Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Moth caterpillars

While Trevor, Craig and Grace poked around the rocks looking for lizards and snakes I took a break (from the tension!) and poked around under the bark of some eucalypts - and found this interesting caterpillar. It's Oenosandra boisduvalii Boisduval's Autumn Moth. Apparently it lives in southern Australia, including Tasmania, and the male and female moths look quite different from each other and were thought to be separate species at one stage.

But it doesn't do as much damage as another species that is in plague proportions around the coast at Anglesea at the moment. Painted Cup Moth caterpillars, Doratiphora oxleyi, are everywhere, chewing on leaves of various species of shrubs and trees. They're doing a lot of damage but presumably the plants will recover. I'll be down there again soon and will look for the cup-shaped cocoons on twigs.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Spring in the Common

The reserve at Inverleigh, known as the Common, has been very dry for the last decade or more. But we've had something like average rainfall this year and the plants in the Common have responded. On a short visit this week we found a lot of orchids, dozens of a few species in a small area. And that's just the orchids. It was looking spectacular.
Hornet orchid Diuris sulphurea

Thelymitra sp. Sun-orchid. Possibly T. peniculata

Spotted Sun-orchid Thelymitra ixioides

Thelymitra sp. Sun-orchid. Possibly T. malvina

Above and below: Thelymitra rubra Salmon Sun-orchid


First we checked the twenty mammal traps that had been set out amongst the stony rises in Floating Island Reserve (one Swamp Rat and nine Dusky Antechinus). What's the plural of antechinus?

Then we tagged Trevor, the reptile expert, who led us into some pretty scary spots. There's no way I would have walked where we did if I'd been alone. Big rocks, long grass, lots of nooks and crannies - perfect for a reptile.

Apart from the White-lipped Snake that Trevor had found the day before under a piece of corrugated iron we only saw a Tiger Snake, but probably didn't see numerous others. But we did find some skinks basking in the sun on the dark rocks in the reserve, and were especially pleased to find the special Dreeite (or Corangamite) Water Skink, that only lives in that area, when we drove north on Hawksnest Road.

I think I'm done with reptile-hunting.

Black Rock Skink Egernia saxatilis

Dreeite Water Skink Eulamprus tympanum marnieae

Eastern Three-lined Skink Acritoscincus duperreyi

Monday, 25 October 2010

The lake really is a lake

What a different year this is. Water everywhere. Several years ago I was blogging here about the lakes in the western district being totally dry. Today we drove by Lake Colac, Lake Corangamite, Lake Beeac and many others on the volcanic plains that this year have water in them. It's a sight that makes my heart sing.

Lake Beeac, above, was looking brilliant today - almost pure white, shallow and salty. And in the Floating Islands Reserve at PirronYallock we did some reptile-hunting on the rocks above a beautiful little lake in the reserve (below).

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Yay!! It's orchid time.

Yesterday I was on my ownsome, but not feeling lonesome, exploring the bush around Anglesea. At one stage I ran into a bunch of friendly fellow-enthusiasts, the Ringwood Field Nats on a weekend camp, and piggy-backed on some of their discoveries. (Many eyes are better than just two.) There is a lot of bush around Anglesea but some of the best spots to see orchids are right in town.

The area is well-known for its orchids and there have been several useful references published* to make the life of an amateur much easier. The common orchids were there, Rabbit Ears, Mayflies, Pink Fingers, Waxlip Orchids and  Donkey Orchids, but there were a few special ones as well. Of course I always fail to photograph the one identifying feature of whatever I'm trying to identify but I think I'm in the right ball park with these. (Click on photos to view large.)

Caladenia australis Southern Spider Orchid

Caladenia parva Small Spider Orchid

Calaadenia venusta Large White Spider Orchid

Pterostylis sp. aff. plumosa Bearded Greenhood (This one only grows in this area.)

Caladenia cardiochilla Thick-lip Spider Orchid

*Flora of the Otway Plain & Ranges 1, Enid Mayfield
*Orchids of the Anglesea District, Everett Foster & Margaret MacDonald