Buggin with Bridgey – December 2021

Buggin with Bridgey is a Monthly report of sightings from the Let’s Go Buggin Photography Tour in the Cairns Botanic Gardens.  As the months roll by, subtle changes in the seasons bring sightings of new creatures and this report aims to give people a wrap up of the current animals seen as well as provide an ongoing citizen science account of our wonderful critters that can be seen in the tropical north of Queensland.

Macro Photography in Sydney

As I have spent December enjoying macro photography in Sydney, I thought it would be appropriate to have this entry focused on some of the critters I’ve met here. I have to say that Macro Photography in Sydney is pretty good, and there are a lot of areas to explore that are in and around Sydney.

Immediately after jumping off the plane, I went to find some Maratus Jumping Spiders.  For those who don’t know…Maratus are Peacock Jumping Spiders, and if you haven’t heard of them I urge you to immediately goto YouTube and watch a couple of the videos by The Peacock Spiderman himself…Jurgen Otto…you won’t be disappointed!   Those who already know about Peacock Spiders know that they are one of the most magical spiders on the planet and we have over 80 species right here in Australia that are only found here!

The mating season for these beauties is November to December so I was arriving at the right time to perhaps witness a dance.   My sister B-shizz, who has a Blog on this page as well, knew of a spot where she had seen Maratus splendens so we went there and we did find one male…however unfortunately there was no female for him to dance for.  But it was pretty cool to see these vibrant spiders in the flesh after admiring them for years!

Maratus splendens male

We went on another Peacock Spider search to another location where another species, the famous Maratus volans was known to inhabit.     We searched for hours in the morning and had zero luck, but we returned in the afternoon and to our absolute shock and delight we found a male Maratus volans, but also found two Maratus anomalus, and a number of females of varying species.  The female Peacock spiders are especially tricky to identify, and  even experts struggle to be specific on the species of females.

Maratus volans male

I was shocked to realise that these spiders are super tiny, at about 5mm, and they are extremely challenging to find.  Then the little buggers are super skitzy and are constantly moving around which makes photographing them extremely difficult.  I managed a few semi-decent shots but I have to say I’ve developed absolute respect to some of the Peacock Spider photographers out there.  I hope to photograph a dance one day!

Male Maratus anomalus, female maratus unknown species, female maratus unknown species.

My very first encounter with Austracantha minax (Australian jewel spider). I know…I know… many of you Aussie macro photographers are thinking WHAT!!!??? Only your first encounter??? A’Hmmm yep… only taken me 3 years!   I have checked up on iNaturalist and none have been reported in Cairns, so I’m feeling ok in that fact.   In Tropical North Queensland, we have a similar-looking species, called the Asian Spiny-backed Orb-weaver (Thelacantha brevispina), but their legs are much shorter and darker, and the spikes on their abdomen are shorter and less sharp. Anyway, getting back to this elusive (at least for me) species, The Australian Jewel…pretty cool to finally see one of these… again, like a lot of tiny orb-weavers, very tricky to photograph…but I managed this one.

Austracantha minax (Australian jewel spider) Macro Photography Sydney

Austracantha minax (Australian jewel spider)

During one of my explorations I came across an ‘army’ of these beautiful beetles on a bush.   Having so many on the bush gave me ample opportunities to pick and choose which individuals to photograph.  This is a photographers dream…to have a visually-loaded situation.   I had never seen this species before so I was super keen to find out more.

Castiarina Jewel Beetles (Castiarina cruentata)

Another new species for me is this stunning Humped Silver Orb Spider (Leucauge dromedaria) which I managed to see a small number of in different areas of Sydney.  They have beautiful mirror-like abdomen in a double-hump design which makes them especially distinctive.   The patterns on their abdomen are an interesting matrix design whilst their legs have a lovey green tinge.  These spiders make a small orb-web in bushes and are thought to be harmless to humans.

Leucauge dromedaria Humped Silver Orb Spider Macro Photography Sydney

Humped Silver Orb Spider (Leucauge dromedaria)

As I write this I am getting ready to come back to Cairns and recommence my tours again.  If you are reading this and would like to book a Let’s Go Buggin Tour in January or February feel free to use the discount code ‘blog’ to get a 30% discount.  Follow this link.   I’m really looking forward to 2022 and I hope to see you out there in bugland.

Next Blog January.

Bridgette uses Olympus OMD EM1 ii, 60mm M.Zuiko lens and CygnusTech Diffuser.