The R J Chambers Flora and Fauna Reserve is located at Pakenham Upper, just south of Emerald, just east of Cardinia Reservoir and just north of another of my favourite locations – Officeworks at Pakenham!
The reserve consists of several forest communities that contain a wide range of trees, shrubs, grasses and herbs. For my first visit recently I did a simple reconnoiter and quickly made a mental note to put the place on my list of sites to visit in the spring.
With a stiff breeze blowing under a dull sky, I was pleasantly surprised to discover quite a number of butterflies flitting about across the tracks, often taking advantage of the tiny patches of sunshine that occasionally struggled through the cloud cover and tree canopy.
The Southern Browns and Southern Xenicas always pose an identification problem for me and I admire people in the field who can spot the difference between some of these species with the naked eye. I hope I’ve got these right?
The females of this very common butterfly are capable of delaying their egg laying until conditions are just right - for periods as long as several months. Apparently there is a causal link between the early emergence of the Common Brown Butterfly and global warming, (ABCScience ext link).
Apparently this species can perform mass migrations. It was reported in 1889 that a Painted Lady migration blackened the sky and caused trains to lose traction when they tried passing over them while they rested on the rails!
This is a late summer to early autumn species that can be locally abundant. In Victoria it occurs mostly in the ranges and foothills of the central and eastern regions of the state.
I find this butterfly one of the few of the ‘browns’ that appears to be more striking with its wings closed rather than the usual open-winged position. With wings open it is easy to confuse this butterfly with the Common Brown. Supposedly the Ringed Xenicas like cooler wetter gullies but on this occasion I was finding them dry hilltops as well.