Friday, 7 November 2014

Skipped the mountain

The other day I noticed a butterfly that I hadn't seen before, as it fluttered around a clump of Gahnia sieberana or coarse sword grass. Checking identification it proved to be a female Mountain Spotted Skipper Oreisplanus perornatus, just a bit out of its mountain location. The larvae feed on the Gahnia  and it was fortunate for me, as we only have a couple of clumps of the sword grass. However I didn't have my camera with me so missed the chance to record a first sighting of this species.
Today proved more lucky as I had the camera handy where I was working and caught sight of a butterfly near the sword grass which proved to be a Mountain Spotted Skipper.
Unfortunately it was quite windy and I had difficulty getting focused but did manage to get one photo that shows the correct identification.


A small clump of Gahnia sieberana
The seed head

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Myna problem

The Indian Myna Acridotheres tristis is a significant feral pest in Australia, particularly in cities and towns, where they are regarded as the "rats of the sky". Nesting in roof cavities, or any hollow in buildings, their nesting habits encourage lice and the raucous calls drive people to distraction. We are fortunate that we don't have them in any numbers but we do have a pair that frequent an area near our proprty entrance. This year they have been very busy trying to nest in our letter box.


 So every day we are removing nesting material and at times eggs (so far 5 ) but they are undetered and every day back rebuilding at the nest site.
They have beautiful blue eggs (not their nest)
 A pity to take their eggs, (which the lace monitors enjoy) but it is a better action than trying to reduce their numbers by capturing and euthanaising the adult birds.
For us the main problem is that they are aggressive competitors for nesting hollows used by native birds such as rosellas, lorrikeets and even kookaburras have difficulty stopping the mynas taking their nest sites.
They are very wary and it has taken some time for me to get a photo as as soon as they sight something that is a possible threat they fly off a distance well away from the nest site, in this case our letterbox.
Originally they were brought to Australia as a way of combating insect pests in the sugar cane fields of Queensland, but like so many of these early attempts to use predators to control problem pests, it was not much of a suiccess and created more problems than it solved.

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Bandy in the pool


Hot weather and the pool is inviting and that was a problem for a Bandy-Bandy snake last night when after the swim it had a problem getting out or the pool and got stuck in the skimmer box. When I discovered it I found that it has got stuck so after releasing the opening flap it was able to get out, to the swim across the pool.

 Bandy-Bandy vermicella annulata are obviously spectacular looking snakes but rarely seen by people as they are nocturnal. A burrowing snake that is happy under rocks or logs and hunts through burrows for Blind Snakes their main prey, although lizards are also taken.
Although venomous they are not regarded as dangerous, being quite small ( this one's head was smaller than my little finger nail).
After I scooped it out of the pool it was very happy to get back to finding its burrow under the rocks on the pool edge.












Saturday, 25 October 2014

Star attraction

A shower of rain last night was enough to bring a star fungus popping out from the leaf litter and it was proving to be a great attraction for a number of flies. This is not all that surprising as the fungus Aseroe rubra gives off a foetid smell of rotten meat or faeces from the slimy spore mass that surrounds the central disc.
I took a few photos but the light was not good with shadows obscuring much of the detail so I have added an earlier photo where the fungus and visiting fly are clearly seen. 

 

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Scarlet on white

The peak flowering now of our Callistemons is about a month late this year and although we have had some Scarlet Honeyeaters around for the past couple of months, they have now started to arrive in numbers. Usually they spend most of their feeding in the red flowering Callistemons but I found a pair today in a Callistemon saligna which is a white flowering species. I was only able to get a few photos of the male as he worked over the brushes.