Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Tree Frog and Orb-weaver Spiders today.

Today I went to a site in Yallah, north from Albion Park, on the flat land below the Illawarra Escarpment, to assist the Illawarra Branch of the Australasian Native Orchid Society (ANOS) in doing some weeding in a site where apparently there are some very rare Greenhood Orchids.

The site is getting overgrown by Lantana plants, and some Pittosporums. Although the Pittosporums are local native plants, in this area, they are behaving like weeds, and so it has been decided to thin-out some of their seedlings, along with removing the Lantana bushes. All this is in order to give the Orchids some chance to survive. They are sufficiently restricted in their habitat and distribution to make this effort worthwhile.

While we were weeding there, today, the Orchids (if they are there) are dormant. We did not see any, apart from a few leaves of an Acianthus species.

However, we did see a lovely grey Tree Frog. It is probably a Peron's Tree Frog, (Litoria peroni) but we did not wish to disturb this little guy and so, it was not quite possible to see some of the distinctive markings which we might have seen if it had moved. It was not calling. Frog calls are usually the best way to distinguish different species of frogs, which might look similar. Other grey or brown tree frog candidates include the Jervis Bay Tree Frog, (but it doesn't look right, but photos of a single frog can be misleading); or Verreaux's Tree Frog , which looks a little closer to my little Frog. It has a very distinctive call (but as I said, this little frog was not calling today). On balance I would say it is most likely to be Peron's Tree Frog. The marking inside the leg, look correct for that species, in as much as one can see from this angle, looking at the frog's tightly closed leg.
It did not wish to move, and we decided not to disturb it any more that we already had, by removing a neighbouring Lantana bush. It was a perfect example of good camouflage. I thought it looked very cute hiding in its grey-stemmed roost of a small Melaleuca shrub.

The other thing we saw, in great numbers were Orb Weaver Spiders. Here is a particularly fine specimen of a female Golden Orb-weaver Spider (Nephila plumipes). In fact there is a small male just above the abdomen of the female.I took this close-up of the web to try to show its golden colour. This colour of the web is only visible in bright sunlight, and when viewed on a certain acute angle, from close to the web. So, this shot is taken looking across the length of the web (parallel to the web).There was also another spider, high up in a corner of the same web. According to one of the people in the group, it is not unusual to find different species of spiders (small ones) sharing the same web, and feeding off the scraps left over by the large Golden Orb-weaver. This one looks like the Silver Orb-weaver Spider or the more descriptive name: "Silver Camel Spider" (so named because of its high back, it seems) (Leucage dromedaria). One could not possibly make an absolute naming from this single photo, but it looks about right.
So, no Orchids today, but an investment in their future, hopefully. And some nice photos of interesting creatures. none-the-less.


Joe said...

great spider shot. They are really hard to shoot! They always come out blurred for me.

I have some more shots from today:

Evan said...

That's definitely a Peron's Tree Frog (Litoria peronii).


Denis Wilson said...

Hi Evan
Thanks for that.
I was being polite, with my "possibly a Peron's Tree Frog". Some of the people in the field trip who claimed to know their coastal frogs, told me other things. To me it was a Peron's Tree Frog.
Nice to have your confirmation.