Brushtail Possum

Brushtail Possum

By: Michael Fox

At night in Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve you see the bush with new eyes … and eyes are what you see.

I knew the eyes of many animals seem to glow in the light of a torch so I was not surprised to find the orange glow of a pair of eyes, was a Brushtail Possum Trichosurus vulpecula, prowling around.

What has been really surprising though are the dozens of sparkling lights on the ground – Wolf spiders Lycosa species. In torch light the eyes of these spiders look like tiny diamonds the reflection is so sharp. When I first saw this the light seemed to flash like Fireflies but that effect was just caused by movement of my torch as I approached. When I held the torch steady the light from the spiders’ eyes was also steady.

Garden Orb Weaver web

Garden Orb Weaver web

Apparently Wolf spiders are one a small number of spider species that have a layer of light reflecting crystals, tapetum lucidum, right behind the retina of the eye. This reflective layer improves night vision for these nocturnal hunters by bouncing light back to the retina.

It is interesting to see the different shape, colour and intensity of the light reflected by the eyes of different species. The Wolf spiders have small crystal clear light, while the Brushtail’s eyes were larger, wide apart and the reflection was softer. Toads have similar reflecting eyes and I am getting good at spotting them at a distance, keeping them sitting still in the light, then scooping them up in a plastic bag ready for freezing. I have removed ten toads from the Reserve from my last couple of night walks.

Garden Orb Weaver spiders, Eriophora transmarina, are another night time creature making huge webs at night which are cleaned up in the morning before they retreat to spend the day in a leaf shelter. This particular spider likes to make a web across the fire trail in the Fox Gully Bushcare site. The web spans an amazing 5 to 6 metres to bridge the trail. A large bug or something has already flown straight through this web so I ducked under to avoid any more damage to this extraordinary construction.

By: Michael Fox

Spider web - 29 March 2014

Wolf Spider web

I think I have solved the puzzle of the strange muslin like spider webs on the ground last week.

Julie-Anne suggested wolf spiders so I have been searching for these fearsome hunters among the leaf litter.

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Dark Wolf Spider - 31 March 2014

Dark Wolf Spider

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I found this this Dark Wolf Spider Lycosa obscuroides morning. These spiders look fearsome but they are small with a body length of approximately 10mm so they would fit the hole in the web I photographed.

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Dark Wolf Spider - front - 31 March 2014

Fearsome features – eight eyes

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Wolf spiders hunt among the leaf litter for crickets and lizards. They have also been reported as feeding on Cane Toads. I assume it is the larger species that hunt Cane Toads however it is certainly nice to think some Australian species are fighting back.

Wolf spiders have a distinctive pattern of eight eyes with one row of four small eyes at the front with two large eyes above and another two large mounted on the side of its head.

lycosa - with egg sac - Sept08

Female Dark Wolf Spider with egg sac

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Another interesting characteristic of wolf spiders is the females carrying their egg sac with them. Once the eggs hatch she carries her young on her back. I photographed this female in 2008 and I had forgotten how small these fearsome creatures are.

 

 

 

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Tent spider webs covered in morning dew Photo: J. Fox

By: Michael Fox

I have spent thousands of hours walking and working in Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve and I am still seeing things I have never noticed before. The misty mornings air this morning showed dozens of small tent spider webs in communities in the shrubs. The moisture on the webs this morning made for great photography. When I just checked this afternoon these webs are all but invisible.

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Dome Tent Spider - 29 March 2014

Dome Tent Spider web Photo: J. Fox

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I could not find any spiders to photograph however these webs are almost certainly made by Dome Tent Spiders Cyrtophora moluccensis which I have found in the Reserve. This larger web shows the amazing structure with a collection of something, possibly eggs, at the peak.

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Dome Tent Spider - close - 29 March 2014

Close up of Tent Spider Web Photo: J. Fox

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A close up photo shows the neat matrix of thread and the tension cables holding the shape just like a circus bigtop.

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Cyrtophora moluccensis - Jan10

Dome Tent Spider – Photo: M. Fox

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Dome Tent Spider I photographed at Mt Gravatt Campus in 2010.

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Garden Orb Weaver web - 29 March 2014

Garden Orb Weaver web Photo: J. Fox

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We also found this huge beautifully made web, of the Garden Orb Weaver Eriophora transmarina, stretched out between two trees. Another Garden Orb web had stretched right across the track earlier in the week but without the dew droplets it was virtually invisible and didn’t survive as I walked straight into it.

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Gardern Orb Weaver - 29 March 2014

Garden Orb Weaver Photo: M.Fox

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Garden Orb Weaver females build these huge webs as night and usually consume them again in the morning before hiding in a retreat of leaves and twigs. So it was a bit of a surprise to not only find the web still in place this afternoon but also find the owner sitting in the centre. The web had also caught dozens of flying ants during the day.

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Spider web - 29 March 2014

Mysterious web on ground Photo: M. Fox

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Another first for me is finding a large number of these webs on the ground which must be there everyday but only noticeable with the heavy dew. These webs are very fine with multiple layers which makes them look like very fine muslin fabric.

