Sunday, 22 April 2018

End of the Line

It's that time of year when some of the big Golden Orb Weavers are in their last days. They neglect their webs and do not eat very much. Males are not found and females descend to the ground to lay their eggs. In addition, Black Butcherbirds seek them out and pull them from their webs. During previous weeks, the spiders seem to avoid being picked off by the birds. Perhaps, the untidy webs are a giveaway for the spiders late in the lives of the orb weavers.

They are beautiful spiders when you see them up close. And they can see you. They are quick to dart to the we's edge when you approach.

Friday, 13 April 2018

Cassowary Update

The three youngsters are still growing and they still continue their characteristic peeping. This becomes more enthusiastic when the food source is is to their liking.

But the end is neigh. The chicks are just about the right size for their lives to make the next change. That occurs when Pops decides enough is enough and he drives them away. This seems sad because the chicks do not seem to understand what is going on with their father. He was protective and attendant yesterday but today he is antagonistic. Actually this behaviour may be initiated by the female when she comes into season.

 Nice garden bird, eh?

Some colours beginning to appear and the wattles are developing

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

New Book

A new book has appeared on the scene and most people reading this post would probably not be aware of it because it is published privately.
Lynette Esnor has produced a very handsome volume, number 3 in her series. This one features birds of Northwest Queensland. The other volumes include #1 The Wet Tropics, Queensland, #2 The Gulf of Carpentaria, Queensland. Another volume is in the offing and the topic will be the brids of the Cape York Peninsula, Queensland.

The book is comprehensive in the sense that it, and the other volumes contain an introductory section  featuring the History of Bird Evolution, Anatomy and Physiology, Adaptations (in considerable detail)Torpor, Feeding Habits, Preening, Feather and Plumage, Senses, Seasons, Mating and Nesting, Family Life, Migration and Distribution. Most of these topics are generally not covered in other volumes and they are of interest to the casual birder. A glossary and comprehensive index are also included.

The volume is attractively presented and features Lyn's photos in the 205 pages. Detailed notes accompany each species.

My Bird Obsession is published privately and can be ordered from Lyn at her email address: Lynette Ensor

Sunday, 1 April 2018

Around the Lights

A fair number of interesting insects have been showing up at the light sheets recently. Here is a sample.
 a brentid weevil,
Callirhipis sp., Callirhipidae
Ellipsidon australe Saussure; Ectobiidae; Pseudophyllodomiinae
Nephila sp, one of the large orb weavers
Pseudotrigonidium (Tripsegonium) australis (Chopard); Phalangopsidae; Phaloriinae
Calofulcinia sp. , female; Iridopterygidae; Nanomantinae; Fulcinini
 Sphingidae; Daphnis protrudens
Platyja cyanopasta; Geometridae; 
 Phyllophorella queenslandica; Tettgioniidae; Phyllophorinae, male
Anthela sp.; Anthelidae
Platyja cyanopasta; Noctuidae; Catocalinae

Austrocarausius mercurius (Stal); Phasmatidae; Lonchodinae, male
 Balta quadricaudata; Ectobiidae; Pseudophylodromiinae, male
 Desmoptera truncata; Pyrgomorphidae; Pyrgomorphinae, female feeding at night
 Golden Robberfly; Asilidae
 Goodangarkia oedicephala; Tettigoniidae; Conocephalinae; Agraeciini, female abroad at night
 Gryllacrididae, undetermined genus. Female with fresh spermatophore attached.
 Methana convexa; Blattidae; Polyzosteriinae
 Mjobergella warra; Gryllidae; Landrevinae, adult male
 Phricta spinosa; Tettigoniidae; Pseudophyllinae, Adult female abroad at night.
Loxoblemmus pallens; Gryllidae; Gryllinae, adult male abroad at night on ground.
Hemiphonus (Mundeicus) sp; Gryllidae; Podoscirtinae feeding at night
 Ellipsidion humerale: Ectobiidae; Pseudophyllodromiinae, male inactive at night
 undetermined weevil
 Caedicia webberi; Tettigoniidae; Phaneropterinae
 Segestidea queenslandica; Tettigoniidae; Mecopodinae. Female abroad at night.
 Unka boreena; Gryllidae; Podoscirtinae
Bullant; Myrmecia sp. male on nuptial flight. Females can deliver a painful sting!
That's all folks! 
Paracaedicia serrata; Tettigoniidae; Phaneropterinae

Thursday, 1 February 2018

Super Blue Blood Moon

For the first time in 152 years the lunar eclipse with the Blue Moon coincided to produce a show.
It was not as expected here in the tropics probably because it was a cloudy evening. But here is what it looked like from our driveway at 10.30 pm.

Friday, 12 January 2018

Mr Turkey Took Trot!

The local Brush Turkey major domo decided to build a mound near our driveway in the same spot that another male had chosen when we moved in to the place about 15 years ago. It must have "turkey appeal"-- but not that much because when I started to discuss sharing the eggs, he left and has not been back for a day and a half. But I suspect he's just on walk-about. They are said to make "decoy mounds" to try and deceive predators!

Cassowary update

The three chicks are still with us even though we see them and their father in the middle of Butler Drive from time to time and they have to cross busy Black Mountain Road to get to Butler Drive. But since "Pops" has been around for over 40 years, he seems to be very vehicle-aware!

We provide them with a mixture of fruit in the mornings.
The bubs have lost their stripe but they still have their juvenile "squeaks" and the wattles are starting to appear.

Gambolling near Mt Garnet, Part 2

On 10 November 2018 Buck Richardson and I were wandering around Nymbool Rd near Mt Garnet, Queensland taking photos of insects and enjoying the bush. Shortly after dark the weather turned to light showers, not wet enough to curtail activities. Shortly thereafter we noted a mass emergence of cicadas in some open bushland. Within a hour there were dozens of cicadas making their way to the surface of the ground in the humid, wind-free conditions. We followed a few individuals from the time we saw them until the adult appeared. Max Moulds identified the cicada as Macrotristria intersecta.

Here are a few of the photos from the emergence.
Coming out of the ground this nymph has grasped a twig and will continue to moult to adulthood. It is subject to predation during this time. Ants, Cane Toads, rodent, birds as well as predatory insects can interfere with this process. Fire and extreme weather can also take its toll. The cicadas have numbers on their side so that if a few are sacrificed a few will survive to carry on the population.

You can see the beak (feeding tube) between the first 2 pair of legs
Newly emerged after 1.5 hours or so. Now for the wings to harden and it will be ready to take to flight in the morning.
Hardening up