Thursday, April 27, 2017

Neat home, but Sac Spiders lack scientific address

Sac Spider? Why are you showing us another Sac Spider? We don't like spiders very much.

I know, but look at this. About 6cm x 4cm, robust, roomy, rainproof. Built by female Sac Spider to house herself and many tiny young. Juniors will stay safely inside after leaving her egg sac and emerge as third instars (growing out of two exoskeletons) .

Some will grow on to survive as adults - often tucked neatly inside leaves carefully stuck together,
from which they'll emerge to hunt at night.

So what? Common spider. Common behaviour. Commonplace at the Common and elsewhere. Well, Cheiracanthium spp have problems. "Identification ... is impossible as no modern taxonomic treatment exists," (A Guide to the Spiders of Australia). Long-legged, Slender; descriptives only.


Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Striated Pardalote brings out the Common touch

Hey, you guys, I've just seen a Striated Pardalote. First I've seen in the Common. Gave it my best shot at mimicry. And it came right down to have a squizz. Great, eh?

Sounds super. I'm on my way. Do they taste good?

That's not fair! I'm closer than you. And hungrier.

Never mind those vultures. I've tasted nothing but air for days. Bring it on.

What's the big deal? I'm prettier by far. And it's such a squinchy little thing too!

Pah! Who gives a fig for noisy little lerpers.

Can they do tricks like this? No? Thought not.

With friends like these...

Friday, April 14, 2017

Hairy, scary things dwell on the web

Fair warning: hairy, scary things dwell on the web here today. Leaping right in with Jumping Spider. Sneaky wee blighter mimics Green Ants, right down to smell, so it can associate with ants and steal larvae. The ants obviously lack facial recognition technology.

Garden Orb-weaving Leaf-curling Spider doesn't look so fearsome sitting in middle of web. But let's see things from the male perspective: small blob (circled black, top left). Imagine coming home late after a feral night out and getting a biff from a missus so much larger. Worse, of course, to be the main course by being too slow after a quickie.

Sharing almost the same patch is another weaver, longer, but considerably slimmer, which A Guide to the Spiders of Australia leads me to identify as a Tear-drop Spider. So resolutely does it present the under view I've never in several weeks seen this spider's back.

Which is definitely not the case with Grey Huntsman, probably the scariest common hairy encounter for archnaphobes. It will change nothing, but no spider ever struck me as going out of its way to terrify Miss Muffet. Aversion therapy, anyone? 


Friday, April 7, 2017

Barking up the wrong tree with third owl

Woofwoof, woofwoof, woofwoof. Barking Owls. Hear them, then go looking for them. None of that night-time nonsense stumbling about in the dark. Birds gave the game away in the Palmetum alongside the Ross River this morning. So, two owls sitting quietly in shaded tree cover near riverbank. But what's making series of low trills in the same area? Back-of-the-throat 'grlllllckgrlllck'. On and on, without movement or clue to identity.

Try in vain to picture any bird with such a call. Nothing! Calls stop. Owls settle down after sitting out dives and whingeing from four Spangled Drongos. Then I finally spot third owl, tucked into darkest section of thick foliage. Bit of mutual glaring before birds blinks ... apologetically - I like to think - for the vocal trick. Not only wise, sneaky too, some owls.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Young Dollarbird hints at colour to come

Young Dollarbird obliged by sticking to low perch in the Common today. Lots of colour to come, but that'll have to wait till next season as most of the species are likely off north already.

Bit of cloning done to get rid of some pesky twigs.

Too much to clone out, so Yellow Honeyeater cops a tight crop.

Same with White-throated Honeyeater: does provide close look at feather detail.

Lucky to get any detail of Spectacled Monarch, which flittered through tangled understorey for more than 10 minutes before I could get partially clear view.

Wandered around parking area with this Magpie for a few minutes today. They seem unconcerned by constant chatter from me, in spite of doing most of their hunting by listening for prey underground.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Will egg from 'tail' survive sting in tail?

Seems Townsville will feel only the sting in Cyclone Debbie's tail. Nothing but light breeze and a rare drop of rain here yet as the category four system's terrible power advances on coast south of this city. The system's slow pace brought some reduction of danger from storm surges building upon king tide. So, my Cairns Birdwing site beside the Town Common entry gate may escape with 'merely' thrashing winds and lashings of rain later today. Meantime (above), egg-laying yesterday.

And a few of the other inhabitants sharing the Aristolochia vine with the butterflies and caterpillars. Jumping Spiders come with big eyes, said to be among sharpest in the natural world.

Whereas Slender Sac spider shows symmetrical eight-eye lineup, though it's a night hunter..

Compound eye in Crane Fly not so noteworthy as suction mouth. Though said to be drinkers only, their 'hoovering' across leaves must surely take in minute solids - some being food - along with liquids?

Friday, March 24, 2017

Cyclone Debbie bears down on birdwings

Look out, my Cairns Birdwing caterpillars, Cyclone Debbie's bearing down on us. Bad news for wildlife and habitat close to the coast. But could be an ill wind bringing huge amounts of needed rain to Townsville and areas inland. We'll see, Monday.

The caterpillars feed on Aristolochia vines after the female dots her eggs on foliage that 'feels' right to her legs. One Townsville Town Common site is close to the entry gate, barely 400 metres from the coast and about 3km north of the city CBD.

I'd hoped to wait for pictures of a butterfly emerging from its chrysalis. Debbie is aimed directly at it. Fingers crosssed.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Slink for Skink beats dekko for Gecko

The request is to sally forth  and come home with some Gecko pictures. None to be found. What to do? Not a lot of difference between some small reptiles. So, slink up to a big fig abrim with crevices for all sorts that caper, creep and crawl.

But specially Litter Skinks. Peeking from cover,  Half-lit within part of the ficus labyrinth. On vertical display.

Wait, there's more. What's this wiggling in a wonderfully rich loam of dust, dirt and debris? Millipede showing teasingly familiar footy club colours.

Closer look at another Millipede provoked outpouring of yellow fluid, which probably tastes terrible. No, I didn't suck it to see. And the Gecko assignment awaits another day.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

No fairy tale finish for young Magpie Geese

Can't help thinking of the Ugly Duckling in reverse when chancing upon family of Magpie Geese. Cute start quickly turns to gangly 'teens' and conky-honky adulthood,

But they carry a certain grace through the air and on the water. (Low numbers in Townsville Common and I've seen only one young, so above images all from suburban Anderson Park.)

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Birdwings challenging targets on the wing

Townsville, not Cairns. Birdwings, not birds. What? Cairns Birdwing butterflies, that's what. Male in flight (one usable shot among hundreds of total failures) and at rest.

Larger, less colourful female.

Two of three caterpillars spotted on acacia leaves near the frustratingly flittery adults.

Nothing flittery about Velvet Slug. Saved this one from suicidal 'sprint' across the Town Common driveway.

But I declined the thankyou kiss.