Out and about in nature – Autumn
Story and photography by Liesl Colyer, Living Strong Nature Journaling, Bundabah.
Our local area is rich in wildlife, plant life and cultural history. It’s time to get outside and connect with the world around you. Keep your eyes open at this time of year for these interesting local fauna and flora species.
Autumn in our area is a beautiful time for crisp misty mornings, warm days and cool evenings. The sharp heat of the summer sun has disappeared and the earth breathes deeply in.
The banksias flower, the March flies start biting and the earthworms have their first breeding season for the year. Crickets can be heard calling from the grass at night and we see hawk moths darting with precise acrobatics to avoid microbat mouths. Rain and rainbows have frequented our skies of late.
The Eucalyptus Hawk moth (Coequosa australasiae) can be seen during this season. As its name suggests, the caterpillars feed on the foliage of various species of Eucalyptus trees and other members of the Myrtaceae family. At Living Strong Nature Journaling, they will be enjoying the smooth-barked apple (Angophora costata). The caterpillars head underground to pupate and emerge as these huge hawk moths! The male moths have a wingspan of about 12 cms and the female moths are even larger with a wingspan of around 14 cms.
Banksia spinulosa, commonly known as the Hairpin banksia, varies in height from around 1 to 3 metres and its flower colour has variations of brown, red, orange and gold. The flower spikes range from 10-20 cm in length. The individual flowers open from the top of the spike and provide a long flowering period from autumn right through winter to spring. They are an important food source for all sorts of nectarivorous animals, including birds, bats, rats, possums, stingless bees and a host of invertebrates. Early in the morning, you can run your hand along the flowers, sip and enjoy the honey flavour as well.
Glossy black cockatoos are listed as vulnerable in NSW and where we live in the Bundabah area, they rely on Allocasuarina species to feed on – specifically Forest she-oak (Allocasuarina torulosa) and Black she-oak (Allocasuarina littoralis). Allocasuarina species may take up to 10 years before they produce the cones that the cockatoos eat and are able to support their weight while feeding.
If you get out and about locally, these Allocasuarina species are flowering now. There are male plants and female plants. The female has a red puff like flower attached directly onto the branch of the tree. The male flower has a brown spike attached to the end of the leaves. If something brushes against the bush, you can see the pollen spread quite readily. This is how fertilisation occurs – in the wind.
Come and connect to country with us, slow down and discover more of our local flora, fauna and bush foods out at Living Strong Nature Journaling, Bundabah.
All photos © Living Strong Nature Journaling, Bundabah.