Sunday, 19 October 2014

Three excitements and a Brazilian orchids

I shall explain the lusophone reference shortly.  But here follow the three excitements in the order of their observation.  This is possibly in ascending order of excitement, but that is your call.  All 3 occurred in a walk along the Casuarina Trail in Mallacoota.

Excitement 1
Some distance along the track we heard a strange chiming call coming from a bird on the ground.  It turned out to be a Superb Lyrebird, scratching for food on the forest floor.  We stood and watched it for at least 5 minutes, from 5-10m away.  (Frances was holding Tammy to prevent agitation.)
 This image is a tad RS apart from showing the claw.  No wonder they can scratch the ground so well.
 Possibly my best shot.
 Excitement 2
Coming back we were in the bottom of a gully when a pair of Pied Currawongs went completely postal.  On getting the bins on them it was apparent they were mobbing a fair sized Lace Monitor.  As Frances commented, they worked out it was a worse egg-thief than them!
The photo was taken from about 40m range and the Currawong was pretty active but you can see the whole goanna and know that it has a pink lining to its mouth.  After the 'wongs chased it around - including about 5m up a tree - it got on to the ground and scared another Superb Lyrebird up into the air.
Excitement 3
 We were nearly back at the car when a couple of thumps came out of the bush, which both of us thought was a Swamp Wallaby taking off.  However there was then some thrashing about and we could see feathers.  On going closer it was a Laughing Kookaburra which seemed to be trapped by some vines.
On looking closer it seemed that the bird was in fact free.  It had caught a skink which had bitten, or grasped, some Cassytha vines and wouldn't let go.
 Eventually the Kookaburra wrenched the skink free and took off for a meal.  Nearly parting my hair en passant.
The Brazilian issue.
Some years ago a fair-haired colleague told me a tale.  "
It seems a blond heard a news item about 3 Brazilian men being killed in a plane crash.  Theystarted screaming about "all those poor people, all those poor people".  When asked why they used the word "áll" the response was "I know a million is lots, and a billion is more, so how many is a Brazillion?"
In the case of the orchids we found today the answer to their question was somewhere between a squillion and a gazillion.  In this first image I have ringed each sun orchid visible in an area about 10m square
My count is 27, and that density was about average for an area at least 200m x 10m.  Most of them, as far as I could see were Thelymitra ixoides, identifying mainly on them being spotted
 Some of the spots were pretty large.
 Frances then found a lovely  T. carnea
 This one seemed to have both a pink tinge and blue spots ..
 .. while this seemed to reflect the known ability of T carnea and T ixoides to hybridise.

 OK.  So we left this area under power lines and moved into some forest.  Frances quickly picked up an onion orchid which seemed to be.Microtis oblonga
 There were many Glossodia major (not photographed) and various forms of Petalochilus.  Tghis one was particularly pinbk and I thought P carneus was appropriate.
This is definitely a Diuris sp, but I have no idea what.  It is close to its use-by date which doesn't help.  Fortunately, Alan Stephenson has identified it as D. corymbosa. {I had originally rejected this as a reference only listed it in WA: the Atlas of Living Australia shows it right along the South of the country.}
 Finally Frances found a Pterostylis pedunculata.
Other stuff
Our book says that Patersonia need sunshine to come forth.  These P sericea had obviously read rthe book.
 Bossiaea buxifolia.
 Schelhammera undulata
 We have no idea what this is, but are intrigued by the fringiness inside the keel.  A garden escapee seems like a good explanation.
 Getting into other Kingdoms these welcome Swallows are nesting in the car port!
A Sacred Kingfisher was snacking on what looks like a mud-daubing wasp.
This Tabanid fly (probably some form of Horse fly) was trying to dine on moi!  It learnt (briefly) the error of its ways.
 In the morning Frances noticed Tammy was peering off the deck with focussed attention.  Fortunately a large skink was the object of her attention
It was almost an excitement when a possum wandered across the deck at 2030 hrs.  I was told that a photographer made more noise, but reckon these results were worth it.
It took very little notice of me (or my flash going off) but eventually bolted for the high ground.
You want cute - you got it!
However, check those claws and work out how it got the traction to climb a smooth metal flagpole!  Also, cute was not the word that sprang to mind when it romped on the deck at 0130 or snored loudly at 0330! 

Sunrise and sun orchids

The sunrise this morning was rather dramatic.

A rather more subdued view: perhaps through a silky oak darkly"?
Ön Friday we had found a lot of sun orchid buds but being lateish in the afternoon none of them were open.  Our plan for Saturday was to visit the site (essentially the cleared roadside at the corner of Genoa and Karbeething Rds) once the day had warmed up.  Heat was occurring, in relative terms, at 11:15.  So were Thelymitras: they were so clear we could see them from the car!

I think these spotted examples are T. ixoides.

This one, and I do apologise for truncating the dorsal sepal, appeared to be much closer to purple in the field than it does in this image.  I will take a punt at T brevifolia and try to find it again to confirm or refute that, now that I know what to look for.
The next images are back to T. ixoides showing the number of flowers per stem ...

... and a close up of the labellum and column
The 'thelys' got first spot as it suited my title.  Earlier in the day we had taken Tammy along Karbeethong Rd and found it to be a Petalochilus forest.  (In fact much of the area has many of these little charmers.)  This one is, I believe based on the golden tip to the labellum, to be P. catenatus.

Although white, the vertical dorsal sepal shouts "Petalochilus' and again it fits the catenatus pattern.
After turning for home Frances spotted a group of Flying duck Orchids Caleana major.  Here are a couple of artistic, into the sun, shots.

A more helpful image!
We found three colonies totalling to ~20 plants.

I'll now move into other families.  Few of them are identified to species level as we don't have a reference for this area, relying on a book covering the Sydney area.  The issue of lack of reference is exacerbated by there being no National Parks Office in the area.  In terms of environment, all the Victorian Government seems interested in is enforcing Fishing regulations; collecting camping fees in the school holidays and sucking up to the abalone industry.

Enough rant.  Here is a pretty white lily.
Drosera sp. growing amidst the sun orchids.
In the afternoon we did the Heathland walk to Betka Beach.  The diversity of flowers in the ground layer was excellent.  This is Scaevola (?) ramosissima.
Patersonia sp. only open on warm days.
From the shape of the flower I am inclined to say Boronia sp, but can't work out the species.  A main reason for this ...
... is the size of the shrub, well over 1m high.
I will say Olearia sp.
Bossiaea ensata - note flattened stem.
Daviesia latifolia with big, wavy leaves.
Another member of the Fabaceae.
A garden just up Karbeethong Avenue has magnificent Gymea Lilies.  Here are a couple of shots against an Inlet backdrop.

Some of those images came from a walk to Betka Beach.  When we dropped down to the beach I noticed an off leash Staffie that charged - not in a particularly aggressive  way, just being a Staffie - towards Tammy from a lookout.  As I grabbed her up the owner roared at 'Panda' to "get back", which he did.  Then we got about 50m down the beach and just as I was thinking about letting Tammy off the lead I glanced round and there was Panda, incoming and full of fun.  A brief period of stereo yelling, from me and owner, and he bolted back, leaving the remaining kilometre of beach to Tammy.

In the afternoon I went to a wet area birding.  The most exciting bit was this Red-bellied Black Snake.  Looking at the swellings along its body I think the demographics of the local frog population had taken a hit.
Who's a pretty boy then?
I'll finish with a bird image.  Satin Bowerbird, dealing with some yam peel.