….can take many forms, some people specialise, for example on orchids, or birds, in the process becoming authorities, and I admire them for their dedication. I seem to wander haphazardly from one thing to another, and lately the emphasis has been on photography of small creatures with six or eight legs. When I received an email from Mitch of the Woolenook Native Nursery informing me that we were going peacock hunting, I thought for a moment that I might be heading in a different direction for a change. But no, after a drive north we finished up on a dry forest hillside with only a kookaburra looking down sardonically at me. The peacocks we were after were the wonderful little Peacock Jumping Spiders, Maratus volans, the subject of spectacular photos and videos by Dr. Jurgen Otto, many can seen on YouTube. There are many different species in the genus Maratus, Mitch has found and photographed five locally, you can see them on Bowerbird. It wasn’t long before we found one in the leaf litter, Maratus plumosus, the Blue-thighed Jumping Spider, I didn’t catch this species displaying to a female, but did get shots of one signalling with its third legs.
Another was found soon after, but then a call from Mitch had me exchanging gazes with Maratus volans the Peacock Jumping Spider.
The female is very different, one was close by but we didn’t see the display on this occasion.
My thanks to Mitch for introducing me to the world of these fantastic little spiders.
Click to enlarge.
I mentioned in the second of this series that I’d missed a butterfly in the Lycaenidae family, so another trip up the track was in order. On the way I noticed lots of dragonflies on the wing, but more of that later. Arriving at the goodenia patch I parked in some shade and got out with the camera to see what was about, and immediately saw what I was after. There were in fact a number of them, and there was quite a bit of chasing going on, males after females perhaps, or males competing for territory. I walked back and forth along the track taking shots whenever the opportunity presented itself, and eventually managed to get worthwhile images despite the constant activity. The butterfly is Neolucia agricola agricola, or Fringed Heath Blue, and the reason for the common name can be seen on the trailing edge of the hind wings.
I saw a Lilac Skipper again too, but the most numerous species was the Common Grass Blue, Zizina labradus labradus, a species I remember from my earliest days observing nature, seventy five odd years ago.
Dragonflies were up on the dry ridge 2 km away from the river and one obligingly posed for the camera, it is a female Southern Vicetail, Hemigomphus gouldii and the first I’d seen so far away from the water.
Native bees were far more numerous on this occasion, the goodenia flowers must have worthwhile amounts of nectar. I left them to it however and headed back down the track on my way to one of my dragonfly stretches on the river, again seeing lots on the wing. Not surprising, as the goodenia flowers were attracting so many insects, it would have been good hunting territory. At the river they were few and far between. A beautiful blue mature male Arrowhead Rockmaster damselfly was too quick for me, but I did get a Wandering Percher and a male Southern Vicetail. When comparing it with the female you can see the different yellow markings on the body segments.
With the wind getting up it was time to call it a day, but then a strange one landed in front of me. I haven’t had the time to track it down yet, I’ve not seen anything like it before.
Click to enlarge.