Sunshine Coast Birds

Birding and other wildlife experiences from the Sunshine Coast and elsewhere in Australia - and from overseas - with scribblings about travel, environmental issues, kayaking, hiking and camping.

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Richmond Birdwing on Comeback Trail

Richmond Birdwing
The Richmond Birdwing Butterfly is one of the iconic wildlife species of the rainforests of south-east Queensland and north-east NSW. Once common and widespread, the destruction of lowland rainforest reduced its numbers so substantially that the species was once thought to be in seriously in danger of extinction. Its caterpillars feed on only two species of Pararistolochia vine.

Richmond Birdwing
The butterfly's favoured vines have been planted over much of its range - including the Sunshine Coast hinterland - by community groups and it appears that the species is on the comeback trail. I watched a couple of male Richmond Birdwings today in riverine remnant lowland rainforest at North Arm in the Sunshine Coast hinterland. It is the same spot where I saw the species in September 2013. The butterflies were behaving in the same manner: flying about in large circles over a concentrated area of vegetation, though there did not appear to be anything exceptional about the plants there. They were seen feeding several times on the flowers of introduced lantana.

I've long harboured concerns about the war against lantana being waged by often those same community groups that plant the butterfly's preferred vine. The weed needs to kept in check, but I think there is little doubt it replaces some of what was lost through the decimation of lowland rainforest, which survives today only in remnant patches. Butterflies love lantana flowers. The endangered Black-breasted Buttonquail - another rarity endemic to the rainforests of north-east NSW and south-east Queensland - is often found in lantana thickets. Other cryptic birds like Lewin's Rail and Pale-vented Bush-hen nest and forage in lantana. I have seen some of these birds disappear from places where lantana has been removed. Time for a rethink perhaps.

Tailed Emporer
It has been an excellent season for butterflies generally this year, with a selection of those about the North Arm-Ninderry area seen today shown here.

Brown Ringlet
Yellow Albatross

Long-tailed Pea-Blue

Blue Tiger

Fairy Gerygone
A pair of Fairy Gerygones are in residence at the North Arm butterfly spot. Numbers of this mostly tropical species appear to be on the rise in the Sunshine Coast hinterland, though their stronghold in the region is in coastal vine scrub.

Striated Heron
Elsewhere, I flushed a Black Bittern from a small tributary of Lake Doonella, Tewantin. The bird was seen twice more but (again) refused to be photographed. More co-operative was this dark phase Striated Heron in the Yandina Creek Wetlands.

1 comment:

  1. Great images Greg and another informative post. I've never seen the Striated Heron in dark phase. I actually wrote a post about the Striaed Heron earlier in the week.