Wednesday, 31 October 2012

ANPS translates Cubitum vulpei ...

... into Fox's Elbow (unlike the road sign makers who use - inter alia - Foxes Elbow or Foxe's Elbow).  Enough with the Latin: there are too many photographs of lovely things.

After this image of the basic habitat
I'll begin with the orchids as I am sure the orchid experts will want to get stuck right in to the Diuris mystery starting at the second image down.
Diuris sulphurea.
This is the mystery and I have shown three images of it in the hope this will enable someone to say what it is.  Hopefully without use of the cheaty word 'aff'.  The overall colour was like D sulphurea but it was much smaller than all the other examples of that species and it didn't have the brown spots.

This one was right at the end and referring to David Jones' big book I have concluded it is D. pedunculata, the Small Snake Orchid.  The location today was not far from Braidwood specifically mentioned as part of the range.
 Thelymitra pauciflora

  Calochilus platychilus
 Note the red spots at the back.
 Microtis unifolia (note the 2 calli and the crinkle-cut labellum)
Now into the other plants.
Drosera peltata
 Kunzea parvifolia

  Gompholobium huegelii

 Coronidium scorpioides
 Thysanotus tuberosus
 Lomandra longifolia
 Rhytidosporum procumbens
 Pultenaea subspicata, showing the range of colouration.
 A few interesting insects were out and about:

Roger Farrow has advised that this is Platybrachys sp in Family Eubrachyidae in Superfamily Fulgoroidea.
 A Lycid beetle
Where there are insects (other than lycids - which are so unpalatable to birds that other insects mimic lycids as a defence mechanism - thanks to Roger Farrow for pointing that out) there are birds to eat them!

Actually I am not sure that these dependent young Australasian Grebes would eat insects.  They did make a nice start to the day however.
 There were several clans of Whiite-winged Choughs around,  Roger found this nest.
 Leaden Flycatcher calls were evident most of the day.
 So were the calls of Sacred Kingfishers.  It took quite a stalk to get this one to pose for me.
 Here it is in action!
This egg layer was a little shy!

A great day!

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Rhodos Rool!

I hope readers will excuse yet another foray into exotic plants.  I thought the display of Rhodedendrons in Commonwealth Park today worthy of blogging.

I'll note that I had gone there looking for fruit bats, which while not really native to the area seem to have spread here under their own steam.  They were not around, probably being driven away by the long cold Winter.

With no more ado here are my photos of the pretty flowers.  The display starts just behind the statue.  I have no idea why the choughs were running away from the plants.

What a pity they are not in flower during Floriade!  But as a 'local' all I can say, emulating the Sergeant in It Aint half hot Mum  is "Oh dear, what a pity.  Never mind!"

Monday, 29 October 2012

Much natural action

The action in the natural history department kicked off this morning with the small dog displaying much interest in the Southern side of a Joycea pallida tussock.  This was undoubtedly due to the Shingleback lurking on the Northern side of the tussock.  Fortunately the two animals were kept apart.

I then toddled off for a run on Whiskers Creek Rd.  (My adviser reckons I need some spreed work over the next month.)  As I got down to the Creek I was aware that the thornbills were rather excited.   This reflected the visible presence of a large Red-bellied Black Snake on the edge of our drive.  Proving that I need the speed work, by the time I had rumbled back to the house and returned with my camera Joe Blake had shot through.

My next foray was to the Plain to check out the situation on the swamp.  This was essentially excellent as shown in the last few updating entries in my prior post.

As I returned over the creek I noticed that there were no signs of the snake, which is possibly why this Water Dragon was so relaxed.

Somewhat later I thought it was nicely warm and the wind wasn't strong so I would check the sun orchid situation.  None of the close ones were open - perhaps they did their dash last week? - but I did find this much larger example further up the block.  The initial image wasn't great so has been replaced by this, showing the whole spike.
Here is a closer shot of an individual flower.  I will try to ID it shortly, but note that it was a LOT larger larger than the other specimens seen here.  Perhaps Thelymitra nuda?
This example was considerably closer to the mauve end of the spectrum but I suspect is still T. peniculata.
Our hot-spot for Diuris semilunulata is putting on a magnificent display.
Finally here is today's Tawny Frogmouth snap.

