Fungi are fabulous and are amongst the most numerous organisms on earth. Because of the ephemeral nature of their fruiting bodies they are not as well known as other organisms. When these small (12mm diameter) balls appeared in the sand at Kabulwarnamyo Ranger Station I was so impressed and intrigued that next time I was at a good bookstore I bought Bruce Fuhrer’s Field Guide to Australian Fungi in the hope I might be able to identify them. I’m fairly certain the genus is Calostoma, because three of the four Calostomas pictured and described are the only fungi in the book that look anything like these. The closest in appearance, and possibly, the correct species is Calostoma fuhreri which shares the black body with red coloured orifice which to my eye resembles Chinese characters. The name Calostoma means beautiful mouth.
This Embden goose belongs to Mary Nadjamerrek, a wise matriarch of the western Arnhem Land Plateau. When the goose arrived in a pet pack at the remote community of Kabulwarnamyo I feared that the significant numbers of hunting dogs and canine pets who have never known collar nor leash might lead to its quick demise. However, attitude is everything and not only has the goose survived it has even the boss dogs more or less terrified. The dogs here have gone into the small public telephone room at the outstation for a nap out of the sun. The goose has arrived and stands between the dogs and the only means of escape. The eyes say it all — neither dog is brave enough to look the stroppy, hissing beast in its fierce eye!. The stand-off went on for some time until the goose got tired of bullying the dogs. It doesn’t just bully the dogs, when the phone rings and people dash to pick up the call the goose tries to cut them off with hissing and wing waving. It’s very protective of Mary and a number of times I have been talking with her when it has sneaked up behind me and attacked me in the ankle tendons. It has a nasty nip. The bird goes by the name of Duckduck, a generic Aboriginal english description for waterfowl. It’s probably the only one of its species in an area of about 30,000 square kilometres.
Seeing Dendroica’s posting of a crab spider this morning I remembered this picture taken at Kabulwarnamyo on the West Arnhem Land Plateau about 2004.
It’s also a crab spider and I think probably Thomisus spectabilis, with its prey. The prey is a feral bee (Apis mellifera) which the spider has caught by hanging out in ambush mode on the underside of this lamb’s tail flower head (sp?), well camouflaged by its white colour.
Apis mellifera is a foreign invader in Arnhem Land. Feral Apis seem to have spread extensively through Arnhem Land only in the late twentieth century where they compete with the stingless native bees, or “sugarbag” as these are known in Aboriginal english.
At Kabulwarnamyo in Kundednjenghmi language, native honey is called mankung, with various other speciific names that align with Linnaean taxonomic classifications for more than four different stingless bee species.