A special butterfly was found in Aireys Inlet by Margaret MacDonald in September.
Barry Lingham from the Geelong Field Naturalists Club identified it as a Silky Hairstreak, Pseudalmenus chlorinda zephyrus. It is unusual to see this species in our area as they are normally found in eastern Victoria and Tasmania in open eucalypt forests and woodland areas. They are brown-black in appearance with a central orange patch to each wing, hindwing with orange edge and a black tail. Underneath, they are grey with black marking and a red edge to hindwing. Wingspan up to 3 cm.
Silky Hairstreak Butterfly
In the same area Margaret noticed some activity involving ants and what appeared to be eggs. The find was clarified by Dr Ken Walker from Museums Victoria who identified the white egg-like structures as scale insects and unrelated to the nearby butterfly. They are called Wattle Tick Scale, Cryptes baccatus. They form colonies of 30-40, live on host plants such as wattle species and are a light blue-grey colour. They are tended by ants who remove the honey dew, which is basically plant sap, rich in sugar and is exuded by the scale insects.
Wattle Tick Scale
Wingless and legless adult scales spend their lives under the protective shells.
Females lay their eggs under the scale covers. When the young first hatch they have legs and are active. They are called crawlers and they disperse to new feeding sites and then transform in to immobile adults.
Jane Shennan provided the following account of her recent observations while walking through Coogoorah Park, involving a Ringtail Possum and four Spotted Pardalotes.
‘A quartet of Spotted Pardalotes were seen raiding the fur from a Ringtail Possum at Coogoorah Park recently. Sleepily ensconced in its drey the possum initially did not put up any resistance.
‘One by one the tiny birds clung to the edge of a discarded but renovated Red Wattlebird nest, each grabbing a beak-full of possum fur before taking off into a stiff breeze—with some difficulty since their centre of gravity had significantly shifted!
‘All went well for some 10 minutes as the sneaky pardalotes continued to fur-ther their nests, until one braver than the others, decided the slumbering possum would be a convenient roost. At which point the possum firmly lodged its objection and moved away’.
As part of September Biodiversity Month, some Lorne students went on excursions to photograph and upload their observations. Two Year 10 students, James Gray and Bailley O’Connor found a Pouched Lamprey, Geotria australis, deceased, in the Erskine River, upstream of the bridge. It is probable that the fish entered the river to lay eggs and then died. It is a very rare fish to see! It represents an ancient lineage, having evolved before a lower jaw. It spends half its life developing in freshwater, before heading into saltwater. Lampreys attach themselves to living marine creatures and feed from the blood of its host.
(Thanks to Pete Crowcroft for this information and photos).
Two beautiful nests were discovered near a walking track in Anglesea. One belonged to a Bassian Thrush and was situated about four metres above the ground in a tree fork. The nest is a bowl made with strips of bark, leaves and grasses and covered in moss.
The second nest was that of a Dusky Woodswallow. A well camouflaged nest about two metres above ground—made from fine twigs on the side of a tree, under a bark overhang.
Snakes are more noticeable now as they become active with the warmer spring days. An Eastern Brown Snake was seen moving swiftly across Old Coach Road at Moggs Creek and a Tiger Snake was found at Aireys Inlet.
Freesia refracta and Freesia alba X F. leichtlinii are declared weeds in the Surf Coast Shire because they spread easily and threaten to invade bushland. Freesias are perennial herbs that die back in summer and produce new foliage in winter. The highly fragrant trumpet-shaped flowers appearing in spring are white to cream and pink with yellow markings, shaded purple on outer surface. Each plant has at least two corms, one below the other, thus requiring deep digging to remove them.
More details about how to control this weed can be found in the archive of Weeds of the Month.
There are a number of wonderful local Friends Groups that provide ANGAIR members and the community with opportunities for involvement.