Friday, May 4, 2018

Birdwing Butterflies at Townsville

(Article and photos by Barbara Weller)

My daughter has a ‘Butterfly’ vine growing on the side fence of her house in Townsville. I am unsure whether it is an Aristolochia tagala or Pararistolochia deltantha but the Birdwing butterflies really like it. On my recent visit there were several larvae (caterpillars) living on the vine – they ranged in size from about half a centimeter to about six centimeters in length although they would be smaller when newly hatched.           
From the description they appear to be Cairns Birdwing caterpillars with colourful spines to ward off predators. Unfortunately, as described in this on-line reference, the caterpillars do tend to ringbark the vine when almost ready to pupate. Although leaves droop from water loss, the flow of nutrients is concentrated so the caterpillar gets a more nutritious meal before pupation. Pupation occurs in a cleverly camouflaged cocoon, which resembles a dead, dried leaf. (

Two caterpillars had pupated but the butterflies had not hatched when I left for home. However, just before I came back to Toowoomba, I was fortunate to see a female birdwing, which is not as brightly coloured as the male, fluttering around the vine and probably laying her eggs on it. I was not quick enough to take a photo.
I have planted two ‘Butterfly’ vines on my side fence in Toowoomba with the hope of attracting them to my garden and contributing to their long-term survival. However, these vines are different and designed to attract the Richmond Birdwing. So far, no luck!
Butterfly vine


Fungi at Cullendore Camp

Pycnoporus coccineus - A very common orange-red polypore found growing on wood.
It is quite persistent but fades to white in old age. Recent DNA research suggests there
may be more than one species.
Bolete (photo by Lesley Beaton)
Amauradorma rude - found growing at the base of a stump. This is a long-stalked polypore which is brownish on top and white underneath. When scratched or even touched it turns red and then later becomes almost black. (Rude = red)
Clavulinopsis (probably amoena) - When you walked from the camp across to the showers, there was a patch of what looked like yellow rods sticking out from the grass.  It belongs to the group of coral fungi. Spores are shed from the outer surface.
Gymnopilus sp. - A small yellow-brown fungus I found growing on wood. I made a spore print and it produced rusty brown spores typical of this genus.
Paneolus sp - These were everywhere growing on the cow dung. It is one of the dung fungi and had a typical bell-shaped cap. The older ones had a dark metallic sheen.
Boletus aff magnificus - Walking through the Maryland N.P. fungi were everywhere. We found five beautiful orange boletes and I picked one. Some boletes turn blue or green when cut. We cut it before dinner while everyone watched but all were disappointed when it stayed creamy white (ID thanks to Patrick Leonard).
Also in the Park there was a fungus parasitised by another fungus. (Hypomyces sp). This often happens when there has been a lot of rain. A white growth appears which covers the mushroom and it looks quite unattractive.

(Article by Gretchen Evans)

The Oakey Bottlebrush (Melaleuca quercina)

A brief reference was made in Len Mengel's obituary to the local bottlebrush, Melaleuca quercina, and our President, Trish Gardner, has kindly allowed the following information to be copied or adapted from her blogsite, “Toowoomba Plants”.

She posted on 17 November 2011:

“Apparently this very local plant was given a name by Lyn Craven, working for CSIRO at the Australian National Herb-arium. He has at last sorted out a number of closely related plants, establishing that this one, which is only known to occur in the blacksoil country from Oakey Creek to Clifton, is a separate species. It was described and named from a specimen collected in 1991 on the western side of Brookvale Park Road, 10k west of Oakey, by Betty Ballingall.”

In an Addendum, 2018, Trish explains that in 2016 Tony Bean reviewed the genus and included the plant prev-iously known as Melaleuca phratra from the Injune/Texas area with Melaleuca quercina because they are so similar. However, they are not quite the same, and Trish recommends that people carrying out serious revege-tation work should use plants grown from the seed of their local type. Plants grown at the Crows Nest Nursery from seed produced at Cambooya would be much more appropriate.

This nursery has, in fact, been able to send a lot of Melaleuca quercina back out into the environment where they belong thanks to Len Mengel drawing attention to his own fine specimen and allowing the collection of seed. Len's plant came from a small population spread along just a few miles of Emu Creek, between Camboo-ya and Felton. Trish's post on 06 February 2011, has a number of photographs of Len's plant in bloom and mature trees along the creek looking “a bit flood-bothered” with flood debris.

“These would be a good choice to plant in areas where flooding may sweep away less sturdy vegetation. They hold on tightly to the soil with their flood and drought-adapted roots and survive inundation. They have proven to be as tough and adaptable as the closely related local red bottlebrush, Melaleuca viminalis, growing well on dry slopes and hills.”

