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Fauna Species of the Clarence Valley

Available at a modest price on thumb drive from early October is the new two hundred and forty page book of found fauna species from Sportsman Creek Conservation Area, Dilkoon.

With over three hundred colour plates of local fauna species complete with identification lists.

Bush Companion Fauna Species of the Clarence Valley

This year we witnessed these beautiful Blue Tiger Butterfly for the first time flying fast in great numbers to the south/west. Apparently they migrate from as far away as North Queensland and we watched their progress from the coast right up into the mountains of Tenterfield so altitudes over twelve hundred metres was not a limiting factor to this migration.

Image courtesy of  Dr. Greg Clancy. 

Blue Tiger Butterlfy Hickey Island Yamba Greg Clancy

Locally nomadic and generally rare bird found foraging under bark in under canopy on the Conservation Area.  They have a strong beak which levers bark in search of insects and grubs and a first time sighting.

Crested Shrike-tit 2

Large 45cm pigeon photographed in the riparian zone near Sportsman Creek. With a distinctive bulky crest on the head they fly fast and far searching for rainforest fruits to eat. A new sighting for the Conservation Area.

Topknot Pigeon 

Flooding rains have brought out this Giant Barred Frog in the riparian zone on Sportsman Creek. Measuring around 230mm in overall length it surely must be one of the largest Australian species of frog. There are five known species in this genus known at present, all restricted to eastern Australia. Usually found in wet sclerophyll forest and rainforest. “Classified as an Endangered species the females lay eggs onto moist creek banks or rocks above water level from where the tadpoles drop into the water where they hatch. Tadpoles grow to a length of 80mm and take up to fourteen months before changing into frogs. They feed primarily on large insects and spiders.”

Hi Jeff, enjoyed looking through your site with great wildlife photos. Will talk about your frog on Wildlife Wednesday ABC Radio @ 6.25 tomorrow 13/05/2015: It appears to be one of our very largest frogs, the Giant Barred Frog (Mixophyes iteratus) distinguished by the eye colours & body patterns, an endangered species rarely observed so well done Jeff for finding it & taking its photo. What was the location? I will send this photo on to the frog specialists because it may be an important find if my identification is correct. Only a very few communities are known. I.D. confirmed by Gary Opit.


Great Barred Frog

Reference: Robinson M. Field Guide to Australian Frogs of Australia.

I.D. courtesy of  Yvette Simpson Interpretive Officer Australian Museum.


The caterpillar of the Orchard or Citrus Swallowtail Butterfly. “Although this caterpillar is a pest on suburban lemon trees it is one of the most interesting caterpillars in Australia. Both its structure and its behaviour have evolved to an extraordinary degree to give it protective mechanisms against predators. It also grows into one of the largest butterflies to grace suburban gardens.”

Further reference available at

I.D. courtesy of Don Herbison Evans.

Papilio aegeus Caterpillar

An endangered Coastal Emu found feeding in coastal heath near Redcliff today. Coastal Emu (Dromaius novaehollandiiae)

“The normal resting posture has the hind wings covered. They are revealed if the moth is disturbed as it opens its wings for flight. The moths have a wingspan of up to 7cm. The body is brown and cigar shaped. The forewings are brown and the hindwings are red edged and black.” Found across the entire continent.

I.D. and reference courtesy of Don Herbison-Evans.

Further reading;

Hippotion scrofa Moth




Sportsman Creek Longicorn Beetle image used to underline the seriousness of works by Danish Ceramics artist Inge-Marie Fruelands beetle-inspired products.


Longicorn-Beetle1-300x260Longicorn Beetle-inspired Bowl by Inge Marie Fruelunds

Three hundred and fifty metres of high quality post and wire fencing has been completed in the Conservation Area along the riparian zone next to Sportsman Creek. This new fence is designed to exclude domestic stock accessing the 30 hectare regeneration area, riparian zones and billabongs. This project completes over one and a half kilometres of new fencing allowing for improved property management, continuing recreational use, research and further species study of our local flora and fauna.

New Fenceline


Whiptail Wallaby


Also called the Pretty face Wallaby. The most beautiful and boldly marked of the mid-sized kangaroos. The Whiptail gets its name from its long tail that tapers to a whip-like end. Discontinuous populations from Cooktown south to the north-eastern New South Wales border from coastal areas to the western edge of the Great Dividing Range. Image taken in the foothills under the Great Divide amongst some old growth forest. 





