SPIDER POST ALERT ! ( in case you’re a spider-wimp!)


Not a scary, horrid-hairy, ginormous, swallow you in one gulp sort of spider.

Oh, no. Dinah wouldn’t be so cruel to her  readers.Would she? Read on to find out.If you dare!

We have been doing some long overdue work in part of the garden.


Our new-ish neighbour has cleared the boundary strip and we (that’s The Man, mainly) have cleared our side of the fence. This has allowed in a lot more light and created some open spaces that just cried out for plants. So I’ve been relocating some of the overgrown pots  and cuttings. Shade-lovers, mainly, because although on the north-eastern side, they still have quite dense shade from the palms.



Probably a Christella of some sort. It (and several others), like Topsy, “just growed.”

And this morning, while hosing yesterday’s newbies, I noticed droplets on a damaged web.A neat quarter has been broken away from  an orb web. The spider is still in residence and I managed a photo. Better still, I’m pretty sure I’ve identified it. Yay! It’s not often I can.

I thought it was in the Tetragnathidae so I Googled that and found this interesting (well, interesting to spider buffs, that is!) link  http://tolweb.org/Tetragnathidae/2799. Known by a common name of “long jaws” for good reason, these cute lil guys have a courtship technique not unlike snogging in the back row of the Gaumont Cinema.

This is a macro shot that I did manage to get. Not the best, but neither was the weather! Clicking should make it a little clearer.



Now that I’ve managed to educate you on   scare the tripe out of you, I’m off to the purveyor of plonk. A girl can work up a navvy’s thirst just to plant a few ferns, y’know!




GUESSING GAMES updated with the answer

A little something to amuse you while I get on with some serious work.

Actually, he’s more in the range of “big” as frogs go. This is a pot saucer I keep filled with fresh water for our nocturnal visitors, like possums. I wish we saw more frogs, but I suspect all my house-proud neighbours and their over-use of cleaning products have been, in part, responsible for froggies’ low numbers. Well, we can’t blame the drought!

Possibly one of the Justicias, but I didn’t get that from a botanist. Feel free to correct me!

And this little guy is the latest in the growing line of  “free-loaders” Chez Dinahmow. We don’t feed all the wildlife (that’s a bad move; ask any Ranger), but sometimes some critters need help.

This one was still “learning the ropes” from his mother when she was injured (probably hit by a car) and although The Man managed to get her to the vet her injuries were too severe  and she was euthanased. Oh, put your hankies away! Possums are pretty much at the top of the table when it comes to hand-outs! They have cuteness in spades.

He continued to take the nightly shortcut over the deck and we left some fruit out for him. No, we’ve never tried to make a pet of him; we just help him along on his journey. Some nights he doesn’t show and we wonder if he’s met his end. In case you’re worrying, the little bugger crash-landed on the roof at 4.21am today so I guess he’ll want his piece of fruit tonight…

And it’s a fuzzy photo because I took it from inside and I stopped the flash!

One of the nice things about the lap top is that I can follow the sunshine. And, believe me, today I need some sunshine! Drove past one of those light bulb thermometers  this morning and it read 12 deg.C. I swear that thing is faulty!

So now I’m going to take my lap top out of this shadow and find some new sunshine. First- find a cat. That should give me the best sunny patch!

But I’ll leave you with this.

What is it? Answers on a postcard, please. What, you want a prize if you guess correctly?  I’ll think about. Let’s say the prize is part of the mystery!

Move over, Geiger, I need me some sun!


Since no one guessed correctly the “prize” will be held over. Actually, I’m thinking of having one of these silly little contests on a regular basis.Tell me if you think it’s a good idea. And now…the answer.

Gecko footprints on the outside of the glass door. 

And, yes, more than one gecko. Given the huge numbers of geckos, it’s pretty obvious that they must  like each other. But man! can they fight!

True story .…It was a dark and stormy night… and I reached into a jacket pocket in the closet where I kept a slim chain belt. My fingers closed around something that was NOT chain…I withdrew my hand slowly, gently, a small part of my brain calculating the odds of the “thing” being a highly venomous creature and the chances of my getting medical help in time.

It was a gecko. And I should think it was doing some rapid permutations of its own!

Here’s a link http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gecko#Gecko_toes:_setae_and_van_der_Waals_forces


continuing the wild and wacky adventures of wildlife carers…


Part of the extensive garden. Sometimes, I actually had roses!

We were not to know,  when Spike had that disagreement with another possum, that we were about to be gate-crashed.

Spike left us early in December and although we half-expected him to come back from time to time, we were not surprised that he didn’t. Nature’s hard-wiring usually beats human “interference.”

Besides, there were other things needing attention. With  holidays looming, the duty roster (we took turns to answer after-hours calls for help) suddenly featured our telephone number more often! And The Man’s mother was coming to stay. I didn’t want calls at all hours while she was here so I did extra time beforehand.

And there was some re-arranging of the spare/sewing/writing/junk room to be done.

Everything ordered and slotting nicely into place, yes? Well, not quite…

When we built the house we stopped  the walls of the central hallway about 18″ short of the rafters (open-plan with exposed ceiling beams), to allow for greater air flow. And to be a bit “different” from most other houses!

Biskit, one of the cats, used to like sleeping on a shelf above the water heater in the bathroom and, from there , she could climb onto the top of the wall and swing from rafter to rafter til she reached the kitchen. Then she’d jump down to the fridge, then the counter, then the floor. Until one day she mis-judged her swing and fell from the ceiling! So The Man added an “extension” piece of rafter, making it too far for her to stretch her paw around. Boy! was she cross at that!

Where was I?  Oh yes…On the opposite side of the hall was the spare room, with a built-in cupboard. Open at the top. And this is the cupboard that was to become the home of our next possum.

