Friday, 29 January 2010

The holy grail

Finally. A Baillon's Crake.

This little bird has eluded me for 25 years, my bird-watching life. I was always at the right place too late, or too lazy to travel to the right place at the right time, but this week one of our bird club members led a group of us to the right place at the right time. And there they were, five of them, on a wetland in the middle of Geelong.

It was overcast and drizzling but we were able to see them clearly moving around the reeds and rushes within three metres of us. We saw them flying, with their legs dangling, from one shelter to the next. We watched them chase each other across reeds lying flat on the water's surface. And we were surprised at how little they are. They were beautiful but our wonderful guide told us we should see them in full sunlight when their colours are truly stunning so I'll go back, when it's sunny.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Buffalo jumping with hoppers

Almost every tree or shrub that I looked at on Mt Buffalo had a hopper hiding on stems and leaves. They're tricky little critters to photograph because they duck and hide the minute a lens appears. Several of these were easy because they appear to have been caught in spider webs. The last one, a vision in white, had just emerged from its previous shell and was gathering strength.
I'd be grateful if anyone could identify any of these.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Moths on Mt Buffalo

There were a lot of day-flying moths on the low vegetation on Mt Buffalo. Thank you Peter and Marilyn for helping me with IDs.

Noctuidae Heliothinae sp.

Geometridae Chrysolarentia chrysocyma

Geometridae Chrysolarentia polycarpa

Geometridae Chrysolarentia perornata

Geometridae Chrysolarentia oxygona

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Buffalo butterfly

In one area on top of Mt Buffalo I found Two-brand Grass-skippers Anisynta dominula. Braby says 'adults fly close to the ground in open sunny areas, preferring moist, sheltered, gently sloping grassy gullies and slopes; they frequently feed from flowers of daisies', and that's exactly where they were. The top two photos are of a female, and the bottom one is a male. Braby also says they appear from mid-February in Victoria so maybe they're flying early because of climate change.

Mount Buffalo

We've just explored several tracks on Mt Buffalo over two days, checking out the vegetation mainly. The mountain was looking spectacular - the rock formations alone were enough to tempt me to take hundreds of photos. We, members of the Geelong Field Naturalists Club, had a great time.

The bogs, grassy plains and Snow Gum forests were almost completely burnt in two recent fires - in January 2003 and December 2006. Snow Gum Eucalyptus pauciflora, Alpine Ash Eucalyptus delegatensis, and Mountain Gum Eucalyptus dalrympleana as well as the bogs were all badly damaged, especially because one fire followed so closely after the other. Snow Gums regenerate from the base but the Alpine Ash has to grow from seed.

We found a lot of plants flowering and everything appeared to be in good condition, but then we don't have the benefit of local knowledge to compare surveys. I found a lot of insects as well. Birds were very few and far between. Here are a few landscape views. I'll put up some pretty flower and insect photos later.

I hadn't been to Buffalo since I was a teenager. I'm not saying how long ago that was but I'm definitely not leaving it so long between visits again.

Monday, 4 January 2010

Hanging around with friends

We cut a branch off a large tree near our farmhouse and I found these little insects bunched together on one leaf. They could be native bees. Does anyone know?

Update: They have been identified by a Flickr friend as male native bees, Euryglossa adelaidae.

Friday, 1 January 2010

Here's looking at you

I'm on holiday and enjoying just wandering along bush tracks and roadsides around Homerton, mostly looking for insects on and around the vegetation. This is one little fly I found - a soldier fly Odontomyia sp. And below, the long-legged fly Dolichopodidae sp.