We’re heading towards autumn with the recent rain and cooler nights a sign of pleasant days to come.
I’ve spotted a few Grey Currawongs recently in the Muckleford bush and last evening came across a youngster, calling expectantly to an accompanying parent. The yellow gape of the juvenile is evident in the images below, while the adult looks a little ragged – the result of post-breeding moult.
Spreading Wattle Acacia genistifolia is now flowering, adding a welcome touch of colour to the dry bush. This species usually starts flowering in January and will continue through till late autumn.
Adult Grey Currawong, South German Track, 8th February 2020
Juvenile Grey Currawong
Adult Grey Currawong … in moult
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.
Nearby, on another Grey Box sucker, a somewhat larger beetle.
I also found a beautiful Ladybird on a Golden Wattle.
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.
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.
Laying in the central flowers
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.
It’s wonderful to wander through our bush full of flowering Golden Wattle (Acacia pycnantha). As the colour fills the woodlands, invertebrates seem to be waking up.
Golden Wattle blossom
The flowers attract many pollinators and in the sunlight of a still clear day, minuscule flies are common. Some of this seem well under a millimetre long, but I’ve yet to manage a photo of one so small. This one was about 3 mm long.
Fly on Golden Wattle
Ants on the wattles seem more interested in the secretions from the little gland in the bend of the leaf petiole than they are in the flowers. This one was only couple of millimetres long.
Ant at leaf petiole gland
Looping caterpillars like this one of the moth genus Chlenias are out in force. This one is hanging from a Golden Wattle.
Others were munching on leaves and flowers.
These same caterpillars are also very keen on the Drooping Cassinia (Cassinia arcuata).
Chlenias sp. on Cassinia
The Cassinia is also favoured by small flies at the moment.
Fly on Cassinia
Nearby, a Climbing Sundew (Drosera macrantha) seemed keen on the small flies that were visiting the Cassinia shrubs. Can a plant be keen on something? I was very excited to find this plant as I’ve not seen this species of Sundew on our place in the 25 years that we’ve called it “our place”. Thanks to Frances Cincotta for identifying the plant for us!
A Climbing Sundew feast.
1 – occurring together in space or time.
2 – in agreement or harmony.
Pretty much sums up the following collection, assembled yesterday in the Mia Mia. The male Scarlet Robin foraged on the woodland floor in front of me, with the Common Bronzewing perched above. Scented Sundew Drosera aberrans and Rough Wattle Acacia aspera – yet to peak, provided a lovely complement.
Rough Wattle, Mia Mia Track, 11th August 2019
Male Scarlet Robin
Male Common Bronzewing
Scented Sundew, Red Box and Chocolate Lily
I went searching for gold today … and found it at the Rise and Shine.
Golden Wattle commenced flowering a week ago locally (at least that’s when I first noticed it) and I was keen to capture its early blooms. I was a little surprised to find Yellow-tufted Honeyeaters making nests.
Does this bird ever rest?
The species was nesting in April this year – at the peak of a dry spell in the local bush. Now wonder they are so abundant!
Golden Wattle, Rise and Shine, 27th July 2019
Yellow Tufted Honeyeater nest-building amongst Hedge Wattle and Drooping Cassinia
Species observed: Fan-tailed Cuckoo (heard calling – first for the season), White-browed Babbler, Brown Treecreeper, Fuscous Honeyeater, White-naped Honeyeater, Grey Shrike-thrush, Crimson Rosella.
The middle of winter is not a great time for invertebrate macrophotography. Dependent on the environment for body heat regulation, these tiny animals are mostly in some form of dormancy. But not all, and I am amazed at how many very tiny spiders, flies and ants seem to navigate the frosty conditions of a Newstead winter.
Last night, I was impressed to find a number of small ants seeking out food on the wattles at our place at Strangways. One species were small black ants, about 5mm long. I think they are a species of the genus Notoncus, but I’m very happy to be corrected. When I got to look at this photo on my computer, I was amazed to see what looks like a tiny brown mite on the ant’s abdomen. I find the size of some of these mites mind bogglingly small.
Notoncus worker on Golden Wattle, with mite
As is often the case, these ladies were feeding from the little gland in the bend of the wattle leaf stem.
Feeding at Golden Wattle gland.
Another species of the same genus is one that I often see at night – Notoncus hickmani (I’m more confident about this as the friendly people at bowerbird.org.au identified it for me last year). Having done a bit of research on the web about this genus, I have found out that not much is known about their biology. These workers also look about 5mm long to me.
Notoncus hickmani on Silver Wattle #1
N. hickmani #2
About twice the size of the Notoncus ants was another species, black and quite graceful with ornate looking spines at the back of the thorax. I think this ant is a Campomyrma species. This is a sub-genus of Polyrhachis. Again, I’d like to be able to say something useful or interesting about these ants, but there seems very little information about them on the web. Given that all these ants are pretty common, it says a lot about what we don’t know about these incredibly important insects.