Gale force winds abated overnight giving rise to a pleasant Autumn day, ideal for a trip into the bush. Mount Angus Creek, an Avon tributary was the first stop, tall forest on the south side of the ridge, Mountain Grey Gum, huge Blue Oliveberry trees, Christmas Bush, Prickly Currant, Hazel Pomaderris, ferns on the shaded creek flats, and much more. Birds though were very quiet, Grey Fantail and a distant carolling Grey Butcherbird. Back along the track to the creek junction and the scene changed, Dusky Woodswallows, Golden Whistlers, Yellow-tufted and White-naped Honeyeaters, Crimson Rosellas, Spotted Pardalotes, and Scarlet Robin to name some. Only one photo in the camera, fungal growth in a rare moist area in the creek bed, it’s remaining dry.
Away from the creek and on to the first stop on the river, Scarlet Robins seen at three more locations along the way. Dragonflies rather scarce, with the autumn species the Common Shutwing most numerous, with a few Southern Vicetails and the odd unidentified flying individual.
Butterflies were flitting, browns, but refusing to land for us. Green Slantface Grasshoppers were more approachable and this one cooperated nicely, gradually moving up the rock until it was in the perfect position for its portrait.
Robber or Assassin Flies were zooming, and when one landed we could see that it had prey. After a considerable chase from perch to perch the camera finally caught it at close range in good light, the prey was a European wasp.
The second river spot used to be my best Odonata location, but after several big floods it has completely changed, with dragons and damsels virtually non existent. Normally, after a flood in this river populations recover in two or three years when larvae numbers build up again, but here it hasn’t happened. In fact the whole stretch of river is not what it was, the huge floods scour the river bed and must wash the larvae far downstream. Perhaps sections of the bed change and become unsuitable habitat for the range of species I used to see in numbers. However the butterflies were landing, and the camera caught the smaller of the two browns, the Spotted Brown, Heteronympha paradelpha paradelpha.
That was a surprise, but an even bigger one happened shortly after a Brown Goshawk had cruised up river, a White-bellied Sea Eagle also flew upstream, a wonderful sighting. On then to the third spot, a beautiful wide and deep stretch of the river. Again odes were scarce, a Blue Skimmer was noted and another large species eluded us. Then, a darkish damselfly landed briefly, giving time for a couple of shots before it flitted. At the time of writing the jury of still out on this one, it is a female probably in the wiretail group.
Robber flies were very numerous here, the species flying at the moment is a quite noticeable bronze colour when seen in the sunlight. The prey this one has seems to be a longish beetle of some kind, the elytra or hardened fore-wings can be seen projecting on both sides.
The Avon River and its catchment is a gem of Gippsland, geologically interesting, with a wealth of flora and fauna, long may it remain in its natural state.
Click images to enlarge.