A curled leaf in the centre of its web identifies the aptly-named leaf-curling spider.
The web is medium-sized, usually at chest height or below, and spanning less than a metre.
It is now a common feature in local bushland and some home gardens as well.
This small spider hides in a leaf that it hauls up from the ground and then curls around into a protective and camouflaged spiral shelter, sealed with silk at the top and along the edges, and open at the bottom. This is placed just above the centre of the circular web.
Sometimes - but not in today's photo - the spider's legs can be seen protruding from the bottom of the leaf, but its body normally remains hidden. The body is about eight millimetres long, with the abdomen plump and oval, usually cream-coloured with dark markings.
The tips of the legs receive any signals that potential prey has become stuck in the web.
The spider is clearly quite strong and agile to be able to curl its chosen leaf. Gum leaves are its usual choice, but any sort may be used. The one in the photo is a deciduous leaf, which might be easier to bend than a gum leaf. Young spiders start with softer leaves, ending up with larger dead leaves when they are mature.
The spiders work at night, so they are rarely seen doing their leaf-lifting, leaf-bending and leaf sticking.
The female spider lays her eggs in another curled leaf nearby, away from the main web.
The leaf-curling spider is shy, and rarely bites. Its bite might cause pain, but is regarded as harmless to us.
NEW BIRDS FOR LAKE BURRUMBEET
Ever since the first comprehensive list of birds of Lake Burrumbeet was made, bird-observers have been surprised at the absence of sulphur-crested cockatoo on that list.
The long-billed corella is a white cockatoo that has been on the Burrumbeet list for many years, but the larger sulphur-crested cockatoo had not been seen at the lake until the end of February. Rather uncharacteristically, only a single bird was seen.
On the same day, the Common (Indian) myna was also added to the list. This time two birds were seen, on the lake side of Bo Peep Road.
Mynas had been seen within a few kilometres of the lake for a couple of years, but now they have almost reached the eastern shore.
The list of birds of Lake Burrumbeet now stands at almost 170 species. Among these are black falcon, white-bellied sea-eagle, spotted harrier, red-browed treecreeper, rose robin, Lewin's rail, ruddy turnstone, olive-backed oriole and satin flycatcher.
NATURE QUERIES ANSWERED
I was hoping you could help me identify this grey fungus that has appeared in our back lawn. We have lived here for four years and this is the first time we have seen it. On the first day there was no stalk.
Your fungus might be Amanita grisella, although that is normally a forest mushroom. There appears to be no common name for this species.
I expect its cap flattened out more as it matured. Fungi often look different at different life-stages, making them difficult to identify. Many - like yours - start off as "buttons", then gradually get a stem, and then the cap expands.
Yours is in the same group (genus) as the fly agaric, Amanita muscaria. That is the red one with white spots that grows under pines. Yours is a native species.