Autumn notes.

Autumn has arrived, and perhaps it’s time to detail a few observations about this season. A Grey Butcherbird gave a wonderful concert this morning, in recent years we’ve come to look on the butcher as the herald of autumn, chiming in before the Pied Currawongs make their presence felt with their “hark hark the lark” calls. Curras are down from the hills though, we saw a good sized flock flying over in the direction of the town gardens a few days ago. King Parrots are about in numbers, and soon after the Curras flew over, a flock of ten Gang-gangs also went over heading town-wards. These birds have probably always been traditional autumn and winter visitors to the plains, but since European settlement they’ve certainly found cultivated gardens to their liking. With the lack of rain the bush is very dry, and that probably accounts for the flush of honeyeaters in the garden. New Hollands and Eastern Spinebills are working over the correas and grevilleas for nectar, and with the Grey Fantails, sometimes gathering protein from the whirling columns of flying ants.
All our work connected with the Twenty fifth Landcare Anniversary grant culminated yesterday with a visit by the Sale Field Nats, and a musical afternoon by the river, attended by an appreciative audience. The notice board with lists of flora, fauna, and a little history was installed in the information shelter the day before, and was of interest to many.


With a line ruled under all those weeks of work it meant that I could pack away my hammer and nailbag and get back to doing what I enjoy most. While wandering through the reserve with the Field Nats I remarked on the surprising lack of odonata and butterflies. Autumn is the time of emergence of the Common Shutwing dragonflies, Cordulephya pygmaea, and luckily, to shore up my flimsy reputation as a nature guide, one actually landed on one of the group where it was the target of several cameras. Whether the extended dry weather has been the cause of the scarcity of odes and butterflies, or if it’s just a seasonal thing is a good question.
I haven’t had the time until now to check out my Odonata spots, so the next day it was out to the Avon River. Along about one hundred metres of the best stretches I saw only half a dozen dragonflies, and not one damselfly. The dragons were Common Shutwings and a couple of Scarlet Perchers. The perchers were far too wary, but I did get shots of the shutwings.

common shutwing

There was a reasonable flow coming down the river and conditions looked good, but perhaps the last flood took the larvae away downstream and it will take time for populations to recover, it’s happened before. There were a nice lot of birds however, including an Azure Kingfisher that made up somewhat for the lack of odes. The Quarry reserve on the Freestone Creek is not far away, but when I arrived I could see that the creek was not running and the only water was a couple of slimy pools. Again, not a solitary damselfly, but a small number of Blue Skimmers were patrolling their territories.

blue skimmer

blue skimmer

Altogether, not what you’d call a resounding success, so that evening I took the mothing gear to Bellbird for a session by way of compensation. And what came to the light part way through the night? Yes, a dragonfly, a Tau Emerald. All the photos I took showed an ant holding on to its front foot, fighting outside its weight limit I reckon!

tau emerald

Continuing a well worn theme the moths were rather quiet too, but there were a few interesting ones including this beautiful Chrysolarentia lucidulata, the rest can wait for another post.

lucid carpet

Click to enlarge.

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