Thursday, 30 September 2010

Plants of the Mulloon Fire Trail

This was a Wednesday expedition by the ACT chapter of the Australian Native Plants Society.  In due course a report on the outing including a plant list, bird list and lotza photographs will appear under the "Wednesday Walks" tab in the linked site.
The Mulloon Fire Trail runs from the hamlet of Forbes Creek to the locality of Bombay (as far as I am aware there are no moves to change its name to Mumbai) in SE NSW.  There are a series of ridges along the way with most of the track being between 900 and 100o m AMSL.  The track is in reasonable condition with:
  1. quite a few exposed rocks which could do quite a job on low exhaust systems and and suspension parts;
  2. a crossing of Mulloon Creek which was about 30cm deep (and we haven't had any rain for 2 weeks); and
  3. considerable evidence of large trees having fallen across the track at various times (some not too distant).
    An illustration of point 2 is given in the excellent photo taken by Frances.  See the comments for an alternative interpretation of this image!
    As usual, the Subaru leads the Toyota!

    I shall attach names to images as I find them out.  I have grouped them according to families as best I can. Enjoy.

    The main reason for going was the display of Pomadderris sp.  Here is an extract from the Coordinator's report "most of us saw 10 species of Pomaderris today - in order of appearance - P. aspera, P. Bungonia sp. (an as yet un-named species which we originall found near Bungonia), P. costata, P. andromedifolia (a narrow-leaf form), P. ledifolia, P. ? elliptica (a new location for today), P. phylicifolia (didn't stop for this one), then P. pauciflora just before we got to Bombay Reserve.  At the Reserve there are P. andromedifolia ssp. confusa and P. betulina".    While they are attractive plants I don't believe they are sufficiently distinctive to include 10 or more images!
    A hillside covered in Pomaderris sp.
    Pomaderris ?
    Pomaderris  close up
    The next group of images are various orchids seen along the way.  We did also come across two species of 'not-caladenia" but as they are depicted here I have not included further images.
    Possibly a Diplodium?
     Bunochilus longifolius
    Thanks to Denis Wilson for advising that the fused sepals in this image is "..simply a developmental stage - a fresh flower which has not yet opened properly."

    Bunochilus longifolius with unfused sepals
    Pterostylis nutans, the Nodding Greenhood
    The next group are the members of Leguminosea (the pea family).  Those familiar with the track commented that in a week or two the whole place is orange, yellow and red as the members of this family come fully into flower.  On this trip only the first species (a prostrate form) was really in swathes.
    Mirbelia platyloboides
    Bosseiaea obcordata
    The leafless Bossiaea: Bossiaea bracteoasa
    The remaining set are other attractive flowers of which I or Frances managed to get an image.
    Stylidium graminifolium: the first time I have been able to capture this species as the are normally waving about in the wind!
    Boronia algida
      Banksia spinulosa
    The next image is of a species which always causes me some trouble, since I regard all blue of purple things in the Australian bush as being orchids.  Even if the number of petals etc is obviously wrong.  However it is a lovely flowers as shown in Frances' image.
    Pattersonia sericea

    Tuesday, 28 September 2010

    Work and other things around the property

    Today was quite a busy day for us on a number of fronts.

    A first step was to get some seeding happening as reported in this

    I then did some orchid hunting and identification as covered, with a lot of other stuff, here.

    We also, hopefully, took some helpful actions regarding the small dog and the local reptiles.  The main part of this was to install 3 snake repellers.  I have positioned them so that they form a band covering the width of the garden, and with any luck they will stop snakes from coming anywhere that Tammy goes without direct supervision.

    We acquired them through the local agent of the manufacturer whose contact details will be made available on request.  Frances reckoned they sounded - from the description - like the 'thumpers' in Frank Herberts 'Dune' series (but in reverse since the vibrations dissuaded, rather than attracted, the target species).

    In the afternoon I took my sorry body for a short run from the intersection of Captains Flat Road and Widgiewa Rd back to home.  This is about 3.8km, with a fairly serious hill in the middle.

