Channel-billed Cuckoo in town

There was an extraordinary whooping commotion in our poplar gum just on dusk yesterday. It sounded like Friarbirds on steroids or half a dozen Blue-winged Kookaburras on helium – a huge sound!

I ducked outside straight away to see what on earth was going on and spotted two big grey-brown birds high in the tree (and there may have been more hidden amongst the leaves). They were Channel-billed Cuckoos, Scythrops novaehollandiaeContinue reading “Channel-billed Cuckoo in town”

Neon Cuckoo Bee

Bright blue and black bee feeding on sweet basil flower
Neon Cuckoo Bee feeding on Sweet Basil flower

This is an insect which has been eluding me for at least a year, since I first saw a very bright blue insect (wasp? fly? bee?) flying around my lawn. I have only seen them occasionally since then – perhaps half a dozen times altogether – and they always vanished too fast to identify. All I was sure of, until this one was good enough to permit a photo, was that they were about the size of a honey bee.

As the common name says, it is a bee – a native Australian bee, in fact – and ‘Neon’ obviously comes from its colour, but what about ‘Cuckoo’?

Well, it lays eggs in another species’ nest, just as real cuckoos do. To quote Wikipedia, “The female neon cuckoo bee seeks out the burrow nests of the blue-banded bee (Amegilla cingulata), and lays an egg into a partly completed brood cell while it is unguarded. The larval cuckoo bee then consumes the larder and later emerges from the cell.” Its victim, the Blue-banded Bee, is a common sight in my garden and a photo appeared in this recent post.

The Cuckoo Wasp I wrote about in March uses the same reproductive strategy (see the Brisbane Insects page about them for more information). I wonder if any other kinds of animal do?

Cuckoo wasp

picture of cuckoo wasp caught in spider web
Cuckoo Wasp (Chrysididae) caught in spider web

Sad pic, happy ending for the subject but not the photographer …
This is a very pretty wasp which I have seen only occasionally at home and never got a photo of, until today when I saw one fly into a spider web under the house. I grabbed the camera, took a couple of quick pics, grabbed a twig and carried it outdoors by the web.
So far so good.
I hooked it onto a convenient plant, lifted the camera to get a better shot … and the ungrateful little so-and-so wriggled free of the web and flew off!!