Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Orchids and Overlooks of the Southern Highlands

This is the post covering the orchids and overlooks, which were the reason for Denis Wilson inviting us to his neck of the woods.  A most excellent day was had by all, as will be evident from what follows.

I knew this post would become rather image heavy, so have posted the images of Tallong and Marulan in an earlier entry.

As we left home on our journey the weather looked slightly other than friendly with low cloud and/or mist.  This was strangest when passing the Capital Windfarm where clouds were sitting on to p the ridge, meaning that the columns of the turbines were visible but most of the blades were hidden.  Occasionally a section of blade would swing into view so there was enough draft in the cloud to spin them.

As we got closer to the Woodlawn farm the sheep were being mustered.  Two guys were on traffic duty, but didn't need to stop us.  However, several hundred sheep were in a dense flock looking at an open gate on to the road and by the time we were 200m down the road were pouring across.  I suspect we just missed being delayed by a fair bit!

We arrived at Tallong and after a pause for refreshment headed off to the first orchid site.  This area (I shall stick to locational generalities as the local folk are very protective of 'their' orchids) is on a 'sort of sandstone' base.  As shown in this image it has almost a conglomerate texture in places.
 The first orchid found was Corunastylis plumosa the Tallong Midge orchid
 The next two images show the very long labellum of Corunastylis fimbriata.  (I am intrigued that the species name ends with 'a' rather than 'us' but a mixture of taxonomists and former Romans is bound to lead to pain.)

I believe, on the basis of the relatively short length of the labellum, that this is an open Corunastylis apostasioides, rather than C. fimbriata.
These flowers, doing an imitation of a curious elephant, are definitely C. apostasioides.
Frances found some Corunastylis ostina, which is the first record of that species in this area.
Parson's bands (Eriochilus cucullatus) were very common throughout Tallong.
 This 'albino' specimen of E. cucullatus was less common.
My claim to fame was finding the first specimen of Speculantha glyphida.  Unfortunately it was only a 'first' for the day for our group, not a range extension, so the fame is both minute and highly fleeting.

 This is S. parviflora, showing the distinctive bulge in the sinus.
I include this image of Diplodium reflexum from Badgery's Lookout merely to complete the set.  It is neither interesting nor novel for readers to discover that I take out of focus images!
 At Long Point Lookout we found a few D. obtusa.
There were many leaves and rosettes of other species at this location but I have devoted enough bandwidth to this tip with the reproductive parts let alone matters purely vegetative.

A few images of scenery follow, as the view into the Shoalhaven Gorge is spectacular.  This is from Badgery's Lookout.  In future, if the Shooters Party have their way, anyone standing in this position will be at some risk of stopping a bullet from a hunter down in the valley, or on one of the ridges opposite, who misjudges their aim or gets an unfortunate richochet.
The only bangs yesterday were from the very distant Quarry but we only saw the after-effects in the shape of dust rising.
This view shows the Big Bend in the Shoalhaven.  Looking a the larger image shows the sparsely vegetated rocky slopes in contrast with the dense growth along the river.
 I will move towards a conclusion with a few other bits and pieces.  This is a sedge showing a very complex flower form.
 Isotoma sp.
 Dillwynnia phyllicoides (?) - I was tempted by aff. microphylla but apparently 'aff" can only be used, even for orchids, when followed by a 'real' species name, not a total invention: the only bean we saw today.
This has been  identified by Roger Farrow as a Toad Bug (Nerthra sp).  They are rather uncommon but we found a couple of them skittering around on the soil.
 This Praying Mantis was hanging around upside down in some Kunzea.
While we ate lunch at Badgery's lookout we were serenaded(?) continually by a male lyrebird doing its species call and a lot of mimicry together with rattling of his tail feathers.  While at the lower lookout here I heard loud scratching noises and found the tail to be visible below a rock
Both the bird's tail and my tale end here!


Ian Fraser said...

Wow, what an excellent day! I am impressed and envious. Also inspired to get out and about a bit more myself this autumn.

Denis Wilson said...

Nice report Martin.
Your Lyrebird tail came out well.
Glad you captured the alba form of Eriochilus - it was too late in the day for me. One more bend/squat/kneel was beyond me.

Flabmeister said...

Thanks Ian and Denis. Its easy to do a good report when the day is so magnificent!