Chicory, Cichorium intybus is a plant in the Asteraceae or daisy family. It was widely grown from 1860 to 1960, mainly at Phillip and French Islands, the roots were dried and ground to be added to coffee. It is widely naturalised, common at Bellbird Corner, and is even appearing at home, possibly from seed carried back on the vehicle tyres, or carried in on the westerly wind, who knows…. The flowers seen in close up are quite beautiful, and are attractive to bees.
Impatient for dragonflies I started to walk through the long grass, checking the shrubs to try to find individuals still roosting. Sure enough one flew, I followed it and saw it disappear behind a blackwood. Edging carefully around I saw it, perched once more, obviously the air was still too cool for it to start hunting. Shots were taken with flash and natural light, this image is the latter, of a very nice female Unicorn Darner, Austroaeschna unicornis. I like the way she has her left leg wrapped around the phyllode.
Then, at another blackwood I found something interesting that I’d not encountered before. A wood boring caterpillar had two entrances to its tunnel, one on either side of the base of a branch. Both openings were closed in the usual manner with covers of silk, frass, and droppings, but the intriguing feature was the attached phyllodes that were partially eaten. This is the behaviour of timber moths in the Xyloryctidae family, they leave their residential tunnels at night to collect phyllodes which they secure with silk to the tunnel entrances to be eaten later. My information comes from Ian McMillan’s authoritative site. What a clever little grub!
With the air temperature warming up dragonflies were at last on the move, while far above a Wedge-tailed Eagle was soaring on a thermal. With the fluting of a Grey Thrush in my ears I stalked those wary insects waiting for them to briefly land, and nailed two, another Unicorn Darner, this time a male, and one of those ubiquitous Tau Emeralds, quite a dark individual. This seems to be common at this late stage of the season, they may lose their freshness of colour as they age. Just a theory.
It all goes to show you don’t have to travel far to find things of interest.
Click to enlarge.