    So I took the small dog along.  Now she had never run before she joined us, and probably hasn't done a lot of medium distance running as such since then.  Today she took off like a rocket and basically went very well for about the first 2.5km.  Then she started to slow down a bit.  Until we crossed Whiskers Creek, in our property and she spotted a bunch of roos.  Predatory drift works both ways: not only
    • do large dogs have the red veil descend when a small dog is around; but also
    • small dogs get affected when they spot something furry and potentially edible (even if it is 20 x their weight). Tammy is normally (now) quite responsive to basic commands, but if she decides  that something needs to be attended to with maximum prejudice, I think one could give her a many volt jolt and she'd just ignore it.  She is essence of terrier.
    Such things are what endears her to us.

    Saturday, 25 September 2010

    Waxlip and other orchids

    This post will start of with the Waxlip Orchid, Glossodia major.  We have had good 'crops' of these in the past and are expecting a bumper flowering this year.  We looked at the prime spot yesterday (24 September) and there were lots of buds, but no actual flowers.  This morning I found one flower and became duly excited:
    A couple of hours later I wandered up to show this seasonal first to Frances and found at least a dozen plants fully open. 

    Part of the reason I was in the area was finding this bud on the 24th.  It is on its own, about 200m from any other Glossodia of which we are aware.  A couple of friends with much more expertise in orchids have suggested this is the likely ID but have suggested 'patience'.  To me?
    We will see.  On the way back to the house I found another Cyanicula caerulea on a dry hillside.  They are turning up everywhere, which is not a bad thing!

    Trying to keep this more or less in chronological  order, when we went to check the mystery on 27 September we found it had got no closer to flowering.  However, almost next to it we found another orchid:
    This clearly shows the leaves to be hairy (like Glossodia) but quite a lot larger (in the original specimen the leaf had been munched somewhat so the size was not able to be assessed).  This may indicate we have an Arachnorchis sp (ie a spider orchid).  This will be VERY EXCITING.

    Into each life a little rain must fall.  The first plant flowered on 28 September and it was a Glossodia.   As I commented it is hard to be upsetwith such a beautiful flower.

    Having solved that one I then checked out a greenhood.  After some initial images were rendered pointless by the labellum closing I managed to get a halfway decent picture showing it to be Hymenochilus cycnocephalus, the Swan Greenhood.
    Note the black 'T' on the labellum.
    Shortly after this we went out to see what else could be snapped and also found our first Petalochilus for the season.  IMHO this is P. fuscatus or Dusky Fingers!
    This is a photo by Frances!  It might look as though this is closely related to the Cyaniculas and indeed they were both seen as part of the Caladenia family in simpler times.

    We also have orchids in the house.  Linking to the native orchids above, the first is a greenhood: specifically the blunt greenhood).  The scientific name is (or perhaps 'was') Pterostylis curta.  This we were given by a friend who is good at raising things from cuttings etc.  We did get it to flower ourselves though!
    We recently attended the ACT Orchid Society Spring Show.  As usual it was rather spectacular and our credit card took a bit of a hit.  (Some other native orchids are shown here.and other posts in that blog including this.  OK, grumble, but I didn't say they were native to Australia!)

    The first purchased specimen is a somewhat lairy Cymbidium.  It only has one flower spike this year, but with several vegetative shoots should be a monster next year.
    Now we move to a pair of Phalanopsis.  (I cannot resist saying this is nothing to do with Chinese spiritual/political movement - that would be Phalan Opsis).

    Friday, 24 September 2010

    Native heath and a few other things

    As the weather has warmed up (and country people will know that a wether never gets warmed up) we have got a lot of heathy blossom appearing.  This post includes some photos of heaths and other flowers (and concludes with other evidence of reproduction) from our middle paddock.
    Leucopogon virgatum
    Leucopogon fletcheri = flowers hang down
    The next image is the first "pea' to appear in the block.  There are quite a few plants but they are generally sparse in habit.
    Bossea buxifolia
    The next three images are from the same paddock but are not really heathy plants.  I have included the Early Nancy (Wurmbea dioica) image to give an impression of the density of these flowers: we have many patches 20m sq at this density!
    Early Nancy
    Luzula - a sedge
    A male Clematis flower
    As well as the flowers this paddock includes a fairly low quality dam.  However it is well supplied with frogspawn at present.

