Living well in the cemetery

It’s well over six months after my first exploration of the Townsville cemetery in Belgian Gardens. On this recent return visit I walked right around it. That gave me plenty of time to think about it as a wildlife habitat;  a good walk, too, since the cemetery is about 1.5 km long.

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Birdwings in winter

The weather has been so beautiful recently that sitting indoors to write blog posts is less appealing than wandering outside, with or without a camera.

Cairns Birdwing butterflies, Ornithoptera euphorion, are abundant here (because we grow their food plant) and always beautiful but we don’t often get a photo showing the upper wings of the males because they always (well, 99.99% of the time) shut their wings together while resting. Why? If they didn’t, they might as well be shouting, “Eat me!” to the birds. (Ulysses Swallowtails are the same, only more so. So are many other butterflies – bright in flight, camouflaged at rest.)

So here’s one I caught while he was hovering to feed, and again while resting.

Cairns Birdwing butterfly

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Many Peaks trail revisited

I walked the Many Peaks trail again last weekend, almost exactly a year after my previous visit. This time, walking with friends, I didn’t stop so often to look at little wildlife, but we still took about five hours for the twelve kilometres or so. That seems, in fact, to be a reasonable minimum time for the route for anyone who wants to enjoy it.

The Wet is well over but there is still open water. The water birds, however, still have other options and are not in great numbers on the Common. That said, we did see Drongo, Magpie Geese, Egret, Peaceful Dove, Honeyeaters, Rainbow Bee-eater, hawk (probably Black Kite), Plovers, Scrub Turkey and other species.

The Tawny Coster is now so well established that it was one of the commonest butterflies but there were plenty of the usual Swamp Tigers, Blue Tigers, Crows (both Common and Brown) and others.

view of Many Peaks Range
Bald Rock from near Tegoora Rock

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Cairns Birdwings caught in the act

Walking around the garden recently, I came across this mating pair of Cairns Birdwings, Ornithoptera euphorion.

They were hanging in the shade of a silver wattle which has Aristolochia, their caterpillars’ food plant, sprawling over it, so their location is unsurprising.

The fresh empty chrysalis nearby and the not-quite-developed wings of the female suggest that she had just emerged and the male had seized the opportunity to mate her before her wings were fully dry and she was ready to fly off. That also is unsurprising, since it happens often amongst butterflies; the females emerge as fully mature adults, so they are never too young in the way that (e.g.) mammals or reptiles might be too young.

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