Thursday, 9 February 2012

ANPS gets to Meangora!

On 8 February ANPS Wednesday Walkers went to the Nerriga area to visit a private property adjacent to Morton National Park.  A long trek but very enjoyable (if you are not herpetophobic).  We were joined on the trip by Denis Wilson and some more details of the history and geology of the area (as well as some further images) are given on his post on the Nature of Robertson.

Just for a change I will begin with a bird image, as I like the silhouette of these Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoos against the grey skies.
Now to a couple of habitat shots.  The first is the woodland where we started off ..
.. then the swampy cleared area.
This 2m tall ant mound gives an idea of the soil in the area.  Sandy is the word.
Getting to business, the plants begin with orchids.  I recorded 4 species in the day, of which I failed to get exciting photographs of two.  I am unsure if it is possible to get an exciting photograph of Microtis sp even though the main specimen was close to 30cm high.  The several Dipodium roseum found near the lunch pause were pleasant but they are having a good year and have been represented on this blog several times so I will not use up more bandwidth on them.

The first exciting species was this Chiloglottis diphylla: the Common Wasp Orchid.
On moving to the swampy area we were distracted from the historically interesting water race by the Spiranthes australis growing amongst the Epacris microphylla.
I came across a white form of this species which generated some interest.  (Quite a bit of the interest was in how the heck I spotted it amongst a meadow full of the the Epacrid !  The answer is "pure luck".)
[It is interesting to hear from my orchid-loving friend Jean that in Ireland all Spiranthes are white, since this property was originally settled by Irish immigrants.  She was firm that there is no causation here: just coincidence.]

Having mentioned the Epacris microphylla this images offers a pleasant segue from monocots to dicots:
and this image indicates the density of the heaths.
Other plants that I photographed included:

Utricularia dichotoma
Arrhenechthites mixtus: how on earth someone came up with a genus name that unspellable and kept a straight face is beyond belief - no wonder a reference list gives Senecio mixtus as a synonym!
Banksia spinulosa getting ready to flower.
 Two of the Boronias.  The first is B. algida, the second is not!

 Lomatia ilicifolia
 Phyllota phylicoides was the only flowering bean which I noticed today.
 
I did rather like this Echinopogon sp.   The name translates as 'Spiny beard' which seems quite appropriate.
We will now shift away from the vegetative towards the animals.  A brief pause in Fungi to look at this bracket fungus is appropriate
The slime moulds are even more like animals since they are motile.  This is Fuligo septica - the dogs vomit slime mould.
Let us now go for a foray into the world of arthropods.  I will begin with a a couple of moths.  The first was described as a 'hairy-headed moth' which seems fair enough (although Denis's comment below about Epicoma protrahens is rather more helpful)...
 while this representative of the sub-set of moths known as butterflies is an Australian Painted Lady (Vanessa kershawi).  Thanks, Roger for that ID and for pointing out the next two specimens to me.
These clusters of native bees were interesting (presumably this is their approach to swarming following a queen war in their hive).
A scale insect in the family Margarodidae - possibly Monophlebulus sp - was found on a track but moved back to a eucalypt.
Getting at last to the hissy bits.  The first snake I found was rather long: well over 1.5m and I initially called it a Copperhead.  However on looking more closely at this image I have decided that it was a dark Eastern Brown Snake.
It was a little alarming later to find everyone looking at an Acacia and standing around the hole into which the snake had - unbeknownst to them - just gone!

The second snake was clearly a Red-bellied Black Snake and was highly photographed.

2 comments:

Denis Wilson said...

Nice report, Martin.
I liked your scale insect, thingo.
I have seen several previously, and had no idea about what it was.
Nice Snakes. If the one with its head down a hole was indeed a Brown Snake, be grateful it had its mind made up on hiding. They are said to have "attitude".
I sent Ros some detailed notes on Persoonias last night.
One might be an endemic, highly localised sp. P. microphylla.
I hope to hear back from her.
.
Re the moth, check P173 of Zborovski and Edwards.
Cheers
Denis

Flabmeister said...

Thanks Denis.

I think you were spot on with the moth. I have been exploring the screens full of Tussock Moths on Donald Hobern's site but I think I had overshot by one family. The entry has been improved to that effect.

It was a brown snake that was in Frances' potting shed the other day. It was not happy, especially when I squirted it with a hose!