April Roundup.

We’ve had the best autumn break for years, 100 mm plus at the time of writing, everything is green and moist, and the garden plants are loving it. The soft easterly rain settles on the grevillea flowers making them look even more beautiful, these drops are on Peaches and Cream, probably the most vigorous and floriferous hybrid we’ve ever grown, highly recommended.

raindrops

Birds have moved in to take advantage. New Holland Honeyeaters, Eastern Spinebills, White-plumed Honeyeater, Red Wattlebirds, Scarlet Robins, Grey Shrike-thrush, Golden Whistler, Grey Butcherbird, Yellow-rumped, Yellow, and Brown Thornbill for example. The home magpies have given up on us, with plenty of food available in the wet paddock they are no longer looking for handouts. The nectar feeding spinebills have been a delight, especially when hovering at the correas.

spinebill

Scarlet Robins are regular autumn garden residents, we looked out through the window to see the female sitting close in, fluffed up against the cold. She was quite relaxed as I moved closer and closer, finally taking shots from a couple of metres away.

female robin

The winter’s wood is split and stacked, and home to a large number of mature and newly hatched Dark-flecked Garden Sun-skinks that bask in the warmth of the sun when it decides to shine. They will need to keep a lookout for lizard eating Pied Currawongs that are about in autumn.

garden skink


garden skink

A visit to Sale meant a wetland walk, the long dry spell we had was showing up in the very poor water quality in many areas, with algae and dead carp apparent.

algae


carp

Water birds were not plentiful, with just a Pelican, a couple of White-faced Herons, a few Chestnut Teal and Pacific Black Duck, and a Great Egret. They were all wary and only allowing long range shots, perhaps because the duck hunting season is underway.

waterbirds


great egret

On the other hand there were plenty of bush birds along the track, Superb Fairy-wrens, White-browed Scrubwrens, Red-browed Finches, and at a higher level, Silvereyes, Grey Shrike-thrushes, and White-eared Honeyeaters.

white-eared honeyeater

And to finish this post, back to the garden at night where some of the orb weavers have reached an impressive size with webs to match.

orb weaver


Click images to enlarge.

April Moths.

There were two options, either Monday or Wednesday night. Monday was supposed to be fine and twenty degrees, with Wednesday twenty five and possible showers. The warmer temperature would be better for moths, but the chance of rain drops hitting an expensive hot moth light made the decision easy, Monday night it was. At least with daylight saving over it gets dark earlier, and I found myself setting up in the last glimmers of light in the tall eucalypt forest to the north. After the 60 mm autumn break I was hoping to get some Hepialids, and indeed the first moth to the light was an Elhamma australasiae, but as it turned out, it was the solitary member of that family to pay a visit. There were some good consolation prizes however, with two specimens of the Bright Geometrid, Lychnographa agaura coming in, the first time I’ve seen them in this locality.

bright geometrid

April is the optimum time of year for Clara’s Satin Moth, Thalaina clara, and quite a number came in on this occasion. Not surprising as the larvae feed on wattle foliage, in abundant supply around my mothing location.

clara's satin moth

Rhinodia rostraria is another Geometrid that I’ve previously photographed in the area, it will often perch with its wings closed as this one did for quite some time, before I finally caught it with wings spread on the base of the sheet stand.

rhinodia rostraria


rhinodia rostraria

Two Sparshall’s Moths, Trichiocercus sparshalli, Notodontidae, came in, both males with their tail tufts and pectinate antennae. The larvae are very striking, the photo was taken in the garden way back in 2005, not knowing at the time what they were.

sparshall's moth


sparshall's moth


sparshall's larvae

Two specimens of a moth in the same family that was completely new to me were photographed in a variety of poses to capture all characteristics, it is Ecnomodes sp.(1)

ecnomodes


ecnomodes

I was expecting to get the odd Anthelid in to the light, and when a large moth started fluttering around in anthelid fashion without settling I thought I had one. I took several shots of it on the move to try to get an identification, one of which turned out to be important. Finally it started to settle and I found I had a Lasiocampid, a male Entometer species with spectacular blue-lined antennae and blue-tinged palps. Entometer fervens is the common local species but this was Entometer apicalis, a larger moth with a different under-wing pattern. The identification was confirmed by the shot on the move that showed the under-wing details.

entometer


entometer


entometer

And, another Geometrid that I hadn’t seen for quite some time, a female Paralaea porphyrinaria fluttered in, settled, and then obligingly climbed on to a stick for me.

paralaea porphyrinaria

Finally, as happens occasionally, an ant spider wandered in and across the groundsheet before disappearing into the night. As mentioned in the Wikipedia article, the spider is walking on its three rear pairs of legs, leaving the front pair free to touch a challenging ant’s antennae.

ant spider

These have been a selection of the night’s moths, the complete collection can be seen here.

Click to enlarge

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