A tentative identification for a possible Amanita ochrophylloides fungi provided by Nigel Fechner.

 Found growing along the riparian zone at Sportsman Creek Conservation Area.

Powerful Owls are frequent visitors to the Conservation Area where they hunt along the riparian zone for Gliders, Possums and Bats. It was suggested by the photographer that the Powerful Owl may have the ability to branch hang using a bony protrusion on the wing. After sending the images to the Australian Museum this has now proved to be incorrect. 

Your great images were shown to Walter Boles, Senior Fellow in our Ornithology Section. His response was:-
” Yes, it is definitely a Powerful owl,
Ninox strenua. I have handled lots of unprepared carcasses of this beast–possibly more than anyone else in the world–and have never found anything on the wing that could be construed as a branch-hanging bony protrusion. To me, it looks like a bird that grabbed a possum and slipped, getting its wing caught in the fork. Just to check, I forwarded the pictures to two of Australia’s leading owl workers and both have the same conclusion. So, no confirmation of a bony protrusion. Just a clumsy owl.”


Melissa Murray    Interpretive Officer Australian Museum.

Images courtesy of Robert Parker. 


Powerful OwlPowerful OwlPowerful OwlPowerful Owl

Also known as the Hibiscus Harlequin Bug the image on left is of an adult male with metallic blue and red patches. The image on right is a fifth instar Nymph with bright metallic blue colour. They feed mostly on young shoots piercing and sucking the stems of Malvaceae.  Not commonly found in the Conservation Area after hitching a ride in a visiting vehicle.

Cotton Harlequin BugCOtton Harlequin Bug 5th. Instar 


With no common name this attractive fungi is common on lawns and playing fields where it sometimes forms large fairy rings. The lilac tints are rapidly lost as the fruiting bodies dries. Cap 3-8cm with a strong pleasant smell. A new species for the Conservation Area.

Reference: Young. A.M.  Field Guide to the Fungi of Australia. Lepista sublilacina

Known for the violin shaped pattern on their backs these attractive and common beetles live in heaths and woodlands. The female Fiddler Beetle lay their eggs in rotting timber or in damp soil under logs. The grubs feed on rotting timber and build cocoons of soil and debris in which they pupate. These beetles are harmless to humans. 

Fiddler BeetleFiddler Beetle

 We are pleased to have reached a significant milestone in our ongoing commitment to the identification, study, research  and sharing of species information through the Sportsmans Creek Conservation Area in the Clarence Valley of Northern New South Wales. Our environmental commitment to this property began as a personal pathway but it soon became obvious that the information we were  gaining deserved to be more widely distributed. A solar powered laptop and the medium of blogging has allowed us to achieve a much wider audience for the 650 identified species of flora and fauna found to date. As of today over one hundred thousand people have visited the web page to learn and research from all around the world including the Natural History Museum of London.

Grey Kangaroo and Joey

“The boletes are closely related to the agarics (fungi with gills). Many boletes display colour changes when the flesh is cut, so that whitish or yellowish tissues become spectacularly greenish blue due to enzyme reactions triggered by oxygen in the air. Boletes are very important in the Australian bushland as ectomycorrhizal species, but they also provide food for the larval stages of many insects.” A first time sighting in the Conservation Area after recent rains.

Reference A.M. Young A Field Guide to the Fungi of Australia.

I.D. courtesy of Nigel Fechner.

Boletes ananas ToadstoolBoletes ananas

With over fifteen hundred recorded species across Australia and S/E Asia and twenty thousand species worldwide these common beetles are scavengers and feed on both fresh and decaying vegetation. Major predators include birds, rodents, sunspiders and lizards making them an important link within the food chain.

I.D. courtesy of Fiona Brell Interpretive Officer. Australian Museum.

Further reference –

Darkling Beetle



This young Gould’s Monitor is a first time sighting in the Conservation Area. A voracious feeder, known to devour snakes, lizards, rats, rabbits and mice. Growing to a length of 1.5 metres they can display amazing bursts of speed when alarmed.Gould's MonitorGould's Monitor

Belonging to the ground beetle family (Carabidae) with over two thousand five hundred species Australia wide these beetles are carnivorous and hunt on the ground or in trees. Their larvae feed on other insects. When threatened the Bombardier Beetle uses a special gland at its rear to mix together two chemicals, resulting in an explosion with a loud popping noise and an accompanying sizzle of spray and steam with temperatures over 100 degrees Celsius in the gland. Up to 80 explosions may be produced over a four minute period.

