead of as an ecosystem. It's what makes gardening so exciting and rewarding, too.

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