View Full Version : more from the Blue Mountains

31-Jan-2011, 06:24 PM
I returned to the Blue Mountains yesterday. I wanted to search for butterflies along this creek. According to the field guide, there are several species of montane butterflies that live in this habitat and I hoped to find a few. The day was hot and humid and activity pretty much died by midday when temps were in the mid-30s. There were only a few species of plants with flowers at this time of year. One of these was a Tea Tree (Leptospermum sp.) but here in the mountains, it seemed only attractive to hymenoptera.

There is a trail along this creek and this is where I spent most of the time. Plants like Saw-sedge (Gahnia sp.), Spike-Rush (Lomandra sp.), Purple Flag (Patersonia sp.) and rice flowers (Pimelia sp.) were common. All of these are host species of several species of skippers.

Butterflies were out in good numbers from about 10am-12pm. After that, only a handful of species remained active.

One of the most common was this Ochre. There are several similar species in the area but after lots of net-searching and reading of the field guide, I believe these to be Southern Silver Ochres (Trapezites praxetes). This is a male that looks quite different to the females below. It also seemed larger. I always had the impression that males were smaller than females in the butterfly world but maybe this is not correct. The faces and proboscis of most butterflies were caked with pollen.

... females

31-Jan-2011, 06:39 PM
I think that these are great looking little skippers. They are much smaller than the bulky Splendid Ochres that I also encountered.

Splendid Ochre (Trapezites symmomus) lived in the same habitat. Sometimes I saw the two species perched within a few cms of each other. They did not interact at all.

Australian Painted Lady (Vannesa kershawi)

I saw a number of other butterflies including Varied Sedge-Skippers (Hesperilla donnysa), Silver Sedge-Skipper (H. crypsargyra), Meadow Argus (Junonia villida), Macleay's Swallowtail (Graphium macleayanus), Common Brown (Heteronympha merope), one of the smaller browns (Heteronympha sp.), Marbled Xenica (Geitoneura klugii), Chequered Swallowtail (Papilio demoleus), Orchard Swallowtail (Papilio aegeus), Black Jezebel (Delias nigrina), Yellow-spotted Jezebel (D. nysa), Cabbage White (Pieris rapae), Varied Sword-grass Brown (Tisiphone abeona) and Yellow Admiral (Vanessa itea).

... pretty snout beetle:

31-Jan-2011, 06:48 PM
Bright Shield-Skipper (Signeta flammeata) -- I saw a few of these.

I have seen Mountain Dragons (Ctenophorus diemensis) many times but this was the first trip where I have seen males in their full breeding colours. Normally, their heads are not orange like this.

Around noon, I drove on to Mt. Victoria to examine a hilltop. It was hot and there was not much activity. Here are a couple of habitat shots of this area with dry eucalyptus forest.

31-Jan-2011, 06:50 PM
I was please to find this Orange Ochre (Trapezites eliena).

Marbled Xenica (Geitoneura klugii) -- common

Common Mime
01-Feb-2011, 10:24 AM
Good collection of the skippers, Dave.

02-Feb-2011, 08:33 AM
Thanks, Chee Ming. Skippers are one of most diverse families of butterflies here in Australia. I only started to examine them this year and have been surprised at the variety in this temperate part of the country.

Glorious Begum
02-Feb-2011, 09:36 PM
Another nice series there, David. :thumbsup:

That snout beetle is actually a weevil. :cheers:

03-Feb-2011, 05:58 AM
Thanks, LC.

Yes, you are correct. The beetle is probably a Botany Bay Weevil (Chrysologus spectabilis) based on web searches. They are colourful and fairly large insects.

03-Feb-2011, 09:21 AM
David: News coverage today was all about the Force 5 Cyclone hammering Queensland. How does that affect you? Different part of Australia? William

09-Feb-2011, 06:56 AM
Hello William,

Sorry for the delay in replying. I was away to Kakadu for a few days from Thursday ("Yasi day") until last night.

Yasi smashed into Mission Beach, our favourite holiday destination. I have photos of the area in this forum from a trip in Nov 2010. Mission Beach seems cyclone prone but Yasi was particularly bad and did a great deal of damage.

I almost cancelled my trip last Thursday to Kakadu due to the cyclone threat. If Yasi had turned north into the Gulf of Carpentaria, I would probably have been stuck in Darwin for awhile. Instead, the cycone continued into central Australia and dumped lots of rain in the interior. Alice Springs had flooding right in the centre of the country. Some of wet continued south into Victoria and there is flooding underway in the western portion of the state.

Wollongong/Sydney area was pretty much untouched by the clouds of the cyclone.

I will begin posting photos from Kakadu/Litchfield/Darwin tonight. It was a great trip although short ... only 4 days in the field. I have always wanted to see that area in the wet. Kakadu is abit like the Everglades with enormous flood plains that are full of crocs. It was wet and grey at least half the time but there were plenty of butterflies when the sun was shining. Conditions were hot with high humidity. I was dripping wet almost continuously.

I sadly only saw a single elapid but pythons were numerous.


09-Feb-2011, 09:42 AM
Glad to hear you're safe, David. :)

Video clips of Yasi pounding the Aussie coastline on various international TV channels showed a very devastating cyclone.

And to think that my Australian friends were lamenting about the severe drought in Australia for the past decade. It almost seems that 10 years' worth of rain was dumped on Australia in the past month!

Painted Jezebel
09-Feb-2011, 03:14 PM
I sadly only saw a single elapid but pythons were numerous.

I think most of us would be very happy if we 'only' saw a single elapid!!!!:sweat: :grin2:

09-Feb-2011, 06:08 PM
Thanks, Khew. You are correct about the rain in Australia. La Nina is a big one this time and most areas of the continent have been drenched. The only exception is the southwest corner where the drought and bushfires continue.

Les, I think that the elapid population has crashed in Kakadu due to the arrival of cane toads a few years back. Before that, Northern Death Adders, King Browns and large monitors were numerous. The elapids here are nothing to worry about even though their venom is toxic. They normally are shy and attempt to "run away" if given the opportunity. I think that the vipers where you live would pose a much greater risk of snake bite than most of the Aussie elapids. I've only seen a handful of cobras on trips overseas so don't really know what their behaviour would be like.