Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Masterful Web Design

I came across some interesting spider webs the other morning in Bunyip State Park. There was a little bit of morning dew present, which is ideal for seeing the intricate web patterns in great detail. I ticked Leaf Curler and Jewel, (Spiny), Spiders pretty quickly and then I found several of a quite different shape that I hadn’t seen before.

Tent Weaver Spiders.
Sometimes called dome webs apparently, these fascinating structures consisted of a horizontal web with a central cone, giving the whole a tent-like appearance.

At the top of the cone is a package of debris placed by the spider to create a ‘retreat’ and to conceal the egg sac a little. To me, some of the debris packets looked like large spider-like structures which made me think of a deliberate strategy to deter predators.

Visible egg sac with female at the bottom keeping an eye out?
 When I returned two days later, without the dew, the webs were much more difficult to see amongst the tangle of heathy shrubs.
The 'retreat' and egg sac can just be seen right in the middle of the image.

I think the genus is cyrtophora and the species hirta perhaps?
I think this is her - Cyrtophora hirta?


Thursday, February 26, 2015

Mixed Bag

Today’s mixed bag begins with a Lace Monitor that strolled slowly across in front of the ute on the Bunyip River Road inside the Bunyip State Park. With its tongue tasting the air every couple of steps, it didn’t seem too upset at getting snapped from a distance.

When I stepped a little nearer though, those excellent claws were put to good use when it scaled a tree for safety.

After saying farewell to Mr Monitor, I legged it for awhile under the power lines and came to a small remnant puddle that had some life.

Fairy Apron
Utricularia, (utriculus = Greek for little bladder), is a small family of carnivorous bladderworts and several were flowering strongly around the edge of the puddle. I’m not deadly certain they were U dichotoma, but Fairy Apron is pretty close.

Wandering Percher
I think this is a Wandering Percher, a fairly common and widespread dragonfly that likes to inhabit still or sluggish water including temporary puddles.

Always something to look at in the bush.

Friday, February 20, 2015

The Rufous Fantail - Cuckoo Saga - Episode 2

Today I went back to check on the progress of the Rufous Fantail’s herculean task of raising a cuckoo. The cuckoo is still in on the nest and still being fed by the poor overworked fantails.

Apparently both Pallid and Brush Cuckoos like to use open cup-shaped nests of fantails, Willie Wagtails, etc, (whereas Fan-tailed Cuckoos and both ‘Bronze’ Cuckoos prefer the dome-shaped nests of thornbills, scrubwrens, fairy wrens and heathwrens).

According to the field guides, the juvenile Brush Cuckoo is heavily barred dark brown. At the moment it is looking like a baby Brush Cuckoo to me. More monitoring required, but!

Swamp Wallaby
Nearly each time I have visited this picnic ground, an old Swamp Wallaby has appeared and grazed away, not caring too much by my presence. He/she is a little grey on top and around the face, and is displaying a few battle scars. Some horse riders went by today and the horses were more flighty than the wallaby when they each caught sight of the other.

Brush Bronzewing
I took a little used bush track on the way home today and scattered several small groups of Brush Bronzewing pigeons. This fairly uncommon bird is smaller and more colourful than the Common Bronzewing. The last bird managed to not fly off immediately and let me get some pictures, albeit with the light not quite right for my camera, (or me), to capture those stunning colours on the wing coverts. (Gimp to the rescue!)

The only other incident to report is that after turning onto Black Snake Creek Rd and travelling 500m, I had to give way to a … Red-bellied Black Snake. It was camera shy and disappeared rapidly into the roadside vegetation