I just happened to be looking through photographs taken in Gippsland over the last ten years and the thought came to me, why not do an alphabet themed post. I first thought of a collection of varied subjects, and that may come, but finally decided to do one on birds. The photos were taken with several cameras and I’ve picked out images that I like and can say a little about, and I hope you enjoy them as much as I did seeing them from behind the camera.

A is for Avocet, in June 2013 we had a big rain event that caused widespread flooding, and a flock of avocets dropped into a flooded paddock east of the RAAF base. This species with the Banded Stilt are now regular sightings in the salinity affected wetlands around the Gippsland Lakes.

avocets

B is for Butcherbird, the Pied is supposed to have the best song and it is indeed wonderful, but the rollicking song of the Grey which we hear every autumn takes a lot of beating.

butcherbird

C is for Cockatoo, and the Sulphur-crested, common and often maligned for its noise and mischief, is, when seen in a rare moment of peace a most beautiful bird.

cockatoo

D is for Darter, once rare in the local waterways, but now a common sighting, pictured here during a big breeding event on the Sale Common in 2011.

darters

E is for Egret, the one most often seen locally is the stately Great Egret, but the energetic Little Egret has its own appeal. Photographed at the Loch Sport causeway.

egret

F is for Falcon, and the King of the Hill is of course the Peregrine, this youngster is ready to leave the nest site, a cliff ledge. One parent was screaming furiously at me as it flew past.

falcon

G is for Gull, the Silver Gull is not seen at its best at rubbish dumps or when squabbling for food scraps at picnic areas, but in its natural environment it is a beautiful bird.

gull

H is for Heron, the late Graham Pizzey described the White-faced as “carved in grey steel” an apt description, but for this exercise I’ve chosen the White-necked or Pacific Heron, photographed here with partial breeding plumage at the Heyfield Wetlands.

heron

To be continued, click to enlarge.

Mothing Holey Plains.

From the Parks website, “Holey Plains State Park covers an area of 10,638 hectares of mostly Banksia and Eucalypt open-forest and woodlands growing in a series of low sandy ridges. Proclaimed in 1977, the park protects an extremely high diversity of native flora and abundant wildlife.” And the moth fauna certainly displays that diversity with quite a few significant records being made over the last few years. It had been just on eighteen months since my last session there so a return visit was long overdue. A productive location has been one of the pipeline tracks, so that was where the rig was set up on an area of hard white gravelly sand, no need for a ground sheet.

holey plains

While waiting for nightfall I noticed frog calls, k-tek, k-tek, coming from what I thought was the bone dry bush behind the rig. Small frogs are not unusual around the moth light, but the calls definitely needed investigation and what a surprise I found. Just a few metres into the bush I found what must be a spring fed area of shallow water with low green grass from where the calls were coming. Wallabies had been drinking there, the tracks made by their tails were plain to see, unlike the frogs that eluded me despite two searches, one in daylight and one later with the torch. The call though gave me the identification, the Southern Toadlet, Pseudophryne semimarmorata. Dendy’s toadlet has a similar call but has a more north-easterly distribution. But back to business, the sun soon dropped in the west, the abundant Dusky Woodswallows went to their night time roosts and it was time to turn on the light.

holey plains

Over the course of the night several emeralds came in, including Chlorocoma cadmaria, an attractive moth with its cream and pink wing fringe. I’ve photographed quite a number of the emeralds but have always been disappointed at missing out on any of the more spectacular species. On this night however Holey Plains came good with a lovely Bordered Emerald, Eucyclodes buprestaria, a male.

bordered emerald

A frontal close up displayed the beautiful “cape.”

bordered emerald

Sometimes moths can be infuriating, fluttering around nonstop, disturbing others and refusing to settle, and on this occasion one did just that. I chased it around for ages trying to get a shot in flight just to see what it was, confirmed it was one of the snout moths, Paraguda rufescens, and then it finally landed on a pebble to pose nicely for its portrait.

paraguda rufescens

The genus Rhuma in the sub-family Geometrinae has several undescribed species, Holey Plains has always been a good place for them and a couple came in on this night including this very attractive male, with characteristics of Rhuma sp(3)

rhuma

The Grey Elesma, Elesma subglauca, Nolinae, is one of the tuft moths, so called for small tufts of raised scales on the fore wings, a species I hadn’t seen for a while.

elesma

Somewhat similar in appearance is one of the stub moths, Discophlebia celaena, the Variable Stub-moth, photographed on the ground with its wings spread.

discophlebia

Several Noctuid species came to the light, two of the more attractive ones were Proteuxoa sanguinipuncta and Proteuxoa oxygona. The former is very common and can come to the light in large numbers, but it’s a striking moth and well worth its time in the spotlight.

proteuxoa sanguinipuncta


proteuxoa sanguinipuncta

All the moths photographed on the night can be seen here.

Click images to enlarge.

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