Summer Snapshots

December 2018 - January 2019

Snapshots showcases a small selection of recent sightings recorded on NatureMapr, from the Coastal Wilderness and the Budawang Coast.


DRAGONFLIES

Dragonflies are not only beautiful insects. They are diverse in shape, colour, behaviour and habitat.

Their aquatic larvae are variously adapted to fast-flowing streams or much calmer waters.

Some species travel widely, others fly only short distances before returning to their home pools to breed.

Orthetrum caledonicum (Blue Skimmer) … view sighting by Max Campbell (ALCW)

There are over 300 species of dragonflies and damselflies in Australia, in 30 families. And in recent weeks a third of those families have been recorded in our region!


PLANTS

Hyacinth Orchids: few orchids form such striking splashes of colour on the forest floor or roadside.

Dipodium punctatum (Hyacinth Orchid) … view sighting by Max Campbell (ALCW)

Dipodium roseum (Pink Hyacinth Orchid) … view sighting by vivdavo (ALBC)

Dipodium can become a common sight during December and January … yet each plant deserves a closer look.

At least three species of Dipodium grow in our region.

Distinguishing features to look for:

Which parts of the flowers are spotted?

What colour and shape are the petals (sepals)?

Dipodium variegatum (Blotched Hyacinth Orchid) … view sighting recorded by Liz Allen (ALCW)

Ozothamnus argophyllus (Spicy Everlasting) … view record by Jackie Miles (ALCW)

The bush fires north of Bega in Sept 2018 burned for weeks, and affected thousands of hectares, including the forests around Brogo.

Living in the area and with her knowledge of the local flora, Jackie Miles is well-placed to record the responses of various plant species in the months following the fire.

Dendrobium speciosum (Rock Orchid) … view record by Jackie Miles (ALCW)

Crytostylis erecta (Bonnet Orchid) … view sighting by Margieras (ALBC)

Further north, several sightings of these striking orchids have been recorded.

Bonnet Orchids are typically found on sandy soil in coastal areas. They are pollinated by male wasps.

This species of Christmas Bell is endemic to NSW. Indeed, it is endemic to the Atlas of Life region! They are called gadigalbudyar in indigenous language.

Blandfordia nobilis (Christmas Bells) … view sighting by Charles Dove (ALBC)


FISH

A few fish of the sea floor …

Not uncommon, but not commonly seen. Stargazers can grow to be quite large, and are usually buried in the sand with just their eyes showing.

Stargazers have venomous spines and some species of the family (Uranoscopidae) can release an electric charge.

Kathetostoma laeve (Common Stargazer) … view sighting by Rick Carey (ALCW)

Hypnos monopterygium (Numb Ray, Coffin Ray) … view sighting by Liz Allen (ALCW)

Electric rays like this ‘Numb Ray’ are also ambush hunters, typically lying buried in sand or mud.

They can stun larger prey with the electric organs of their pectoral fins.

An inhabitant of large ocean bays, the Southern Eagle Ray can grow to over a metre across the disc, and over 2 metres from nose to tail tip.

Myliobatus tenuicaudatus (Southern Eagle Ray) … view sighting by Stewart (ALCW)


BIRDS

Visitors, vagrants, breeding birds, and threatened species …

Beach Stone-curlew (Esacus magnirostris) … view sighting by Charles Dove (ALBC)

Beach Stone-curlew are Critically Endangered in NSW.

Birds seen south of Sydney are considered occasional vagrants from populations further north.

A begging juvenile Fan-tailed Cuckoo. The host parents were nowhere in sight, but were likely to be tiny thornbills or fairy-wrens.

Juvenile Fan-tailed Cuckoo (Cacomantis flabelliformis) … view sighting by Kerri-Lee Harris (ALCW)

Rufous Fantail (Rhipidura rufifrons) … view sighting by Max Campbell (ALCW)

A tiny Rufous Fantail on her even tinier nest.

A fledgling Little Tern … an endangered species in NSW, and even rarer here on the south coast than they are in the north of the state.

A fledgling Little Tern (Sternula albifrons) …. view sighting by Leo Berzins (ALCW)

Eastern Curlew (Numenius madagascariensis) … view sighting by Charles Dove (ALBC)

Eastern Curlew are critically endangered nationally, so it’s a treat to see such large flocks.

