Category Archives: Eucalypts

Beetles and a different use of a flower

On recent nights’ excursion into the bush, there have been a few beetles to be found. On  new shoot of Grey Box (Eucalyptus microcarpa), a small Leaf Beetle, about 10mm long.

Leaf Beetle?

Leaf Beetle

Nearby, on another Grey Box sucker, a somewhat larger beetle.

Beetle

Beetle.

Beetle

Head on.

I also found a beautiful Ladybird on a Golden Wattle.

Ladybird - Tirbe Coccinellini

Ladybird.

I have to say that, although the invertebrate numbers have lifted a little with the onset of Spring, it is still harder to find subjects than in previous years. I assume this is the result of the dry conditions.

On checking on the ever-reliable Shiny Everlastings in our bush during the daytime, I was pleased to find this tiny wasp.

Wasp

Wasp

As I kept watching, she seemed to be laying eggs in the flower. The flowers she was most interested in had brown discolourations in the central flower parts. I’m not sure if a diseased flower attracts the wasp, or wasp have changed the flower.

Wasp

Laying in the central flowers

 

A colourful carpet

Before another burst of welcome spring rain, the Mia Mia was bathed in sunshine this morning. While the birds didn’t perform for the camera a carpet of wildflowers more than compensated.

Blue Caledenia Cyanicula caerulea, Mia Mia Track area, 8th September 2019

Pink fingers Caladenia carnea

Leopard Orchid Diuris pardina

Plougshare Wattle Acacia gunnii

Rough Wattle Acacia aspera

Downy Grevillea Grevillea alpina

Tall Sundew Drosera auriculata

Red Box leaves catching the dew

List: Shining Bronze-cuckoo, Black-eared Cuckoo, Pallid Cuckoo, Fan-tailed Cuckoo, Speckled Warbler, Brown Thornbill, Yellow Thornbill, Striated Thornbill, Grey Shrike-thrush, Crested Bellbird, Red-capped Robin, Red Wattlebird, White-throated Treecreeper, Superb Fairy-wren.

Ducks, hollows and owls

It’s the middle of winter and Australian Wood Ducks are starting to think of breeding. At this time of year it’s common to see pairs alighting in River Red Gums around town and calling to each other as they stake out potential nest sites. This species, sometimes mistakenly called the Maned Goose, nests in tree hollows – River Red Gums are especially favoured. Some hollows are already taken. – Southern Boobooks are year round tenants!

Australian Wood Duck (male), Newstead, 22nd June 2019

Australian Wood Duck (female)

The male showing off its distinctive mane

Southern Boobook … evidence of successful hunting last evening between the nostrils!

Big trees matter …

… a lot – especially if you are a Southern Boobook.

River Red-gum, Tivey Street Newstead, 25th May 2019

Southern Boobook

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The walk is always worth it!

It was too dull to chase birds with the camera late this afternoon … for a change my focus turned to other matters.

Bush patterns after rain, Spring Hill Track area, 24th may 2019

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Nice spot for an Owlet Nightjar?

Firewood harvesting …the legacy a decade on

Cherry Ballart … seen better days!

Nodding Greenhood leaves

Saloop Saltbush and ant nest

Cranberry Heath

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The end of my stroll coincided with the sudden arrival of a mixed species feeding flock – Flame Robins, Grey Shrike-thrush, Golden Whistler, Speckled Warblers, Striated and Buff-rumped Thornbills … not a bad finish!

It’s Yellow Gum time!

Yellow Gum Eucalyptus leucoxylon has really started flowering well over the past month across the district. Unlike Grey Box, which has also enjoyed a good spell of flowering, Yellow Gum attracts a lot more birds. In the backyard at home Eastern Spinebills, White-naped Honeyeaters and even a Black-chinned Honeyeater have joined the other honeyeaters on the nectar flow. Out at Strangways Musk Lorikeets are using the veteran roadside trees … I also caught distant views of a Noisy Friarbird, an irregular visitor from areas further north.

Red Wattlebird feeding on Yellow Gum flowers, Wyndham Street Newstead, 18th May 2019

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New Holland Honeyeater in the same tree

Musk Lorikeet in Yellow Gum @ Strangways, 19th May 2019

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A bee, some bugs and a strange, furry assassin

But first, I digress with a photo of a Grey Box (Eucalyptus microcarpa) blossom, just because they are beautiful and they are out. And in this image, a tiny pollinator can be seen poking out of a blossom. Another on one of the buds.

Grey Box (Eucalyptus microcarpa)

Grey Box flowers and friends.

There seem to be more insects and other invertebrates out in recent weeks than for most of summer, but the numbers are still low it seems to me. Regulars like Eucalypt Tip-wilter Bugs ( Amorbus sp.) are about, but fewer than in most years. Both adults and nymphs can be found in our bush at Strangways. They make good subjects as they don’t seem to care about the proximity of the camera, possibly confident in their stinky defenses.The bugs use their sucking mouth parts to draw sap from Eucalypt leaves.

Eucalytpus Tip Wilter bug - Amorbus sp

Eucalyptus Tip-wilter Bug on Grey Box

I think the little hole at the bottom of the body between the second and third pair of legs in the adult is the ostiole through which the stinky emission is delivered if needed.

Eucalytpus Tip Wilter bug - Amorbus sp

The profile of the bug shows the ostiole.

Eucalytpus Tip Wilter bug nymph - Amorbus sp

Eucalyptus Tip-wilter Bug nymph on Grey Box.

Mirid bugs also suck sap from leaves. They are much more slender than the Coreid bugs like Amorbus. I found this one on a Long-leafed Box.

Mirid bug - Zanessa sp

Mirid bug – Zanessa sp.

Up close, the feeding method is more obvious

Mirid Bug - Rayieria sp

Zanessa sp.

I was pleased to get a quick shot of another botherer of the Grey Box, a Leafcutter bee (Megachilidae) These solitary bees live in the ground and line their nests with cuttings of leaves. There seem to be a lot of ground nesting bees checking out the soil surface at present, but they’ve decided not to stick around when the camera is near.

Leafcutter bee  - Megachilidae

Leafcutter Bee

The little wonder that really blew my socks off one night recently was this strange little insect, all of 8mm long, crawling around the base of our lemon tree. I gently picked it up with a leaf to get a good view (and photo) before putting it back on the edged of the planter box where I’d found it.

Ptilocnemus sp.

Had me intrigued!

By trawling through various sites, I found a match on Insects of Tasmania – a very useful web site for identifying insects. It is a Feather-legged Assassin Bug (Ptilocnemus femoralis). Assassin Bugs prey on other insects, ambushing them and then poisoning them with their long mouth parts and injecting enzymes that dissolve the internal organs so the bug can suck the life out of their prey. Ptilocnemus is specialised to feed on ants, secreting a chemical which attracts and paralyses them before the life is sucked out of them. What a find!

Ptilocnemus sp.

Feather-legged Bug (Ptilocnemus femoralis)