Saturday, January 31, 2015

Bunyip State Park - a wander

A casual wander through parts of Bunyip State Park yesterday was the ideal antidote for some recent social activities that have been keeping me busy. Despite others opinions, I’m not quite a hermit yet.

I like to check the Button Grass Walk in the park, particularly for the Southern Emu Wren. Yep, they’re still there and you’re going to have to take my word for that – no pictures of value only very brief and/or distant sightings.

There was a flush of Klug’s Xenica butterfly, a species a bit smaller than the Common Brown. After a couple of chases I managed some quick shots of an individual resting briefly on the track.

To get to my favourite Southern Emu Wren locality requires going off track a little and relying on some animal paths which were criss-crossed with spider webs. The beautiful Spiny Spider, (Jewel Spider appropriately), was plentiful and they often seem to ‘colonise’ a particular locality with numerous webs. After ducking under several in a row I began seeing that their ‘framework’ filaments were of a thicker strand than the orb filaments. A little research tells me that this is perhaps not just for strength but may also mean that animals, (and lost humans), might see the web more easily and avoid them, thus minimising their damage.

Another arachnid in this vicinity was an Orb Weaver. It was quite small and I’m not sure of the exact species, Eriophora sp will do.

I’d glimpsed the wrens briefly to this stage with one female appearing suddenly quite close. In the time it took for me to lower my eyes and change from ‘spider’ setting to ‘bird’ setting, she’d dived into the dense undergrowth near the ground and remained unseen.

I pressed on slowly and suddenly got a small brown bird in sight nearby. Had my luck changed? Uh-huh, just a common Brown Thornbill. It did pose nicely for a moment though.

After lunch at a site supposedly set aside for the release of the threatened Helmeted Honeyeater I wound back home via the helipad. It was clouding over and getting quite dull and I thought I might try for a White-throated Nightjar – again to no avail. They have apparently been ticked in daylight at this spot.

A small wander about, with the birds especially quiet, I set the camera to macro again for some images of a Lobelia – not sure which one. The top flower has an ‘object’ in the throat. I couldn’t work it out in the field – I have to get my cataracts done – and still can’t quite see what it is on the computer at home.

Beaut day, sans people!

PS: Just remembered that I had a small hand lens with me and didn’t think to get it out of the accessories bag – damn!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Crane Fly - A Postscript

Good friend John at Avithera caught my Crane Fly entry the other day and emailed me a picture of a Welcome Swallow with said invertebrates in its bill. The bird was on the way to its nest and the Crane Flies were on their way to becoming a meal.

A good example of part of a food chain in action.

Great shot too, thanks JH.

PS: Another wonderful Gippsland nature blog has materialised on the www. Welcome to Craig at Wild South East. Check it out – more great fodder for passionate nature lovers to devour.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Crane Fly

On several of my recent and frequent visits to Nangara Reserve at Jindivick, I have disturbed clouds of Crane Flies in the moist understory. Mostly I’ve been chasing some other poor subject for my camera and when I have had a half-hearted go at snapping a Crane Fly it would never sit still long enough.

I managed to track one down the other day and got a couple of acceptable images – while it was stuck in a super-fine spider web!
Cop those super long antennae.
Some Crane Fly facts …
  •   The family Tipulidae is the largest family in the Diptera group - thousands of species.
  •   The larvae may thrive in a wide variety of habitats, water, wet soil, moss beds, dead logs, even dry earth.
  • Crane Flies are closely related to mosquitoes but do not drink blood.
  • Their adult stage may only last a few days during which they do not eat.
  • One common name is the very obvious Daddy-long-legs.
  • In the larval form they feed on detritus and break down organic matter – they are decomposers.
  • In larval and adult form they are an important food item for many other species – birds, frogs, fish, spiders, etc and other insects.
  • Fisherman like to use larval and adult Crane Flies for bait and lures.
  • As larvae, some Crane Flies can be a pest in turf grass and crop situations.
The long legs are principally for clinging to vegetation rather than for walking.


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Teeming Tea Tree

Over at Ben Crauchan, DF recently recorded some of the bountiful invertebrates that visit Bursaria sp. at this time of year. Whilst the Bursaria is abundant in this area too at the moment, I discovered a similar event on the Prickly Tea Tree at Nangara Reserve.

I ticked more or less the same suite of species as Duncan …

Large Greenbottle? Chrsomya rufifacies.

Spotted Flower Chafer? Polystigma punctata

White-spotted Pintail Beetle? Hoshihananomia leucosticta.

While so gainfully employed, I became aware of a deep bzzz-bzzz-bzzz and the sky went dark, (well, in my imagination anyhow), and this large hairy-a..sed blowy landed nearby.

One of the Tachinid Fly family - I think? Rutilia sp perhaps?

The order Diptera, (Flies), is a large order. Then there are suborders, families, subfamilies, tribes, genus, sections, series, species, subspecies and variety, huh! I couldn't find the name Large black H-A Blowy in any of that!?


Sunday, January 18, 2015

With Friends at the Summit

I spent an enjoyable day yesterday on Mt St Gwinear with the Friends of Baw Baw National Park and the Latrobe Valley Field Naturalists. Whilst I generally prefer to wander in the bush on my own, at my own pace, looking at the things that interest me mostly on the day, taking heaps of time to set up a photograph, etc, it was nice yesterday to be in the company of passionate and knowledgeable people who were able to explain what I was looking at – but I still did some small solitary explorations.

I have definitely developed a comfort zone. I’m quite happy to tick birds, some plants, a few invertebrates, etc, with a casual glimpse or a faint call within local woodland, wetland or plains habitat. The subalpine/alpine ecosystem is completely another matter. Oh dear, I hope I live long enough!

Subalpine heathlands.
 Just a few images from the day …
(Identifications not guaranteed – correspondence is welcome)

A not very good image of a Macleay’s Swallowtail, (Graphium macleayanum). Feeds with quivering wings, darting from flower to flower. A nice photographic challenge in which I failed this time around.

I think this is the Mountain Greenhood, (P. alpina). A colony of these for 10-20metres on the side of the track. 

Solander’s Brown, (Heteronympha solandri). A fairly common brown butterfly found in open woodland and montane habitats.

The Trigger Plant, (Stylidium sp), was quite prominent on the track and in the bush from the carpark to the summit.

Colourful drupes on a Subalpine Beard Heath shrub, (Leucopogon maccraei).

A moss covered granite boulder on the way to becoming soil through mechanical weathering. Snow Gums in the background.

Thanks Alix et al, but where was that b….y chair lift?