by Patrick Kavanagh
A short (20m) excursion into the bush at our place on a warm Autumn night last Friday revealed that there is still plenty of action even in the somewhat cooler evenings. My first and most surprising encounter was with a Marbled Gecko, hunting on a Golden Wattle. Whilst I’ve seen a lot of Thick-tailed Geckos at our place, this was a first. This beautiful reptile was quite a good sitter for lots of photos, but was not going to move to a spot where I could get a view of the whole magnificent little body. Just up the limb, nocturnal ants were tending a what looked like a sort of Flat-headed Treehopper, harvesting the honeydew secreted by the insect.
Walking around with a headlamp at night in these conditions shows up the jewel-like glowing green eyes of Wolf Spiders on the ground. Their numbers increase dramatically after a bit of rain, so it will be interesting to do a check over the next week or so.
Other spider species were also abundant. One green Orb-weaver flattened itself as my light fell upon it, presumably trying to look a bit more like a bit of leaf. The very large palps had me wondering if this is a male and is ready to transfer some semen to a receptive partner. A bit translucent in the light of my flash, I thought it looked very reminiscent of a luminous squid in deep dark waters.
Also of interest was the remarkably camouflaged Dolophenes spider. I normally see these in wattle species and this one was in a Hedge Wattle. When they are on a branch, they are very hard to distinguish from a small dead leaf. This one in the middle of the web offered a great opportunity to photograph its spinarets.