Strong Sunshine and Warmer Nights
Though I spent the early part of this month in the Tropics, coming back home to beautiful Brisbane hasn't required too much adjustment weather-wise. September has seen us experience a string of days where the thermometer has reached 32C with ease - well above the 25C long-term average.
Such strong sunshine is good weather for butterflies. I saw my first Fiery Copper
(Paralucia pyrodiscus) at Samford Conservation Park, and there are plenty of Lemon Migrants (Catopsilia pomona) tumbling through the Northern suburbs right now. However, none of this compares to the sighting of a male Richmond Birdwing (Ornithoptera richmondia) along the Maroochy River.
|Richmond Birdwing, North Arm; Photo by Greg Roberts|
Spotted by Greg Roberts and detailed further in his excellent blog 'Sunshine Coast Birds', the sighting is significant because this spectacular beauty is declared a threatened species. One of the largest butterflies in Australia, the Birdwing has suffered greatly from the clearing of lowland rainforest, as well as from the prevalence of an exotic vine called the Dutchman's Pipe (Aristolochia species). Irresponsibly promoted as an easy-to-grow garden plant, this vine has spread into the wild and closely resembles the native food plant (Pararistolochia species) that the Birdwing lays its eggs on. Evidently, the butterfly can't tell the difference between the two vines and the caterpillars die when they feed on the introduced variety.
|Ornate Burrowing Frog, North Lakes; Photo by Alex Collins|
Many different animals are currently undergoing breeding activity, and this can make September a time of great conflict. At a bus stop alongside a busy inner-city road, I recently watched a pair of large Eastern Water Skinks (Eulamprus quoyii) wrestle over a territorial dispute, completely oblivious to the peak-hour traffic and my close observation. More at peace was this related Martin's Skink (Eulamprus martini), playing hide and seek in Samford Conservation Park.
|Martin's Skink, Ferny Hills|
|White-crowned Snake, Karawatha; Photo by Jon Pickvance|
Such wariness serves these smaller creatures well when there are predators like this White-crowned Snake (Cacophis harriettae) around. Spotted by a local Wildlife Ecologist on a humid night in Karawatha Forest, this nocturnal reptile preys almost exclusively on skinks and their eggs. A size comparison against the gum leaves in the photo reveals how tiny this species is, but it has evolved a way of appearing larger. The white ring around the head is meant to resemble the mouth of a bigger snake, and this little guy strikes with that part of its body when confronted, rather than actually using its mouth. Nevertheless, it is still a venomous species and is deserving of your caution and respect.
All in all, it's been a great month for wildlife and I'm excited to see what October brings. Until then, enjoy Wild Brisbane!