November 2015 Field Visit – Guise Hill TSR

This month’s field visit was to Guise Hill Travelling Stock Reserve near Wagga Wagga.

 

Guise Hill Travelling Stock Reserve
Guise Hill Travelling Stock Reserve
Guise Hill Travelling Stock Reserve
Guise Hill Travelling Stock Reserve

Travelling Stock Reserves (TSRs), as the name suggests, are parcels of land set aside to be used by travelling livestock, and can be particularly valuable during times of drought. Depending on how heavily/frequently used each TSR is, their individual history before being reserved, and how they’ve been managed by the local responsible organisations, the quality of TSRs can vary a lot. Some TSRs are amazing pockets of native biodiversity, whilst others are quite run-down. Guise Hill TSR is not in the first category, but it’s looking much better than it was the first time I visited several years ago, and I do enjoy popping back every now and then to see what’s what.

Guise Hill is a small wooded hillslope, dominated by White Box (Eucalyptus albens), and surrounded by cleared grazing farmland. The last time I visited, my dad and I saw a goanna, so hopes were high for a repeat performance this time, but sadly that hope was dashed. This visit turned into a series of failures to get decent pictures of kangaroos and butterflies (along with a few successes). I flushed so many of both before I saw them, and kept being just slightly too slow with my camera.

Guise Hill
The view across the road – aglow in early-morning sunlight.

 

I was fascinated by the black-fringed white butterflies I saw everywhere, and was determined to get pictures good enough to use for identification purposes later. They had caught my eye the day before, flying in huge numbers across the roads as I drove, all heading in the same direction.

Butterfly in flight
Action shot!
flying-caper-white
Closer view

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Thanks to Bindi Vanzella (@bidgeewidgee on Twitter) – I now know these are Caper White butterflies (Belenois java), and they were migrating across country.

In addition to the Caper Whites, there were several brown butterflies flitting about. This one and I had a stand-off in which it didn’t care how close I came with my camera, it was absolutely not going to open its wings and let me get a shot of the upper wing pattern. I think it’s a Common Brown butterfly (Heteronympha merope), but I may be wrong.

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On the kangaroo front, I thought for a while that this would be my best shot:

 

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Then I hit the back fence and found a mob in the paddock next door. It’s a bit hard to see, but several of the females have large pouch young.

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Eastern Grey Kangaroo
Action shot!

 

roos and cockies
Eastern Grey Kangaroos (Macropus giganteus) and Sulphur-crested Cockatoos (Cacatua galerita)

Also seen at Guise Hill:

Evidence of past borer activity.

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One chocolate lily.

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Assorted cool fungi.

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I’ve been a bit more Wagga-centric this year than I had originally intended, so I’m hoping to explore a little more widely next year, and showcase more of the amazing wildlife and ecosystems that exist across this diverse region. See you next month!

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