Northern Suburbs Branch AGM and Photo Competition

Christmas spider

Christmas Spider (Austracantha minax)

The Northern Suburbs Branch held its AGM on the 19th December. Prior to the AGM, branch Chairperson Don Poynton gave a brief presentation on Christmas Spiders (Austracantha minax), which are endemic to Australia. They are the only members of their genus and belong to the orb-weaving family Araneidae. For some light-hearted entertainment, members were asked to name the island or group of islands where the subspecies which is endemic to Western Australia could be found. After a bit of prompting including a hint that the subspecies’ existence could be due to atomic radiation, Christine Curry eventually came up with the correct answer: the Montebello Islands. The subspecies is appropriately named A. minax subsp. hermitis after Hermite Island—one of the larger islands in the group. (We know that radiation played no part, in fact, as the subspecies was first described by British arachnologist Henry Roughton Hogg in 1914).

The election of office bearers resulted in no change:

  • Chairperson: Don Poynton
  • Secretary: Graham Ezzy
  • Treasurer: Bob Ruscoe
  • Committee:
    • Barbara Baxendale
    • Jenny Cunningham
    • Christine Curry
    • Willy Dadour.
Gang-gang cockatoos
Great Crested Grebe and young

The digital photo competition was well supported, with 18 photos to choose from. The winner was Graham Ezzy, with a stunning photo of an Atlantic Puffin holding three fish in its beak. Second was Greg Oliver for a charming photo of a Great Crested Grebe with her young on her back. There was some doubt over which photo—a pair of Gang-Gang Cockatoos or the face of a Kookaburra—won third place but it didn’t matter as both were taken by Pam Ghirardi at Halls Gap while attending ANN2018.

Non native to  Western Australia
Atlantic Puffin holding three fish in its beak
Atlantic Puffin

The formal meeting ended with a number of people presenting items during ‘Show and Tell’, including an egg from an unidentified skink or gecko (Marlene Madden) and a bird’s nest made entirely from synthetic material (Jenny Cunningham). Ben Schneider handed out hot-off-the-press copies of his recently published description of a new Western Australian snail species (Bothriembryon toolinna – see November report ) and Margaret Szymakowski read a short poem which, as always, related to nature.

Don Poynton