Saturday, 31 December 2011

December updates

Links to those posts which have been updated since the initial post.
  • More insects have been added, more than usual identified! In fact two additional posts have been added
  • The moth from Mt Franklin has been identified 
  • Images of the Swallowtail and a Stinkhorn fungus have been added to the Brindies blog
  • An artichoke is apparently digestible. 
  • The hyacinth orchid had got more flowers and an astonishing number found at the 6 Mile TSR. 
  • Quite a few corrections have been made to the Touga Rd post as a result of reader feedback. 
  • A couple of corrections to insect names on the Swamp post
Apparently there was a red-moon event (ie a lunar eclipse) on the 10th  of December, but it was around midnight so I was well asleep by then.  However earlier in the evening I got this image - spiffy, but not worth its own post - about 10:30.
Happy New Year!

Friday, 30 December 2011

Unsquare Swamp

I posted in November about a visit to Square Rock in Namadgi National Park.  Today we visited the area again, but instead of visiting the Rock we spent most of our time in and near the swamps to the North of Corin Road.  The primary objective was to look for Orchids in the company of a group of friends who are expert in such matters.  Cutting to the chase we - needless to say, mainly "them" - found 10 species.

This first image is of Simpliglottis valida.  It is going over (orchid-speak for a flower being fertilised  which is equivalent - in the current generation -  to 'passing away', 'joining the majority', 'croaking' etc etc) but this was about the best example of a flower we found.
 The only 'donkey orchid' found was Diuris monticola which added to the many yellow plants in the swamp.
 We now move on to the 'potato orchids".  Two species were found on the day, on the slopes above the Swamp.  The first two images are Gastrodia entomogama - recognisable by the warty appearnce of the base of the flower.  First a close up ...
 .. then a shot of the whole spike.
 The examples of G sesamoides were rather scrawny.
 Hiding amongst the grasses and reeds were a few examples of Prasophyllum canaliculatum.  Despite its vernacular name, this doesn't look at all like any part of a leek!
 There were quite a few examples of the Greenhood orchids.  Fortunately they tended to be the larger and more exciting genera.  The first example is Pterostylis aneba the smallest species found on the day, and also the rarest, this being about the only colony known in the ACT.   I am advised that in this case the labellum has been 'triggered' due to someone's size 9 having gently tapped the plant.
 Pterostylis falcata is much larger with a definitive shape to the dorsal sepal.
 The next three images are of P. monticola, with a much darker labellum.
Sometimes a hitchhiker turns up ..
 ..  and, like buses, after a period of none around there is suddenly a rush.  In this image I have put red dots on the 10 flowers in the image.
 The final greenhood is Diplodium decurvum.  It was described as a 'baby' as it wasn't fully open, but the decurved dorsal sepal, and bronze tip thereto are visible.
 Although the day was relatively mild a colony of sun orchids Thelymitra cyanea were kind enough to be open for us. 
 The curlicues on the column produced interesting effects!  Put your own name to this face!
Moving from orchids, but sticking with monocotyledons for a little longer here is a small vanilla lily Arthropodium minor.  In close up, I was particularly struck by the woolly stalks on the stamens.
The only dicotyledon to catch my fancy was a Comespermum.
The first animals to be sighted were a bunch of kangaroos that seemed rather reluctant to shift from the only bit of dry ground in the swamp.
As with our previous visit there were hug numbers of skinks in the area. 
The insects life was interesting but largely not hungry (at least not for our flesh).  This March fly (possibly Dasybasis sp) just sat on my jeans to be photographed.

While a turquoise moth posed obligingly (now, if only it will offer up its name so helpfully...).  The nearestt I have come, with thanks to Denis's comment below is the family Geometridae.
Back at the car this colourful insect appeared.  After a side track into paper wasp (subsequently rejected as it doesn't have a waist) I have concluded at a Steel-blue sawfly, Perga dorsalis.  
I noticed surprisingly few members of the order Orthoptera (grasshoppers and crickets) around.  This one, a Katydid, Acripeza reticulata, is a wingless female.
Over the day I recorded 24 species of birds. The highlight was a family of Little Ravens: as the adults fed one of the very noisy chicks this became a breeding record.

