Wolves of Limmen

I had no idea when we set out that I would spend an evening spotlighting for wolves in Limmen, but that’s what happened.

Wolf spiders, that is. (There are no real wolves in the park, although we did see a dingo; feral cattle, buffalo and donkeys, too.) Wolf spiders are “mostly robust, agile hunters, active by day or night, common across all of Australia,” to quote Whyte and Anderson. Most of them wear drab camouflage colours and live on the ground in leaf litter or temporary retreats.

Spotlighting for wolves

Karl, our host at Nathan River, introduced us to the art of spotlighting: if you hold a torch up at eye level (a head torch is ideal), the eyes of roaming wolf spiders will shine back at you like little diamonds.

It works! The key is having the torch close to your own eyes so that the light reflected from theirs comes back along the same path. But the effect is impossible to photograph because there isn’t enough light on the scene, and adding light makes the background brighter than the eye-shine. (There’s a challenge here for obsessive nature photographers. Perhaps it could be done with a macro lens, a flash unit, lots of patience and co-operative wolves.) In real life, one squats down beside the wolf and uses a torch and flash for a photo.

wolf spider in leaf litter
Wolf spider in leaf litter

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Mount Inkerman

Mount Inkerman rises from the coastal plain just south of Home Hill. There’s a general store beside the highway on its southern side, and a turn-off to the Lookout on the northern side.

A narrow sealed road leads to the transmission towers and the Rotary Lookout at the summit. The views across the canefields are vast – out to the mouth of the Burdekin River (top photo), or  to Cape Upstart, Home Hill and the mountains. (Wanderstories has more of them.)

A sign at the carpark announces a Nature Trail of ’30 to 45 minutes.’ Unfortunately, it lies (and someone really should do something about it).

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Common names and Latin names

The science community tries very hard, as described in my post about Birdwing butterflies and their food plants, to make sure each species is uniquely identified by a single Latin name. So long as the Latin names are correct, however, we can have as many local vernacular names as we like without causing significant confusion.

One species, one Latin name, many common names

One species may have several common names, even in the same language in the same region, let alone different languages and different countries.

A smallish ground-feeding black-and-white bird is a good local example, being known as a Magpie-lark, Pee-wee, Peewit or Mudlark. None of those names are wrong, and any doubts about the identity of the bird can be resolved by pointing to one or referring to its unique Latin name, Grallina cyanoleuca.

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Golden Orb Weaver – a small life well lived

We were pleased to see a big orb web strung between palms, bananas and the cubby-house at the back of our garden towards the end of May.

Its architect, constructor and homeowner was resting, head down, in the middle of it. I introduced our three species of Golden Orb Weaver here so I don’t need to say much about her identity today except that she was an Australian Golden Orb Weaver, Nephila edulis.

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Dewdrop spider living on the edge

A mature St Andrew’s Cross spider (Argiope keyserlingi) has set up her web between two maidenhair ferns on our back patio and I noticed yesterday morning that she had caught and wrapped a substantial meal, perhaps a fly or a small moth.

Looking more closely after lunch (my lunch, that is, not hers), I saw a much smaller spider hanging around in the edge of her web.

Argyrodes antipodianus
St Andrew’s Cross with a Dewdrop spider at the top of the photo

The macro lens with a close-up filter was able to show that it was a Dewdrop Spider, Argyrodes antipodianus, and even that it was a male (those “boxing gloves”, really enlarged palps, are the giveaway).

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