I.D. and reference courtesy of Martyn Robinson and Yvette Simpson. Australian Museum.

Further reading:

Bonmardier Beetle  Pheropsophus verticalis

Coastal Emu (2)




Coastal Emu



To the east of Sportsman Creek Conservation Area lies the Yuraygir National Park being the last refuge for the Coastal Emu now numbering less than 100 individuals. Once in abundance the local population has been in steady decline over the past twenty years as a result of habitat loss, fires during breeding season, predation by foxes and wild dogs and collisions with vehicles. Populations of the Coastal Emu which are isolated from their inland relatives now only exist between Evans Head and south to Red Rock. Yuraygir National Park south of the Clarence River is home to one of three distinct sub-populations in this region. The Coastal Emu has recently been listed as an Endangered Population and has disappeared from Red Rock and Iluka.

Click images to enlarge.

Perfectly camouflaged in the Red Ironbark tree is the best known Australian nocturnal bird the Tawny Frogmouth.Tawny Frogmouth

“Of five known species in this genus at present, all of them restricted to Eastern Australia. This species is usually found in wet forested situations like Antarctic Beech forest, wet sclerophyll forest and rainforest.” Recent floods have expanded the  breeding territory for this large frog and was discovered in a dam under Open Eucalypt woodland on the Conservation Area. 

M. fasciolatus has a deep, harsh “wark” call and can grow to 90 mm. The tadpole in the image measured 110 mm.

Reference and I.D. courtesy of Martyn Robinson. Naturalist. Australian Museum. 


Mixophyes fasciolatus tadpole


Common Silkpod Vine (Parsonsia straminea) climbing a Jackwood  (Cryptocarya glaucescens) next to the Flooded Gum (Euc. grandis) in the riparian zone beside Sportsman Creek. 
Riparian Zone Sportsman Creek

Also called the Parrot’s Beak Orchid. This terrestrial herb species is common in moist areas of dry sclerophyll forest, wet sclerophyll forest and coastal scrub. Flowering  June to September from a leafless stem usually 15-20cm and sometimes found in dense colonies. A new species for the Conservation Area.

I.D. and reference courtesy of Denis Wilson.

Nodding Greenhood Pterostylis nutans

The large but harmless Nectar-feeding March Fly (Scaptia aurflua) observed hovering near the ground probably looking for somewhere to lay it’s eggs. 

I.D. courtesy of Martyn Robinson  Naturalist  Australian Museum.Nectar-eating March Fly

Silhouette of  the migratory Spangled  Drongo feeding on insects in treetops at the Conservation Area. They are unlike other Australian birds with a long outcurved tail and iridescent black plumage.Spangled Drongo

” These frogs are a variable species and can appear as either light brown or dark brown between night and day. They can be found well away from water, ranging through all types of forest and open country. This frog reaches 40mm.”

I.D. and reference courtesy of Martyn Robinson. Naturalist- Search and Discover. 

Broad-palmed Rocket Frog

These wasps build their nests underground before dragging paralysed prey under and laying an egg. A new species for the Conservation Area.Yellow Sand Wasp

Small family groups live in the grasses and thickets and along the watercourses of the Conservation Area. Image of a male bird courtesy of visiting Wildlife photographer Rowley Willis._RKW9185 Red-backed Fairy Wren

Attractive medium-sized hunting hawk with dark bars across a white belly and flanks. Uncommon across the North and North-east of Australia and rare in New South Wales.

Image courtesy of visiting Wildlife photographer Rowley Willis.Pacific Baza .  Rowley Willis

Water Scorpion grow to over 50mm long they can extend the tube on their backs out of  the water to breathe air like a snorkel while swimming. They can ambush fast swimming prey such as small fish catching them between their front legs and stabbing them with their pointed probiscus.  Known as Toe-biters able to inflict a nasty nip although this specimen played dead when disturbed. Water Scorpions are also capable fliers and inhabit waterholes over much of Australia.

