Magnetic Island interlude

Lizard on sign
Still and not-so-still life

We took advantage of the Easter break to visit Magnetic Island, just half an hour by ferry from Townsville – close enough that quite a few people live on the Island and work in town. Most of the island is National Park, with just a few mini-suburbs (Picnic Bay, Arcadia, Nelly Bay, Horseshoe Bay) around the southern and eastern coast.
This skink was visiting the sign outside our cabin, possibly in search of ants. Looking at the photo afterwards I noticed some tiny eggs glued to the sign. I have no idea what they are. (As usual, clicking on the photos will get you a better view.)

Skink and eggs
Skink and unidentified eggs

We were only on the island for 24 hours and it was dark, of course, for half of that time, but I managed to return home with a couple of hundred photographs; I will post the best of them here as I get them sorted out.

Launching Bugblog

Green Path, aka Bugblog while in development, has been more than a year in gestation, from the first vague idea that it would be good for me to keep some sort of visual diary of my insect photography and observations, through to installing WordPress and setting up the site.

Part of my process was to write posts for the blog-to-be. It seemed a shame to waste them all so I have copied some of them across to the new blog. For the same reason I have added relevant items I have shared with friends and relations during the development phase. Bugblog therefore has entries going back several months although today is its official launch.

As I crack an imaginary bottle of champagne across its metaphorical bows I wish us all the best of luck on our voyage into the future.

Frog on a lily leaf

We have no permanent water so we don’t often see frogs around our garden, except in the middle of wet seasons. That makes this little one a rather late (optimistic?) visitor. I found him, or her, yesterday, a couple of weeks after our monster Wet came to a sudden end.
Size?
About 30 mm long.
Species?
I don’t know, but probably one of the several similar small Tree Frogs (Litoria sp.) in our region. ID welcome!

Netizen science

Moth Noctuidae? 4057

Digital technology has made good science accessible to amateurs again, as both learners and contributors, 150 years after a gap opened up between scientists and the lay population in the nineteenth century. In entomology, for instance, authoritative online sources of information are plentiful. Amateurs can learn from them and – almost immediately – contribute to them. Encyclopedia of Life is a good example.

I took up insect photography when I bought my first DSLR camera, late in 2008, and opened a Flickr account – http://www.flickr.com/photos/malcolm_nq/ – as a way of sharing the results. Flickr ‘Groups’ bring together people fascinated by any topic you can think of – as broad as ‘Animals’ and as narrow as ‘Naked Mole Rats’ (okay, I made that one up – but you can start one yourself if you’re interested and there isn’t one already). That is the source of the moth above, and clicking on the image takes you to its original location.

I can also put my content on my own website – here, for instance – and search engines will find it for anyone who needs it.

My photos in Bugblog will normally be linked to a larger version of the image, either on Flickr or on this site.

Afterword, 25.4.11: Another benefit of this way of doing science – people will help out with expert advice when they see a gap. In this case, Graeme Cocks saw that I hadn’t identified the moth at the top of this post and emailed me to say it is “Noctuidae, Catocalinae,” (that’s family and sub-family, for those still finding their way around classifications) and tell me they are, “just about to become abundant.”

The dry season begins

Two weeks ago we had a deluge – 150 mm or thereabouts in 24 hours – to cap off the wettest March on record. It seems to have been the last of the Wet (fingers crossed!), because we haven’t had any rain since then. Days are mostly sunny and getting up to 29C or so, while nights drop to low 20s.

The garden is full of butterflies and dragonflies – dozens of Chocolate Soldiers (Junonia hedonia), lots of Migrants and Euremas, and a good sprinkling of Orchard Swallowtail, Clearwing Swallowtail, Pale Triangle, Cairns Birdwing (lovely female feeding on Ixora this morning), Common Crow. Blue-banded Eggfly, though, aren’t around, and the Common Eggfly are rare, not common, at the moment.

Dragonfly species have changed relative numbers. The orange-and-yellow ones which dominated the population are still present but have been overtaken by Neurothemis stigmatizans and another which is similar but has dark wingtips:

Dragonfly - gold body, dark wingtips
As for the spiders, we still have lots of St Andrews Cross, Astracantha and Silver Orb-weavers but the brown-and-gold Common Orb-weaver are back for the first time in months.