….through the bush, not looking for anything specific, just pictures when and where they crop up. First to catch the eye, a bracket fungus on a dry log, click.

bracket fungus

It’s that time of year when the greenhoods are pushing up and catching the eye. The Trim has been up for a while and now the Nodding is making an appearance, click, click.

trim greenhood


nodding greenhood

Rosellas weaving through the trees
A feather drifting down to fall
And add its red to green and brown
A picture on the forest floor. click…

feather

The rain has largely bypassed us and the bush is quite dry, but in the shade of the Kangaroo Thorn there is some moistness and more fungi, brackets and puffballs, click, click.

bracket fungi


puffballs

And in a similar spot the fungus gnats have done their work well on a Mosquito Orchid, Acianthus species, there will be seed to disperse. These insects appear to do their work on these species mainly at night. (R Kuiter, Orchid Pollinators of Victoria.) click.

pollinated orchid

A small splash of yellow under a grey sky, the first flower on an Hibbertia, click.

hibbertia

Smaller than a grain of sand
A tiny seed became a tree
Lived its life and now is just
A remnant sleeping peacefully. click…

wood

Termites, a menace if they invade your house, but in the right place they have their place in the scheme of things, click, click.

termites


termites

Farewell to the bush and on to the grassy plains flora beside the railway line, but first a stop at the lowland occurrence of the Snow Gum, Eucalyptus pauciflora. Unfortunately this rather unique patch of an alpine species has been subjected to ill advised and unnecessary burning that has killed many of the trees. One survivor is at the roadside with a weeping branch of the longitudinal-veined leaves at a convenient height for a photograph, click, click.

snow gum


snow gum leaves

The railway reserve is also burnt to promote flowering of the grassland flora, but this has not been to the advantage of the Grevillea lanigera growing there. Several of the shrubs have made good growth since the last burn however, and were heavy in bud ready for an early spring flowering, click.

lanigera

And with the fickle sun shining again, a final stop before heading for home to admire a rather magnificent open-crowned Gippsland Red Gum, click.

red gum

Click all images to enlarge.

Some Moths of Winter.

Moths species have their flight times, some may only fly for two or three months, while others may be about throughout the year. Mothing in the winter months can be very slow, but some that do come to the light can be a bit special and under represented in collections, due to long cold hours at the light being not the most attractive option compared with the warm fireside.
However, a calm warm day provided the impetus and in the dusk the rig was set up opposite a privately owned bush paddock that had been checked out with a friend a couple of weeks previously.
Old unburnt bush is the most suitable to sample in order to get an understanding of the range of moths peculiar to that particular habitat, and this bush had not been burnt for at least fifty years. With the current regime of burning in the forested areas it is becoming quite difficult to find bush like this on public land, an area has often barely recovered from a previous burn before it is put to the torch once again.
The powers that be seem to give scant attention to the plight of threatened plants, birds, mammals, or reptiles, let alone the invertebrate populations that are an intrinsic part of the web of life of our bushland. Given the scale and frequency of burning at the present time, those populations may never recover to their original numbers and diversity, another chapter in the sad story of extinctions and species in jeopardy in the Australian natural world since European settlement. The irony is that among the millions of of invertebrates incinerated in a fire lit in the name of fuel reduction, many are larvae of moth species whose job in life is the recycling of dry leaf litter on the forest floor. With that said, back to the night’s mothing.
As is often the case, after firing up the generator and light the first half hour produced only a few mosquitoes, but gradually moths began to arrive. Among the earliest was a Notodontid, Sorama bicolor, the first of several, this is a male showing the diagnostic pectinate antennae.

sorama

Moths often choose to land on the back of the sheet away from the bright light, so it pays to check frequently, and on this occasion two good ones took up residence side by side. Both are Geometrids in the Ennominae sub-family, the first is a very nice Nisista notodontaria, the second is Neoteristis paraphanes. Earlier records showed the latter only extending east as far as Tyers, but its range probably extends to the border with NSW where it also occurs.
(MH, Moths of Victoria Vol.5)

nisista


neoteristis

July is the first main flight month for Amphiclasta lygaea, and several came to the light. On this night many moths were reluctant to land on the sheet, preferring the surrounding ground and occasionally nearby shrubs. This is a male photographed with difficulty from a teetering stepladder steadied by my friend.

amphiclasta

At present being studied by PM for the Moths of Victoria project is the genus Praxis in the Catocalinae sub-family of the Noctuids. Two species came in on this night, pictured below, I was advised to just call them Praxis ssp. as there is still work to be done.

praxis


praxis

The Crest-moths, Paralaea species are also in the Ennominae sub-family, and two species came to the light, P. porphyrinaria and possibly P. sarcodes.

paralaea


paralaea

And to finish, another Nisista, a very dark N. serrata that also preferred to perch on the ground.

nisista

All moths photographed from four hours at the sheet can be seen here, a pleasing result for a winter session thanks to that unburnt bush. I wonder what the warmer months will bring….

Click to enlarge.

Older Posts »