(By Diane Pagel)

Outing Report April 2018: Redwood Park, Postman’s Ridge and Murphy’s Creek

Over 20 Field Naturalists and visitors were present at Redwood Park at our outing on 08 April. We were met by Hugh Krenske who kindly opened the gate for us to drive our cars into the park. Most members went with Hugh to the picnic area where he talked to them about the work being done by Friends of the Escarpment Parks to clear Redwood Park of weeds and to maintain trails.  Down at the creek, a Lewin Honeyeater was bathing and several birds were seen, including Spangled Drongo and Eastern Yellow Robin. More were heard including Eastern Whipbird. One of our young visitors, Emily, aged eight, when writing down what birds she had seen, referred to a “roofus wissler” but we knew what she meant! She also wanted to know where LBBs were in the bird book. Unfortunately, LBB stands for Little Brown Bird [that is the polite rendition!] and there are so many we could not identify which LBB! It was very good to have three small children with us for the outing. I did not go on the trek to the creek so I am not familiar with what plants and animals were seen. Several members stayed at the picnic area for morning tea while others remained at the gate.
From Redwood Park we travelled to Postman’s Ridge via Murphy’s Creek Road to the residence of Mrs Ruby Jensen whose property is a dairy and mixed farm. It is right on the banks of Oakey/Gatton Creek and was affected by the floods of 2011. Although the house was not badly affected, the property suffered from flood waters running through the area. Here, we saw small birds, such as Willie Wagtails, Double-barred Finches and Blue-faced Honeyeaters. Diane Pagel found a wolf spider’s hole with resident spider. Mrs Jensen’s property has several mature trees including Pecan and Macadamia nut trees while the banks of the creek have the usual vegetation found along creek banks in the area. A flowering vine over the entrance to the garden had attracted a lot of bees, including natives. The large bird bath in the garden usually has several species of birds in attend-ance but of course, they were all elsewhere that morning!
On the way from Postman’s Ridge to Murphy’s Creek, we drove over the works being carried out for the Second Range Crossing and saw the new alignment of the Postman’s Ridge Road which joins the Warrego Highway at the Helidon Spa. At Murphy’s Creek, we had lunch at Jessie’s Cottage. The cottage is maintained by the Murphy’s Creek Neighbourhood Association and we are grateful to the women from the Association who showed us through the cottage which is now a small domestic museum and a repository of the area’s local history. Jessie’s Cottage was the home of Miss Jessie Taylor until her death. It was built in the late 1890’s and is a good example of a cottage of that era. It is very small and has an unlined ceiling. Jessie lived there all her life and rarely, if ever, left the township, having looked after her parents and a brother until their deaths. There is a memorial at Jessie’s Cottage to the animals and birds which were lost in the 2011 floods. This takes the form of a sandstone birdbath with animals and birds carved into it. These floods impacted the township of Murphy’s Creek very severely with loss of life and property. I spoke about the history of Murphy’s Creek and the importance of the Main Railway Line to the area in earlier times. 
After lunch, members visited the cemetery at Murphy’s Creek to view the carvings on the monuments by John Montgomery, who owned a property on Lockyer Creek where he had a sandstone quarry. He was a master mason and the carving on several of the headstones is exquisite. There is a small patch of scrub albeit mostly exotics beside the cemetery and small birds are usually to be found there.
This outing was slightly different from our usual outings as there was more about the history of the area than botany and birdwatching! Our three young visitors [Emily and twins Abby and Milly, aged 5] were asleep by the time the car reached the railway crossing from Jessie’s Cottage, according to their mother.
 My thanks to Sandy Eastoe for setting up the visit to Redwood Park and to Mrs Ruby Jensen and the team from Jessie’s cottage.
(Report by Jan Veacock)

Photos from Redwood Park taken by Francis Mangubhai

Flowers of Hoya australis 

Love flower (Pseuderanthemum variabile)

Native bamboo
Flowering Madeira vine (Anredera cordifolia)

