Sunday, September 26, 2010

Sunday Swan Watch VIII: Substitute Cute and Little Monsters.

Well thank goodness our internet service came back to normal at midnight last night.

Unfortunately, Oz doesn’t have many ISP companies and one of the ways they have come up with charging more than you should have to pay is by putting a download limit on your account. They have ‘better’ (read more expensive) accounts that have faster access and larger download limits. Deb and I have a middle range account for which we pay $79 per month. In the past the 25 gigabyte download limit was more than we ever needed (our connection isn’t fast enough for movies etc). Recently however Lu our youngest, discovered online Anime and Manga and has been pulling down so much she has used our quota.

Fortunately, there is a little more competition creeping in to the system and we will shortly (when our current contract expires) switch to another provider who will give us nearly ten times the limit for almost the same money ($89/month).

Now to the Swans, once again I have had no luck in my hunt for them. They seem to be amazingly mobile and there is quite a large area they can use. Thinking about it I guess this behaviour would be a defence mechanism to protect the cygnets. If the parents keep them moving they would be less likely to come to the attention of a predator than if they remain stationary.

As my title suggests I caught some other cute young things to share as a substitute for swanlings.

Ducklings!Two female chestnut teals have some brand new ducklings down on one of the ponds the swans call home. Unusually the two mothers seem to be sharing a single brood of eight ducklings.

Here is one of the females nervously eyeing me. They tried to urge the babies away but the ducklings are so new (I guess only hatched a day or two ago) that they weren’t very good at listening to either of their mothers.

Rather they were excitedly dabbling around in the water.I was able to get close enough to get some lovely shots with my telephoto lens.The mothers fussed around trying to lead the babies to the safety of some of the reed beds.Finally, they got the message through to the babies and the whole flotilla steamed away from me.Not far away Io pointed out something she has found recently.
A bull ant nest, not all that long ago I posted a piccie of a bull ant and recounted an anecdote about jumping around with one up my pants.

I guess I must be a glutton for punishment because I went close to get some shots. Bull ants are amazingly aggressive, but it was quite cold so they weren’t moving very quickly.

These guys are a black species (the last one I photographed was from a red species). They are huge, nearly as long as my thumb. These photos aren’t crystal clear because I wasn’t getting very close (they have a nasty sting) but I was happy enough to post them.
In the above photo you can see how large their mandibles are. They can give nasty bite, but their real weapon is their sting.

In these couple you can see how glossy black their abdomens are. Then I noticed if you look closely (I’ve blown it up so you can see) you can see me reflected in the shine as I take the pic.Now I promised Cockatoos and Parrots before my internet went on the blink so they will be my next post (assuming nothing else goes wrong).


Piedmont Writer said...

When I had "my" swans, I noticed they had two nests, one on each side of the pond, they were always moving the cygnets.

Those ducklings are the cutest. And those ants, OMG, now I know why you call it Oz.

Old Kitty said...

Baby ducklings are just as cute!! Of course they are - look at them and their complete floofiness ! LOL!! Awwww they're lovely and the mums aren't so bad looking themselves - sleek and very special!

And thank you for these amazing ant shots!! My goodness!! I love that reflection of you on one of the ant's abdomen - that's amazing!

Glad you're all back with us now in blogworld!! Take care

Marguerite said...

I couldn't imagine being limited with my internet service! Great shots of the darling ducklings, and the giant ants! They look like something out of a science fiction movie. lol

Amanda said...

Oh I love that you can get so close with your camera and get the fuzzy details. I love how their hair just shoots straight out.

Lisa said...

Those ducklings are adorable. What a juxtaposition with the ants!

Shellie said...

I don't envy you those ants, but they do look beautiful. We have fire ants here in Florida and their bites are nasty, but I imagine the bull ants' bites are worse.

Love the pictures of the swans. Thanks for sharing. I do take the convenient of the Internet for granted. Technology is grand and I'm glad more competition is heading your way.

Alyssa Goodnight said...

Looking forward to the cockatoos and parrots!

Those ants are HUGE! Here in Texas we're used to the teeny variety. Ironic, isn't it?

MT said...

I love these photos, and I'm amazed to see your reflection in that ant's abdomin. I wouldn't have dared to get close enough for a photo.

Myrna Foster said...

Your chestnut teals look a lot like our mallards. Thanks for the interesting photos of your ants!

Carolyn V. said...

Wow. Ants as big as your thumb? That is scary! But the teals are so cute!

Thanks for posting how the quota works. It's so fascinating to me. =)

Al said...

Hi Anne,
It’s interesting that different swan species in vastly different parts of the world seem to adopt similar tactics.
Oz it is!

Hi Jennifer,
Awwwww indeed. I was surprised when I noticed my reflection in a very unlikely spot . I’m glad to be back I was suffering blog withdrawals :-(

Hi Marguerite,
Limited internet is a pain in the proverbial. Thank goodness the bull ants aren’t quite big enough to bi in an SF movie, phew!

Hi Amanda,
Their fuzz is just sooo cute isn’t it?

Hi Lisa,
Cute as, and I thought ugly and aggressive would add balance to the post !

Hi Shellie,
They are kind if beautiful. We have fire ants in QLD now – they hopped on a ship from America.
It is a relief that we’ll be getting a bit better value for money.

Hi Alyssa,
Hopefully I will get to the parrots tomorrow.
The ants are huge indeed!
L’il ole Texas? You realise if Texas was in Oz it would be our third smallest state? :-)

Hi Michelle
I was amazed to see my reflection too. I wasn’t that close, those guys are scary!

Hi Myrna,
They do look very like mallards. They are closely related and unfortunately cross breed with escaped domestic mallards. That means our wild population is being effectively bred out.

Hi Carolyn,
Scary, especially when they get in your pants :-)
I thought the quota might be interesting a lot of people outside Oz don’t seem to have heard of it.

Michele Emrath said...

Wow. Those ants are amazing! They look huge! Brave of you to get so close...Even ants can be painful, as you can obviously attest.

You are a real tourism writer for Australia...I mean, Oz. :)


Jemi Fraser said...

Awesome pictures! :)

I've never heard of internet being provided that way. It's bizarre. Hopefully the competition will bring the prices down!

Christy Pinheiro said...

Those ducklings are terminally cute! Great piccies. (Did I spell that right?)

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

The duckling are lovely! The ants on the other hand are a bit scary...Gosh they are big!