May 08, 2018

Moogerah Peaks National Park

Last week, I accompanied a class of younger students on a school camp at Moogerah, a man-made lake surrounded by multiple peaks, including Mt Edwards, Greville and Alford. The typical vegetation is dry eucalypt forest, but there are pockets of palm-dominated rainforest in the more sheltered areas.

While some of the trip was spent at a homely resort, part of it was spent camping at the base of Mt. Greville, the tallest of the peaks around lake Moogerah. A creek run beside the campsite, and along its banks were assembled many rocks and logs - perfect hiding places for a wide variety of small animals. The first noteworthy find was a moderately sized hunstman spider, likely a Neosparassus sp. which was beneath a large log beside a campfire. The spider was very obliging to being photographed, and I was able to get the shots shown in its respective observation with very little effort.
Not long after, I nonchalantly lifted a small piece of bark that had fallen on the ground, and saw a rapidly moving blur that could only mean one thing - house centipede. After a short chase, I had the creature cupped in my hands, where it settled down surprisingly quickly and made it easy for me to capture some close-up shots that I confess myself quite proud of. The centipede could be identified at a glance as Allothereua maculata, the most commonly encountered of all Australian scutigeromorph centipedes.

The following day, we embarked on a hike up Mt Greville. Just before the gate, I flipped a large rock by the road, and a flash of blue caught my eye immediately. It was another centipede: Rhysida nuda, a small, common, but stunningly coloured centipede that the photos I took simply do not give justice to. I had seen another individual earlier beneath a rock on the banks of the creek at our campsite, but it got away. To prevent the same from happening, another student provided me with a plastic container for me to hold the centipede in. After taking several photos, I released the centipede back under the rock.
It was then that I realised that there was something else there - another hunstman was clinging to the underside of the rock, identifiable at a glance as Heteropoda jugulans. After a couple quick photos, we began the hike.

A mere hundred metres or so from the entrance, I flipped a small rock to reveal the distinctive shape of a scorpion - a large male Hormurus sp. This scorpion was far less willing to be photographed than many of the other animals I had found up to that point, but I was nevertheless able to get some half-decent shots.
Not long after the start of the hike, we began to ascend a deep gorge, filled with palms. The rocks there were plentiful, but so loose that few animals hid beneath them. The most notable find in the gorge was a large log teeming with bracket fungi, likely of the genus Stereum. Staghorn ferns, Platycerium superbum, were also abundant in the gorge.

A couple hours later, we had reached the summit of the mountain. By then, the gorge had long given way to exposed mountainside, and the ferns and palms were replaced by the typical eucalypt forest, with plants such as Xanthorrhoea forming a significant part of the understory. One of the first sights at the summit was a very large Nephila edulis, which was only too obliging to have her photo taken.
Nearby, another rock yielded another scorpion, this time a small female, and a very photogenic one.

Fast forward a few more hours, and we were back at the resort, sharing our stories of the camp-out, an activity which was interrupted by a large mantis, no doubt attracted to the light. After several minutes chasing the insect around the room, I was finally able to get it to sit still for the camera.

Overall, it was a most enjoyable trip, and I'm glad to have some photos to accompany my fond memories.

Posted on May 08, 2018 10:54 AM by jacksonnugent jacksonnugent | 10 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment