Murder Birds And Yellow Spiders

The Australian murder bird, also known by the more pedestrian common names of bush stone curlew/bush thick knee, is a medium sized generalist predator. Once common throughout Australia they have become rare and are considered endangered in the south. In direct contrast, we have three currently using our overgrown yard - and while I enjoy their presence, I worry that they're stripping the garden bare of other critters I like having around.

They move with a scuttling-zippy gait, pausing to stretch out their elongated necks to snap up tasty morsels in their spear like beak. Huge eyes give away their penchant for nocturnal activity - in saying that though, we often see them hunting throughout the day.

But why "Murder Bird"?.

Well, it all comes down to the unholy racket they make - usually in the dead of night - that sounds for all the world as though bloody murder is taking place uncomfortably close to the back door!.

Despite the slightly uncharitable moniker - these birds are very timid. They tend to 'freeze' if disturbed, relying on their drab mottled camouflage for protection. However, they are fast on their 'feet' and capable of powerful flight, so in a pinch - they have options.

Burhinus grallarius

In this second shot - the bird simply froze - great news if you're trying to get a pic eh?

All in all it's been quite interesting round the joint of late.

We had another juv water python on the porch, the sunbirds are once more raising a chick and we had a visit from a Torres strait pigeon - who didn't stay long, but it was nice to see him all the same.

In the wider world, Australian politicians are once more showing us why voting is a waste of a perfectly good Saturday (apparently there's some kind of coup involving the P.M).

... Speaking of blood sucking parasites, this Gecko has some, that on a healthy reptile probably don't pose much of a threat, but if the animal becomes heavily infested (Acariasis), serious health problems and even death can result.

This is a particular problem for reptile keepers - but good husbandry and hygiene will minimise the risk to pets (NOTE: reptile mites do not transfer to humans).

Mites on the toes of this gravid house gecko

Another, also with a mite

Now, as I'm sure you are aware mites are Arthropods as of course are spiders - and the following spider takes cryptic coloration to a whole new level.

At the old place I got a pic or two of a white flower spider - this afternoon, I managed some of it's cousin - the yellow flower spider (Diaea sp).

I noticed a dart butterfly (A.K.A skippers), laying in an unusual fashion on a flower ... upon closer inspection I spied two or three spiky limbs projecting from under the butterfly, it was pretty clear what the story was ... but the spiders camouflage was/is faultless.

The other spiders in the pics are, I assume, it's young - as I was watching, another came along and attacked the spiderling on the larger spiders abdomen ... the victim slowly crumpled into a ball - presumably quite dead, (and you thought you didn't get along with your siblings).

The adult spider will stay on that flower until it, (the flower) wilts and dies. After which it'll move on to the next 'live' flower - it'll not share with other spiders (flower spiders are understandably territorial - after all, a flower isn't a whole lot of real-estate is it?).

This is what convinced me that the smaller spiders are probably her progeny - she completely ignored them, even when one fed by her 'mouth' from the same insect.

This blue banded bee had best mind out eh?

As should this dart butterfly

Another spider, the green jumping spider has taken to a shelter on the leaf of a frangipani plant ... but why? As far as I know it's a male - does the female lay and the male guards?. Is he being a cannibal? - Just today I noted a female in the same type of structure, (no pic unfortunately) - and no male in sight? - gotta love the little mysteries eh?

 Mopsus mormon

Our next critter is no mystery at all, except in-so-much that I haven't died from a heart attack when it silently lands nearby and then cranks out the second most annoying sound I have ever been subjected to, (the first most annoying can be heard during parliament question time) ...

The magpie-lark is 'common', but they have so much character that, aside from the bloody noise they make, they're a laugh to have around. Generally curious and brave, they swoop and strut around the place peering into every nook and cranny getting increasingly cranky and querulous for reasons known only to themselves.

Grallina cyanoleuca (F)

And just to round out this post - here is the last pic I took in 2014 ... while the other juv Boiga (second pic), slipped inside and took up residence atop a curtain next to the bed - collecting a cob web or two along the way :)

The ant gives a bit of scale eh?

Bootlace sized snake over-looked our bed

Well, that's about it, I hope your year is shaping up to be a good one and all is well ...

So 'till next time, take care - Paul :)

Bush Stone-curlews (Burhinus grallarius) have suffered major declines and a contraction of their range across southern Australia. A total of 414 records of Bush Stone-curlews was obtained for South Australia, from the late 1880s through to 1995. Early records were widespread across the state. By 1940, however, the decline of Stone-curlews was evident, and by 1980 there were few records on the mainland, with most remaining records coming from Kangaroo Island. ^


  1. OMG -
    The photos of the yellow spider are amazing -
    Love your posts :D

  2. Cheers Linda - glad ya like 'em :)


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