Bird and Butterfly list for the April Outing (Compiled by Al Young)
Redwood Park – Birds: Brown Cuckoo-Dove, Bar-Shouldered Dove, Fan-tailed Cuckoo, White-throated Treecreeper, Striated Pardalote, Large-billed Scrubwren, Brown Thornbill, Lewin’s Honeyeater, Eastern Yellow Robin, Eastern Whipbird, Varied Sittella, Crested Shrike-tit, Rufous Whistler, Grey Shrike-thrush, Black-faced Monarch, Spectacled Monarch, Rufous Fantail, Willie Wagtail, Spangled Drongo, Varied Triller, Satin Bowerbird, and Red-browed Finch, Double-barred Finch.
Redwood Park – Butterflies: Caper White (Belenois java).
Ruby Jensen’s Property at Postman’s Ridge –  Birds: Striated Pardalote, Blue-faced Honeyeater, Noisy Miner, Lewin’s Honeyeater, White-naped Honeyeater, Rufous Whistler, Magpie Lark, Willie Wagtail, Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike, Olive-backed Oriole, Pied Butcherbird, Torresian Crow, and Silvereye.
Jessie’s Cottage, Murphy’s Creek – Birds: Rainbow Lorikeet, Brown Honeyeater and Pied Currawong.
Jessie’s Cottage – Butterflies: White-banded Plane (Phaedyma shepherdi).
Murphy’s Creek Cemetery – Birds: Superb Fairy-wren, Yellow-faced Honeyeater, Rufous Whistler, Pied Butcherbird, Australian Magpie and Pied Currawong.
Murphy’s Creek Cemetery – Butterflies: Chequered Swallowtail (Papilio demoleus), Lesser Wanderer (Danaus petilia) and Monarch (Danaus plexippus).

Speaker's Report: Jane Orme - Environmental Education, and the necessity of connection to place for mental health

(Report by Crystal Charles)

In opening, Jane acknowledged the Jarowair and Giabal people who are recognised as the two main Aboriginal groups of the Toowoomba area. She showed “Horton’s map of Indigenous Australians” which represents all of the locations of the language groups or tribal groups, that are as diverse in culture as to be recognised as separate “countries”, as Jane described.
Jane is an educator at Amaroo Environmental Education Centre at Kleinton. Amaroo was established in 1977 as a state funded environment centre. There are currently two full-time staff and two part-time, as well as other contributors such as The Bunya Mountains Murri Rangers. The Centre provides environmental education pro-grams for young people, and last year hosted 8000 students in various programs.
Indigenous education is a large part of Jane’s role in helping youth connect with the environment. She teaches aboriginal culture such as the Jarowair language and the Bunya festival and ceremonies, showing the important relationship the people have with the land. A significant area is the Gummingurru site of stone arrangements which is now known to be a celestial map. Ben Gilbert arranged for the site to be protected and it has since been handed back to the Gummingurru people.
Jane explained that there are immense, research-proven benefits for children spending time outdoors. Quoting Richard Louv’s book “Last Child in the Woods”, children are spending up to half their waking lives in front of a screen. This says a lot about the lack of connection the modern generation have with the outdoors. A signifi-cant paper she cited was Townsend, M. and Weerasuriya, R. (2010). Beyond Blue to Green: The benefits of contact with nature for mental health and well-being. Beyond Blue Limited: Melbourne, Australia.
As a complement to the hard data, Jane said she follows “data that glows”, sharing some of the significant changes she observed first hand with some troubled teenage students. Further reading:
Children and Nature: Australian Association for Bush Adventure Therapy Inc.
Aboriginal Culture:
Dr Kelly, L (2016). The Memory Code, Allen & Unwin.
Gammage, B (2012). The Biggest Estate on Earth, Allen & Unwin.
Pascoe, B (2014). Dark Emu, Magabala Books

Monday, March 26, 2018

A Tricky One: Moth vs Butterfly? (Article by Al Young and Lesley Beaton)

During the outing to Cunningham’s Gap on 04 March 2018 we saw a ‘butterfly’ flitting in the open area next to the rainforest at West Gap Creek picnic area. Al thought it was a White-banded Plane (Phaedyma shepherdi) but when it landed on a tree trunk Lesley said it was probably a day-flying moth because it perched with its head facing downwards which is typical of some day-flying moths. While it was perched Al took a photo (See below).
So after consulting ‘Dr Google’ we decided it was a Forest Day-moth (Cruria synopla). This species is black with white spots on the forewing and a pale-yellow bar across each hindwing, which certainly resembles a White-banded Plane (Phaedyma sheperdi) especially when in flight.
The Forest Day-moth closely resembles Donovan’s Day-moth (C. donovani) but the hindwing bar of the Forest Day-moth is yellower and less irregular (ragged). Also, the Forest Day-moth has a faint narrow pale line from the base to the middle of each forewing. Apparently, both of these species are widespread in eastern Queens-land.
So, what are the distinguishing features between a White-banded Plane butterfly and a Forest Day-moth? (See photos below).

  1. While in flight the hind wing bar of the White-banded Plane is white whereas the bar is quite yellow in the Forest Day-moth. Probably the most reliable distinguishing trait.
  2. The pattern of white spots in the forewings are somewhat different but only readily discernible when they are perched. 
  3. The Forest Day-moth will often perch with its head downwards, whereas butterflies generally perch with the head facing upwards. 

