Sunday, April 30, 2017

Male butterflies know how to seal the deal

Timed things just right to see female Cairns Birdwing emerge from pupa attached to Aristolochia in the Common.

All clear 20 seconds later and waiting for wings to dry.

Several males came by, didn't locate her. After about an hour somewhat tatty gent found her and mating began almost immediately.

Another frayed male arrived, tried to horn in. Too late!

The mating pair stayed together for rest of the day. No sign of either next morning. The lengthy after-mating period gives a mating plug inserted by the male time to harden.

Female Red-bodied Swallowtails receive an even larger mating plug, most plugs staying in place for their 2-3 months of life.

Wouldn't work so well for most animals, included Homo sap. But with butterflies there is a duct for entry of sperm and, via internal canal, an oviduct for exit of eggs.

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.

Rainbow Lorikeets home in on hollow

  Sometimes it's a good thing getting that hollow feeling. Rainbow Lorikeets discuss property inspection, Townsville Town Common Conserv...