Monday, 16 January 2012

A second tour of the environment in the Brindabellas

In December I posted about a trip we took to the Brindabellas with Environment Tours.  It now being a few weeks later another trip was taken to visit a couple of different spots and to see what had changed in the interim.  The expectation was that some of the plants we saw flowering would be 'finished' while others would have started up.  This was slightly mentally modified by the non-Summer thus far delaying things.

Yesterday's weather would have done little to accelerate the late starters - cool and in cloud for a lot of the time.  These are some snow gums (Eucalyptus pauciflora) at the Chalet Rd cloud forest.
The trip began as before going out along Cotter Rd, through the slums-in-waiting of Coombes and Wright.   This area used to be a pine forest, the training ground for many of  Australia's best long distance runners, and has now been "developed" to a bare earth paddock.  The streets have largely been laid out so one can see the area is going to be full of tiny house blocks, that will undoubtedly be covered by unnecessarily huge houses.  Some exotic, deciduous, trees have been planted in the streets (because there won't be room for trees off-street after the house, garage, BBQ patio, above-ground pool and tool shed have been dumped on the plot).

To distract us from this tragic sight our fearless leader told the story of flowering plants over a few epochs (from when plants first emerged from the primordial water to the present day).  The climax of the story was the way the plants we are to see developed fertilisation methods.  A key point was that most of the plants in the high country are insect pollinated rather than bird pollinated.  This last point was emphasised by seeing very few birds (Flame robins and Gang-gangs were my standouts - , see Sandra's comment below for a better sighting) but, as will be apparent in what follows, a whole lotta insects.

After leaving the mess of the Molonglo subdivision we crossed the Murrumbidgee at Uriarra Crossing.  I took a snap from the bus window to show what happens to Casuarinas when they get in the way of a raging river.  This may be of interest to readers with property in the Bahamas!
After a traditional toilet stop at Bulls Head we made our first 'proper stop' at the South end of Moonlight Hollow Road.  We had walked the length of this road a couple of weeks earlier but today just went a short distance down to a small dam.   Dicotyledonous flowers seen on the way down included this Chloretrum pauciflora (aka Sourbush).
Next we have Euphrasia collina.
 and a side on view of Australian caraway.
  I am sorry for using a vernacular name but I just cannot force Oreomyrrhis eriopoda into my mind.  (Come to that, I am not sure if once it is briefly in there, I can pronounce it!)  This species is usually photographed from above to get the pinwheel effect of the seeds-on-stalks but I thought this view better as it showed the leaves also.

We did find the first of the day's several Wahlenbergia gloriosa Royal Bluebells on this stretch of road but it was pretty tired, and my photograph did not greatly improve the situation!  The same applied to later clumps also, so if you are desperate for an image of the ACT floral emblem I suggest you refer to the Moonlight post.

We passed a couple of clumps of Microtis unifolia (an onion orchid).
The orchid also features in a very small way at the bottom of the following image, taken by Wendy, for which I have alternate titles:
  1. Mzungu kubwa (Kiswahili for Big white hunter);
  2. Call me Bw(an)ana;
  3. Twerp in grass!. 
The dam was very pretty, in a reflective sort of way.  Ian commented that it was built for fire-fighting but when the fire risk is really high it is often dry!
On the way back to the bus a couple of samples of Pterostylis monticola (the Large Mountain Greenhood) were found on top of the bank.

One interesting insect was seen in this part of the trip.
 I am reasonably sure it is a beetle, rather than a bug, but am having some difficulty getting further than order
On getting back to the bus we headed to Chalet Road for a lunch stop since the weather was unlikely to be propitious at Mt Ginini.  The first image in this post, and the one following, might suggest it wasn't really propitious at Chalet Rd either.  The twerp was still present, but this time wandering about in the fog.
 As we ate our repast I noticed some fruit on a nearby example of Dianella tasmanica.
 A little later in the trip I came across some flowers of the species (note the artistically positioned dew-drops on the anthers and the webs in the background). 
Note also the colour of the anthers (yellow) which is one way of distinguishing this species from D. revoluta with dark anthers.  It was a surprise to see the latter this high but the photograph below is evidence.
The D tasmanica held a number of interesting insects, shown in the following images.  Names will be added as they become available.  (Not surprisingly I am finding difficulty in lining these images - taken at about 1300m above sea-level in the ACT - up with the images on Brisbane insects, taken about 1200km North and 1200m lower!)

The mating insects may be Lycid beetles ...
... this looks like a Shield bug (aka stink bug) in the family Pentatomidae: it certainly has 5 segments in the antennae.
 ... and I definitely call this a weevil (family Curculionidae)
Also in this area but not photographed were:
  • a plague of Soldier Beetles (already have an image), 
  • a brachinid wasp (wouldn't stay still amongst some dense grass stems to be photographed: and 
  • a whole lot of tiny ants (once discovered I didn't wish to stay in their vicinity).
 We then moved onwards and upwards to the end of the road at Mt Ginnini.  Propitiousness was certainly lacking in the weather!  However there were some really good flowers available there.

The first two images are of Celmisia costiniana the Snow Daisy.  In this first image the purple underside of the flower is shown (I have thus far been unable to find a reason for this colouration) while the second image shows the silvery stem and leaves.

There were also large numbers of Microseris lanceolata (Yam Daisies) and Craspedia aurantia (Billy Buttons).

Insects also found these plants attractive:  The first is (IMHO) a scarab and the second a leaf beetle.

We did a few more walks on the way home, and some images appear earlier in the blog since that fitted my narrative needs .  If you expect linear coherence, you are reading the wrong blog!


sandra h said...

I've already informed our fearless leader for the tour, but I've put in a COG incidental report for a Wonga pigeon, seen fleetingly from the bus about 2km the other side of Bulls head as we returned in the afternoon - it flew further down a very steep slope into thick veg, and was immediately invisible again. No other very keen birders on my side of bus, so I'm certain no-one else saw it. will be one of very few WP records since the fires, but one was in last Annual Bird Rep., from Bendora Rd, so not far away, as the crow (or WP) flies.

Flabmeister said...

Thanks Sandra. They are still quite common in Tallaganda (NSW) but I haven't seen or heard one in the ACT for yonks! This would certainly have been a likely place to see one, so (as the fearless leader would say) "Well done that girl!"