Information on Day-moth (Cruria) species courtesy of Coff’s Harbour Butterfly House.

Forest Day-moth (Cruria synopla) – Cunningham’s Gap
White-banded Plane (Phaedyma shepherdi) – in normal resting position with head upwards; image not rotated
White-banded Plane (Phaedyma shepherdi) – image rotated 180 degrees
(Photos by Al Young)

Outings Report - Cunningham's Gap, Sunday 4 March, 2018 (Report by Lesley Beaton)

Unfortunately, not too many members turned up for this outing. Rain was forecast but we didn’t get a drop, and by lunch we even got some pale sunlight. Once inside the rainforest light conditions were low so we didn’t see many birds but we certainly heard them even above the roar of the trucks climbing the highway. Because of the damp there were plenty of fungi to interest us, especially one little orange specimen with a native semi-slug chomping away. We stopped to admire the view of Lake Moogerah from the Fassifern Lookout before return-ing to the carpark.
At the picnic area only two other members joined us for morning tea. However, an SGAP group were there on a fern survey. While enjoying our refreshments we were diverted (?) by the Satin Bowerbirds and Bell Miners or Bellbirds. A little later we set out on the lower end of the Box Forest track only to be held up by the running West Gap Creek, and after some judicious additions to the stepping stones we crossed without incident.

The Box Forest Track is named after the Brush Box (Lophostemon confertus), which line West Gap Creek. At the western end, the track winds its way beside this creek through magnificent Eucalypts and Brush Box but eventually, as it climbs closer to The Gap, you are walking through rainforest thick with vines and epiphytes on species such as the Booyong or Blackjack (Argyrodendron actinophyllum). One of the most distinctive features of this tree is the large deep green leaves that radiate out from central stems - hence the name actin = ray, phylum = leaf. The trunks form the characteristic buttresses of a rainforest species. The track also passes by some of the largest Giant Stinging Trees (Dendrocnide excelsa) I’ve ever seen.
There was far more activity in, and near, the picnic area than at the top of the Gap and we had glimpses of Bassian Thrush, Brown Gerygone and Grey Shrike-thrush. At one point the track was littered with blue Quan-dong fruit and we hoped to see pigeons and fruit-doves but not this time. We also saw where wild pigs had been grubbing around in the soft earth. As in the rainforest fungi were everywhere, and we needed someone more knowledgeable in that subject to help identify them. Another unidentified species was a dead huntsman spider found floating in a quiet bend of the creek. Unfortunately, there was little left of its abdomen so it was difficult to identify though it had clear markings on its cephalothorax.
Lunch was back at the picnic ground where the Bellbirds and Bowerbirds joined us again. The weather was warm and humid so butterflies were flittering around everywhere. There was plenty of chat over what we had, and hadn’t seen before it was time to take a group photo then go our separate ways.

Cunningham’s Gap Rainforest Circuit - Birds: Brown Cuckoo-Dove, Rainbow Lorikeet, Australian King-Parrot, Crimson Rosella, White-throated Treecreeper, Satin Bowerbird, Brown Gerygone, Brown Thornbill, Eastern Spinebill, Lewin's Honeyeater, Bell Miner, Eastern Whipbird, Grey Shrike-thrush, Pied Currawong, Grey Fantail, Eastern Yellow Robin. Butterflies: Wonder Brown female. Mammals: Red-necked Pademelon.
West Gap Creek Picnic Area/Box Forest Track - Birds: Brown Cuckoo-Dove, Black Kite, Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Rainbow Lorikeet, Little Lorikeet, White-throated Treecreeper, Satin Bowerbird, White-browed Scrubwren, Large-billed Scrubwren, Brown Gerygone, Brown Thornbill, Eastern Spinebill, Lewin's Honeyeater, Bell Miner, Scarlet Honeyeater, Eastern Whipbird, Rufous Whistler, Grey Shrike-thrush, Pied Currawong, Rufous Fantail, Australian Raven, Eastern Yellow Robin, Bassian Thrush. Butterflies: Orchard Swallowtail, Common Grass-yellow, Wonder Brown male, Yellow Admiral. Moth: Forest Day-moth (Cruria synopla).

A leather fungus growing on wood (Cymatoderma elegans)

Golden Curtain Crust fungus (Stereum ostrea)

Turkey Tail fungus (Trametes versicolor)

(Above photos by Al Young)

Field Nats at Cunningham’s Gap  (Photo by Francis Mangubhai)