Feed on

Of this and that.

We’ve had something of an autumn break, the paddocks are green again and home to many hundreds of Straw-necked Ibis probing the ground with their long curved bills in search of beetle and moth larvae. What a wonderful biological control these birds are; it’s many years now since we had an infestation of christmas beetles decimating the eucalypt foliage, I give ibis the credit for that and you know, they’re a handsome bird with their iridescent plumage. The farmer’s friend.


At Bellbird Corner reserve we planted a tray of river bottlebrush tube stock last spring. We gave them a good watering in and a second watering when the dry was really biting, we lost a few but the rain has come in good time to keep them going. That was good, but the rain softened the ground and we lost one of our big red gums. It was bound to happen some time as it didn’t appear to have an extensive root system, and the huge weight of the multi trunks and upper foliage brought it down. Quite a job to clear it, still some work to do.


Bird life in the reserve has increased with good numbers of Silvereyes, Yellow-faced Honeyeaters, and Grey Shrike-thrushes joining the usual residents. The tree violet shrubs are heavy in fruit, a food source for the first two. Black-faced Cuckoo-shrikes are feeding on caterpillars. The flying-foxes are still in residence in their camp by the river, there is another count on this week to try and check their numbers. There was a large influx to the Bairnsdale camp and it could be possible that some of the Maffra camp moved further east. To get some flight shots I went to the camp in the morning while they were still settling down after their night’s food search.




Some have holes in their wing membranes, probably spiked when they come in to land.


The camp has created a lot of interest, and opinions have been mixed, on local radio I heard of one person describing them as disgusting. Nothing could be further from the truth, these fantastic winged mammals are very clean, can fly up to fifty kilometres in a night to feed, and as I mentioned in an earlier post are important pollinators and seed dispersers. Love ‘em.

Click to enlarge.

Mothing on Bull Creek.

With one of the last warm nights of autumn forecast, a mothing trip into the Mitchell River National Park was indicated. An early start enabled me to pick out a good spot beside Bull Creek, it certainly looked promising with plenty of tall timber and luxuriant vegetation along the water course. A good sighting on the way was a Wedge-tailed Eagle that made me brake as it lifted up from a road-killed kangaroo just off the bitumen.

bull creek

With the light finally shining as darkness fell, one of the first moths to arrive was a small dark individual that fluttered around on the ground sheet for some time before I managed to get a shot. It was a member of the Zygaenidae family, known as Foresters or Burnet moths, genus Pollanisus, species possibly apicalis although there is another very similar one. The shining metallic scales on the wings are easily lost unfortunately, it would be nice to get a freshly emerged one. They have the ability to fold their antennae filaments as this one has done. The larvae feed on the foliage of hibbertias or guinea flowers.


Butterflies occasionally come to the moth light and I thought that was the case when a colourful individual fluttered around for some time. It finally landed on the back of the light stand and I could then see it was a beautiful moth.


Over the course of the night two more came in, it is a Geometrid, Lynchnographa agaura, and the record filled in the distribution map between Gembrook and Club Terrace where previous records have been made. MOV update 28 came out in March last year and I quote from Peter Marriott’s notes “A. plagiochyta. (Nolidae – Nolinae) three records for central Gippsland and one from Axel and I at Gembrook, bring us up to five specimens for Victoria. No doubt this will increase – probably from Melbourne to the eastern border.” From my previous records I immediately recognised one when it landed on the sheet, and by the time I packed up there were seven Aquita plagiochyta, Bull Creek was certainly living up to its early promise.

aquita plagiochyta

Another surprise turned up with a Chlorocoma externa, the Spotted-fringe Emerald. The distribution map in MOV 4 shows it as far east as Wilson’s Promontory, there is an alternate form in eastern Gippsland that differs somewhat so this could be a range extension.

c. externa

Thalaina clara and Thalaina selenaea turn up regularly, this is the latter showing a different angle on its beauty.

t. selenaea

Rhuma is a genus in the Geometrinae, it has a number of unnamed species, this handsome male with magnificent antennae seems to be closest to Rhuma sp(3) in MOV 4.

rhuma sp.

These are just a small fraction of the night’s moths, the rest can be seen here. A big night, Bull Creek will glow in the light of my moth lamp again in the future.

Click to enlarge.

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