All the following spiders with one exception were found during the daily garden tree trunk inspections. The range of creatures that can be found on the lowest two metres is amazing, and they are a tiny fraction of what is in the upper levels of the trees. First jumper in the spotlight is the striking Sandalodes superbus, a large species, this individual on a mallee trunk was approximately 14 mm long. They can jump long distances, and can deliver a painful bite without any lasting effects.
Going to the other extreme, this Simaethula species is tiny, 3 mm.
Apricia jovialis is often found on the house walls, this was on a Yellow Gum.
The final jumper in this batch is a Holoplatys species. While waiting at the bee hotel with the camera, this one came out of a crevice and wandered about.
Two to finish, a flattened bark spider, (Trochanteriidae)
And an attractive small comb-footed spider, (Theridiidae)
The Macalister River, or Wirnwirndook’yerun as it was known to the first people, runs through the Bellbird Corner Riverside Reserve. Over twenty years this small area has been transformed from grazing land to a biodiverse nature reserve, in a partial return to its thickly wooded state of seventy five years ago. The river has seen good flows come downstream recently, and two species of Persicaria have taken advantage of high water levels and put on luxuriant growth.
The two species are Water Pepper, P. hydropiper, and Slender Knotweed, P. decipiens. Both are flowering now, and the white and pink flowers are a valuable resource for native bees that are in the midst of their breeding cycle. Leioproctus cristatus has been observed there for years, but at the moment they are in numbers exceeding anything previously seen.
While photographing these, another small bee appeared and landed. A breeze moving the plants made the job hard, but one shot was obtained for identification purposes. After searching without success it was handballed to Mitch of Woolenook Native Nursery who came through with the goods, the Honey-headed Masked Bee, Hemirhiza melliceps.
A return trip managed another shot when it again appeared around midday.
The literature states that this is a bee of wet forests in Southern Queensland and Eastern New South Wales, and a search on iNaturalist found just one previous Victorian record, near Cooper’s Creek in January 2017. This is a special reward for twenty years of dedicated volunteer work.
Environmental flows overseen by the West Gippsland Catchment Management Authority improve river health, enhance aquatic diversity and native fish populations, and sustain riparian vegetation such as the Persicaria.
Dead Silver Wattles, riddled with holes, are left in situ for the native bees and other insects that utilise the holes for nesting chambers, and the undisturbed ground offers a safe haven for the bee species that dig burrows for their nests. Now, more than ever, we need habitat protection and restoration for the well being and long term future of so much of our Australian flora and fauna, and Bellbird Corner Riverside Reserve is playing its part in a small but significant way.