    Thursday, 23 September 2010

    Birding near Tom Green's seat in ANBG

    COG has sponsored a bench seat in the Australian National Botanic Gardens (ANBG) in memory of the late Tom Green.  Tom led the Wednesday Walks for COG until his untimely death, and was also a stalwart of the Friends of ANBG.

    The seat has been positioned very well, on a nice shady path just up hill from a wet run off area.  These factors combine to make it a brilliant place for birding since the water attracts birds to drink (or wade in)
    and also creates an insect friendly environment bringing in some other species for a feed.  While I was sitting on the seat for a few minutes today there were Superb Fairy Wrens all around, Yellow-faced and White-naped Honeyeaters calling nearby and a Shining Bronze-cuckoo calling from a little further away. 

    The next track down was the site of the famous ANBG Powerful Owl of a few years ago.  It is also the spot from which one can see an active bower of a Satin Bowerbird.  When I first arrived I saw the adult male bird resplendent in his satin blue finery.   However, what really excited me was getting a snap of a female exploring the bower.
    I had hoped to get a better photo but then a school group came near and bye bye bowerbirds!  I'm sure the birds will return (and the kids were very well behaved but 20+ kids are going to disturb anything!)

    Wednesday, 22 September 2010

    Cyanicula caerulea etc

    This morning (22 September) I responded to Denis Wilson's post about bird orchids to the effect that we had lots of orchid leaves here but nothing in flower.  Then I took the small dog for a walk and found a blue orchid, which used to be called Caladenia caerulea but was then subject to taxonomic adjustment (the politest word I can think of) but is now known as Cyanicula caerulea. I took Frances back to show her - we had only ever seen 1 of this species on our property - and found about 50!!  YOWZA!

    Here are some images:
    Note the white spots leading the pollinators in!

    This gives an indication of the density of the plants!
    After that exciting start to the day we went on the ANPS Wednesday Walk to the Bullen Range.  Here we found Golden Moths (Diuris chryseopsis) and the pink not-caladenia (Petalochilus fuscatus).
    Diuris chryseopsis
    A Petalochilus fuscatus
    A couple of days later (24 September) I found a Golden Moth on our property.  This may be the first of these I have ever seen here.

    Sunday, 19 September 2010

    Gardening starts!

    How do you know when Spring has really arrived?  When you can't get a park at Bunnings!  (For the benefit of non-Australian readers this is the Australian equivalent of Wal-mart.)

    So today was the first day of getting stuck in to the vegetable garden for me.  This was basically digging in some of the soggy bits, in the hope that this will help the soil to dry out. Otherwise we will be planting rice!

    One of the areas was subject to a small experiment, in that we covered the area with equine faecal matter (EFM  - aka horse poop) in Autumn to see how it encouraged the fertility of the soil. The main thing I noticed was that each forkful of soil I dug had 2 - 4 worms visible in it.  Since I regard a high worm population as a good indicator of good soil this area is brilliant, and the experiment is a success.    (I had also dumped the EFM on the areas we planted our new daffodil beds and they did seem easier to dig than in the past.)

    The only thing we can harvets at the moment is our initial crop of asparagus.  Not a bad form of 'only'!
    I will finish with a snap of the big bed of daffodils against a background of a prunus.

    Saturday, 18 September 2010

    Variations on a theme of Daffodils

    I have commented elsewhere (for example here) about Frances' great work in planting a host of golden daffodils.  Today I just took photographs of the ones that were not simply golden King Alfreds (although we do have a bunch of them).  I must also confess that I wasn't lonely at all, let alone like a cloud, when I took the snaps as I had a small black and white smiler to keep me company.

    After the first year Frances has purchased mixed packets of bulbs from Hancocks, her preferred supplier.  As the following images show, they are certainly a mixture!  Of course one doesn't know what is which so it is always a nice surpise when they come up!