Wednesday, 27 April 2016

ANPS rediscovers Mount Clifford Nature Reserve

The locality we visited is named Chakola.   I have been unable to find out a meaning of the name but every time we see it on a road sign I think of 'chakula" the Kiswahili word for food.  (In practice it was a euphemism for a bribe!)  Murray is better at this sort of stuff than me and has found that "The Manaro Mercury and Cooma and Bombala Advertiser 4 February 1921 Page 2 col b states that Chakola is the native name of the lyre bird".  Many thanks Murray!  (Interestingly, the wonderful Trove service from NLA cites the name of the paper using both "Manaro" and the more usual "Monaro".)

At one stage in the day, as we visited various rubbish tips disguised as hobby farms, it seemed unlikely we would find the Reserve.  Indeed some views were expressed that we might have to flee under adverse circumstances (think banjo players and Deliverance).  However we eventually happened on the right road goat track and entered the Reserve.

En route we came across this marker.  Using Google Earth it appears that in flood the Numeralla River must be at least 500m wide to achieve this outcome.
Today, after some very dry weather, we were basically pleased to see some flow in the 10m wide stream under the low-level crossing.

As we progressed towards the Reserve it was clear that the current climax vegetation in the farmland was African Lovegrass. What a mess.
 Here is a view back down to and across the Murrumbidgee.
 This looks across to Mount Clifford with a good crop of Eucalypts and the occasional Callitris.
As we started our walk it was definitely uphill through Eucalyptus rossii with very little understorey.
 I offered a prize for the first flower seen on the walk.  It was almost immediately won by Melichrus urceolatus.  Some members suggested that Monotoca scoparia rated a mention, but it was pointed out that buds, even in profusion, didn't count.
I had never before encountered Acacia aureocrinita but, after we had descended a few metres at the end of the ridge, it was definitely a contender in the flower stakes.
So, rather earlier than I would have expected, was A. genistifolia.   However I disqualified it as being too aggressive after it stabbed my carefree hands a few times.
 Continuing to move down a gully we got to some quite impressive E. viminalis.
 Unfortunately they were devoid of the hoped for Koalas.

About this point the light started to take on a strange orange hue and our noses picked up the unfortunately familiar scent of habitat destruction.  That is smoke haze not lack of focus.
 After we left the Reserve the thickness of the smoke became apparent.  Yes, someone had lit something up across the 'bidgee. This was interesting as I thought a wildfire had burnt out the Mt Clear area earlier in the year.
 At some point, just before we got back to Bredbo we got to the edge of the pall of smoke
Birding was quite good with 21 species recorded.  The highlight was a mixed flock including at least 3 Varied Sittellas but I had already taken then as Bird of the Day so Superb Lyrebirds calling from sundry gullies assumed that mantle for today.  I know, I have no shame taking a 'heard' record, but the birds were there so I count 'em.


Ian Fraser said...

I'd never heard of Mt Clifford NR, so I'd better check it out some time, maybe in spring (having first got some instructions from you!). In the 1930s Lou's grandparents moved from the lush northern rivers to bleak Chakola to work for the railways, living in the cottage by the station. Her uncles and aunts went to school in the little school house which is still there (her dad was still too young for school when they moved on).

Flabmeister said...

I'd be happy to guide you there! The first trick is to avoid all the haunts of banjo players on the way up. The fire trail over the pass by Mt Clifford is in fairly ordinary shape at the moment and if we get the forecast wet Winter could be interesting to drive up

There is a mysterious eucalypt in the area - we couldn't locate it on Wednesday- but an area beyond where we parked, but which we walked through looks as though it will have a very good display of heaths and beans in Spring. This is where the Koalas are purported to hang out in Euc. viminalis.


Flabmeister said...

Thanks to all readers for not going feral about the number of typos in that post. I will blame smoke inhalation and hope I have found (and fixed) the most egregious errors.