Tawny Frogmouths are normally silent birds, almost invisible by day when perched on rough-barked trees. But wide-eyed, fluffy, and noisy fledglings are a bit of a give away.

Tawny Frogmouth (Podargus strigoides) … view sighting by Nicholas de Jong (ALBC)

Fledgling Brown Goshawk (Accipiter fasciatus) … view sighting by Kerri-Lee Harris (ALCW)

The constant calling of a pair of Brown Goshawk chicks gave away the breeding site of these normally silent hunters. And helped explain the unusually low numbers of small birds seen in the surrounding area this Summer!


FUNGI

Recognisable or mysterious, gruesome or beautiful …

Austroboletus sp… view sighting by Paul Whitington (ALCW)

The reticulated stem of an Austroboletus mushroom, dripping with sticky fluid and dusted by pink-coloured spores.

The smell of a rotting meat sometimes indicates something other than a road-killed animal nearby.

Why are stinkhorn fungi so smelly? To attract flies, which then distribute the spores.

Clathrus archeri (Seastar or Octopus Stinkhorn) … view sighting by Jackie Miles (ALCW)

Astraeus hygrometricus view sighting by Max Campbell (ALCW)

The Barometer Earthstar is a non-native puffball, and grows under introduced trees.

The species identity of these puffballs is currently a mystery.

If you see one of these – or something like it –please take photos, collect a spore sample, and post a sighting. The fungi experts on NatureMapr are keen to investigate this species further.

Lycoperdon sp … view this sighting by Libby Hepburn (ALCW)

A woody polypore fungus - yet to be identified …  view sighting by Jackie Miles  (ALCW)

A woody polypore fungus - yet to be identified … view sighting by Jackie Miles (ALCW)

With fungi, you never know when you’ll stumble across something quite special. This huge bracket fungus is certainly generating considerable interest among the fungi experts.

The underside of a mushroom cap says much about its identity. In this Agaric, the texture of the stalk, the ring of tissue (annulus), and the shape of the gills are all important clues.

Macrolepiota dolichaula view sighting by G Lemann (ALBC)


MARINE INVERTEBRATES

The characteristic purple bulges on the column are a good clue to the identity of this anemone. When the red/brown tentacles are extended, however, the column is harder to see.

Phlyctenanthus australis (Brain or Mulberry Anemone) …. view sighting by Helen R (ALBC)

Oulactis muscosa (Sand or Decorator Anemone) … view sighting by Kerri-Lee Harris (ALCW)

Sand anemones - even in rock pools - always appear to be half buried in sand and shell grit. It is deliberate. The animals attach gravel and grit to their columns using adhesive suckers, and collect more between their rows of tentacles.

Sea hares vary in size, colour and pattern, but most are quite large.

They are gastropod molluscs belonging to the order Anaspidea.

Aplysia sydneyensis (a seahare) … view sighting by Maggie (ALCW)

Aplysia argus (Spotted Seahare) … view sighting by Phil & Lyn (ALBC)

Sea hares have a soft residual shell, usually hidden within the folds of the mantle.

Harmless vegetarians, sea hares use the pigment in their algal food to produce the pigment in their bodies. An effective camouflage technique!

Dolarbrifera brazieri (a seahare) … view sighting by Libby Hepburn (ALCW)

Plocamopherus imperialis (a nudibranch) … view sighting by Libby Hepburn (ALCW)

Nudibranchs – also gastropod molluscs (Order Nudibranchia) – include many of the most beautiful and recognisable sea slug species.

Verconia haliclona (a nudibranch)… view sighting by Paul Whitington & Libby Hepburn (ALCW)

Hypselodoris obscura (a nudibranch) view sighting by Matt Nimbs (ALCW)

The Sea Slug Census report (January 2019) includes many more examples of the local sea slug fauna, as do the relevant pages in NatureMapr (ALCW) (ALBC)

This Snapshots edition concludes with an array of colourful and common sea stars.

The eight-armed Meridastra calcar is an extraordinarily diverse species! Their colours are genetically determined, influenced by neither their diets or surroundings.


To browse more sightings – or to add your own! – go to the NatureMapr database: Coastal Wilderness or Budawang Coast



Cover image for this edition of Snapshots:
Feather Duster Worm (Sabellastarte australiensis) … sighting by Kerri-Lee Harris (ALCW)

Note: The information included in Snapshots is drawn from a range of generally available sources, including field guides and websites. This is not intended as an authoritative document.