Morning Mist - 30 June 2015

Winter sun through the mist

By: Michael Fox

Winter is a great time to walk in the bush in Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve. Misty mornings, bright sunny days and no summer heat.

The light in winter is special – softer. Winter light helps you see and photograph the bush in different ways.

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Acacia leiocalyx  - flower - Jun 07

Early Black Wattle Acacia leiocalyx

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Explore the mountain tracks and discover the winter flowers.

Early Black Wattle Acacia leiocalyx is just past its best.

Also called Lamb’s Tail Wattle, it is a key food supply for caterpillars of Imperial Hairstreak butterflies – Jalmenus evagoras. Look for the caterpillars around February-March.

Learn to identify Early Black Wattle with the winter flowers so you can find the trees in summer. The red colour and triangular shape of the stems are key identifiers.

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Acacia fimbriata - flower - 5 Aug 10

Brisbane Fringed Wattle Acacia fimbriata

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Brisbane Fringed Wattle Acacia fimbriata is now coming into flower.

With its bright yellow ball shaped flowers this is one of the most attractive trees in the forest.

Once the Acacia fimbriata produces seeds it is very popular with the spectacular King Parrots Alisterus scapularis.

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Blackthorn Bursaria spinosa - 12 June 2015

Blackthorn Bursaria spinosa

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Blackthorn Bursaria spinosa flowers all year.

As the name suggests Blackthorn, with its spiky habit, is useful for Security Planting keeping people out of bushland areas and protecting small forest birds from larger more aggressive birds.

Blackthorn nectar is also popular with butterflies like the Blue Tiger Tirumala hamata.

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Black She-oak Allocasuarina littoralis is one of the most interesting trees flowering at the moment. In March the male Black She-oaks started producing their flowers showing up as the russet brown tips with the trees glowing in direct winter sunlight. Female Black She-oaks only started to produce their distinctive red flowers in June.

Allocasuarina  male female

…………. Black She-oak Allocasuarina littoralis – (left) male (right) female

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Blue Tiger - 5 Jan 2014

Blue Tiger feeding on Blackthorn nectar

By: Michael Fox

Blue Tiger butterflies Tirumala hamata are one of the most beautiful found in Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve and this has been amazing season for all butterflies as reported by ABC News – Butterflies booming in south-east Queensland

Blue Tiger butterfly caterpillars feed on only three plant species, none of which are found in the Reserve. Reference: Butterfly host plants of south-east Queensland and northern New South Wales (2013) – Moss, J. T.

Fortunately the adult Blue Tigers are less choosy, visiting the Reserve to feed on nectar of the Blackthorn Bursaria spinosa.

Imperial Hairstreak - pupation - 2 Feb 2015

Imperial Hairstreak caterpillar forming pupa

Watch carefully to see the butterfly’s proboscis flicking in and out the reach the nectar deep in the flower.

Imperial Hairstreak - roosting - 4 Feb 2015

Imperial Hairstreak roosting at night

Imperial Hairstreak Jalmenus evagoras butterflies are breeding in the Reserve with caterpillars feeding on Early Black Wattle Acacia leiocalyx. Imperial Hairstreak caterpillar and chrysalis also depend on attendant “Kropotkin” ants – Small Meat Ant Ants Iridomyrmex sp. which provide protection in return for sugary fluids secreted by caterpillar. Click on photo to enlarge.

Last night I learned something new about Imperial Hairstreak butterflies, they roost at night on their caterpillar food trees. At great time to get a close up photo as they slow moving in the cool night air. I was helping Helen Schwencke – Earthling Enterprises, as she collected Acacia leaves for the Hairstreak butterflies she is raising for her life-cycle research. We were both surprised to find the adult butterflies roosting on the same trees.