Birdwatching in Wagga Wagga


More Insects
June 21, 2010, 3:43 pm
Filed under: General, Observations | Tags: , , , ,

This earlier post listed a few of the insect species found in the area. The present post is a continuation of that one.

A common and widespread mantid, Orthodera ministralis is often found (as its common name suggests) in suburban gardens. This individual was photographed on the South American potato vine Solanum jasminoides.

Breeding pairs of the Tricolor Soldier Beetle were commonly seen in late summer and early autumn. Other species of soldier beetle, C. lugubris and C. pulchellus, routinely form enormous breeding colonies, and so are often called Plague Soldier Beetles. See the Brisbane Insects website for more information.

This breeding pair was photographed on Willans Hill.

The Circulionidae (true weevils) is among the largest and most diverse of the insect families. It is often very difficult to identify particular species. This particular individual bears a very strong resemblance to the Elephant Weevil Orthorhinus cylindrirostris and may belong to the same subfamily (the Molytinae).

This individual was photographed on a Kurrajong (Brachychiton populneus), which seems to be a favourite foodsource of a couple of weevil species.

This is another weevil species, this time photographed in a suburban garden. The relatively short, broad rostrum (snout) suggests that this individual belongs to the subfamily Entiminae (broad-nosed weevils).

This species of leaf beetle (Chrysomelidae) is common in vegetable gardens, particularly as a pest of cucurbits (in this case zucchini). They can be extremely destructive. This article from the Department of Primary Industries (now Industry & Investment and formerly NSW Agriculture) has some information on pests of cucurbits, including this species.

Chrysodeixis spp. are quite conspicuous – at least as caterpillars. The adults are not nearly as noticeable. As a leaf-eater with a taste for cultivated vegetables (this one was photographed on a bean plant) they can be quite destructive.

The Banded (or Purple-banded) Concealer Moth belongs to the family Oecophoridae (concealer moths), which is particularly well-represented around Wagga. Several other species are known from the area – some entirely white, some entirely yellow, some yellow with brownish or purplish markings. They are often found clinging to the underside of plant stems and leaves.

This individual was photographed on Willans Hill.

These are the nymphs of the Two-lined Gum Treehopper. The adults can be seen at the Brisbane Insects website. The young are attended by ants (in this case probably a species of Golden-tailed Sugar Ant Camponotus sp.) who collect from them a sugar secretion called honeydew. The ants essentially ‘farm’ the nymphs.

These individuals were photographed on Willans Hill.

Another species of hopper, also in the family Cicadellidae, though belonging to a different subfamily (Tartessinae, not Eurymelinae). Leafhoppers are plant-feeders, using their piercing mouthparts to extract sap from trees. These individuals were seen on a young eucalypt (possibly the River Red Gum Eucalyptus camaldulensis) near Lake Albert.

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That’s all for now. In bird-related news, the Black-chinned Honeyeater (a vulnerable species) was recorded at Mates Gully Rd. TSR and has been added to the lists for Mates Gully and for Wagga Wagga. Also added to the Wagga list was the Swift Parrot, an endangered species, which was recorded (by call only) at Red Hill Reserve, near Pomingalarna. It is also known to overwinter in Mates Gully Rd. and Kyeamba TSRs.

In less encouraging news, the Scarlet Robin has recently been declared a vulnerable species (see here). Its numbers are apparently in decline. In the Wagga area it is known from Livingstone National Park and Mates Gully Rd. TSR.

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Nest Hill Nature Reserve

Nest Hill Nature Reserve, formerly Pulletop State Forest, was gazetted in January 2001. It is located roughly 35km south of Wagga Wagga and 25km north of Holbrook. It is accessible only via management trails. The management plan can be found here, but is sadly rather light on details.

Surveys carried out by the National Parks and Wildlife Service recorded only 20 bird species in the park. The following is a list of more than thirty recorded by me in the space of a single visit (the discrepancy is hard to explain):
1. Australian Magpie
2. Australian Raven
3. +Australian Wood-Duck
4. +Black Swan
5. Black-Faced Cuckoo-Shrike
6. Brown Falcon
7. Brown Treecreeper
8. Common Bronzewing
9. Crested Pigeon
10. Eastern Rosella
11. Eastern Yellow Robin
12. Flame Robin
13. Galah
14. Grey Fantail
15. Grey Shrike-Thrush
16. Laughing Kookaburra
17. Magpie-lark
18. +Masked Lapwing
19. Pied Currawong
20. Red Wattlebird
21. Red-Rumped Parrot
22. Restless Flycatcher
23. Rufous Whistler
24. Striated Pardalote
25. Sulphur-Crested Cockatoo
26. Superb Fairy-Wren
27. Weebill
28. Welcome Swallow
29. White-Plumed Honeyeater
30. White-Throated Treecreeper
31. White-Winged Chough
32. Willie Wagtail
33. Yellow Thornbill

(Those species marked with a + were recorded on a farm dam immediately adjacent to the reserve). Of particular note is the Brown Treecreeper, the eastern subspecies of which (Climacteris picumnus victoriae) is classed as Vulnerable. (Though there is some debate as to whether the local subspecies is C. p. victoriae or C. p. picumnus). The Fantail Cuckoo and Cockatiel were recorded in the surrounding area in spring.

The Reserve is dominated by three vegetation communities:
1. Rough-Barked Red Box (Eucalyptus polyanthemos)/White Box (E. albens)
2. Inland Scribbly Gum (E. rossii)/Norton’s Box (E. nortonii)
3. Red Stringybark (E. macrorhyncha; pictured above)/Inland Scribbly Gum/Rough-Barked Red Box

Nest Hill NR contains what is probably the largest stand of Red Box in the Wagga area (it is found in smaller quantities in Livingstone NP and Mates Gully Rd TSR). The presence of Red Stringybark is also noteworthy for similar reasons.

The understorey is sparse and generally lacking in diversity, owing to extensive grazing prior to the Reserve’s gazettal. Weeds (including *Sonchus asper, *Galium aparine and *Trifolium spp.) are encroaching on the Reserve’s boundaries.

Among the species recorded were the heaths Melichrus urceolatus (Urn Heath; pictured above) and Lissanthe strigosa (Peach Heath); the orchids Pterostylis sp. aff. parviflora (Tiny Greenhood; see here and here) and Pterostylis falcata (Autumn or Sickle Greenhood); and the small herbs Goodenia hederacea (Ivy Goodenia; pictured below), Cymbonotus preissianus (Austral Bear’s-Ear; pictured below), Geranium solanderi (Native Geranium), Hydrocotyle laxiflora (Stinking Pennywort) and Dauchus glochidiatus (Austral Carrot).

Also recorded were the grasses Austrostipa scabra (Rough Speargrass), Microlaena stipoides (Weeping or Meadow Rice-Grass; uncommon) and a species of Poa (Tussock Grass). Grass Trees (Xanthorrhoea sp.) were also present.

There was also a substantial fungus population, including several large colonies of Phylloporus clelandii (pictured above), Limacella spp., Pisolithus tinctorius (Horse Dropping Fungus) and a small, woolly bracket fungus (possibly a species of Stereum; pictured below).

There were also a number of mosses and lichens.

***

This information comes from a single visit to the Reserve. Future visits are likely to yield much more.