Wildflowers, Frogs & Jumping Spiders in Warradarge, Western Australia

Screen Shot 2018-06-08 at 5.35.11 pmThis preciously small jumping spider was found along a fire break track that I was following during some time spent solo in the bush a couple of days ago.  There were two spotted along several kilometres.  Not sure of the identity just yet…Screen Shot 2018-06-08 at 5.35.30 pmScreen Shot 2018-06-08 at 5.36.47 pmAn unusual flower?Screen Shot 2018-06-08 at 5.37.00 pmScreen Shot 2018-06-08 at 5.36.30 pmScreen Shot 2018-06-08 at 5.37.57 pmEarly in the week to celebrate this little boys second birthday I took him to the ocean.  We also ate raspberry pancakes for lunch with maple syrup.  Mike was away for the official day but is home now and we’ll have a little party for him on Sunday with cake and his mates.  I can hardly believe that our little darling has turned two!!  Screen Shot 2018-06-08 at 5.40.45 pmFound this tiny frog in the yard today whilst mowing the lawn.Screen Shot 2018-06-08 at 5.41.02 pmAlso found this crevasse dwelling jumping spider in the grass later in the afternoon after the lawn mowing massacre.  The ground was just a scramble of insects trying to find new homes or prevent theirs from being looted by opportunists.

Home sweet home.

Screen Shot 2018-03-05 at 8.55.38 amScreen Shot 2018-03-05 at 8.56.15 amScreen Shot 2018-03-05 at 8.56.50 amScreen Shot 2018-03-05 at 8.57.03 amScreen Shot 2018-03-05 at 8.57.24 amScreen Shot 2018-03-05 at 8.57.36 amScreen Shot 2018-03-05 at 8.57.45 amScreen Shot 2018-03-05 at 8.58.21 amWe’ve been away from the farm for two weeks in New Zealand.  I’ll post more about that shortly, but for now I’d like to highlight some of the cool moments from the past few days back on the farm.

First Wesley has jumped into his groove and is a happy little chap running around playing with his bike, the chickens and swimming at the pool.

Last night we witnessed an incredibly beautiful lightning storm come through the region.  We woke this morning relieved to see that there were no lingering fires on the horizon.

I also managed to spot this rather impressive jumping spider, a female Sandalodes Superbus (Superb Jumping Spider) on the back gate of the house.

The chickens were very well taken care of during our trip, but sadly we’ve had to kill 5 roosters (saved the meat for the freezer) as they had completely destroyed several of the females.  We’ve got the numbers down so that the girls can recover and the balance of male to female will be appropriate.

We’re stoked to be home to enjoy the quiet space and the ease of life here in the country.  It’s clear to see that Wesley while he enjoyed New Zealand – loves his time here on the farm too.

On our second day home he pulled me close to him and said to me “I luh you” which oh my god I’ll never forget.  It was just so sweet and so beautiful.

Fresh Figs and a homemade chicken coop

Screen Shot 2018-02-08 at 1.46.35 pmScreen Shot 2018-02-08 at 1.46.19 pmScreen Shot 2018-02-08 at 1.45.57 pmScreen Shot 2018-02-08 at 1.42.24 pmScreen Shot 2018-02-08 at 1.43.22 pmScreen Shot 2018-02-08 at 1.44.13 pmScreen Shot 2018-02-08 at 1.44.22 pmScreen Shot 2018-02-08 at 1.45.26 pmScreen Shot 2018-02-08 at 1.47.18 pmScreen Shot 2018-02-09 at 8.24.59 amScreen Shot 2018-02-09 at 8.25.17 amThis week Mike and I passionately worked to complete our chicken complex.  The idea originally came to us when we first moved in, that summer was particularly hard for our last lot of chickens due to the sun exposure of the last pen.

We tore down the old space and placed our 16 chickens into a temporary shade sheltered pen for the past 5 months.  In the mean time Mike, Ashley and I have worked together to meticulously measure, concrete and assemble a sustainably recycled shed and pen for our little chooks.

It’s just in time as these birds will begin laying soon.

When we first got them they were teeny tiny chicks.  Wesley harassed them quite a bit with love during their time in the back porch and I was more than happy to take the chicken poop smell outside and while I can’t speak on behalf of the chicks I feel they might have been relieved to be away from prying fingers too.

This pen has ample room and a large shed for the birds to roost and lay their eggs in each day.

We’d love for them to be free range, but learned the hard way a few years back that fox and wild cats are always looking for an opportunity to get to birds left out in the open.  There is already evidence that they have tried digging and also pulling on the chicken wire.

The concept for fox proofing the space involves laying the chicken mesh in two layers about half a foot below the sand and two feet away from the structure.

Quite a bit of sweat went into this project and I think it’s one of the biggest projects we’ve undertook as a couple together.  I call it a sustainable effort because we salvaged the mesh doors and built the hut entirely from other peoples left over metal.  Pretty awesome way to recycle and save some $ too.

For now there are three roosters testing out how fox proof the space is.  Tonight is our third night and I really believe they will be safe.

The other night I heard some terrible screeching outside by a fox and took a headlamp to investigate.  I found it climbing up a fig tree!  The sound is similar to cats fighting.

Speaking of figs, we are now collecting fresh ripened figs in the quantities of about 20 a day.   It might be time to make some jam.

