Friday, 23 December 2016

An Evening on Mt Baldy, Atherton, Queensland

Mt Baldy is located near the north Queensland town of Atherton. It is a combination of National and State Forests. It is a sensibly managed "mutli-use" area. It combines nature and recreation. The lower slopes are vegetated by eucalyptus-acacia woodland. This area is burned from time to time, presumably to preserve the "open aspect" of the habitat. The higher slopes of the mountain is dense rainforest. The other use of the place if for bike riding, both recreational and mountain bikes. Trails are maintained and, judging by the numbers of folks that use them it is a successful venture.

Naturalists find the area especially interesting for reptiles, amphibians and especially possum-watching. You never know who you find wandering around the woods after dark.

Buck Richardson and I visit several spots on the mountain each year. Each habitat has a distinctive flora and fauna. Disappointment occurs when we discover that a favourite spot has been torched. It takes a few years for the plants and animals to recover--if they really do.

Surprisingly, the Atherton area has received more rainfall in the last year than the coastal area near Cairns. We were delighted to find tall grass and flowering shrubs there the other night. Here are some highlights.
Christmas Beetles, afterall it is the Christmas Season
Anoplognathus aeneus: Buck Richardson photo

Anoplognathus sp: Buck Richardson photo
 Anthela astata Buck Richardson photo
 Astata heliconia: Buck Richardson photo
 Bracca rotundata: Buck Richardson photo
Buzara infractaffinis: Buck Richardson photo
 Chalciope alcyona: Buck Richardson photo
 Eumelea duponchelii: Buck Richardson photo
 Grammodes justa: Buck Richardson photo
 Metasia delotypa: Buck Richardson photo
 Opodiphthera eucalypti: Buck Richardson photo
 Spilosoma canescens: Buck Richardson photo

 Cephalogryllus tau male, a noisy burrowing cricket from the rainforest.
 Cephalogryllus tau male
The same cricket after removal from its burrow. The short wings are used solely for sound production and the sound is very loud in this species with each male making a stuttering call, the cacophony in no way co-ordinated and sounding like a continuous ear-piercing chirping.
Trigonidium killawarra female: Buck Richardson photo
Finding this little cricket on Mt Baldy was a surprise. It was known previously from Byfield, just north of Rockhampton, central Queensland.
 Carbrunneria marci, a cockroach not often seen or collected but quite common in the Mt Baldy area.
 Carbrunneria marci
 Carbrunneria marci
Carbrunneria windsorana
Described from the Mt Windsor Tableland but much more widespread. Very skittish when approached, this cockroach lives in leaf litter during the day but ascends to the foliage to "graze" on particulate matter after dark.
 Ectoneura minima, a very small, common and agile cockroach that may be part of a large group of species all give the same name at present. The cockroaches live under bark and in crevices during the day and emerge after dark to feed and make. This one is feeding on a native daisy.
Click Beetle: Elateridae
 Longicorne, family Cerambycidae. Beetle collectors find that longicorne beetles are attracted to lights. some seem to show up well after midnight.

 Undescribed genus, Agraeciinae
This katydid is common and known from a number of localities on the Atherton Tableland. It has not been found in the Kuranda area nor in the Daintree.
 Orange Ringlet: Hypocyta adiante
 Paratemnopteryx centralensis This common, widespread cockroach is like "greased lightning" and is very difficult to photograph.
 Rhabdoblatta sp. Common in and on the margins of the rainforest but it gives way to its relative, Calolampra species in drier, non-rainforest habitats.
 Sipyloidea sp
One of several species of the genus one might encounter at night on Mt Baldy.
 Northern Crown Snake: Cacophis churchilli
Supposedly common but nocturnal. Poisonous but not very toxic to humans. Feeds mostly on skinks.
Best to sleep up here, off the ground, with all those snakes about!

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