” A beetle not a bug. It is certainly one of the diving beetles in the family Dytigcidae, but there are a few black and yellow genera and species. This beetle could be in the genera Megaporus or Sternopriscus.”  Found in the dam feeding on small aquatic organisms.

I.D courtesy of  Martyn Robinson. Naturalist Australian Museum. 


“Also known as Verreaux’s Burrowing Skink or the Three Clawed Worm Skink. The best diagnostic feature for this lizard is the pale collar, clearly visible on this specimen, which helps distinguish it from (Coeranoscincus reticulatus) the Three-toed Snake-tooth  Skink.”  These lizards live in loose soil, leaf litter and rotting logs feeding on earthworms and beetles. Because of its burrowing habits it is seldom seen and a new species for the Conservation Area.

I.D. courtesy of Martyn Robinson. Naturalist  Australian Museum. 

Flushed from dense foliage at the dam by Brianna May Whiteman  is the nocturnal and first time sighting here of a Nankeen Night Heron. They inhabit swamps, lakes, billabongs and tidal channels over much of Australia.

I.D. courtesy of Dr. Greg Clancy.

 Rufous (Nankeen) Night Heron

Seen foraging on the forest floor for insects and snails in the Conservation Area.  These colourful birds extend along the Eastern Seaboard in the mountain forests and moving into coastal lowlands in winter. Image taken by visiting wildlife photographer  Rowland Willis.

“Many of the Pseudophryne toadlets are disappearing over much of their range although this species is not listed as threatened or endangered.” With a length between 30mm -60mm, no webbing and striking marbled belly. This toadlet is alive and pretending to be dead.

I.D courtesy of  Martyn Robinson  Naturalist. Australian Museum.

“Although widespread and found in a variety of habitats, particularly around temporary swamps this frog is not common. Also known as the Freycinet Frog they reach 45mm and are similar to Litoria nasuta, from which it can be distinguished by the thigh pattern of brown and cream spots.” A new species for the Conservation Area and named after L. Freycinet, the French Navigator. They are capable of very long leaps.


I.D. and Reference courtesy of Martyn Robinson. Naturalist. Australian Museum.

A common species but locally rare, the nomadic New Holland Honeyeater which occasionally visits the Conservation Area in search of nectar and insects.

“Adult moth has brown forewings with a dark green sheen, and with a sharply defined broad white border along the edges of the wings. The hindwings are orange, with a black border and black comma in the middle. The moth has a wingspan of about 8cm.” A new sighting for the Conservation Area with the common name Green Fruit-piercing Moth.

I.D. and text reference courtesy of Don Herbison-Evans and Stella Crossley.

Further reference –

“The adults have a wingspan around 7cm. It is famous for its shiny metallic pupa and beautiful caterpillar with eight long black tentacles. It seems to be a species that prefers a tropical climate, but does breed in N.S.W. It has a lifespan of eleven to thirteen weeks.” A new species for the Conservation Area. This butterfly is famous for its striking pupa, click reference below for more images.

I.D. and text reference courtesy of Don Herbison-Evans and Stella Crossley.

Further reference –


A new educational resource providing details of over 300 significant species that can be found growing in the Clarence Valley is now available at the Clarence Environment Centre (CEC) for $7. each. The DVD provides a PDF fact sheet for each species with a photograph or image and provides scientific and common names, family name, protected status, a brief description, localities and range of occurence and threats faced.

Contact – Clarence Environment Centre. 31 Skinner St. South Grafton. N.S.W. 2460.

email –



The peer-reviewed  quarterly journal Systematics and Biodiversity recently published the report – Perspectives. Colour and size variation in Junonia villida ( Lepidoptera, Nymphalidae ) : subspecies or phenotypic plasticity ? by R.I. Vane-Wright and W. John Tennant.

The review was based on” examination of c.1500 museum specimens from its entire geographical range from the Chagos Islands in the Indian Ocean to the Gambiers in mid-Pacific, spanning over 154 degrees of longitude, or 43% of the circumference of the Earth. Mostly found in open grasslands or disturbed areas, including woodlands and disturbed forests from sea-level up to 1500m or more in elevation, it is variable in wing colour pattern on both upper and lower surfaces. The causes of this variability are uncertain, but temperature, photoperiod, rainfall, migration and perhaps underlying geographical differentiation may all play a role.”