I will conclude with a photograph taken by Frances, proving that I too get down and dirty when the Gastrodia demands it.

Thursday, 29 December 2011

Sitting on a red-hot poker

Now that your eyes have stopped watering, you will be pleased to know this is about the garden plant - Kniphofia sp - and nothing to do with urban legends about the death of  Edward II of England nor the Red Hot Polkas.

Last year I did include some images of Eastern Spinebills feeding on the flowers.  This year the crop of flowers is even better and we are getting a wide range of birds dining on them.  So I thought I would use this post as a repository for the images captured.

The first image is a juvenile Eastern Spinebill.
Followed by some adults (note the prominent throat spot).

Next is a White-eared Honeyeater
The next two are of Noisy Friarbird.  The first image is included mainly to illustrate the bizarre positions these birds can adopt when feeding.

To my surprise these have been the only species of birds coming to dine at the poker table (although they have been coming very frequently).  Insects have been few and far between also: this ant is the only one that has been kind enough to pause for a picture.
This did inspire me to take a shot of just the flowers: the sheer number of florets shows how much nectar  must be generated by these flowers (and how many hiding places for arthropods there are).

Monday, 26 December 2011

Third arthropod post this month!

I read a tip from Google analytics that too much stuff in a page makes them slow to load, which annoys the punters.  My second arthropod post for this month was starting to get a bit big so I have added this third one.  When I have worked out exactly how to do it, I will put up a consolidating post as an index to all the mini-beasts I have been able to identify!  In the meantime here are some more which I find interesting, or attractive, in shape.
The first two are yet more images of the Vine Moth - after endless pursuit last year they are turning up everywhere this year.  This one was perpetrating some form of mischief on a strawberry leaf.

 Next we have some ants (life is too short to ID small ants) climbing over some other insects, which on the 'usual suspects rule' I will say are a juvenile form of aphid.  In fact they are Mealybugs (closely related to aphids) in the family Margarodidae, probably Monophlebulus sp.  Two variations on that theme are in this image: a light brown xample in the centre and a darker form below it.
A couple of days later the aphid being tended was green.

Dave Rentz has identified the following as a first instar nymph of a Torbia species  These early stages mimic ants possibly to dissuade lizards and birds from eating them.  It is identifiable as a Katydid  rather than a grasshopper since the antennae are so long.
 Here we have a millipede.  I originally called it a centipede on the basis of it having one pair of legs per segment.  See the second comment from Denis below to see the detail of why that was not the best call I have ever made! The 'orrible wrinkly background is my hand!
I am unsure of the reason for it, but we seem to have more insects around than ever before.  Possibly the relatively cool, humid weather has encouraged them to breed or perhaps I am spending more time in the garden looking for them.  Anyway here are a bunch more images.

The first two are Lepidoptera:

Next a shield bug Nezara viridula ( a bunch of these have appeared on our potatoes, so may have low life expectancy)
A cucurbit plant was being visited by a bunch of 28 spotted ladybirds and these happy little insects (Blister beetles, Zonitis sp).  Judging by the munched edges to the leaves they may have a similar life expectancy to the shield bugs!
I have posted in the past with images of leaf beetles (Paropsis sp). The following image is included because of the angle captured showing the some of the undercariage of the animal.
A hoverfly on a white daisy (introduced, so no Latin)
A rather delicate member of the family Diptera .....
... and a less delicate, but very colourful,  member of that family.

This rather large (compared to most of the tiny ones around)grasshopper seems to be a Gumleaf Grasshopper - Goniaea vocans.
The next two images are Ecnolagria grandis - the Brown Darkling Beetle.  The second image is included as a victims eye view of the beast.

I will finish with a couple of non-legist images. First a small spider found on a white daisy
and conclude with a scorpion detected under some leaf litter as we were constructing a new path.