Category Archives: Events

Bird photography workshops – 24th March 2018

Chris Tzaros and I will be running our next bird photography workshops on Saturday 24th March 2018. We still have some spots available and are happy to cater for all comers!

This will be workshop number 23 and we have more than 200 past participants out there in the landscape enjoying the combined passions of birding and photography.

For further details, including registration, click here.

Eastern Yellow Robin, Sandon State Forest, 14th December 2017

Barking Owls, Newstead, 31st October 2017

Rainbow Bee-eater, Sandon State Forest, 10th January 2018

Compulsory viewing

If you are anywhere near Newstead over the next few weeks then treat yourself to coffee and a bite at Dig Cafe.

While you are there you’ll be able to enjoy the most extraordinary exhibition by regular Natural Newstead blogger and macro-photographer extraordinaire, Patrick Kavanagh.

Patrick’s exhibition, “Small World – Visions from Another Dimension”, features subjects of amazing detail all taken at his home in nearby Strangways.

Patrick writes:

‘There is another world hidden from our unaided senses. A world of strange and wonderful animals – some could be from another planet, some are insects but look like sea shells. The damage inflicted by a caterpillar on a eucalypt leaf looks like a Renaissance window. A piece of abstract art turns out to be the wing of a moth. A tiny world, on a scale of millimetres, best seen through a macrophotographer’s lens.’

“Small World – Visions from Another Dimension” will be on at Dig Café, Newstead from Wednesday December 20th until late January. Here is a taster of some of Patrick’s images.

To sting, hide or mimic

The bush in our yard at Strangways is a constant source of invertebrate subjects at this time of year – and they reveal a range of strategies for protection.

Lifting a rock I found this impressive and somewhat intimidating little Marbled Scorpion (Lychas marmoreus).

Marbled Scorpion (Lychas marmoreus)

Marbled Scorpion

This magnificent specimen, although well-armed, seemed to hope the intruder – me – would not notice and leave her alone. As soon as my attention shifted, she slid under another rock. I wonder if the bulge in the midriff might be pregnancy.

Marbled Scorpion (Lychas marmoreus)

Marbled Scorpion #2

Marbled Scorpion up close

Plenty of eyes and quite a mouth

On  branch of a Silver Wattle, I found the youngest Acacia Horned Treehopper nymph I’ve met to date. Another case of “If I don’t move, you’ll think I’m part of this branch.”

Acacia Horned Treehopper nymph

Acacia Horned Treehopper nymph

Whilst looking at a Grey Box leaf stem, I noted what looked very like a little gall or lump of vegetation, only a couple of mm long. When I got the macro lens onto it, I could see it was a tiny Long-nosed Weevil (Haplonyx sp) that had tucked its nose under to look like a gall.

Long-nosed Weevil (Haplonyx sp?)

Long-nosed Weevil

In my last post https://geoffpark.wordpress.com/2017/11/23/speedwell-wallaby-grass-and-some-of-their-fans/ , I incorrectly labeled this little bloke a Cricket nymph. A bit more research has revealed that it is a Gum Leaf Katydid nymph, probably the 1st or 2nd instar. Whilst these nymphs can’t fly, their defence is to look something like an ant or spider – unappetising or threatening to potential predators. As they develop, they end up with the superb eucalypt leaf disguise that I’m more familiar with for katydids. Thanks to bowerbird.org.au for confirming the identity of this little cutie.

Katydid nymph

Gum Leaf Katydid nymph (Torbia viridissima) on Long-leafed Box

I’ve wondered where the term katydid comes from – it seems that it’s the sound made by an American species. I’ve also wondered about the extraordinary mouth parts of these animals. The little segmented “arms” coming off from around the mouth are called palps and are tasting organs. This one is perhaps tasting whatever it’s cleaning off its tiny feet.

Katydid nymph close up

A bit of cleaning.

