A trip out to the Avon River, perhaps some flowering bursaria to be found, and some odes on the river. Well, the bursaria was duly found and investigated but was something of a disappointment with honey bees, pintail beetles, and grass blues the main inhabitants of the flower city. A Yellow-banded Dart and a brown of some description were briefly sighted but flitted off and away. Never mind, on to the river to see what odes were about, and the first sighted were two or three brilliant blue male Diphlebia nymphoides flying low over the water. A couple of females too, but although they landed occasionally they were off and away as soon as I started to approach, I was comprehensively defeated by those beautiful large damselflies. No such problem with the abundant Southern Vicetails, they were quite happy to let me get close, set up the tripod in the water and snap away.


The Common Grass Blue is just that, common, but when one perched on the flowering polygonum it made a nice picture.

grass blue

Small frogs were constantly jumping out of the way as I paddled about in the shallows, then in amongst the boulders one posed for a photo. It is Litoria lesueuri, one of the common names being the Rocky River Frog, very appropriate in this situation. The skin on the back of this species can be either smooth or granulated, the latter applies here.

litoria lesueuri

The Red-browed Finches must have had a successful breeding season, a small flock with many immatures dropped in on the far side of a pool, way too far for the 200 micro but I took a shot anyway, two are keeping watch on me while one bathes.

red-browed finches

Then a Rufous Whistler decided it was bath-time too, but it didn’t like the look of me and after thinking it over decided to go to the other side of the callistemons for its dip. The 200 coped well at the distance.

rufous whistler

On then to the manna gums where summer campers were still in residence, and keeping them company was one of those opportunistic scoff anything vaguely edible characters, a big goanna. I couldn’t get far enough back to get it all in frame.


A one hundred metre paddle upstream yielded nothing new in the way of odes, but certainly of interest was an Incense Plant, Calomeria amaranthoides growing up from a tangle of flood rubbish, and in full flower.

incense plant

This plant thrives after a bush fire, it can appear in huge numbers and I’ll point you to a 2008 blog post by Gouldiae that illustrates this fact.

Click pictures to enlarge.

The Bounteous Bursaria.

In mid summer when the majority of the native flora has finished flowering, Bursaria spinosa, also known by the common name of blackthorn is in full bloom, a mass of sweetly scented small white flowers that act as a magnet to innumerable species of insect. It is in the Pittosporaceae family, and interestingly the drug aesculin is harvested from the plant. There is very good information on Florabank, and Wikipedia. Over the years several different forms have been named, but now there are only two sub-species recognised, B. spinosa ssp. spinosa, and B. spinosa ssp. lasiophylla. Bursaria, depending on a number of factors including soil and rainfall, can be either a multi-stemmed shrub, or a small tree up to ten metres tall. It is hardy, can be long-lived, up to fifty years, provides excellent protective shelter for small native birds, and is unmatched habitat for all those insects, many of which depend on it for their life cycle. All good reasons to utilise the species for re-vegetation work, something that Martin of Greening Australia is putting into practice in the Lake Wellington hinterland where this picture of the tree form was taken.


We have planted bursaria in our re-veg. work at the Bellbird Corner reserve, they are doing well, and were the first port of call in three recent outings to photograph some of the insect life
making hay while the bursaria blooms. Some references note that beetles are one of the main pollinators of bursaria, and at Bellbird that was certainly the case with many species busy in the flowers. The most spectacular were Fiddler Beetles and Spotted Flower Chafers, while Pintail or Tumbling Flower Beetles were very numerous with other unidentified species. Common Brown butterflies and the occasional wasp were also in on the act.


flower chafer






Later in the same day I went to the Stockdale forest where I’d photographed the Eastern Ringed Xenica nectaring on bursaria four years ago. No luck however with that butterfly, and in contrast to the Bellbird plants the only beetles on the flowers were a few pintails. Feral honeybees were there, with a few Common Browns, while the most numerous other insects by far were Common Grass Blues nectaring.

grass blue

The third trip was to some tree form bursaria I’d checked out when I was with Martin and James looking at the red gums, previous post. On these trees close to the lake, bees were by far the predominating insects, both feral and native, plus again a few Common Browns, and one Vespoid wasp. The native bee was present in numbers not far short of the honey bees, it is Lipotriches (Austronomia) australica. This bee is a solitary bee, quite large for a native, the female nests in a hole in the ground, and the males congregate in a communal roost at the end of the day. There is more information and a gallery of pictures in the Atlas of Living Australia

native bee


Two final pictures, the tesselated bark on the trunk, and the developing purse-like seed capsules that give the genus its name.



Bursaria, a wonderful native plant, grow some! As usual my thanks to Mitch of the Woolenook Native Nursery for help with bee identification.

Click images to enlarge.

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