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Spider web - hole - 29 March 2014

Entry hole in web Photo: M. Fox

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I was not able to get a photo of the tiny spiders living in these webs as they quickly disappeared into the hole built into each web.

Any ideas on what spider species makes these fascinating webs?

 

 

 

 

 

Originally posted on Pollinator Link:

By: Michael Fox
Australian Painted  Lady - 14 Sept 2013

Australian Painted Lady Vanessa kershawi

“It is not often that members rise in this House to speak about butterflies … ” local member and Minister for Science, Information Technology, Innovation and the Arts, the Hon. Ian Walker, introducing his Parliamentary Adjournment Speech in Queensland Parliament.

Ian is a strong supporter of Mt Gravatt Environment Group and the Pollinator Link initiative. As Minister for Science combined with his role Urban Development Institute of Queensland, Ian’s support presents an opportunity to introduce the concept of Pollinator Link wildlife corridors for new urban developments across Queensland.

Read Ian’s speech below or in Hansard.Ian Walker - State Parliament - 18 March 2014

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       King Parrot Alisterus scapularis                                                                Blue Banded Bee Amegilla cingulata

View original

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29 bags, one TV and small power poll

By: Michael Fox

Sunday 2nd March CleanUP Australia

Thanks to coordinator Kerstie Olsson we had a record turn out of approximately 60 volunteers (which included two Scout groups) and collected twenty-nine bags of rubbish (half recycling), a large TV, several pieces of wooden furniture and a small power pole from the top of the mountain, the walking tracks and down the road.

Cub Scouts on patrol - 2 March 2014

Cub Scouts on patrol

The main issue was broken glass, fast food wrappers and dumping large rubbish.

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I led a group of Cub Scouts down Acacia Way and Geebung Track.

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Rainbow Lorikeet emerging from nest hollow

Not a lot of rubbish but we did see a pair of Rainbow Lorikeets Trichoglossus haematodus emerge from a nest hollow, a pair of Galahs Eolophus roseicapillus as well as butterflies and bugs.

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Galahs at home

 

 

Spotted Paropsine Beetle - 2 March 2014

Spotted Paropsine Beetle Paropsis maculata

 

 

Small Dusky-blue - 2 March 2014

Small Dusky-blue Candalides erinus

Grey Huntsman egg sac - 25 March 2014

Grey Huntsman egg sac – Photo: A Moore

By: Michael Fox

“What is this white thing that looks like a tea bag” Alan asked, leading me to a dead tree beside the Farm Fire Trail through Fox Gully Bushcare.

The “tea bag” is actually an egg sac of a Grey Huntsman Spider Heteropoda immanis.

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Holconia immanis - Feb10

Grey Huntsman Heteropoda immanis

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A fearsome looking creature these spiders can inflict a painful but not poisonous bite. Generally timid the females will strongly maternal and will protect egg sac. http://www.arachne.org.au

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Common Gum Tree Shield Bug - egg capsules - 24 March 2014

Egg capsules – Photo: A. Moore

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Having found the spider eggs Alan explored the dead tree to see what else is living in this unexpected habitat. Macro photography of empty egg capsules show that the tree is also home to shield bugs, probably the Common Gum Tree Shield Bug.

We tend to assume a dead tree, or stag, is only useful for firewood. Alan’s photos show that this “dead” habitat is still alive with species that depend on it for breeding.

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Poecilometis patruelis - eggs - Jan10

Common Gum Tree Shield Bug

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I have photographed this Common Gum Tree Shield Bug Poecilometis patruelis laying her eggs in 2010.

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Common Gum Tree Shield Bug Egg sacs close - 25 Mar 2014

Perfectly formed egg capsule lids

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Zooming in even closer we can see that these neat capsules also have perfectly formed lids that pop off as the bugs hatch out. Click on photo to expand and look at bottom right capsule.

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Lacewing eggs - A. Moore - 25 March 2014

Lacewing eggs – Photo: A. Moore

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Alan was also fascinated by the hundreds of tiny mushrooms growing on the tree. However, when I received Alan’s macro picture I realised these were Lacewing eggs each one mounted on an individual thin stalk.

 

 

 

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Morning sun from Eastern Outlook Track

By: Michael Fox

Autumn is a wonderful time of year for a morning walk in Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve. The air is fresh and cool and alive with the sound of birds.

Every morning is different. One day the morning sun is putting on a show peaking over the clouds while this morning I saw a new bird to photograph and identify. (Not always easy when you only catch one view of the bird.)

Unidentfied bird - 23 March 14

What bird is this? Ideas anyone?

Acacia Way - 23 Mar 14

Are we really in the middle of a city?

We also saw a Spangled Drongo Dicrurus bracteatus on the Eastern Outlook Track and another pair on the Farm Fire Trail.

We did not see any Wallabies, there have been three reliable sightings over the past twelve months, but we did have a pair of Galahs Eolophus roseicapillus fly past and saw two Black Faced Cuckoo Shrikes Coracina novaehollandiae.

Every track has different vegetation and a different feel depending on the time of day and position of the sun.

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