Just to show you the bigger picture, this is Hotham Heights ski village from half way up Mt Loch (taken while I was catching my breath!) Note the Snow Gums in the foreground, recovering from the severe fires several years ago, near their upper limit.
Saturday, 31 January 2009
Amongst the forest litter under the Snow Gums at Hotham we found a millipede, a very long millipede. At least eight or nine centimetres long. And with a brilliant metallic sheen.
I'm finding it difficult to identify it because as usual my photos don't show the bit I need to see - in this case the eyes. If it's blind then for sure it's a Polydesmid Millipede but if it's not then it's probably a Spirobolid Millipede. I'm guessing the former because it only has about 19 body segments. Apparently I have to see how many legs on the fourth segment or the fifth segment but I can't tell. There's a lot to be said for 'collecting' but of course it's not the correct thing to do these days.
Sometimes I wish I was an 'expert' at something, anything! Anyway, it was certainly an impressive creature, and we carefully put it back into the leaf litter before we went on our way.
Thursday, 29 January 2009
There were quite a few different grasshoppers, including many small ones I didn't bother chasing, but these three stayed still long enough to have their portraits taken. I don't don't what they are yet.
Wednesday, 28 January 2009
Here's a challenge for my blogging friends who seem to be able to stay up half the night mothing and record beautiful photographs of their 'catch'. I need my beauty sleep so finding a moth in the daytime is a bonus.
The Billy Buttons (Craspedia sp.) on Mt Loch near Hotham were flowering last weekend, and some had finished flowering. They were attracting a large range of invertebrates, including this colourful moth on a button past its prime.
I'm thinking it might be an Oriental Tiger Moth Phaos aglaophara. Can anyone confirm that?
Tuesday, 27 January 2009
Last Thursday we travelled to the Sale on our way to the Victorian alps, calling in to Mt Worth reserve on the way.
It was a shocker of a day - hot, windy and dusty - and just when we decided to have lunch at Mt Worth there was a wind storm with thunder and lightning and heavy rain. We had it all. But then the sun came out and we had time to explore the area a little. I'm going back one day because it looks really interesting. The views over the Latrobe Valley were a bonus.
On the way out of the park to Mirboo North we found our way obstructed by several trees that had come down in the storm. A majority vote decided that we would go back the way we'd come in, but our leader over-ruled us so we set about attacking the obstacles. After about half an hour we succeeded in clearing a path between the trees and the cliff on the driver's side and made it through.
We went to Mt Hotham ski village for a few days, a great spot to visit in the summer to see the alpine plants flowering. And on one of the tracks we found this several of the smelly Starfish Fungus Aseroe rubra. The flies loved it. Bruce Fuhrer in A Field Guide to Australian Fungi states that the spores are distributed after passing through the insects! This is the first time I've seen this fungus so it was a highlight of the trip.
Saturday, 17 January 2009
This one's for Duncan and pertains to comments on my previous blog entry.
We found this damselfly at Reedy Lake near Geelong but haven't identified it yet. She was perched on a vertical reed with her ovipositor in the water. I'm thinking Austrolestes genus, possibly leda, but the photo probably isn't quite good enough to be sure and I don't have any others.
And this is the floating fern called Azolla pinnata. I think there might be some duckweed in there as well.
Thursday, 15 January 2009
You wouldn't think that the Dodder-laurel was related to the Camphor Laurel but they are both in the laurel family, the Laurelaceae. Cinnamon comes from another plant in the family, Cinnamomum zeylanicum.
Dodder-laurel species are found growing in most areas, even out on the grasslands in Western Victoria where it is a dainty little little thing, but the one I found growing on the banks of the Barwon River at Geelong was anything but dainty. It was robust, and climbing over everything in its path, up to a height of about four metres in this case but it can climb a lot higher than that. Cassytha melantha the Coarse Dodder-laurel has quite thick stems but no leaves to speak of. You can see some of the leaves in the photo below. The flowers are insignificant but the fruit is quite large, about cherry size.
This dodder was attached to a young Black Wattle by small sucker-like pads called haustoria, and apparently gains access through these to the vascular system of the host plant. I had thought that they tapped into the root systems until I read Name That Flower by Ian Clarke and Helen Lee.
The patterns formed by the pads twining around the stem were very pretty in a geometrical kind of way, and I think I'll go back and try and get some better photos. The ones published here were taken 'on the run' because I was with a group of fellow naturalists and meant to be bird-watching :)
Wednesday, 14 January 2009
Flies seem to be of interest to a few bloggers lately. Snail wrote a very interesting blog about blowflies, and Duncan posted photos the other day. I think what I have are some Flesh-flies (of the Sarcophagidae Family) and a blowfly, possibly Lesser Brown Blowfly Calliphora auger of the Calliphordae Family and another blurred stripey one in the background of the first photo. I'm happy to be informed.
Sunday, 11 January 2009
This huge bullant (maybe 3cm long) was scurrying across the sand and up and down low plants, carrying what appears to be a bee. I wasn't too worried about it biting me while it had food in its 'mouth'.
Haven't worked out what this is yet, but it was under bark on a eucalypt and I only got one photo before it headed (flew actually) for another dark shelter.
A grasshopper, also unidentified as yet. Any suggestions welcome.
And on a leaf of a wattle I found these Stiletto-flies mating. They belong to the Therevidae family and the adults feed on nectar (their larvae in the soil are carnivorous).
Braving the traffic on the Great Ocean Road I took myself off to see what was happening in the Anglesea heath - one of my favorite places. I wandered along paths at Point Addis that I had to myself because everyone else was at the beach, searched for insects in the foliage, listened to the birds, enjoyed the sunshine.
As I got back to my car another car pulled up. "I thought it was you" said Polly, who was showing her friend from New South Wales the Rufous Bristlebird on the point. "Have you seen the duck orchids?" No, I hadn't and wasn't even looking for orchids thinking it was a bit late in the season.
So off to the orchid patch we went, an area that has been mined for sand in the past and now regrowing. If Polly hadn't shown me I would never have seen these little beauties tucked away in the undergrowth. Beats me how anyone found them in the first place. There were two types of Duck Orchids there, the Large Duck Orchid Caleana major and the Small Duck Orchid Paracaleana minor. Both are uncommon in this area. The slightest touch will trigger the labellum to spring down against the column - and this is what it does when a male wasp responds to the 'female-wasp' scent emitted by the orchid.
Luckily I was able to get several photos before my camera battery went flat and I discovered that I'd forgotten to charge my spare battery!! The first photo is the Large Duck Orchid and the other two are the Small Duck Orchid.
Friday, 9 January 2009
Wednesday, 7 January 2009
The bush was dry, and the spring flowering over of course, but there were several areas of heath plants flowering well. The adult emu with about 10 young in tow gave us a surprise when they wandered across the track - well, the surprise was mutual really, and the chicks scattered in all directions.
Because of the lack of flowers I concentrated on finding insects in the foliage, with some success. It's great to find things tucked away in foliage and bark, getting on with what they do best. I found this beautiful little Triangular Spider on the edge of a leaf, sitting in its scrappy web with its big front legs stretched across the width of the leaf.