At night, with mosquitoes and other bugs bothering us, we closed the doors when the lights were on and opened a back door at lights-out.

Jolly convenient for the New Boy! He’d rock up at about 4am, scrabble around in the kitchen and wake me. I’d grab him by the tail* and take him down the yard, into the goats’ paddock and tell him to “go find a hollow tree!”

And he’d be back up at the house before me!

One morning, after this ridiculous ritual, he went up the wall and over the edge and into the spare room cupboard before I could catch him. I could see the little bugger on the top shelf, blinking at me! And he used the Biskit Method of getting to the kitchen, much to her disgust!

I’d had enough of 4am possum patrols. As far as I was concerned he could stay there. Anyone who wanted to evict him could do it with my blessing. But not my help.

And then Mother arrived and I had to explain that she’d have a room mate. I think she was a bit nervous at first and afraid room mate might mean bedmate!

Sooty Paws (I’ll leave you to figure out how he got that name!) lived with us for about 7 years. Longer than many survive in the wild.

2008_1218oldiestamborine0010The front pergola – aka Possum Highway

* This is not cruel; possums evolved for a life in trees and the muscular tail is used for grasping, swinging, balance. Also, you’re clear of those sharp bits when you are holding the tail!


… not so very long ago and not in a galaxy far, far away, there lived  a couple of slightly- wacky-but-kind-hearted people. They rubbed along well enough with their fellows, but were most happy when surrounded by or working with animals.

They were  concerned for orphaned or injured animals, especially non-mainstream species.

Animals like owls

2008_1218oldiestamborine00011Five young Barn Owls

and snakes

2008_1218oldiestamborine0004a carpet snake

and possums2008_1218oldiestamborine00021“Spike” eating left-over salad that otherwise would have gone to the chooks.

With a particular interest in raptors, they learned  (from Wildlife Rangers, veterinarians and other rescue people) appropriate handling methods. They attended lectures, built suitable housing, bred suitable food species  and rehabilitated as many of their charges as was possible.

Sometimes, of course, rehabilitation is not possible. In such cases, some animals went into captive breeding programmes at a registered sanctuary. Many died. Many were euthanased.

But the biggest blast was always Release Time. You can keep your speed, your uppers, your booze. Give me the sight of an eagle, soaring aloft on a thermal to freedom and I’m riding my own joyous thermal. Every time.

Over the years, we lost a few hours of sleep, went through mega litres of petrol and became pretty good at mending literal and metaphorical fences.

As you see, these are old photographs (heck! I don’t think digital technology was even off the drawing board then!) so you may need a hand lens.

A cardinal rule in the rehab game is that wild animals should NEVER be considered as pets. Sadly, a rule often ignored by some people. But before you ask why that possum is happily scoffing salad while sitting on a sofa with The Man, let me explain that possums themselves are quick to ignore cardinal rules!

Omnivorous, gregarious and very quick to accept humans and the associated “goodies” derived from human co- habitation, many  possums have, quicker than any other  native, become tame.

Spike was one of the resident possums at a neighbours’ property. The neighbours found him one night, on the ground, with no sign of his mother. But they waited, watching from a darkened doorway, in case Momma appeared. When it was apparent that this was not going to happen they brought the little chap indoors, fed him diluted cow’s milk from an eye dropper, tucked him into a woollen beanie and called us.

Over the next few months, Spike gave us endless enjoyment and laughs a-plenty. The resident cats accepted him (although they growled if he stole from their bowls!) and he was too young (ie, not yet sexually mature) to bother the bigger possums that hissed and growled and scritched through the trees at night.


Small Cat, Sammy and Spike

Gradually, he ventured further, stayed out longer each night and we knew he would soon leave us for his real home in the bush.

One night, just after dusk, when he’d been outside for maybe 15 minutes, there was a great scrabbling and hks-hks-hks-ing (that’s possum talk for “look out, buster!” at the back door. In came, we thought, Spike.  Followed by… Spike??  Oh **#!^&! Two possums in the house equates to WW  III!  The Man lunged at one (which, fortunately for The Man’s flesh, was Spike) and I grabbed the second fluffy tail as it was racing up the curtains.Now with a possum apiece, we had to make some pretty quick decisions. Right decisions!

“Hang on to Spike and I’ll get this one outside.” You really had to be there to appreciate the comedic  enormity, folks. Possums have formidable array of weaponry, not least the ability to pee copiously.

But I managed to get the intruder outside, and released on a tree trunk while The Man managed to hang on to his “catch.”

Spike was desperate to get back outside and finish the contest, but a carrot and a piece of apple held his attention long enough to settle him.

The next night he went outside  just after dusk, as usual… and never came back.*

to be continued…


With the moon still big and bright enough to warrant braving the Night Squadron [of mosquitoes], I took the camera out twice last night. By the time I got to the gate the first time, clouds had sailed in front of  the moon. I waited for a few minutes, then, afraid of dropping the camera in my wild flailing, gave up.

So I curled up on a sofa and watched Hustle Ooh! If I wasn’t a” woman of mature age” I could see myself with that Mickey! Sadly, I’m more in Albert’s age bracket…

Where was I?…oh, yes! The moon…well, I was still waiting for Rusty to come in for the night so I thought another walk down the driveway was worthwhile. Wouldn’t you know — just as the moon, all gold-tinged and satiny, came from behind the cloud and I had a chance –three (count them! THREE!) neighbours switched on floodlights. I gave up.


*We did see him again – he’d returned to our neighbours’ property and was happily being a wild possum in their garden. How do we know it was Spike? We were having a glass of wine with B & M one evening and one of the possums sat at the edge of the shrubbery, looking at us. So I whistled; the “official whistle” I always use for the cats and dogs. The possum raced across the paving and leapt up onto my shoulder. Spike!