Wednesday, 7 December 2011

ANPS goes high in the Tinderries

After being rained out for 3 of the last 4 weeks the ANPS Wednesday Walkers finally got in an outing (if that isn't an oxymoron) today.  We went to the Tinderry range, South of Canberra to an area that was basically incinerated in a bushfire almost exactly 2 years ago.  We drove back through this area a year ago and it was still a lunar landscape.  But we had heard a report from Environment Tours (and an ANPS member who went on that trip) that it was now full of good arrays of flowers.

So we met at the Michelago Station (rarely used but nicely painted by NSW Railways)...
... before heading off to the first site in the form of some grassland above the village.

The first thing to catch my eye was a Blue Devil (Eryngium ovinum).
closely followed by a Swainsona sericia
It is usually against my principles to include images of grass flowers but some of them are quite pleasant in appearance and I am feeling sorry for Austrodanthonia as I have heard that the taxonomists (boo, hiss)  have sunk the boot into the genus  recently.   So here are images of A. laevis
and A. carphoides
A plant of some species which I didn't record (boo, hiss) was hosting an Ecnolagria grandis (Brown Darkling beetle).  I am getting quite fascinated by the complex design of these animals.
There were, as usual few birds around at this site.     However some Little Raven used a convenient boulder to peer down at us.
As we moved up the road towards the mountains it appeared that there was still a lot of exposed rock.  
A lot of it seemed to shine, which we debated if it was because the rock was still wet or if it was minerals in the rocks catching the sunlight.  At the time I was espousing the latter view, but by the end of the trip had swung to join the majority in the former position.

Before we got to the second formal stop we paused beside the road as a very good collection of plants had appeared.  I failed to get a worthwhile image of the clumps of Derwentia or Stylidium but the following images show  
  • Solanum linearifolium (Kangaroo apple - since like most members of the genus it appears the fruit are full of alkaloids any roos which eat it should be happy, albeit briefly).

 the fruits of Dodonaea viscosa demonstrating why the plant has the vernacular name 'hop bush'.
Onwards and upwards, to our usual car parking spot at the high point on the road.  After a pause for morning tea we visited the rocky platforms on both sides of the road.  The tops of the trees were still bare as a result of the fire but the understorey was regrowing very well.

The flowers of Lomandra longifolia were in profusion
 and those of L multiflora proved the taxonomists can get things right occasionally.
On the top of the rocks, looking down on the Murrumbidgee valley, it was apparent that the fire had still been intense.  However even here regrowth was occurring.  This Pelargonium australe had found a small patch of soil and some moisture to strut its, quite significant, charms.
 On the subject of charms, it was good to find Prostanthera phylicifolia.
 The commonest plant growing up here was this small lily Thelionema caespitosum, which seemed to be in swathes all over the rock.
This image gives an impression of the situation on top of the rock shelves.
Even here there were insects including this rockhopper (can't call it a grasshopper in that environment).  Roger Farrow has advised that it is a male Phaulacridium vittatum the Wingless Grasshopper, not strictly wingless and often fully winged.  Its blackish colouration is an adaptation to the blackened environment and occurs during early development of the nymphal stages.
Also rock-hopping were two feral goats whichstuck their heads out of the vegetation to check us out before running away.  I suspect that means there are many more.  Just below the rocks we found the first orchid of the outing Stegostyla moschata - the musky not-Caladenia.
As is traditional on these trips the next stop was at the meteorological station, which appeared to have escaped damage from the fires.  The open area around the station was a sea of yellow including a good collection of Diuris monticola, the Highland Golden Moths.
Across the road a huge boulder stood amongst the burnt out trees ...
while a patch of Calotis scabiosifolia var. integrifolia was attracting a member of the Hymenoptera.
The final stop was Round Hill Trail which we descended to try to locate the famous "Mystery Pea".  It is thought this is some form of Oxylobium but it has thus far defeated the efforts of the group to identify it.  (It appears that this may be out of date as the t@xo***ists have been amusing themselves in this part of the web of life and now suggest Podolobium is a better name.) The plant - basically there has only ever been one - has in the past survived a tree falling on it and now has survived an intense bushfire.
As a bonus for visiting this site we found a large greenhood orchid which expert advice has since confirmed  is Pterostylis falcata ...
 and some bird orchids, probably Simpliglottis valida.
On the way back to the cars I was shown an array of huge Diuris sulphurea ...
... and a single Gastrodia sesamoides (the other species of potato orchids didn't seem to fit the habitat evident at this spot).
A great finish to a top day (apart from the drive back which was very pleasant, especially finding that the Queanbeyan River was only just over the ford enabling an uneventful crossing).

1 comment:

Whirlwind said...

Love your blog Martin. I'm over in the US visiting my daughter and won't be back until March. So it's great to see your images. When I get back I'll definitely rejoin the walks.
Gail Ritchie Knight