Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Monday, January 21, 2008

A summer morning (that's all we got)

Yesterday, summer came and went - it seems to be all over. Today was grey, windy, wet and cold (as the previous 3 weeks have been).

When the sun shone, and a warm southerly breeze blew (yes, warm and southerly - seems incredible) everything seemed to stir.

The first I knew of this was looking out my bathroom window in the morning, and seeing a female Grey Goshawk circling above the house. Of course, by the time I grabbed the camera, and rushed outside, she had gone. But I noticed the warm breeze (unfamiliar in cold old Robbo). I also noticed the Butterflies on the breeze. They were flitting everywhere. Then I looked towards a large Buddleja bush growing beside my driveway. There were butterflies galore, flitting from flower to flower. These plants lived up to their name of "Butterfly Bush".

The fat-bodied Macleay's Swallow-tailed Butterflies were all over this bush. This species of Butterfly seems to be hyperactive. They rest, just for a moment on a flower, and head off to the next one. Worse, while on the flower, they flutter their wings (while held high, and nearly closed). This makes them almost impossible to photograph (with autofocus engaged on your camera). Apologies for the relatively poor quality of these photos, but when will I get another Butterfly event like this - again? Certainly it did not happen today. So, it is a case of publish what I have - for educational purposes - and hope to improve on these photos later in the season. Maybe.The poor quality image below is shown just to demonstrate the upperwing wing patterns of the Macleay's Swallowtail (centre) (mostly white, with black marks concentrated towards the tip of the wings).
This photo also shows the intensity of Butterfly activity - for just this brief few moments of summer in Robertson. Three butterflies of two species on the one flower head.

This is the the Australian Admiral (or Yellow Admiral) (Vanessa itea) This image shows both the dull under-wing patterns (right) and on the left, the brighter upper wings (visible when the wings are open). That reverses the patterns if colouration visible on the Macleay's Swallowtail, which is brighter on its underside (visible when wings are closed - when held upright).
I am grateful to the work of Don Herbison-Evans and the Macleay Museum for their very authoritative website - on Australian Caterpillars - the larvae of both Moths and Butterflies.
The Butterflies and Moths of Sydney page from the Museum of Australia is also useful - but much less extensive.

This next Butterfly is the so called "Common Jezabel" (Delias negrina). There is a dark bee feeding on the same flowerhead of the Buddleja.This colourful butterfly is apparently linked to various Mistletoe plants for the food of its caterpillars. But obviously the adults are happy to stray to other plants for their sources of nectar. If you look back to the second photo in this post, you will see on the right, another member of this species, and you can see both the colourful lower (outer) wing side, and the nearly pure white upper wing (inside the wings when nearly closed).

And now for this poor specimen of a brown Butterfly.I can only hazard a guess that it might be a Meadow Argus (Nymph) Butterfly. But it might also be a "Common Brown Butterfly" - another of the Nymph group of Butterflies.

With such badly worn wings, it is presumably nearing the end of its short life. If so, it was at least enjoying this brief moment of summery warmth, feasting on the prolific nectar apparently produced by the Buddleja davidii. Go well, little friend.

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