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Tropical Aussie Spiders and a whole lot more

Discussion in 'Field Trips (Natural Habitats)' started by moloch, Dec 2, 2010.

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    Greetings,

    My family and I are back from a holiday to the wet tropics of Mission Beach, QLD. Mission Beach has long been our favourite family holiday location and it was great to have all of grown kids with us again. “Wet tropics” was an appropriate term since it rained everyday and sometimes for the entire day. Finding and photographing arthropods was difficult so I do not have nearly as many photos to share as I had hoped.

    I will begin with a few habitat shots and then add arachnids and other interesting animals that I have observed on this trip.

    Mission Beach
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    … view of Mission Beach and offshore islands from Bicton Hill. We climb this hill once or twice each day for exercise.
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    Dunk Island and the family group of islands:
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    ... view of South Mission Beach area:
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    Murray Falls – about 45 minutes inland from Mission Beach
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    Spider 1: These big Orbs were everywhere. Some were absolutely huge!
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    Spider 2: These smaller Orbs were common and colourful:
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    More Orbs (I think).
    Spider 3:
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    Spider 4:
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    Spider 5: A nice jewel spider. Once again, these were common spiders and found in most garden beds.
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    Spider 6: I unfortunately only saw this spider once. It was colourful but always on the move so it was hard to photograph.
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    Spider 7: I really like this one with a "mane". I have never seen a spider like this before.
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    Spider 8: Spider eating spider eating cricket.
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    Spider 9: These little jumping spiders loved ants:
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    Spider 10: Death of a pretty scarab:
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  2. Orange Bush-Brown (Mycalesis terminus) – This is the most common butterfly in the area. It also is one of our mere three species of Mycalesis.
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    Evening Brown (Melanitis leda)
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    Orange-streaked Ringlet (Hypocysta irius) – common on grassy slopes above Murray Falls. Unfortunately, I was only able to take a couple of quick snaps before the rain returned.
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    Orange Ringlet (Hypocysta adiante) – common on grassy slopes above Murray Falls.
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    Red Lacewing (Cethosia cydippe) – These are one of my favourites but so far, I have only seen three this year. This tattered butterfly stopped briefly on lantana one morning.
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    Yellow-eyed Plane (Neptis praslini) – Only one so far on this trip. It settled on a leaf about 3m above the trail. These look very much like Hamadryads (Tellervo zolius).
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    Common Crow (Euploea core) – Only one so far.
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    Chocolate Argus (Junonia hedonia) – common near the cabin where we stay.
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    Green-banded Line-Blue (Nacaduba cyanea) – fairly common in the forest interior when sunny.
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    Large Green-banded Blue (Danis danis) – these are lovely blues but I have only seen one on this trip.
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    Small Green-banded Blue (Psychonotis caelius) – much like Large Green-banded Blue but it is tiny.
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    Black-spotted Flash (Hypolycaena phorbus) – Fairly common when sunny near our cabin. Unfortunately, I have not been able to get close enough for a good shot of these lovely butterflies. The male has a blue upper wing whereas that of the female is drab.
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    Banded Deamon (Notocrypta waigensis) -- common within the rainforest.
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    Mission Beach is probably the easiest place in the world to see Southern Cassowary. We’ve sighted these lovely birds almost daily. Despite their size, they can disappear easily when they step off the trail.
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    Bush Stone-Curlew with young.
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    This Boyd’s Forest Dragon (Hypsilurus boydii) was on the same tree as one that I observed in Nov 2009. They are slow moving dragons and are easy to overlook.
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    Black-throated Rainbow-Skink (Carlia rostralis) – common in the same habitat as the ringlets at Murray Falls.
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    Closed-litter Rainbow-Skink (Carlia longipes) – common around our cabin in Mission Beach.
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    Last edited: Dec 2, 2010
  3. Tarantula_Hawk

    Tarantula_Hawk Arachnobaron Old Timer

    Nice pictures. I love posts like these. :D
    Since you didnt post names i'll try to ID some:
    -Spider 1 is Nephila pilipes
    -Spider 2 is Argiope keyserlingi
    -3 and 4 are juvenile Nephila sp.
    -5 is Gasteracantha sp.
    -6,8,9 are all Salticidae. #8 is an awesome photo, it's eating a juvenile Sparassidae
    -7 is a male Mopsus mormon (Salticidae)
    -10 is an Araneidae
     
  4. zonbonzovi

    zonbonzovi Creeping beneath you Staff Member

    Simply awesome, Moloch! The spiders in themselves were a treat to see, but the Cassowary takes the cake- it's speculated that the "horn" is a device for amplification of low frequency sounds. :clap:
     
  5. Thanks very much for the identifications, Tarantula Hawk. That was quick! Isn't the male Mopsus mormon an amazing spider? I've never seen a spider with a frill around its head before. It reminds me a littel of a baboon!

    Thansk, Zonbonzovi. Yes, the Cassowaries make a rather ominous deep "growl". I had a Jurassic Park experience with one a year ago. I was flat on the ground and photographing a small skink when I heard heavy footsteps. I watched but could never see the animal. When it was near me but still hidden, it gave the deep growl and then began moving again. Cassowaries are big birds but they can be hard to see among the pandanus and lawyer vine thickets.


