Nearly-Easter nearly-egg

cyldindrical cocoon
It’s 5mm long and elegantly decorated, but what is it?

There is always something new to see on a walk around the park and on our stroll with Wildlife Queensland folk last Sunday I noticed this beautiful little egg dangling from a shrub. Its silken thread suggested to me that it might be a spider’s egg-case (I knew the little dewdrop spiders create similarly rigid egg-cases and suspend them from a thread like this), and everyone knows that caterpillars make cocoons from silk and some suspend them from plants.

A little creative internet searching revealed, however, that it was neither of the above but the cocoon of a small parasitic wasp in the family Campopleginae, one of the 1500+ subfamilies of the Ichneumonidae.

That level of identification is as close as I will get, but this link will take you to a splendid international collection of photos of the adult wasps. Sometimes I love the internet!

Field trips for Townsville wildlife enthusiasts

people on dam wall
The beginning of the Birdlife Townsville walk at Ross Dam

The period between Christmas and Australia Day is a quiet one for many organisations but everyone seems to be gearing up again now.

Birdlife Townsville (formerly, I think, the Townsville Region Bird Observers Club, which was cumbersome but accurately reflected their focus) didn’t slow down at all for January: their calendar lists nine events for that month, which is close to average. They are a keen lot!

I was invited to their “Ross Dam Survey” on January 17th and enjoyed it. A dozen of us met at the Dam carpark, drove along the Kelso side of the dam as far as we could and then walked, first along the dam wall and then down beside the creek which enters the head of the dam. There were, of course, lots of water birds – ibis, spoonbills, egrets, cormorants, pelicans, etc – but many other species were sighted and counted in the two and a half hours. I learned a lot, not least that my bird-spotting skills could improve with more practice like this!

Wildlife Queensland has begun announcing its monthly walks. The first is to Paluma Dam (a lot further away than Ross Dam but very beautiful) on February 21st.

Both of these associations welcome non-members as participants in at least some of their events, but encourage membership. And why not, when the clubs do so much for conservation?

In other news …

There are two new posts on the Wildlife Queensland Townsville Branch blog which I thought deserved a mention because they fit so well with what I have been doing here on Green Path.

The first records a field trip (they are a monthly activity of the branch and I have been on several this year) to a park I visit often, Lou Litster Park which follows Ross Creek either side of Queens Road. From urban wasteland to city oasis, however, does something I couldn’t, presenting the park’s history as a long-term revegetation project. The project was led by Christine Dalliston and Lynn Saunders who acted as guides on the day, so WQ members learned a lot about how its present state was achieved.

There are some nice photos there – not mine, because I wasn’t able to go on the trip – but I thought I might add here a flower which is mentioned there but not shown, the unusual blossom of the Leichhardt tree, Nauclea orientalis.

spiky brown and cream flower
The chestnut-like flower of the Leichhardt tree, around golf-ball size

The second post, What’s in your [Mundingburra] backyard, is even closer to home in two ways: the photos in it are my own because I was invited to drop by with a camera and see if I could get a few good portraits of a curlew family, and the location is within very easy walking distance.

Curlews (more correctly Bush Stone-curlews, Burhinus grallarius) are common enough in our suburb but it is rare for the history of a particular breeding pair to be so well observed over such a long period and the account is well worth reading.

Nature walk with Wildlife Queensland

Ten days ago I joined the local chapter of Wildlife Queensland, aka the Wildlife Preservation Society of Queensland, for a Sunday morning walk along the banks of Ross River.

The location was a part of the river I had never visited on foot, across the footbridge from Weir State School, and it was an enjoyable event in its low-key way. The combined knowledge of the group was impressive – plant, bird or bug, someone would have a name for it – and progress was a very gentle amble in consequence.

damselfly on leaf
Damselfly, perhaps Redtail damselfly, Ceriagrion aeruginosum, near Ross River

I was intending to write a full description of the walk and what we saw but our leader has beaten me to it (and saved me the trouble) by posting her account on the WQ site – click here to read it.

WQ’s next field trip will be to Paradise Lagoon, Big Crystal Creek on Sunday March 23 – details are here.