Moth species have recognised monthly flight times, some fly for quite a large part of the year while others are restricted to just a month or two. The months of autumn and winter tend to be quieter at the moth sheet due to the cooler temperatures, but some of those that do come to the light can be very interesting and not often photographed. So, it’s always worth while to brave the cold in the hope of getting something unusual. A calm night after a warm day was a good opportunity to sample the late autumn moths at the riverside reserve, and the rig was set up with a small frog calling from the leaf litter and a Common Ringtail looking down from a nearby tree.

common ringtail

With the light shining the first arrivals as often happens were from the huge two-winged Diptera order, the larger is mosquito size, it is probably a Chironomid midge. The smaller is probably a species of fungus gnat, these insects are are pollinators of greenhood orchids, photographs of them at work can be found in the excellent “Orchid Pollinators of Victoria” by Rudie H Kuiter, available at Andrew Isles. Wasps are also important orchid pollinators that are featured in the book, they are common visitors to the moth light, three species on this night.

diptera


wasp

Small moths started to arrive slowly, then on checking the back of the sheet I found the first larger species, a female Smyriodes trigramma, or Stippled Line-moth. this moth flies from March to May with April and May the main months. More photos of males and females taken two years ago at Giffard may be seen here.

smyriodes

Thalaina clara, the Clara Satin Moth is a common but beautiful species and several flew in, this individual showed little wear on the wings. The larvae feed on wattles.

clara satin moth

Two more Geometrids were the next larger moths to land, Scioglyptis chionomera, and Ectropis fractaria, both nice specimens.

scioglyptis


ectropis

A Lymantrid or Tussock Moth fluttered in and finally settled after some time, Urocoma baliolalis, the Pink Browntail Moth, food plants for the larvae include eucalypts.

urocoma

After taking my attention away from the sheet for a while I looked back to see a large moth low down. It was a Hepialid, Oxycanus dirempta, the first of two for the night. This moth can come in in quite large numbers and can be variable in colour and pattern, this light coloured one was beautifully patterned. Compare it with the second more typical individual.

oxycanus


oxycanus

Two of the many smaller moths were a Noctuid, the beautifully marked Cosmodes elegans, and an as yet unidentified species.

cosmodes


unidentified

With the cold starting to bite and the home fire calling it was time to start packing up, but as often happens there was some sudden action, two very active moths came in and fluttered around incessantly. Neither showed any sign of landing on the sheet so I followed one with the torch and eventually it landed in the grass. I was then able to pick it up on a dry leaf and transfer it to the sheet for photos. It was another autumn flying Geometrid, Paralaea porphyrinaria, the Chestnut-veined Crest-moth, and a very nice specimen despite all the frantic fluttering.

paralaea

Another Paralaea species, P. beggaria also flies at this time of year and can be seen at the Smyriodes link. Click images to enlarge.

Autumn Birds.

Two perfect autumn days have seen the garden full of birds, one day’s count while working numbered twenty two native species, below. Some, like the Scarlet Robins, Grey Shrike-thrushes, Grey Fantails, Willie Wagtails and Yellow-rumped Thornbills shadowed me, darting down to the freshly raked ground to snap up uncovered food items. Their delightful company started the brain ticking over, it’s been quite some time since the last poetic flight of fancy appeared here, I hope these short verses succeed in conveying my thoughts about our autumn avian visitors.

In autumn scarlet robins fly
south from the hills to spend the wintry months
bringing colour to fence or branch
and to our lives as well.

scarlet robin

The male brilliant red and black
with snowy white to catch the eye
his mate grey-brown and softly red
her subtle beauty a quiet delight.

scarlet robin

Angophora seed is heavy on the bough
white blossom changed to woody brown
where nectar lured the lorikeets
rosellas reap their bounty.

eastern rosella

The grey shrike-thrush is quieter now
a single note the only call
when spring returns the bush will hear
the beauty of its mellow song.

grey thrush

Pied currawong of yellow eye
black plumage heavy bill
we hear it call hark hark the lark
and know that autumn’s here.

pied currawong

Correa and hakea flowers
bright colour on dull days
the beckoning nectar drops await
the spinebill’s seeking tongue.

spinebill

With voice akin to creaky door
the gang-gang quietly calls
perched in gum or wattle tree
seeds held to hungry bill

gang-gang

Click to enlarge.
One day’s garden list. Red Wattlebird, Eastern Spinebill, New Holland Honeyeater, Yellow-faced Honeyeater, Silvereye, Grey Shrike-thrush, Golden Whistler, Scarlet Robin, Yellow-rumped Thornbill, Superb Fairy-wren, Crimson Rosella, Eastern Rosella, Australian King Parrot, Rainbow Lorikeet, Gang-gang Cockatoo, Satin Bowerbird, Grey Fantail, Willie Wagtail, Magpie-lark, Australian Magpie,
Pied Currawong, Little Raven.

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