Sunday, 25 March 2018

March Moths

I was out trapping moths again last week. This time, still in the Namadgi Nature Reserve, along the Corin Road in the ACT, Australia, about an hours drive from Canberra city. As usual the trip was organised by Suzi Bond and Glenn Cocking, to whom I am grateful for the trip and the identification of the various moth species. There is so little known about many of these moths, that I have not tried to add any descriptions. I have simply added some photographs in appreciation of their wonderful colours and forms. To share.

Thailana inscripta

Leucania obusta 

Leucania obusta 

Chenuala heliaspis 

Chenuala heliaspis 

Plesanemma fucata 

Onycodes traumataria

Chlorodes boisduvalaria 

Euloxia meandaria 

Chlorocoma tetraspila

Friday, 16 March 2018

Owlet Nightjar

It's not often that we see a night-bird, which usually roosts in a hole by day, out in the open. So this little bird, an Owlet Nightjar Aegotheles chrisoptus, surprised me when it flew up into a tree in front of me. Seemingly from nowhere.

The bird did not seem sure what to do next and it gave me a good look, watching me as if to determine whether I was a threat to it or not. It did not seem to think so, probably because I had not moved or chased after it.

This is where the bird had flown from, inside the hollow heartwood of this long-ago felled tree stump. The hole was straight down from the top and about 40 cm deep. That is rather low and shallow for an Owlet Nightjar to roost in, so I think it was a young bird of the year, now out on its own to find a territory with food and suitable tree holes to roost in, and nest in next year. It probably felt vulnerable in the small hollow and could see me walk past through the cracks in the timber. I do usually check such sites for animals, and I probably would have discovered it, so it did the right thing.

This is the habitat the stump was in, old farmland, partially cleared for grazing, which is now part of  the nature reserve network in Canberra. Owlet Nightjars hunt invertebrates at night, mostly on the ground, and the leaf litter around the stump would be good habitat for them. However the taller grass would not be so good as the birds can't see their prey so easily, nor land and walk about in tall grass - they have short legs.

I walked past the nightjar, on the far side of the bird from the stump. That way, if it was hoping to go back to its hole to continue its daytime roost it would be less likely to think that I would follow it. And I did not go back to check it, to find out if it had. If I had done so then I would have flushed it twice from its precious home and so might abandon it. It might not be the perfect home for an Owlet Nightjar, but it might have been all it had for now.

Most daytime views of Owlet Nightjars are of faces peering from roost holes. To see this one completely out, was a special occasion. But I do wonder, why do they have such long nasal bristles.