Over two years had gone by since I last visited the Stratford Highway Park, on that occasion the storage dam was reduced to a small pool, birds were very quiet, and I subsequently visited other locations that had more to offer. However, it was time for another look, and when I started the walk in it was to the swelling sound of the cicada orchestra with obbligatos from Rufous Whistler, Olive-backed Oriole, White-throated Treecreeper, Yellow-faced Honeyeater and Spotted and Striated Pardalote. When Martin, Gouldiae and I were surveying Seamist Park on a cool day recently, we remarked on the lack of insect activity on the heavily flowering Burgan. It was a different story on this hot day with the white flowers attracting hordes of small beetles, and three species of butterfly, Common Brown, Australian Admiral and Australian Painted Lady.
The Highway Park has a lot of nice cherry ballart trees, Exocarpos cupressiformis, and when driving past a few days ago I’d noticed a cockatoo in one enjoying a sweet treat.
Thanks to the heavy rain in June the dam is now at capacity, with many water plants regenerating after a long dry spell. Odonata too are laying the foundation for a resurgence in populations with at least five species of damsel and dragonfly ovipositing. I noticed Eastern Billabongfly, Wandering Ringtail, and Common Bluetail damsels, and Blue Skimmer and Blue-spotted Hawker dragons.
The Common Bluetail eluded the camera as did the mature male skimmer, the one I photographed is showing the first traces of the blue pruinescence that gives the species its name.
The hawker can be hard to photograph, spending most of its time on the wing, but on the walk out I caught one having a rest.
The park is looking good again, well worth the visit.
Click to enlarge.
So far this moth season it’s not been easy to organise outings, with few suitable nights between breaks in the weather. A calm warm night prior to a break next day had to be snapped up, and saw a friend and myself heading back to Providence Ponds where the record of Epicoma tristis was made just a week previously. On that occasion I’d missed the track to my intended location in the dim light, but this time kept a sharper lookout and we were soon setting up at what I call the crossroads, a track intersection where I’d had good results in September. Once darkness had fallen moths started to arrive in numbers, and one of the earlier arrivals was a nice Coprosma Hawk Moth, Hippotion scrofa that I transferred to the safety of the sheet.
As the night wore on and moths came in thick and fast, Geometrids of several sub-families were by far the most numerous, with the most interesting being many individuals of either the similar Taxeotis and Nearcha genera. Images of these are being examined at the moment. Thinking back, it was a similar story on my previous session at the crossroads. I was familiar with the Pink Browntail Moth, Urocoma baliolalis, but a nice female Urocoma arrived that was new to me. It is Urocoma marginalis, and it is pictured here flying up the sheet.
And then, an Epicoma was on the sheet and the camera was clicking. A look in the monitor at the images and the beautiful large pectinations on the antennae had me reasonably confident that we had another specimen of Epicoma tristis.
I’d only managed one image on the previous occasion, but this individual was more cooperative and many shots were taken.
Towards the end of the session we had several very attractive timber moths on both sides of the sheet, these moths in the Xyloryctidae family have long pectinate antennae and upcurved palpi. Ours are in the Cryptophasa genus and for the moment I’m calling them C. aff. irrorata as they seem to have much more white than the typical irrorata.
And to conclude this post one of the “snout moths” Lasiocampidae, Paraguda rufescens, two of which paid a visit.
All in all a very interesting and productive night, an album of images can be seen here.
Click to enlarge.