Look and learn

It’s the little things in nature that often intrigue me the most.

At present the Drooping Sheoak in the churchyard next door is looking magnificent – the golden branchlets glowing in the late autumn sunshine. While looking closely at the tree I noticed lots of European Wasps, feeding along the branchlets, presumably gathering an exudate of some sort from the junctions between segments – this is actually where the tiny true leaves can be found.

Drooping Sheoak ‘foliage’

European Wasp feeding on sheoak foliage

A small flock of Weebills arrived and began hunting for prey … a wasp would be out of the question, but the birds happily gleaned tiny insects from the foliage, regularly darting out to flutter outside the canopy in typical Weebill fashion. I was surprised then to see one of the birds drop to the earth and snatch a fly. I can’t recall ever seeing a Weebill feeding anywhere other than amongst foliage and the couple of references I quickly looked at made no mention of this behaviour. I’d be interested to hear from readers about your observations.

Weebill with fly, Wyndham Street Newstead, 3rd May 2017



2 responses to “Look and learn

  1. Neil Marriott

    Hi Geoff
    Great report on the Sheokes. THe European Wasps are actually feeding on the pollen being released from the male flower spikes at the ends of the branches. These are the beautiful golden narrow catkins covering the male trees at this time of the year!! You can see from your great pics that they are a different colour and slightly broader than the normal stems.
    Neil Marriott
    Black Range, Grampians

  2. Hi Neil – I thought this might be the case – the interesting thing is that I had thought this was a female tree … it certainly has female flowers and cones. I can’t recall seeing monoecious trees before … reckon you can shed some light on this.
    All the best, Geoff

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