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Thread: Southern Highlands, NSW. Dec 2011

  1. #1
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    Default Southern Highlands, NSW

    Greetings,

    This has been the coldest December since 1960. It seems to be grey and wet most days so conditions have not been ideal for butterfly photography. Today, the clouds cleared at noon. I hopped into the car and drove up to the southern highlands to a place that I found last summer. This site is along a reservoir and has dense thickets of spike-rush (Lomandra sp.), sword-grass (Gahnia sp.), Tea Trees (Leptospermum sp.) and ferns. Further from the water a patches of Eucalyptus woodland.

    Here are photos from the visit today.


    Habitat:





    Common Browns (Heteronympha merope) were abundant, especially along dirt tracks through the forest. I saw large numbers of these sexually dimorphic butterflies.





    Females always attracted the attention of males. In the shots below, a male landed next to the female and then hopped towards her with open wings. At times the male would knock the female until she finally took flight with him in close pursuit. Sometimes, the females would lay flat in the grass while the male danced around them.

    Last edited by moloch; 26-Jan-2012 at 06:41 PM.
    David Fischer
    Wollongong, Australia

    My photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/moloch05/sets/

  2. #2
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    Varied Sword-Grass Browns (Tisiphone abeona) were also abundant. These butterflies have a slow, "dipping" flight. They were the most common in damp areas and particularly where there were thickets of sword-grass.






    Ringed Xenica (Geitoneura acantha) were not as common as the other browns.





    On this trip, I briefly saw a single Flame Sedge-Skipper (Hesperilla idothea). These should be more common in January.
    David Fischer
    Wollongong, Australia

    My photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/moloch05/sets/

  3. #3
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    The browns and rings in Australia are very colourful. Only dull colored rings and browns(which makes it boring) can be found in Singapore.
    -Brian

    My flickr

  4. #4
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    Painted Sedge-Skippers (Hesperilla picta) were also present in low numbers.




    This tiny White-banded Grass-Dart (Taractrocera papyria) was a lifer to me.




    Another life was the Lilac Grass-Skipper (Toxidia doubleday). This was a small, slow-flying species that usually flew just above the ferns.





    These hymenopterans were mating. It appeared that one of the sexes was flightless.
    David Fischer
    Wollongong, Australia

    My photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/moloch05/sets/

  5. #5
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    Thanks, Brian. Yes, there are a number of nicely coloured browns here. Some of these are fairly large when compared with genera like Mycalesis.


    male Bright Shield-Skipper (Signeta flammeata). This was my first for the season. Last summer, this was the most commonly seen skipper in the area.



    Fringed-lily (Thysanotus sp.)



    I saw the following animals last weekend in the hills not far from my home. I think that the spider is one of the funnel-webs. It was not cooperative but it did rear and lift its massive fangs. Unfortunately, it was facing away from me so the fangs were not visible in the photo.




    Red-bellied Black Snakes (Pseudechis porphyriacus) are one of the most common elapids in this area. They are nicely coloured snakes that are shy and fast moving. It is hard to get close enough for a photo.



    Regards,
    Last edited by moloch; 26-Jan-2012 at 07:24 PM.
    David Fischer
    Wollongong, Australia

    My photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/moloch05/sets/

  6. #6
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    Default Jan 2012

    The monsoon in Australia has been a big one this year. Clouds from this have spilled down the east coast resulting in a wet January in Wollongong. I have hardly been out at all. Today was not too bad with occasional breaks in the rain. I headed back to the Robertson and Fitzroy Falls areas to see what might be out. In December, the butterfly bush (Buddleia sp.) that I found last year did not have a bud. Now, the shrub was covered with flowers and there were a number of butterflies visiting these. Most remained high up so it was easy to take photos in the afternoon. I will visit this shrub a few more times over the next couple of weeks so hopefully will find more cooperative butterflies.



    Tea Trees (Leptospermum sp.) were also in full flower near Fitzroy Falls. I did not see the numbers or variety of butterflies that I found last year but there still was a fair amount of activity.




    Here are a few shots of what I encountered. I tried shrimp paste today as bait but nothing at all was attacted to it.

    Meadow Argus (Junonia villida). I only saw a few of these.



    Yellow Admiral (Vanessa itea). Saw a few of these.



    Ringed Xenicas (Geitoneura acantha) are much more common this year than last summer.




    I saw two Imperial Jezebels (Delias harpalyce). Also saw a single Yellow-spotted Jezebel (D. nysa) but it remained too high for photos.
    David Fischer
    Wollongong, Australia

    My photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/moloch05/sets/

  7. #7
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    Red-spotted Jezebel (Delias aganippe).



    This male Common Brown (Heteronympha merope) managed to become trapped in a web. Two species of jewel spiders had webs everywhere above the Lomandra/Leptospermum thickets near a reservoir at Fitzroy Falls.






    Sundews were abundant on the damp soil



    Odd-looking little terrestrial orchid:
    David Fischer
    Wollongong, Australia

    My photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/moloch05/sets/

  8. #8
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    Bright Shield Skippers (Signeta flammeata) were the most commonly encountered skipper. These are shots of females.





    This Lilac Grass-Skipper (Toxidia doubledayi) was in good condition. I quite like these distinctively marked skippers.




    I saw several male Barred Skippers (Dispar compacta).



    This Eastern Blue-tongued Skink (Tiliqua scincoides) surprised me while I was walking through the grass near the butterfly bush. I initially thought that it was a Tiger Snake.

    David Fischer
    Wollongong, Australia

    My photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/moloch05/sets/

  9. #9
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    David,

    Beautiful and well taken series !!

    Thank You for sharing with us!
    Sunny

    ~~When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Going~~

    Sunny's Facebook on Butterflies!

    ~

  10. #10
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    David, beautiful and interesting shots from a more beautiful country


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