The Eastern Great Egret

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Ardea alba ssp modesta (?) aka Ardea modesta, Ardea alba, Eastern Great Egret, White Heron
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Pelecaniformes
Family: Ardeidae
Murray Mouth, South Australia – January 15th, 2013 – sunny conditions

The Great Egret can be seen worldwide on most continents – It is a large, white Heron, and some debate exists as to whether it is perhaps actually several separate species in different areas – The beautiful, white bird is very graceful in flight – My brother Adam took these photos and he has always been fascinated by them since his first interest in bird subjects in Japanese and Chinese watercolour painting as a youth. He says “They are almost as large as humans when you get close, the wingspan must be about 8 feet, around 2.2metres (at least that was my impression when one flew up out a creek bed as I approached the creek one day in the Grampians with Graeme Hastwell)” – A useful identification feature is the commissural line, a crease that runs from where the upper and lower beaks meet and extends backwards under the eye and continues a small distance behind the eye – Wikipedia says the bird can be seen “wading or standing still in shallow water and spearing prey with its bill”.

The smaller bird in the fourth picture is possibly Egretta garzetta aka Little Egret.

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The Laughing Kookaburra

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Dacelo novaeguineae aka Laughing Kookaburra
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Coraciiformes
Family: Halcyonidae
Morialta Conservation Park, South Australia – April 21st, 2014 – in Eucalypt, sunny conditions

In contrast to the mellifluous piping or delightful trilling or tuneful carolling of the songbirds, the jovial ascending staccatto chortle of the Laughing Kookaburra is one of the most distinctive bird calls in the World. The sound, used in countless films over the years has helped to elevate this modest-hued tree-dwelling Kingfisher to international celebrity status and it is a true icon of Australia, alongside the Koala, the Kangaroo, the Platypus and the Emu.

The Champion Caroller!

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Cracticus tibicen aka Australian Magpie
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Artamidae
Morialta Conservation Park, South Australia – April 21st, 2014 – in Eucalypt, sunny conditions

To my ear, Australian Magpies have one of the best singing voices of the birds I am familiar with – I always delight in hearing their complex, highly individualistic, very musical carolling.

Harlequin Bugs That Crossed Our Path – Literally!

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Choerocoris paganus aka Red Jewel Bug
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthopoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hemiptera
Suborder: Heteroptera
Family: Scutelleridae
Montacute Conservation Park, South Australia – November 15th, 2014 – on ground, mating, overcast conditions

Photos: Michal Dutkiewicz

I didn’t recognize them from the ID shots on the net – Most people pump the colours and brightness to make them psychedelic and bright, but they are quite deep in colours in real life – I have tried to represent them as authentically as I can. They are a type of Stink Bug or Shield Bug and they use their rostrum, an extended, segmented mouth structure, to suck the sap of plant species, including Dodonaea.

A Quirky Little Psednura

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Psednura musgravei aka Musgrave’s Psednura (?)
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Orthoptera
Suborder: Caelifera
Superfamily: Pyrgomorphoidea
Family: Pyrgomorphidae
Mark Oliphant Conservation Park, South Australia – October 11th, 2014 – warm, dry conditions

These curious Pyrgomorphs rest on grasses and sedges, and if you get close to them, they will move around to the other side of the stem – They prefer to shuffle rather than hop -At the risk of sounding daffy, they are delightful! – Masters of disguise, just like the Matchstick Grasshoppers.

Master Of Disguise

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Canarvonella sp aka Green-body Matchstick (?)
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Orthoptera
Superfamily: Eumastacoidea
Family: Eumastacidae
Mount George Conservation Park, South Australia – November 1st, 2014 – high rocky path area in mild, breezy conditions

The distinctive clambering with their their short front legs and long back legs is very different from the typical hop we expect from Grasshoppers – I love watching the Matchstick Grasshoppers – I have done my best with the ID, but it’s just a guess.

The Onion Orchid And The Ant

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Microtis arenaria aka Notched Onion Orchid (?)
Kingdom: Plantae
Class: Angiosperms
Subclass: Monocots
Order: Asparagales
Family: Orchidaceae
Subfamily: Orchidoideae
Tribe: Diurideae
Aldinga Scrub – November, 2013 – overcast conditions

When I first saw this species from a distance, I suspected it was a Microtis, because I had read about them – The others passed it by because they thought it was a weed – As inconsequential as they may appear, they are very unusual orchids – Here is an interesting quote from Wikipedia:
“Every flower tends to set seed, after being pollinated by wingless worker ants from the genus Iridomyrmex, attracted by nectar at the base of the lip. This is an exceptional case of pollination by ants, since ants tend to secrete an anti-fungal substance that kills pollen. This doesn’t seem to affect Microtis pollen.”