Also pictured:

  • 1 tiny chunky jumping spider
  • 1 large crevas dwelling jumping spider (the spider with the white line)
  • A three inch long little lizard
  • Beyond the bamboo and gumtree there was this wonderful creamy sunset.

Maratus Spider – Western Australia

Maratus Jumping Spiders Western AustraliaMaratus Jumping Spiders Western AustraliaMaratus Jumping Spiders Western Australia MaleMaratus Jumping Spiders Western Australia MaleMaratus Jumping Spiders Western Australia MaleMaratus Jumping Spiders Western Australia FemaleMaratus Jumping Spiders Western Australia FemaleMaratus Jumping Spiders Western Australia FemaleMaratus Jumping Spiders Western Australia FemaleScreen Shot 2017-12-29 at 8.34.36 amScreen Shot 2017-12-29 at 8.34.48 amScreen Shot 2017-12-29 at 8.34.59 amScreen Shot 2017-12-29 at 8.35.12 amScreen Shot 2017-12-29 at 8.35.28 amScreen Shot 2017-12-29 at 8.34.29 amScreen Shot 2017-12-29 at 8.36.40 amScreen Shot 2017-12-29 at 8.37.18 amScreen Shot 2017-12-29 at 8.37.33 am

These are some of the exquisite spiders and insects that we’ve found around the home over the past couple of weeks.  The Maratus spiders shown are both male and female (the first 9 images).  What’s interesting about them is right now they are out an about in the natural world – where as many of the species are untraceable at this time of year.

We ask ourselves – why is this particular species active?   I’ve spent the past few weeks observing the yard at all times of day and found something of a patterned emerging.  Only after the sun began to lower, and the time beyond 3.30pm would I ever spot the Maratus.

The large orange wasp, stings her prey and creates a tomb like space for the creature to lay dormant and become host to her offspring.  Many jumping spiders become entombed and it’s no wonder they are hard to find when it is warm and the wasps most active.

Mike helped me out with spotting and found the female Maratus which is so small that when you take a photo and blink – if she’s moved it’s quite challenging to locate her again.

Lucky for us all – the temperatures here have been mild (mid to low 30’s) and the breeze cool.  Summer so far has been wonderfully warm.

Do you have spiders in your yard? 

I’ve read recently that jumping spiders are the most common across the planet.

Point Louise, Greenhead Western Australia

Western Australian WeevilWestern Australian GrasshopperGreenhead Western Australia RedterrainYellow Flowers Greenhead Western AustraliaLimestone Lichen Greenhead Western AustraliaWhite Sand Dunes Greenhead Western AustraliaCoastal Flower Greenhead Western AustraliaLimestone Cliffs Greenhead Western AustraliaBlue Banded Bee Greenhead Western AustraliaCoastal Walk Point Louise Greenhead Western AustraliaGreenhead Western Australia Indian Ocean ReefIndian Ocean Reef Greenhead Western AustraliaCoastal Jumping Spider Greenhead Western AustraliaPoint Louise Greenhead Western Australia RedterrainCrested Tern Greenhead Western AustraliaCrested Tern Greenhead Western Australia

The breeze was so refreshing at the beach yesterday.  I had a few solo hours in the bush and sand dunes keeping an eye on what’s flowering, what bugs are pollinating at midday and where the little jumping spiders are on the coast at midday.  Do they move about in the full sunlight part of the day?

A little treat to myself during this little venture was an iced coffee.  And people! Australia and New Zealand do this right!  It comes with whipped cream on top and a scoop of vanilla ice cream.  The bitterness of the coffee is all at the bottom, and as you finish the drink you’re left with the sweet taste of ice cream to cool you down.  On a crazy hot day it is perfectly refreshing.

My search for the first two hours proved uneventful, though I did see many butterflies, beetles and wasps (and even one blue banded bee) out hustling between all the flowering coastal plants.

I’d thankfully slathered on a huge portion of sunscreen before leaving.  As I wandered the beach it crossed my mind to remove my shoes and feel that soft white sand and warm Indian ocean between my toes.  As I progressed along Point Louise, I followed a path up the limestone cliffs and began to walk North.

This was perhaps a poor impulsive decision as I then spent the next hour painstakingly walking along a gravely hot path barefoot.  What’s worse?  The sharp pain of awkwardly placing my foot on a rock or the searing pain of the hot ground cooking my feet?  Both at once was fairly uncomfortable.  I had to hype myself up to turn around and walk to full track back!

The good news is during this little tortured walk, I managed to spot what I’d been looking for.  One small brown jumping spider hopped across the path and into the shade.

After several hours out in the sun, I started to make my way home.

Greenhead is a gorgeous little community, with a number of holiday homes to rent a couple of cafes and a small pharmacy.  Now that Christmas is nearly upon us the town will be bustling with holiday makers, children and plenty of happy families soaking up the sun on these lovely beaches.

We’re also settling into the weekend and will be celebrating a quiet little Christmas with Wesley and friends.  Eggnog spiced with a little rum will be whisked up by Mike after a successful and popular batch last year.  He’s keen to try again (it was so delicious and I don’t even like liquor) and today I’ve baked some old style cookies my grandma taught me how to make when I was a child.   I hope you take time to connect with your loved ones, create or uphold traditions and cherish these memories.