A few days ago I left home just before dawn to visit Pallarenda – specifically the Old Quarantine Station, Cape Pallarenda and Shelly Cove. Part of my motivation was simply to be outdoors, since the weather at this time of year is too beautiful to waste, but the main reason was to see the wildlife. I didn’t have to wait long: a couple of crows came to check on me when I sat on the beach to have breakfast. I walked down to the water’s edge afterwards and turned round to see Continue reading “One morning on Cape Pallarenda, with birds”
When I visited Castle Hill for photos of the Cleveland Bay hinterland (previous post) I naturally walked around the other peak for views to the North and North-west. Continue reading “Rowes Bay, Town Common and the Palm Islands from Castle Hill”
As promised, I’m posting photos of wildlife (and a few plants) seen on my recent Town Common walk.
The Kapok tree, Cochlospermum gillivraei, is one of many tropical trees which loses its leaves in the dry season and bursts into flower before the foliage returns.
Our local species is one of four kapoks which occur in northern Australia. It is unrelated to the kapoks of Central America and Africa but, like them, has big seed pods filled with cotton-like fibres.
We have found that both the (native) Batwing Coral Tree and the (exotic but well and truly naturalised) Poinciana flower best when they receive least water though winter, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the Kapok is the same.
This bright red fruit caught my eye on the edge of the rainforest a little further along the trail. It’s a Native Bryony, Striped Cucumber or Marble Vine, depending on who you ask, but a Diplocyclos palmatus whichever common name you use.
It is native to Australia but Continue reading “Many Peaks Trail – insects and plants”
A few weeks ago I mentioned that I was hoping to walk the full length of the Many Peaks Trail in the Town Common Conservation Park (map – pdf) and on Thursday I finally did it. I had ideal weather for it, mostly sunny but with enough cloud and breeze to keep temperatures very comfortable.
I left the Pallarenda carpark at about 8.30, went up the hill just before Tegoora Rock, then along (and slowly but steadily up) the trail to reach the summit of Mount Marlow (213 metres) for an early lunch, continuing down to the old Bald Rock carpark and returning via the Lagoon Trail to be back at Pallarenda by mid-afternoon. This timing and direction of travel worked well, since Continue reading “Walking the Many Peaks Trail”
Two weeks ago I took advantage of a free day to visit the Town Common for the first time since the very hot (but not very wet) Wet season and I’m now taking advantage of an unseasonably wet day to post some of the photos I took there.
I walked in from the Pallarenda car-park, around the wetland loop and then up the Many Peaks track for the wonderful views from the top. I continued half an hour further along the track, down from the hill-crest and through a large vine thicket, before returning the way I came. I heard lots of birds at the very beginning of the walk but they didn’t pose for me so the insects are the stars of my gallery. Continue reading “Town Common in June”
Here are some of the insects I saw on the Town Common yesterday – far more numerous than the birds I talked about in my previous post, although I have to say that wasn’t entirely a Good Thing (more on that later).
- Marsh Tiger, Danaus affinis
- Lesser Wanderer aka Plain Tiger, Danaus chrysippus
- Common Crow, Euploea core
- Blue Tiger, Tirumala hamata
- Common Eggfly, Hypolimnas bolina
- Blue Argus, Junonia orithya
- Bush Brown, Mycalesis sp.
- Grass Yellow, Eurema sp.
- Clearwing Swallowtail, Cressida cressida
- Black-spotted Flash, Hypolycaena phorbas
Of these, the first two are always abundant on the Common and the next three are nearly as common. All five are about the same size. The next three are all smaller. They are also common but are trickier to identify because close relations in each genus look so much alike (which is why I have just said “Eurema sp. [species]” and so on). The last one is the odd one out, belonging to a different family (Lycaenidae) and being much rarer.
One of my reasons for posting these three photos as a set is that they happen to show all three species feeding on the same kind of flower, the Tridax Daisy.
Lycaenidae (Blues) are usually quite small but this one is bigger than most, about the same size as the Grass Yellow.
I did also see many other small butterflies and moths but they were impossible to keep track of.
Standing water always means dragonflies and they were as numerous as the butterflies. Once again, I couldn’t begin to identify all of them and I’m just posting a couple who posed nicely for me.
And the rest
Add together the numbers of butterflies and dragonflies and you might be close to the total number of grasshoppers; add together the grasshoppers, butterflies and dragonflies and you might be close to the total number of mosquitoes – or that’s what it felt like! The Common is not a place to visit without repellent in the Wet season.
Most of the mozzies were the little standard-model grey-black types but one, seen below attempting to drill through my pants leg, was special enough for a photo.
She (males don’t suck blood) was about twice the average size – perhaps not as big as the magnificent Metallic Mosquito, but close.
My oddest discovery of the trip was this:
Pandanus leaves are spiked along the edges but this one – and others on the same plant – seemed to have pairs of supernumerary spines coming from the lower face of the leaf. A closer look revealed that each pair of ‘spines’ was a pair of wings attached to plant hoppers (Derbidae, Hemiptera), each of which was attached to the leaf via its proboscis (properly called a ‘stylet‘) and earnestly sucking sap from a vein.
I visited the Town Common today, for the first time in months, to see what our recent rain had done for it. The good news is that there was plenty of water; the bad news, for bird-watchers, should also be apparent from my photo.
Where are the birds? Flown, in a word – dispersed to inland areas which have also received good rain. This happens in every Wet season, of course, and the birds drift back towards the coast and permanent water as the Dry season progresses, but visiting the Common and not seeing a single magpie goose, or even an ibis, still feels weird. That’s what happened, though – magpie geese, ibis, spoonbills, egrets, cormorants, pelicans: nil.
Smaller birds were still around, however. I saw a couple of Sacred Kingfishers, one Forest Kingfisher, a Dollarbird, several Sunbirds, one White-throated Honeyeater (I think) and a small flock of young Crimson Finches.
These young finches will grow up to be much more colourful, as these photos (on Birdway) show.
Seeing a sunbird improves any day, so I will post one of today’s shots before I sign off. Dragonflies do, too, but I will leave the Common’s abundant invertebrates for another post.