Category Archives: Animals

Steel Blue Sawfly Larvae

While running in the rain I came across this group of sawfly larvae moving together en masse in the middle of the trail. I’m glad I spotted them, a misplaced foot could really have ruined their day!

This group of Steel Blue Sawfly Larvae was wriggling its way across a wet bush trail

I’ve seen these guys before, they are commonly known as spitfires due to their habit of regurgitating a thick yellow irritating fluid when they feel threatened. I stopped to take a few photos while my running partner caught up. She was a bit grossed out but fascinated too. I touched a few of them, they are soft and squishy, the hairs on their body are nowhere near as spiky as they look. When I got too close they would all start raising their tails and thumping them back to the ground, it was quite a sight!

We said our goodbyes and left them where we found them, I hope they got where they were going to safely.

See my previous post on Sawfly Larvae for more info.

Grey Goshawk

Grey Goshawks are a frequent visitor to the area, up until now I’ve not been able to identify or get a good photo of one. Last week I heard the sound of a screeching flock of cockatoos off in the distance, as they got closer the sound got louder. They were swooping and swerving making a huge racket, in front of them was a hawk! It looked like they were chasing it away! A few days later I spotted it sitting in a tree out the back and managed to get these photos.

Very lucky to spot this guy out the back. I don’t know if it’s male or female, the information I found suggests they looks the same although the female is much larger than the male
This Grey Goshawk was spotted out the back, it was looking around for something and didn’t stay still for long
After flying off in pursuit of something I though that was the last I would see of it, but I spotted it again through a gap in the trees in the distance

Grey Goshawks are a medium size bird of prey, local ones have a grey back and upper wings, with a white belly. They have large yellow talons and a yellow, black tipped hooked beak. They prey on mammals like rabbits, possums and bats, also reptiles and insects. Their most common prey is other birds, no wonder the cockies were chasing it away.

References and further reading

A parade of Echidnas

The Echidna, such an iconic Australian animal and unique too being one of only two monotremes, the other being the Platypus. We’re lucky enough to have Echidnas in the local area and even venturing into our yard from time to time.

Last week I was looking out the window at home while making lunch and noticed what looked like an unusual rough clump on the ground. I went outside to have a look and it turned out to be a group of four Echidnas huddled together in the sun! They were not moving and appeared to be just relaxing. I’ve only seen lone Echidnas before, four in one place was amazing!

Four Echidnas enjoying the winter sun. Echidnas are usually solitary and only group like this during mating season

Some online searching confirmed that they are solitary animals but they group up during mating season which is June – September. During this time up to ten males can follow a female around for weeks at a time, she will end up mating with the one that stays following her the longest.

When I got closer to take the photo the smaller one, probably the female, moved away just a few meters. After I went back in the house I saw it had rejoined the others

The group I saw wasn’t moving, must have been just a short rest in the sun. I checked again after lunch and they were gone.

Resources and further reading

Holes and burrows in sandstone

In the bush nearby you can often see sections of sandstone that have clusters of regular sized holes around 10mm in diameter. Sometimes these pieces of sandstone are on a walking track where they get worn down to show the internal paths these holes take. I have a distant hazy memory of being told the holes are made by native bees. A bit of the old web searching brought up some more information!

Holes in sandstone with $5 note for scale. This was taken in the upper sections of Carroll Creek near Forestville
This piece of sandstone was part of the track and has been worn down by the tread of many feet. It reveals the paths the burrows take. Sneaker toe for scale. The location of the photo is just above Berowra creek out the back of Westleigh

The holes in sandstone are apparently the burrows of a native bee called the Blue Banded Bee. Blue Banded bees are found all over Australia except Tasmania and the Northern Territory. They are solitary bees that build their nests in mud and soft sandstone, they are also known to burrow into the mortar of old buildings.

I’ve not seen one of these bees myself so I don’t have a picture. They are described as being 8mm – 13mm long with a furry red brown thorax and blue and black stripes on it’s abdomen. They live around 40 days, baby bees remain in their eggs over winter but several generations can hatch over the warmer months. They are meant to be common, I’ll be keeping an eye out to try and get a picture.