Along river and creek #2.

The morrow dawned as predicted, calm and sunny, so it was back to the creek. Still a little cool for odes to be flying so the first pictures taken were of the cranesbill, beauty in a small package.

cranesbill


cranesbill


cranesbill

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.

chicory


chicory

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.

unicorn darner

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!

tunnel


tunnel

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.

unicorn darner


tau emerald

It all goes to show you don’t have to travel far to find things of interest.

Click to enlarge.

Along river and creek #1.

Some trees in our newest plantation at Bellbird Corner Reserve have been badly hit by an infestation of scale insects, we sprayed them with white oil a fortnight ago and it was time to go and see the results. Of course the camera with 200 micro lens went along too and was pressed into service at the entry gate, a Willie Wagtail was guarding the old farm roller and a pair of Galahs were helping to keep the grass down.

willie


galah

Common Brown butterflies were flitting but refusing to display their colours, preferring instead to blend in with the dead leaves on the ground. Their camouflage is so perfect they virtually disappear when they land and close their wings. It’s strange that they see a human as a potential predator, but their behaviour indicates that they do.

common brown


common brown

Dragon and damselflies seemed to be absent along the river track, I was hoping to see the Common Shutwing, an autumn species, but it must still be a little early. A male Rufous Whistler was singing beautifully but refused to let me get a shot, then, either a female or an immature came to have a look at me and the camera clicked. I’d opened up a stop and a half to allow for back light, and the resulting shot was over exposed, but the raw file allowed me to correct it.

rufous whistler

On then to the plantation, and hooray, the white oil had been effective, with the affected trees looking a lot better, the scale was dead. With an easy mind I dropped down to the river to check the polygonum for insects. Due to the dry conditions flowering was much less than last year, but the odd native bee was in attendance.

native bee

A small wasp was a considerable challenge with only one frame of several worthy of a showing.

wasp

Over the footbridge and along the creek, butterflies and some dragonflies at last, the former were a little more cooperative with a Common Brown and a Meadow Argus giving brief opportunities.

common brown


meadow argus

This side of the reserve is narrow, containing just the Newry Creek and the old Newry Road, and while wandering along I made an addition to the reserve plant list, the Cinquefoil or Soft Cranesbill, a small native geranium, G. potentilloides. I’d never noticed it before, but Orange-banded Darts drew my attention to it, and there was a stretch of several metres along the old road reserve where it was plentiful and flowering. The literature describes it as “not insect attracting”, well, the Darts must not have read that because they were visiting the flowers enthusiastically. Road reserves hold valuable remnants of the original vegetation and should be conserved, unfortunately I’ve seen one just out of town that used to hold lots of Diuris punctata scalped to provide road building material.

orange-banded dart

Two species of dragonfly allowed photographs, a female Black-faced Percher, and a Tau Emerald, usually the first dragonfly to appear in spring and still flying through the autumn.

percher


tau emerald

A breeze had sprung up by now making photography of small creatures difficult, so with a good day promised for the morrow it was time to leave with another visit in the pipeline.

To be continued, click to enlarge.

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