Thursday, 13 February 2014

ANPS feels the Cool of the North (Black Range Fire Trail)

I have previously posted about an exploratory trip to this area.  This will cover the waddle proper.

Although the BoM forecast for Canberra was a little above our default maximum temperature the area intended was 600m higher and the forecast for Braidwood was much cooler than for Canberra.  Thus we decided to go ahead and a small but select group gathered on Plains Rd as arranged.

Those that had gone direct to that point had spent a little time looking at the cloud sitting on the hills behind Forbes Creek.  On arrival at the first stop on the Fire Trail we found that to still be the case.  Our in-car thermometer registered a rather brisk 17 degrees Centigrade (or, for those that like bigger and more alarming numbers, 290.15 Kelvin).

The cloud observed from the Plain, as well as keeping things cool, had inserted drops of water into a spider web.
The reason for this first stop was to allow others to see the magnificent display of fruit of Dianella tasmanica.
It was sufficiently warm that some folk put on sweaters.
In fact everyone put on more clothes except your 'umble reporter who hadn't thought to bring additional attire.

The Eucalyptus viminalis was shedding ribbons of bark as was its wont.

A bit later in the trip - but the narrative suits it appearing here - I thought this old tree was magnificent,  Surely an entry for Ent of the trip.
Back to the first stop.  A number of tree ferns (Cyathea australis) were spotted and added to the list for this part of Tallaganda.
About the only significant flowers around here were Xerochrysum bracteatum.  It seems not to have got warm enough to open the buds by about 10:30.
If my memory is correct these are Coprosma quadrifida berries.  Roger explained that these are a give-away in determining a shrub to be this species rather than Bursaria (which we didn't find today, but was still in flower around Forbes Creek).
We moved on to the second stop where we took an informed decision to have morning tea before scaling up to the trig.  By now the temperature was at the giddy heights of 19C.  The spider webs were full of condensation here also, despite being at 1200m AMSL.
More berries.  The remains of the style identify this as Persoonia : specifically P. silvatica.
I became a little confused about some Acacia seedlings with pinnate leaves.  This slightly older plant clarified that it was A melanoxylon, shown here with juvenile leaves and the phylodes of the mature tree.
Stellaria pungens was everywhere as we went up to the trig point.  Close observation shows that cloud has condensed on this also.
We did a number of risk assessments, confirming my belief from Monday that climbing the ladder (or indeed the overhanging Eucalyptus radiata) was likely to end in tears.  (It was considered that Anno Domini had already removed us from the gene pool so we wouldn't even get a Darwin Award had we attempted this daft feat.)

Close to the summit Roger drew our attention to some unusual scribblings caused by the larva of a species of Omograptis, a scribbly gum moth but a different species to the one that feeds on E. rossii.  The scribbling had obviously occurred while the bark was still on the tree, as there was a negative/positive effect.
Also at the summit we noticed (couldn't really avoid them) a very large flock - at least 100 birds - of Little Ravens.  They seemed to be feeding on something in the canopy: possibly the beetles that generated the larva shown below (they are described in HANZAB as 'specialist insectivores' although they will eat other food if pushed).

We moved on down the trail to a swampy area where lunch was taken.  Possibly at this point a couple of ticks decided to lunch also, being discovered - and removed - a little later.  The temperature was a very pleasant 24: perfect for sitting in the shade chatting and looking at Clematis aristata.
Out in the open area there were patches of Xerochrysum subundulatum.

There were also many things that looked like Bellis perennis but were in fact Brachyscome graminea
Geranium neglectum was very common in this area.
Around the edge of the open area were several shrub species including Baeckea utilis (although I am not sure what it is useful for,other than looking good)  ...
.. and Leptospermum myrtifolium.
Under honesty in advertising rules I must note that finding a few flowers of these species to photograph took a bit of searching.  In a wet year the area would be very floriferous.

Down amongst the grass were several examples of Arthropodium sp.  In the field I made a call about A minus but now, allowing brain to catch up with mouth, I am not sure so will stick with sp. unless advised otherwise.
Around the edge of the swamp was a good array of Epacris microphylla.
This is (obviously) an aster, which I think is some form of Senecio (see second image in particular).  But I have no idea which.

I decided to group the three species of orchids together.  The first seen was beside the road not long after the first stop.  It is close to "going over" but still Dipodium roseum.
At the swamp I found this Eriochilus growing on the margin.  I now believe it to be E magenteus, not E cucullatus as announced in the email.
At our final stop, in another part of the swamp, while walking back to the car Frances found a beautiful colony of Diplodium coccinum.  It was the common event of spotting one and then looking closely and finding more plants: There were at least 8 flowers in a square metre.  (Note: the rosette in the first image is nothing to do with the orchid!)

Interestingly in the lists from 2004-07 there is a reference to Pterostylis coccina.  My guess is that is this species which has been renamed.

Throughout the day there were granite boulders all over the landscape.  Beautiful to look at, but a nightmare if orienteering!


I had spotted these small brown cases on the ground and decided they were seeds from something or another.  Fortunately Roger had identified them as larval cases of a leaf beetle and I was lucky enough to get an image of the beast having a feed.  Roger has subsequently identified it as Cadmus ?aurantiacus.
Although it looks huge and fierce, it was only about 1cm long, s not really a threat.

An ant was busy carrying a lump of black stuff (sorry about the technical terms there) up a large tree.
The only reptile seen today was this skink which posed briefly (and at that nasty distance of "too close for zoom" and "too far for macro-zoom").  The white head was very clear and, if there is any justice, should make identifying it easy.  Alas: thus far I haven't been able to match it to anything in my reptile books.
Weirdness of the day was finding a hose reel (together with a brush and a large mirror) beside the track.  No idea why they were there.
After leaving the cars parked in a sunny spot for 30 minutes the thermometer showed the external temperature had climbed to 27 degrees.  However after a few minutes on the track it had dropped to 24.

A very nice trip!

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