I have yet to see a platypus in the wild. I wonder how many Australians have. When I was told recently that a dead platypus had been found near Six Mile Creek in my local area, I had mixed feelings – excitement and surprise that they lived so close to me, and a little frustration and disappointment that a new supermarket complex and residential development being built right next to the creek may be responsible for their demise.
Since then I have headed down to the creek on a few occasions, hoping to catch sight of this unusual monotreme. I did come across some brown woolly animals and another rather hairy creature. The second species elicited a screech from me that was loud enough to bring the cricketers from the practice nets down to investigate. I was left a little red-faced by their concern. Not an uncommon occurrence for me, I can assure you.
The rest of this post is dedicated to showing you what I actually did find – the good and the bad! I apologise to those who do not like insects and arachnids. I hope you enjoy some of the other photographs though. Once again I was very excited to come across new fungus specimens, including the strange earth star.
I would like to be able to identify everything I share with you, but that would mean I’d rarely finish a post. I’m always extremely happy to have reader friends share their knowledge and thoughts with me. I appreciate the time that each person takes to comment, especially since I know how busy people are and how many other blogs are followed.
I’ll begin with some photographs of the peaceful creek before the flood waters hit it on Friday.
There seemed to be many promising spots that a shy platypus may be lurking.
I stared at the still waters and banks for hours. Fortunately, there were plenty of tall gums to keep me shaded during my quest.
Around one corner I was surprised to discover a mob of friendly sheep over the fence that were convinced my camera was tasty. After giving me the evil eye for denying their stomachs, they snubbed me and went back to what sheep like to do best. These are self-shedding sheep so they don’t need to be sheared, perfect for residents on large blocks who don’t want to mow their lawns. Dorpers were originally bred in South Africa as meat sheep to cope with the harsh conditions and started becoming more popular in Australia in the 1990s.
Each time I moved on to a new spot to wait for a platypus, I took the opportunity to notice other creatures such as these insects on gum tree trunks.
I think the first caterpillar is the larva of Orgyia australis (white spotted tussock moth). Thanks Manu for your help.
There were also remains of insects including an empty cicada shell.
I don’t think I’ll ever be bored with the variety of bark on our native trees. I’m very fond of paperbark. It has many uses for Indigenous Australians. Tree resins such as in one of these pictures are particularly important too.
On each of my visits I found more kinds of fungi. On my last trip after flood waters had receded I was delighted to view earth stars for the first time. There were even different stages for me to photograph. When it rains, the outer layer of the earth star splits and unfurls to reveal a spore sac. The young earth stars resemble an onion. They belong to a group of fungi called Gasteromycetes, or “stomach fungi”.
Another interesting fungus I had never seen before looks a little like furry paws. Thanks to Thomas for doing some Twitter research to come up with this suggestion: an early stage of Schizophyllum commune? Perhaps someone else has another suggestion. I had to do a bit of a balancing act to photograph these as they were growing on a log poking out over a stream near the path. Quite a miracle that my extremely uncoordinated self didn’t fall in. The things I will do for fungi thrills!
This one looked like some cheese I’d forgotten about in my fridge.
And there were other specimens too. A bracket fungi and this puffball-like thing…
And a little bit of lichen demanded to be photographed. They are rather bossy at times.
I have no idea what this bright yellow-green powdery thing is but it caught my attention.
Dragonflies were out in force. The males spend much of the day establishing their own territory and since there were hundreds over the water, the battle was epic. I was lucky to find a couple (probably close to death) that stayed still long enough for me to share with you. Yes, that’s my shadow spoiling the first one. 🙂
I discovered a few pollinators in an overgrown area of flowering plants. I have no idea if these plants are native or not. I’m fairly sure the insect is a kind of fly. It was only about 5mm long. (Update: Hover fly-thanks Manu)
This flowering red gum is native though.
High in this old gum tree, cockatoos and galahs screeched. You will have to take my word for it as I can’t afford a zoom lens.
And now for the beautiful hairy beast that stopped cricket practice. While resting with my head against a tree I came face to face with the biggest spider I’ve ever seen. Now I do love spiders but not at such close range and in a surprise situation. My noises attracted the attention of the group of cricketers. After calming down I took these images to share. She was magnificent and the pictures don’t really show her impressive size. UPDATE: Thanks Paula for your suggestion it is a grey huntsman spider Holconia immanis.
Apart from the rubbish left by careless humans, this creek area was a delight to spend time at.
Recently, Brisbane and surrounding areas had storms and flooding rains (over 300mm in some areas). As it usually does, Six Mile Creek flooded the road. Here are some pictures I took of the new construction area, erosion from the site and the effects of flooding along the creek. I wonder how successful the company will be at managing silt and other run off during these heavy rainfall episodes.
I hope to see a platypus at Six Mile Creek one day but given the amount of clearing and building work to be done, I suspect I may be disappointed. I’ll keep trying though!
I’ll leave you with a goodbye wave from the path. Until next time…