Here we are, six weeks into the dry season: sunny days with a top of 25C or thereabouts after a chilly 10C or cool 16-18C overnight and no rain to speak of. (We have been watering our garden for a month. It felt so weird at first, so soon after months of flooding rain!) As you would expect, the wildlife has changed: no dragonflies, as I said, but what do we see?
Butterflies: lots of Junonia hedonia, quite a lot of Eurema and Hesperidae, and a few each of Cairns Birdwing, Common Crow, Common Eggfly, Lemon Migrant, Ulysses, Orchard Swallowtail, Clearwing Swallowtail … that’s quite a long list, but in a walk once around the garden you would probably see ten Junonia, two Eurema and one out of all the rest.
Moths: Hawk moths, usually in the evening and occasionally coming to indoor lights, and a lot of smaller moths flitting around the grass during the day and likewise coming indoors at night. Here’s one of last night’s visitors:
Wasps: paper wasps, hatchet wasps, mud-daubers (not many), and miscellaneous smaller wasps including Braconid and Ichneumonid species.
Bees: hardly any, but occasional leaf-cutters and resin bees.
Flies: yes, mostly the tiny green long-legged Dolichopodidae, plus a fair few hoverflies, bluebottles and crane flies. There are more kinds of flies than most people suspect and I’ll have to put up some pictures soon.
I recently declared the end of the wet season and now I’m declaring the end of the dragonfly season – at least in my garden. (I know I can still find them if I walk down to the banks of Ross River, but that’s different.) I spent two hours in the garden yesterday and only saw one dragonfly, down from dozens at their peak.
That means I’m going to stop postponing the task of sorting all my dragonfly photos, because I won’t be adding to them as I go. Here is the first result of the sorting-out: the commonest species here for most of the wet season, which I have finally identified as the Australasian Slimwing, Lathrecista asiatica festa.
Clicking here will take you to my Flickr photos where you will find a few more shots of the same species alongside this one.
We are lucky enough to have butterflies in our garden all year round but there are distinct seasonal changes. The Crow, for instance, is a regular dry-season visitor but much less common in the Wet. I took the photo above a couple of weeks ago, i.e., a couple of weeks after the last of our heavy rain, and the one below at a similar time last year.
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:
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.