A Spring Day.

It started off with a discovery when I was watering some pots on the verandah, I noticed the upper leaves on a small cassia plant were tattered. It didn’t take long to realise the cause and spot it, a looper caterpillar, larva of a geometrid moth..

looper

As usual at this time of year the Gold Dust Wattle, Acacia acinacea is putting on a great show in the garden, and while admiring it I noticed native bees collecting pollen, the activity was full on and they were very difficult to photograph.

gold dust wattle

The majority were Lasioglossum species that pack the pollen into the hairs on their legs, I could plainly see the females loading up with movements of their legs. Then I noticed a different bee, it was a small reddish Reed Bee, Exoneura species, and as can be seen in the third photo it packs the pollen on to the under surface of its abdomen. For lots of good info on native bees visit the Aussie Bee website.

native bee


reed bee


reed bee

The bees provided the impetus for me to then head out into the foothills hoping to find more on the spring wildflowers. My first stop was the slope where the B anemonifolia was a picture.

boronia


boronia

Also flowering heavily close by was Brachyloma daphnoides and a Leucopogon species, but the only bees in attendance were feral honeybees and this state of affairs continued with no natives to be seen. The area is noted for a large number of pomaderris species, especially along the river, one species on the ridge above was coming into full flower.

pomaderris

The Hoary Sunray plants that were just starting to flower on my previous visit were now well under way putting on quite a show, they grow in the driest most inhospitable ground imaginable.

sunray


sunray

Above the sunrays Daviesia leptophylla was also flowering.

daviesia

Generally speaking the only flowers to be seen on the roadsides in the farming areas and close to the town are weeds like capeweed, and various garden escapes, however on a dry bank not far out of town, plants of Eutaxia microphylla have persisted for as long as I can remember. It had been some time since I last checked them, so on the way home a stop was made and happily they still survive, although perhaps not in the numbers formerly seen.

eutaxia

Click to enlarge.

Along the railway line.

Old cemeteries, back roadsides, and railway reserves are some of the last strongholds of the grassland flora of the red gum plains, and the line between Stratford and Bairnsdale has some good wildflower stretches. Although it is early in the season a visit to the latter was rewarding. A considerable distance had been fairly recently burnt allowing a comparison between the burnt and unburnt areas. The burnt area holds a unique lowland occurrence of the snow gum, E. pauciflora, and due to repeated burning with no protection it has been just about wiped out, a sad state of affairs. In the unburnt section there were already for example Golden Moth orchids in abundance, Common and Clustered Everlastings, Variable Billy-buttons, Grey Parrot-pea, Early Nancy, and an occasional small shrub of Grevillea lanigera flowering heavily on new regrowth after the last burn. After an early light frost the morning air temperature was still low, quietening insect activity, although a few very wary hoverflies were visiting the billy-buttons. These flower heads were also holding small beetles and dormant male Lasioglossum bees, no females were yet visiting either the buttons or the parrot-peas. By way of contrast, flowers in the adjacent burnt section were very sparse, but that should change later on when flowering is more advanced.

golden moths


everlasting


everlasting


hoverfly


beetle


native bee


parrot-pea


early nancy


grevillea

A Painted Lady butterfly refused to be photographed with its wings spread, instead relying on closed wing camouflage to pretend it wasn’t there.

painted lady


Click to enlarge

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