A venture into the bush with torch and camera on a cold night reveals a lot of life in the wattles. A Silver Wattle Acacia dealbata was being slowly combed by 5 mm long nocturnal Epaulet Ants, Notoncus hickmani. (Thanks to bowerbird.org.au for help with ID)
Epaulet Ant, Notoncus hickmani
Epaulet Ant #2
In the spectacularly flowering Golden Wattles Acacia pycnantha there was an abundance of tiny spiders from less than a mm long to much larger arachnids. On one leaf was a young and translucent Hunstman spider, about 20 mm across.
Much smaller, about 5mm long, was a Hamilton’s Orb Weaver Araneus hamiltoni hiding from my bright light in the blossoms.
Hamilton’s Orb Weaver #1
Hamilton’s Orb Weaver #2
More confidently staying in her web was this larger orb weaver, about 10mm long.
Wild plants of the Castlemaine district is a wonderful new resource on the flora of the local area that has been made available by the Castlemaine Field Naturalists Club CFNC.
The website is based on the plant identification and reference guide produced by the late Ern Perkins, a founding and very active member of the CFNC. Ern was a peerless field naturalist who studied and photographed the flowering plants of the Castlemaine District, covering the Mt Alexander Shire, plus Porcupine Ridge and Fryers Ridge. Over his forty year membership of CFNC, Ern produced many plant lists for specific areas – all of this information has now been incorporated into the one resource – a wonderful achievement.
It has already come in handy checking the botanical names of some of the early spring wildflowers spotted yesterday on a ramble near Fence Track in the Muckleford bush.
Blue Caladenia Cyanicula caerulea, Fence Track, 26th August 2017
Pink Bells Tetratheca ciliata
Yam Daisy Microseris walteri
Golden Moths Diuris chryseopsis
All of this under a glorious display of Golden Wattle
Golden Wattle flowers
The first wildflowers of ‘spring’ are opening up, quite a few Early Nancy and Scented Sundews, along with a great display of Golden Wattle.
The birds are tuning up for what promises to be a very good breeding season, boosted by some excellent late winter rain.
Early Nancy, Fence Track Muckleford State Forest, 18th August 2017
Spotted Pardalote, South German Track
Daimond Firetail, South German Track
Part of a flock of half a dozen
A pair of Red Wattlebirds are building a nest in our yard. This is not an especially notable thing, we have a few pairs in the neighbourhood and I watch nests most years.
What is especially pleasing though on this occasion is that they have chosen one on the Dropping Sheoaks that I planted almost a decade ago. It’s nice when a plan comes to fruition.
Red Wattlebird nest in Drooping Sheoak, Wyndham Street Newstead, 5th August 2017
Arriving with wool for the lining
Red Wattlebird below the nest
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’.
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
I found the first flowers of Golden Wattle this morning … I’d be keen to hear how this magnificent shrub is faring elsewhere in the box-ironbark.
Golden Wattle, Demo Track, 8th July 2017
There was bird action as well – this male Spotted Pardalote in a party of four + Scarlet Robin, White-throated Treecreeper, Buff-rumped Thornbill, Grey Fantail and Yellow-faced Honeyeater providing lots of interest.
Spotted Pardalote in Red Box on Demo Track
I hadn’t been out to the Rise and Shine for over a month … it was time for an excursion and the first day of winter was glorious.
The highlight was a party of Crested Shrike-tits. I watched them from close-up, foraging amongst the Long-leaved Box and Yellow Gums for at least half an hour. The birds were unconcerned about me – occasionally dropping almost to ground level as they ripped strips of bark from branches in search of their prey. One of my favourite woodland companions.
Crested Shrike-tit (male), Rise and Shine, 1st June 2017
Crested Shrike-tit (female)