    Red-throated Rainbow-Skink (Carlia rubrigularis) – these are the most abundant skink and possibly most abundant reptile here in the wet tropics.
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    Northern Bar-sided Skink (Eulamprus brachysoma) – I think that this lizard is this species although E. tenuis is a possibility.
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    Jungle Carpet Python (Morelia spilota) -- I saw two of these one wet night while night-driving for reptiles.
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    One night, my son and I found this large Jungle Carpet Python that had just eaten. By the size, I would imagine that it had captured one of the many bandicoots of the area.
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    Scrub Python (Morelia kinghorni) – This is our largest snake that grows to 8.5m in length.
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    Snake-headed Gudgeon – These are one of the common freshwater fish of the area. These are males in breeding colours.
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    Pale Triangle (Graphium eurpylus ) – I have only seen two of this species on this trip.
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    Pale Ciliate-Blue (Anthene lycaenoides) – I watched this butterfly lay eggs on a vine near a Green Tree Ant nest. These ants are abundant in north.
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    … green tree ant nest:
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    … a cryptic phasmid:
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    … another Black-spotted Flash:
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    Hamadryad (Tellervo zoilus)
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    … another Hamadryad. These usually perch beneath leaves unless they are feeding. They are rainforest butterflies and are active even late in the day when it is quite dark in the forest.
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    … wings of a Ulysses Swallowtail (Papilio Ulysses) – I think that it had been captured by a bird. These swallowtails are common but they remain in the canopy most of the time. I rarely see them at flowers.
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    Fuscous Swallowtail (Papiliofuscous)
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    Northern Sword-Grass Brown (Tisiphone helena) – these are common but in one area only where there are many Pandanus thickets.
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    Cycad Blue (Theclinesthes onycha) – I think this is a Cycad Blue although the similar Wattle Blue (T. miskin) is also found in this part of Australia.
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    Broad-banded Awl (Hasora hurama)
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    Purple Crow (Euploea tulliolus)
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    Australian Rustic (Cupha prosope)
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    Common Eggfly (Hypolimnus bolina)
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    … another Common Eggfly. I saw a pristine Red Lacewing in the same area but it never dropped low enough for a photo.
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    Cairns Birdwing (Ornithoptera euphorion) – female. I have seen a number of males but most have been floating along at canopy level.
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    Shining Oakblue (Arphopala micale)
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    … more Green-banded Line-Blue (Nacaduba cyanea)
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    Regards,
    David
     
  6. With Tarantula Hawk's input, I have been able to find names of some of the other spiders. The following is a good site for these Aussie species:

    http://www.saveourwaterwaysnow.com.au/01_cms/details.asp?ID=1096

    Spider 6 is Cosmophasis micans, the Metallic Green Jumping Spider.

    Spider 8 is Bavia cf aericeps, the Giant Tropical Bavia

    Spider 9 is Zenodorus orbiculatus, the Round Ant Eater


    Regards,
    David
     
  7. H. laoticus

    H. laoticus Arachnoprince

    Very nice animals! You take very good photography :)
    Spider 8 is awesome, way to represent the food chain, haha.
    I would definitely not mind taking home a few of these critters.
     
  8. tarcan

    tarcan Arachnoking Old Timer

    very nice series! I like the final shots with all the beetles and other insects.

    the jumper eating a jumper eating a cricket is epic!

    thanks for sharing

    Martin
     
  9. Absolutely wonderful pics! And good to see someone out there in Australia posting them here.
     
  10. Thanks very much. I am glad that the photos were enjoyed.
     
  11. All I can say is WOW, I'm envious, wish I could go there someday.
     
  12. Philth

    Philth N.Y.H.C. Arachnosupporter

    Awesome pics! thanks for sharing, Love the jungle carpets!

    Later, Tom
     
  13. syndicate

    syndicate Arachnoemperor Old Timer

    USA
    Great shots!!
    Thanks for sharing!
    -Chris
     
  14. JColt

    JColt Arachnoknight Old Timer

    awesome pics, thanks for sharing
     
  15. Thanks, all.
     
  16. pato_chacoana

    pato_chacoana Arachnoangel

    wonderful shots! Love the habitat pics and the huge pythons ! I also thank you for sharing!

    -pato
     
  17. eelnoob

    eelnoob Arachnobaron

    Thanks for sharing, amazing pictures and animals.
     
  18. Moloch, It doesn't get any better than this. The butterfly photos are stunning!!

    I was just chuckling to myself about my half-hearted attempt to photograph a Reakirt's blue nectaring on false garlic this past Saturday near Mooringsport, Louisiana. After an hour or so of a friend's fiddling with the pictures it is finally identifiable- but barely so :eek:. I did find a few good birds such as Neotropic Cormorant (extremely rare here in winter) and Common Goldeneye, though. :)
     
  19. Thanks very much, everyone, for the feedback.

    Terry,
    I use a Canon 40D body. This year, I bought a new lens for butterfly photography. It is a Tamron 180mm macro. The lens is capable of very sharp photos but there is a big learning curve with it. I participate on the butterflycircle forum (mainly Singapore) and most of the people there use this lens. Have a look sometime at their photos. They are simply amazing!

    http://www.butterflycircle.com/forums/


    Regards,
    David
     
  20. Here is a map that highlights the location of Mission Beach. It is well up in the wet tropics of the northeastern coast of Australia.
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    Regards,
    David
     
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