A Cuckoo Bee (Thyreus sp), Boho South. Photo Terry Frewin.
But the similarity ends with the name. These bees really are parasites, just like cuckoos – they parasitise the nests of other bees! This Cuckoo Bee is most likely the parasite of the Blue Banded Bee, another local native bee, which many readers might be familiar with from their own gardens. This Cuckoo Bee was photographed the other day in a local garden on Upper Boho Rd, by Terry, a local naturalist. She’s seen Blue Banded Bees before, but not a Cuckoo Bee.
Many native bees, including cuckoo bees and Blue Banded Bees live solitary lives. If female Blue Banded Bees, that lay eggs in small crevasses, don’t guard their nests carefully, Cuckoo Bees could find the nest and parasitise the brood.
Here’s a close-up of the striking banding on the tail end of a Blue Banded Bee.
Blue Banded Bee. Photo Louise Docker.
Psychopsis mimica F. Psychopsidae, Benalla, Victoria). ID Ken Harris.
Their wings may look delicate, even dainty, but these little-known insects are deadly predators (well, to aphids and other soft-bodied insects anyway!). As adults, lacewings can be confused with several other types of insects; it’s really only the green lacewings that look sort of normal. Take the one at left; it looks a little like a moth with plastic wings – called a silky lacewing.
Mantis Fly (Campion ?callosus)
Lacewing larvae are usually inconspicuous, except off course for the infamous ‘ant lions’, which bear no resemblance to lions at all, other than that they have huge jaws, a fierce disposition and hang-out in an arena waiting for unsuspecting victims.
Yet another local lacewing Continue reading
Adult Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike atop a large walnut tree.
… or cuckoo, for that matter, when it’s neither. Black-faced Cuckoo-shrikes are usually unobtrusive seasonal visitors to most of the Strathbogie Ranges. Their call is a gentle churring and not particularly loud; unless you’re listening for it, you’ll probably miss it. And they have very distinctive, almost loopy flight, making this an easy bird to ID in flight. Additionally, plumage colouration, as their name implies, is also distinctive, so you’ll recognize one when it’s not flying. Nonetheless, these handsome birds are often overlooked by the general public because they’re relatively quiet and shy. You can listen to the call of the Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike on the ‘Birds in backyards’ website. Continue reading
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 28,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 10 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.
Click here to see the complete report.
A Merton Tiger Snake killed on the Strathbogie Rd.
Tiger Snakes (Notechis scutatus) have an unusual distribution in the Strathbogie Ranges. They have a patchy distribution in the Ranges (common in some places, absent in others), but are pretty widespread in the lower country around the margins of the Ranges. This unfortunate individual was fatally caught crossing the Strathbogie Rd in Merton. Though this individual was an adult about 1 m long, it lacked the distinctive banding, or stripes, that Tiger Snakes sometimes have, Continue reading
Dappled shade makes it hard to spot lizards and other fauna on the road.
If you’re lucky, your country roads still have some trees and native vegetation growing along them. And in many parts of Victoria, this is often the only native habitat left in the district. During Spring, Summer and Autumn, especially on cool days, reptiles often bask on the black bitumen, soaking up the sun’s warmth. Unfortunately, it’s often hard to see them when you’re driving along at the speed limit (often 100 kmh on country roads), even if you’re looking for them. The result is carnage. Blue-tongue lizards, sluggish and slow moving at the best of times, seem to be the major victims and I always feel sad when I see one squashed on the road. More distressing still is when the much less common species like Bearded Dragons and Lace Monitors become road-kill statistics. Drive carefully! Continue reading
The wetlands of Warrenbayne and Boho in the northern Strathbogies might seem a curious place to find migratory waders, but at least some species, like this Sharp-tailed Sandpiper (Calidris acuminata), obviously think its a bit of alright! Having navigated its way from Siberia to Warrenbayne in the last few weeks, a cool 10,000+ km(!), it’ll sit-out the Siberian winter here in sunny Victoria. Continue reading