Category Archives: Wattles

Night life in the wattles

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, Notoncus hickmani

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.

Spider up close

Hunstman

Much smaller, about 5mm long, was a Hamilton’s Orb Weaver Araneus hamiltoni hiding from my bright light in the blossoms.

Araneus hamiltoni

Hamilton’s Orb Weaver #1

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Hamilton’s Orb Weaver #2

More confidently staying in her web was this larger orb weaver, about 10mm long.

Orb weaver

 

Wild plants galore

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

Winter gold

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

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It’s a jungle out there!

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.

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Brown Lacewing, Strangways, 23rd October 2016

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Crane-fly

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Green Lacewing

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Lauxaniid Fly

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Mosquito

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An abundance of arthropods

by Patrick Kavanagh

With some warm days and lots of flowering in the front yard, there is an abundance of arthropods keen to collect the bounty of pollen and nectar.
The bee in the Wirilda blossom looks like a Lasioglossum sweat bee. I think the mosquito-like insect resting under an Everlasting leaf is a Midge, as the hind legs are on the substrate and I gather that mosquitoes hold their rear legs up at rest. The feathery antennae are possessions of the males, I gather from my reading. This one looks like an insect I’d posted on bowerbird.org which was identified as Chironomidae. I think the wasp is a Paper Wasp, but would appreciate a more precise identification.

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Hoverfly, Strangways, 7th October 2016

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Lasioglossum Bee

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Midge

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Possibly a paper wasp?

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Unidentified fly

 

Keeping the birds in the shade for now!

We are witnessing an extraordinary display of wildflowers in the local bush this Spring – the birds will get their place in the sun soon, but for now enjoy the delights on offer.

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Bulbine Lily Bulbine bulbosa, Bell’s Lane Track, 23rd September 2016

grevillea

Cat’s-claw Grevillea Grevillea alpina

hibbertia

Spiky Guinea-flower Hibbertia exutiacies

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Musky Caladenia Caladenia gracilis

pinkbells

Pink Bells Tetratheca ciliata

rough-wattle

Rough Wattle Acacia aspera

sundew

Tall Sundew Drosera auriculata

Action in the garden

by Patrick Kavanagh

Spring is in full tilt in our front yard at Strangways. The Brown Thornbills that nested in a lemon tree are now caring for two noisy fledglings who stay well hidden in the Hedge Wattles. I was surprised to see this little one pop up briefly into clear view.

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Juvenile Brown Thornbill, Strangways, 25th September 2016

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Adult Brown Thornbill

Having just completed a nest in some Gold-dust Wattle, a pair of Superb Fairy-wrens have been canoodling lots. It was a pleasant surprise to see them so unconcerned by the presence of the paparazzi that they consummated their courtship whilst I had my camera. Twice.

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Superb Fairy-wrens

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The grevilleas have been hotly contested territory between New Holland and Yellow-faced Honeyeaters. Whilst the latter have been moderately cooperative sitters, the New Hollands have been more circumspect and only occasionally put a head into view.

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New Holland Honeyeater

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Yellow-faced Honeyeater feeding on Grevillea flowers

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