Invertebrate life above the soil is a little harder to find as the weather cools, although there are still plenty of spiders and moths.
I found a paper wasp on the handle of our flywire door yesterday morning. Very cold, it wasn’t moving much. I shepherded it onto a Hardenbergia leaf and to my surprise it started enthusiastically drinking the dew.
A cold paper wasp
Having a good drink
I continued to wander around the garden and found a few Rhytodoponera ants on a Silver Wattle. These ants seem particularly fond of Silver Wattles. As I looked closely through the macro lens at one ant, I could see that she too was filling up on the previous night’s dew. I wasn’t sure how much was for her and whether she was going to get this load back to her sisters. Nothing was happening fast at this point!
Rhytodoponera with dew
Away from the dew and the insects, I also found this magnificent scorpion under a rock. She was pretty curled up and was not keen on the camera, but I think she was about 25 mm long.
Wattles of the Mount Alexander Region, another wonderful FOBIF publication, will be officially launched this Saturday 28 April 2018.
The book is published by Friends of the Box-Ironbark Forests in association with Castlemaine Field Naturalists Club and Connecting Country. George Broadway (President, Castlemaine Field Naturalists Club) will launch the book in the Phee Broadway Theatre Foyer, Mechanics Lane, Castlemaine, on from 11 am.
Beautifully authored by Bernard Slattery, Ern Perkins and Bronwyn Silver, Wattles of the Mount Alexander Region will make a terrific companion to other FOBIF publications on two very different subjects – eucalypts and mosses. I love these publications … they have broad appeal to a curious and enthusiastic audience, further building an appreciation of ‘the local’ in central Victoria.
Gold-dust Wattle by Bronwyn Silver
A sample of one of the pages in the new guide … this one shows the flowers, phyllodes and seed-pods of Gold-dust Wattle.
If you can’t make the launch, the book will be available from Stoneman’s Bookroom from 28 April. You will also be able to buy it online from the FOBIF website. Cost is $10.
On December 29th 2010 I wrote about a colony of Common Imperial Blue butterflies at Yandoit.
A couple of days ago, almost seven years later to the day, I dropped by on a trip south to see how they were faring. The air around the copse of Silver Wattles was delightfully alive with these remarkable butterflies, with pairs mating and ants in attendance around the pupae. You can read here, at the Strathbogie Ranges – Nature View blog about their fascinating life history.
Common Imperial Blues, Yandoit, 22nd December 2017
A cluster of pupae with attendant ants
This copse of Silver Wattles is home to the colony
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
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
by Patrick Kavanagh
I think most people around Newstead are pretty fed up with mosquitoes at present. Pausing anywhere outside for a few moments seems to inevitably involve a blood donation to help the ladies with their breeding. On Sunday night, I was checking out the possibilities for macrophotography and amongst an abundance of Brown and Green Lacewings, Crane Flies and other flies, there were many mosquitoes that were feeding in the glands at the base of Golden Wattle leaves. I have found mosquitoes very hard to photograph (on vegetation rather than my skin) as they fly off at the hint of an approach, but these were so intent on their feast that I could move the branch quite roughly to get a better composition and they would not move. Neither did I get a single bite. I was quite amazed at how beautiful and graceful they appear when they’re not sticking their proboscises into me or buzzing around my ear. It looks like there are 2 species here, but I don’t know if they are males or females not in the midst of breeding.
Brown Lacewing, Strangways, 23rd October 2016