Friday, 26 October 2012

Some Carwoola orchids and a question answered

The Diuris semilunulata towards the top of the block are now blooming well.
I marked a spot where some Microtis sp leaves were seen.  Today, 25 October some well developed buds were seen on them.  Despite the howling gale that was going on, I managed to get an image of them.  Now all we have to do is to wait for the flowers to develop and then try to identify the species.

Eventually (30 October) a couple of florets opened looking like this.
An orchid expert has confirmed this to be Microtis parviflora.

Quite a few sun-orchids have opened today.  I believe that they are Thelymitra peniculata since they look a bit fatter in the petals than those I called T. pauciflora yesterday!

We now get towards a question.  On 24/10 in the woodland at Dalton the sun-orchids were all wide open when we left just before 1500 hours.  On 25/10, as is usual in this area, they were all shutting up shop by 1345 and were more or less completely closed by 1400.  While most of the local examples are in grassland or Kunzea ericoides scrub I am surprised by this difference.  Why is it so?

I addressed this question to a group of Canberra orchid-interested folk.

Yesterday at a TSR outside Dalton NSW all the sun orchids were still flaunting their attractions at 3pm.  At our place today - as has been the case in past years- they had all shut up shop by 2pm.  Is this due to:
  • the foul weather today (but we have seen the same effect here in past years)?
  • a difference in habitat (grassy woodland at Dalton, Kunzea scrub/grassland here)?
  • Different species of Thelymitra?
  • All of the above?
  • Something else?

One response was " Indubitably yes", which I take to be supporting all of the suggestions, including 'something else'. The most detailed response was from my friend Tony:

Hi Martin
That's like asking what's the meaning of Life, the Universe and Everything.
Temperature, light, humidity and wind are all factors which affect whether the Thelys open their flowers or not. Some like T. pauciflora and related species are reluctant flowerers at the best of times. In my experience, everything else being equal, the flowers don't start opening before 10am and are starting to close again by about 3pm.
Last Friday, when I went out to Mcleods Reserve it was 26C with a gentle breeze and the Thelys were putting on a magnificent display. It was similar conditions on Saturday when we went out with Denis Wison and found T. carnea, T. pauciflora and T. juncifolia in flower. On Monday, same time same location but a few degrees cooler, and none of them were open. Yesterday it was 26C but there was a strong gusty wind which probably explains why your Thelys shut up early.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

ANPS goes to Dalton and sees many orchids

The orchids seen on today's trip were stunning.  It is the first time I can ever remember passing on photographing Thelymitra (Sun orchids) because there were so many of them.  I hope any orchid experts reading this offer any corrections they see as necessary.

To begin in the cemetery.  Amidst the death (OK you expect that in a cemetery) and destruction there were 3 species of orchids. Here are:

Oligochaetochilus aciculiformis
Stegostyla cuccullata
I didn't see the donkey orchid here, but Roger Farrow did and has provided (thanks Roger) this image of Diuris semilunulata.

Once out on the roads the first orchids was soon found.  The flowers are small and the base of the leaf and stem were reddish so I call it Thelymitra pauciflora.
Bees also find them interesting!
I am not sure the 'pinkness' of this flower comes out in the images.  On the roadside this was very obvious.  The colour of the column led me to believe it was Thelymitra arenaria.

In TSR 30 there were many examples of T. pauciflora.  In some places 5 or 6 plants were growing within a square metre.

There were also many white "not-Caladenias", some growing quite tall.  I decided these were  Stegostyla moschata: the musky scent was quite obvious to a number of observers.

I initially decided these much larger (2x the size of T. pauciflora) sun orchids were Thelymitra megacalyptra.  However the petals and sepals overlap somewhat so I have revised that guess to Thelymitra nuda.

A particular delight were the many pink Thelys.  I suggest these are Thelymitra rubra as the stem was straight rather than the zig-zagged form of T, carnea

At last a tiny greenhood.  The t-shaped basal appendage to the labellum makes it Hymenochilus cycnocephalus.
There were many many donkey orchids in flower and even more still emerging.  All those I looked at were Diuris sulphurea.
Peter also found a Microtis sp. just about to burst in flower.  Unfortunately I didn't check the image and thus didn't realise it was so far out of focus it was nearly coming back into focus.

Link to General plant post
Link to town visit post