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Stunning fungi and other delightful sights seen on Redlands forest walk

Having spent the three days prior in pandemic lockdown, I was keen to kick off my Easter weekend with a few hours spent in a forest. I also wanted to be able to sleep in a little on Good Friday, so I picked a place less than half an hour’s drive away to visit: Redlands Track Park in Alexandra Hills. Also known by the much better name of Scribbly Gums Conservation Area, this place is large and its trails are many! Though there were also many mountain-bikers, dog-walkers and other users of the park there during my visit, there were hour-long stretches where I didn’t see another soul, which is just how I like my forest time! It was that kind of day where the forest washes over me, lulling me into a mood so tranquil that I don’t so much as walk among the trees, but rather glide through them. I see so much when I feel this way. There is treasure everywhere. On this walk, it came in the form of a gorgeous pair of shaggy caps (Boletellus emodensis), emerging from the base of a dead goliath ne
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Bayside light sheet survey: beautiful moths dazzle onlookers in suburban bushland

I had the best experience on Saturday night! Bayside Creeks Catchment Group held a nocturnal foray into Melaleuca Environmental Park at Lota to survey moths at a light sheet, and we saw so many interesting creatures! The survey was conducted as part of Brisbane's Big Butterfly Count , a community engagement and citizen science project being run through March to gather butterfly records across the city. Someone had the bright idea to not leave out the nocturnal cousins of butterflies, and to them I am very grateful! The evening was hosted by the friendly Keith Brown from Bayside Creeks Catchment Group, and the participants gathered around the light sheet set-up to hear expert commentary from John Moss and Wes Jenkinson, who both have many years of experience with lepidopterans. For those interested in the set-up, there was a metal frame tied upright with rope and pegs, over which a white sheet was draped. A bracket holding two bulbs was placed over the top, with one side illuminati

Endangered and ignored: The sad plight of migratory waders

If only waders had gaudy colours like a rainbow lorikeet, or baby-sized proportions like a koala. If only they had a cheery song like the butcherbird, or icon status like the kangaroo. But no. To most, they are distant brown specks on a humble mud flat, not worth a second glance nor thought. The reality is that they are the best travellers on the entire planet . The birds right here in these photos taken at Wynnum on the weekend are great knots, and in four months time, these exact same birds will be nesting on upland tundra in north-east Russia. If they're lucky, that is. Because in the meantime, offleash dogs and beach walkers disturb them everyday, wasting the energy these birds need for a very long flight. The journey itself is perilous too: land reclamation in China and Korea is destroying the refuelling stops for these marathon athletes, and we have similar development plans here in Queensland . The unfortunate truth is that waders have climbed up endangered species lists v

Check mate: Mysterious Moreton Bay periwinkle identified

On Sunday afternoon, I paid a visit to the Brisbane River at Murarrie for an hour. There, I poked about the rocks and stalked the shoreline to see if I could find some periwinkles to identify, and caught up with a species that has puzzled me ever since I found it at Lamb Island (below) a few weeks ago. It is small, with a pointed apex and distinctive, bold patterning on its shell, and at both localities was found on hard substrates near mangroves.  It reminded me of Littoraria luteola in general shape and colour scheme, but was the wrong size and patterning and utilised a different microhabitat, with luteola being arboreal on mangrove trunks and branches. Below is a luteola  that I found at Jacobs Well last year. Studying my books at home, I realised the answer had been staring me in the face the whole time as Littoraria articulata , the checkerboard periwinkle. The book to solve this for me was Graham Edgar's 'Tropical Marine Life of Australia' (2019) , which has quickly

Colourful beetle's strange egg-laying habits

Near the summit of Mount Coot-tha earlier this week, I found a beautiful orange beetle with black spots. My first impression was that it was a leaf beetle in the Chrysomelidae family, and looking up the Brisbane Insects website later confirmed not only this, but its membership to the Cryptocephalinae subfamily, with a tentative genus placement of Cadmus. I often find it more helpful to learn about insect families, subfamilies and tribes than it is to have a narrow focus on genus and species, and that was the case with this beetle. Reading the Hangay and Zborowski (2010) field guide to Australian beetle families, I was informed that when the female cryptocephalinid beetle lays eggs, she coats them in faeces which then become a shelter-providing case that each larvae lives inside of. This caught my attention because when I examined the photos I had taken of the beetle I had seen, I could see it was depositing large droppings onto the dead stump, and it turns out these may have actually c

Dingo sighted in Wacol bushland

Of all the animals I thought I might see today during my first visit to Pooh Corner Bushland Reserve, a dingo wasn’t one of them!  I had just passed a woman walking with two offleash dogs when I saw a third dog following at a distance behind them. Only, the dog ran off the track and into the bush when it saw me, and I realised it was a wild animal! It was wary without being particularly afraid; it never took its eyes off me, but it also seemed fairly content to stay put in the dry grass just twenty-five to thirty metres away. Wacol is famous for its abundant eastern grey kangaroo population, some of which I saw today on the fields surrounding the nearby jail. Perhaps the lure of prey and access to water during these dry times has lured this creature down from the nearby ranges, where dingos are known to occur according to the Queensland Museum. Although most likely not a purebred individual, I believe there is a lot of dingo in this animal’s genetic make-up regardless, and this also se

Parasites and Trapezites: Strange and rare insects at Daisy Hill

I had a great day searching for insects in Daisy Hill Conservation Park today. I found some rare and unusual critters too. The most visually spectacular of them all was a beetle from the Rhipiphoridae family, which are also known as wedge-shaped beetles. The one I found was a male, as told by his extravagant antennae, and he was perched at the tip of a small wattle. Rhipiphorids have a surprising lifecycle for a beetle, with their grubs being internal parasitoids of other insects, including other beetles. The strangest of all the insects I found was actually one that found me! I was standing at the track edge on the Buhot Creek Circuit examining something that I can’t quite remember now, when I felt a fly land on my leg. When I looked down, I saw a fly like no other I had seen before. It had a flattened shape with a strange, hawk-like face, complete with hooked mouthparts, and I didn’t trust its intentions! I tried to shake it off, but it kept landing back on my leg repeatedly, and I r