07 April, 2010

Night and Day

Boyd's Forest Dragon. Relevant to end of owl story.
Barking owls are well named. Their call is like that of a small dog. the female has a high pitched two syllable call but the first is a diphthong. the males voice is lower pitched. She usually initiates dueting and can be very insistent. I once saw one fly to an unresponsive male, lean into his face and bark an invitation at him. He got the idea eventually. Maybe this is a bird I should have adopted as my totem in my youth?
This pair was photographed along Petersen Creek in Yungaburra. they have been using this site regularly for a while now. During the evening they can be seen in the Hoop Pine tree opposite the pub. From here they hunt the large moths which come to the lights of the village.
Barking Owls do not always bark. They also have a most beautiful soft churing sound which they use when waking in the evening and before going to sleep during the day. When disturbed during the day they seem to use this soft call to reassure their mate. As well as this they can scream! It is a most worrying sound which will cause the hairs to rise on the back of your neck.
Recently I had the most marvelous experience with a pair of Lesser Sooty Owls. My guests and I left a Lumholtz's Tree-Kangaroo to track down some noisy owls. Turns out it was only one noisy owl. As we headed in her direction I heard the very soft sound of a bomb dropping to our left. There was a male with a large freshly killed Boyd's Forest Dragon. A beautiful bird with a stunning reptile, newly molted to show its pinks, greens and blue-grey colours, with its yellow dewlap extended. The owl had the dragon by the skull. The female flew in and spread her wings in a wonderful soft pattern of curves and continued to make such harsh sounds.

The visual and auditory experiences were in conflict.
He disappeared, almost, into a dense tree and she followed. After a minute of much screaming and hissing she flew out with the dragon and he flew off quietly. When I made the falling bomb call she was quiet for 3 to 5 minutes before starting up again. Sometimes we see sleeping Green Ringtails in the trees along Petersen Creek. They love eating fig leaves.

06 April, 2010

Bug (and beetle) Discovery

Lyramorpha parens

The bugs above are Lyramorpha, literally in the shape of a lyre. Being this bright red with the beautiful soft grey-blue edging they stand out in the rainforest. However while they have been known for a long time, their hosts have never been recorded. Until now! I was told this on Friday, found one host on Saturday and two more on Sunday.
Yes you are looking at a world first.
In the top picture you can see three different instars of the nymph stage. Later they go green and their wings grow. I am yet to find an adult feeding on the hosts or better yet guarding her eggs.
Some bugs exhibit high degrees of maternal care; even carrying their young around with them.
Beetles bite / bugs sux

My friend Geoff Montieth said of these little fellows, " are beetles of the family Endomychidae. I think the genus is Encymon... Sometimes they are very common but I've never seen them eating anything so being predatory is interesting."
Here they are eating tiny tree snails. The snails are about one millimetre in diameter.

Somthing rotten in the State of Queensland

Well, rotting more than rotten.
Fungi are very important in the breakdown of all sorts of living, dead and even nonliving parts of the environment to make nutrients available. The late wet season is a wonderful time on land west of the Great Barrier Reef and the colours are as varied. Here are some from my garden in Yungaburra.

Have a look at Faunal Fungi Feast from October 08 for more photos of fungi. The stinkhorns are out now too.

05 April, 2010

Lumhotz's Tree-kangaroos

Petersen Creek in Yungaburra has become a well known Platypus viewing site but now its reputation for tree-kangaroos is soaring.
A week ago I went along the creek looking for the Barking Owls which often hang out there. I was disappointed in my quest but very happy to find five Lumholtz's Tree-Kangaroos. The big male was in too difficult a position to photograph but the two females with joeys at heel sat nicely for me.
If you come across tree-roos please do not approach so closely that they jump or slide to the ground. This is what they do when they are upset and then on the ground the can fall prey to feral and domestic dogs.

04 April, 2010

Lepidoptera and their larvae

Towards the end of the wet season there are butterflies, moths and their larvae everywhere. The huge caterpillar above is that of the Cairns Birdwing, our biggest butterfly, and is just about to pupate. Below is an Ambrax Swallowtail and its larva.

Ambrax are a midsized swallowtail. On one recent morning there were five species of swallow tail flying in the garden. Unfortunately, without breeding the animals they are hard to photograph; they wont sit still.

There are lots of ringlets. Here are the similar Orange Ringlet and Orange-streaked Ringlet.
I think this might be an Orchid Flash as it has the two tails per hind wing.
Like many butterflies this Northern Jezebel loves feeding on Pentas flowers in the garden. As well as planting the trees, shrubs and vines for the larvae it is necessary to have nectar plants or the adults will spend their time in your neighbours garden.
I once gave a box full of 'butterfly plants' to an acquaintance in Cairns. When I saw her a few months latter and asked after them I was told that she had removed them. Why? She didn't like to use so much spraying in the garden and they were always covered in grubs.
I think I saw a Spotted Jezebel last month. That would be right at the limit of its range.