The Clarence Valley Meadow Argus butterfly is represented by the image on lower right side taken on the Conservation Area for the cover illustration showing six Australian butterfly with various differences in colour pattern.

Further reference available;  

Authorization and Publisher: Taylor & Francis U.K.

With iridescent green and violet sheen wings these beautiful nomadic birds are commonly found on the Conservation Area in small flocks feeding in pasture grasses for invertebrates

Image courtesy of  Rowland Willis. Wildlife Photographer.

“Adult moths have fawn forewings with a dark brown line across each one and  have a dark brown dot near the base of the inner margin. The hindwings are orange with a submarginal arc of dark brown dots, a dark brown patch at the base and a dark brown line across each wing. Underneath each forewing has a purple blotch.”  The caterpillars are looper type and are known to feed on Gum trees. A new find on the Conservation Area. Found in New South Wales, Queensland and South Australia.       

I.D. and reference courtesy of Don Herbison-Evans and Stella Crossley.

Further reference;  Beautiful Leaf Moth
















                                The boletes are closely related to the agarics (fungi with gills). Many boletes display colour changes when the flesh is cut, so that whitish or yellowish tissue becomes spectacularly greenish blue due to enzyme reactions triggered by oxygen in the air. Boletes are very important in the Australian bushland as mycorrhizal partners, but they also provide food for the larval stages of many insects.” Image taken in riparian zone at Sportsman Creek wildlife refuge.

Reference;  Young, A.M.  Field Guide to the Fungi of  Australia.

I.D. courtesy of Don Gover.

Further reference;

Dark brown with two parallel stripes across forewings and hindwings. Photographed in the Conservation Area.

A small population of these fantastic little marsupials reside in the Dry schlerophyll forest ( Spotted Gum, Ironbarks and Bloodwood) on Sportsman Creek wildlife refuge. They are classified as Vulnerable and are patchily distributed from Cooktown to the Northern rivers area. They have largely vanished from inland areas. When alarmed they stamp their hindfeet on the ground and are known to use their tails to carry nesting materials. Image taken today in the Conservation Area of this secretive marsupial.

Reference; DECC. Threatened Species of the Upper North Coast.


Olongburra Frogs are listed as Vulnerable and range from coastal areas near Fraser Island to Yuraygir National Park south-east of Grafton. Also called Wallum Sedge Frogs. Wallum is a banksia -dominated lowland heath ecosystem characterised by acidic waterbodies. An unexpected find at Sportsman Creek wildlife refuge.  These frogs are usually found in rushes and sedges. “If you look at the colour in the groin or back of the thigh it is relatively easy as Litoria olongburensis has a bluish colour there while it is orange in both Litoria fallax and Litoria bicolour. The overhanging pointed snout in Litoria olongburensis is usually more pronounced – but then the broad white stripe down the side of the body is NOT a feature of  Litoria fallax as this tends to end around the shoulder in that species.”

Reference;  N.P.W.S. Threatened Species of the Upper North Coast of N.S.W.

Identification and text –  Courtesy of Martyn Robinson.  Naturalist, Australian Museum.

Gardern Orb weaver Spider“The Garden Orb-weaver is one of the largest and most common spiders in eastern Australia. Adults spin web at dusk , feeding on a wide range of flying insects. The web is often eaten by the spider at dawn and a new web constructed  the following night. Bites are rare, causing only local symptoms such as mild pain and swelling”. During the day they take shelter in bark and leaves.

Reference;  Honan, P.  A Wild Australia Guide – Spiders.

“A large, plump grey and white pigeon with distinctive markings. Forages on ground, not often seen in flight unless flushed. Sedentary; uncommon, although can be locally abundant in areas of favourable habitat. Lives around the riverine vegetation on Sportsman Creek wildlife refuge.

Reference;  Morcombe, M.  Field Guide to Australian Birds.

According to Australian Museum Entomologist, Dr. Britton this species occurs as far south as central New South Wales and is also found in S.E. Asia, Indonesia and P.N.G. Adults are known to be fruit-piercing moths. Other species in S.E. Asia are known as “Vampire Moths” as some are known to feed on vertebrates and suck the blood of mammals.

Further reading available- 

courtesy of Don Herbison-Evans 

An exploration into...
By Jeff Keyes