|Reedy Creek Lagoon, Varsity Lakes|
I like my coastlines wild and rugged, so the Gold Coast isn't always my first choice for a day at the beach. The stretch of shore between Surfers Paradise and Coolangatta has been extensively urbanised, with high-rise holiday units established right up to the frontal dunes. It is a fast-growing area with many new suburbs popping up each year, the most recent example being Varsity Lakes. Originally, my intention was to survey this location as a brief stop-off on the way to the beach, but I was so impressed at the quality of natural habitat that had been retained in the area that I ended up foregoing the swim.
Officially, this little reserve doesn't exist. I didn't see any signs or commemorative plaques during my time there and the area is small and unnamed on various maps. This is especially odd considering that there are a maze of well-planned pathways in the reserve, meandering through sections of bushland where careful re-planting of native vegetation has occurred. Someone's efforts are going unrecognised!
I entered the bushland off Castello Drive, a short walk from the nearby Train Station. My goal was to document the insect life of the area, and my attention was quickly captured by this winged beast.
|Australian Tigertail (Ictinogomphus australis)|
Noisy Miners (Manorina melanocephala) distracted me soon after with alarm calls directed at a White-bellied Sea-Eagle (Haliaeetus leucogaster) flying overhead. Another bird of prey I saw later - the exotic-looking Pacific Baza (Aviceda subcristata) - escaped harassment by mostly sticking to the tree canopy.
Around the wetlands were common waterfowl species including Pacific Black Ducks (Anas superciliosa) and White-eyed Ducks (Aythya australis), both of which were outnumbered by Grey Teal (Anas gracilis). A little island in the lagoon offered foraging opportunities for a pair of Black-fronted Dotterel (Elseyornis melanops).
|Common Adreppus nymph|
|Wide-banded Grassdart (Suniana sunias)|
|Cymbidium species (?)|
Several thunderstorms this week ensured Reedy Creek was in full flow through the lagoons, and on a damp streambank I found a patch of these Orchid-looking plants. I'm going to go out on a limb and say they may possibly be a Cymbidium species, but I'm happy to be corrected! Truth be told, apart from the main groups of Australian natives, I know very little about plant identification. I notice that as I get older, I have become more curious about flora types, not just seeing them as 'bird resting places' like I used to. [August 2014 update: after re-visiting the site with plant ID books, these plants are Palm-Lilies (Cordyline sp.) and are actually considered to be rather rare.]
|Crested Pigeon (Ocyphaps lophotes)|
Where the sunlight filtered through, Garden Skinks (Lampropholis delicata) watched me carefully as they basked.
Elsewhere, these two Large Brown Robber Flies (Dolipus rubrithorax) were - ahem! - enjoying themselves too much to pay any attention to me. I left them to it after taking their picture, but Dome-backed Spiny Ants (Polyrhachis australis) clearly like to watch!
|Large Brown Robber Flies and Dome-backed Spiny Ant|
|Banded Pupa |
I had intended my original focus to be on the Wasp species of the area, but a lack of currently flowering trees meant that the more obvious species were not prolific. Amongst the humid leaf litter beside Reedy Creek were several Banded Pupa Parasite Wasps (Gotra species) however. The females of these stingless wasps have a greatly-elongated egg-laying organ named an 'ovipositor', which they use as a syringe to inject their eggs into insect pupae, particularly Moth cocoons. The wasp larva hatches quickly and feeds on the creature inside, sometimes killing it and at other times allowing it to just survive. A related Orchid Dupe Wasp (Lissopimpla excelsa) that I saw later featured the ovipositor organ, identifying it as a female.
|Orchid Dupe Wasp|
|Sceliphron formosum nest|
|Graphic Flutterer (Rhyothemis graphiptera)|