PS: For those who enjoy photographs of tiny things, I will have an exhibition of macro photos “Small World” at Newstead’s Dig Cafe from December 19th. Hope you’ll be able to come along.

Speedwell, Wallaby Grass and some of their fans

It’s delightful to see some of the beautiful local plants in flower at present. Digger’s Speedwell Veronica perfoliata and Red-anther Wallaby Grass  Rytidosperma pallidum are not only pleasing to the human eye, they have quite a few invertebrate fans as well. The Wallaby Grass can perhaps only really be appreciated with a bit of magnification.

Red-Anther Wallaby Grass (Joycea pallida)

Red-Anther Wallaby Grass up close

By night, the Wallaby Grass provided a comfy bed for a native bee and a beetle.

A native bee sleeps on a Wallaby Grass flower

Native Bee Lassioglossum sp. perhaps sleeping on Red-Anther Wallaby Grass

Clerid Beetle (Eleale genus) on Red-anther Wallaby Grass

A beetle also rests on a Wallaby Grass flower

I was surprised when I had a close look at the Digger’s Speedwell to see how many Aphids were sucking sap from the flower stalks.

Aphid

Aphids on Digger’s Speedwell

Hoverfly

A hoverfly finds the flower already crowded

Native bees are really enjoying the abundance of the Speedwell flowers. I think these are Small Metallic-banded Bees Lassioglossum sp. but I’m happy to be corrected. Myriad Sweat Bees managed to avoid my camera, alas.

Bees on Diggers Speedwell

Bees on Digger’s Speedwell

Bee on Diggers Speedwell

An abundance of pollen.

On a Long-leafed Box sucker, I also found this tiny cricket nymph.

Katydid nymph up close

Cricket nymph

PS: For those who enjoy photographs of tiny things, I will have an exhibition of macro photos “Small World” at Newstead’s Dig Cafe from December 19th. Hope you’ll be able to come along!

November workshops … a few spots left

Chris Tzaros and I have still got a few spots left in our Spring Bird Photography workshops, to be held in Newstead on Saturday 18th November.

Click here if you like to find out more about the workshops or email me geoff.park@naturaldecisions.com.au if you require further information or would like to book.

Barking Owls, Newstead, 31st October 2017

Nankeen Night-herons on the Loddon River @ Newstead, 31st October 2017

Red-rumped Parrot (male), Loddon River @ Newstead, 31st October 2017

Tuan Talk

This Thursday evening 19th October Newstead Landcare Group is hosting a presentation by Jess Lawton. Jess is studying the Tuan or Brush-tailed Phascogale, a threatened and declining species of the Box-Ironbark country. Jess will describe her research for a Ph.D. which aims is to see if the occurrence of the Brush-tailed Phascogale in a modified landscape relates to patch size and patch connectedness.

 

Tuan in nest box at Welshmans Reef photo by Jess LawtonTuan in nest box at Welshmans Reef, photo by Jess Lawton.

Jess’ talk will start at 8pm at Newstead Community Centre and go til 9pm with plenty of time for your questions. All are welcome to attend! Gold coin donations would be appreciated.

The presentation will be followed by brief AGM and supper.

 

FOBIF AGM – The Merri Creek story

This year’s Friends of Box-Ironbark Forests AGM will be held at 7.30 pm Monday 10th July in the Ray Bradfield Rooms. Supper will be served and everyone is welcome. The speaker will be Brian Bainbridge, Ecological Restoration Planner, Merri Creek Management Committee.

His topic will be ‘Single species – many outcomes’.

Brian Bainbridge

Single species conservation projects can have wide-ranging benefits when pursued in a holistic manner. Projects to secure local populations of Matted Flax Lily and Plains Yam Daisy have led Merri Creek Management Committee to build a deeper understanding of the Merri Creek’s changing ecology and the potential for landscape-scale conservation. The projects have stimulated fresh approaches to engaging with community.

Plains Yam Daisy