Benefits of using iNaturalist

The recent Great Southern Bioblitz weekend motivated quite a few of our members to become involved and has seen a greater use of iNaturalist. It is one online place to explore and share our observations from the natural world.

Genduara punctigera, Crexa Moth

Our club has provided an online training session, some guiding notes and followup question and answer sessions and now many members are more confident about loading photos.

It is an interesting way to keep track of sightings and source identification for harder to name species. To reach ‘research grade’ more than one person needs to agree with an identification. One of the best aspects is that the records help scientists and resource managers understand when and where organisms occur.

Schizophyllum commune, Splitgill

Our administrator has recently added a new series of projects to help us track species observed in some of the more common places we visit, such as Creswick Regional Park, Woowookarung Regional Park and Lake Burrumbeet.

Commius elegans, Shield Bug on a cherry ballart

Records may be added via the phone app or from the computer. Some species are really hard to identify from photos and it may come down to the hairs on a stem, shape of a petal or the length of an antenna! So remember to take several photos and make sure you get ones of the main features and from a few different angles.

Wildflowers on a racecourse

A field trip to Morrisons Racecourse today was rewarded with lots of wildflowers and plenty of water in the small dam. This is a reserve under the management of the Ballarat Environment Network.

Back to Mt Beckworth

It is not so long since we wrote about a trip to Mt Beckworth but we found ourselves there again last weekend. There are more orchids flowering and and masses of sundews.

Exploring Creswick Regional Park

Creswick Regional Park has lots of interesting sites to visit and it is amazing to see how well the vegetation has reclaimed areas that were heavily turned over by mining in the past. Here are some photos taken near the boundary with State Forest on Slaty Creek Road.

There are some hidden gems in this interesting landscape but you will have to find them for yourselves.

Paddy Ranges State Park

Paddy Ranges State Park on the edge of Maryborough had a range of plant flowering early in September. Interesting birds seen included Flame Robin and Striated Pardalote.

Plant names starting at top:

Acacia paradoxa Hedge Wattle

Acacia pycnantha Golden Wattle

Acacia acinacea Gold-dust Wattle

Caladenia carnea Pink fingers

Diuris pardina Leopard Wattle

Daviesia ulicifolia subsp ruscifolia Gorse Bitter-pea

Grevillea alpina Cats Claws, Downy Grevillea

Microseris walterii Yam Daisy

Pauridia glabella Tiny Star

Rhytidosperma procumbens White Marianth

Tetratheca ciliata Pink Bells

Wurmbea dioica Early Nancy

Mud nest of White-winged Chough in tall Red Ironbark

Lal Lal Falls

Heavy rainfall in August has saturated the soil, filled dams and swamps, and increased stream flows. Rainfall of about 100mm has be recorded in Ballarat this month. A picture of Lal Lal Falls on facebook prompted a visit to the falls on 24th August 2020. The car park was full of visitors cars.

Lal Lal Creek begins north of the Western Freeway. The falls were formed when the creek tumbles over 2.5 million yrear old baslt flow from Clarkes Hill. The creek has cut a valley upstream about 1 kilometre from the Moorabool River West Branch.

Water flowing down the creek above the falls had submerged the weir so it was not possible to cross to the Australian Anchor Plant. Members of FNCB helped to collect seed and plant seedlings among the remnant plants surviving on a steep bank.

Discaria pubescens Australian Anchor Plant

Western Bluff Track Ingliston

Another Moorabool trip and this time to the Western Bluff Track in the Werribee State Park on the Ingliston Road, out of Ballan. The views from the lookout take in deep bush covered gorges and across to the Pentland Hills. The track is covered in small rocks so you need to watch your step. There were still a few orchids flowering and the golden wattle and variable groundsel provide patches of colour.

Spargo Creek Mineral Springs

In the last few weeks two of us have mostly been walking within Moorabool Shire, which has many lovely natural areas to visit. These photos are from the Council managed reserve and the highlight was seeing a new fungi that has spines rather than gills. We have posted about this site before and it worth a spring visit. The spring water is refreshing and there is a small picnic shelter if you choose to take lunch.

Muckleford Nature Conservation Reserve

The beautiful sunny weather at the beginning of August was a chance for a trip to Newstead before the weather deteriorated and COVID restrictions were tightened.

The Reserve is an area of around 560 hectares of Box-Ironbark forest within the Muckleford State Forest north of Newstead.

Box-Ironbark Forest near Red, White and Blue Mine

Four species of wattle were flowering:

Golden Watte Acacia pycnantha
Spreading Wattle Acacia genistifolia
Rough Wattle Acacia aspera
Gold-dust Wattle (in Bud) Acacia acinacea

Other plants in flower:

1 Sticky Boronia Boronia anemomifola

2 Mountain Grevillea Grevillea alpina

3 Gorse Bitter-pea Daviesia ulicifolia subsp. ruscifolia

4 Dwarf Greenhood Pterostylis nana

5 Nodding Greenhood Pterostylis nutans (The patch is 1 metre across)

A variety of of birds were seen during the day including Olive-backed Oriole (a spring–summer breeding visitor) Striated and Spotted Pardlote, Scarlet and Flame Robin.

At the Red White and Blue Mine interpretive signage has been erected. The poppet head originally from the Bendigo Deborah United Mine has been painted and a steel grid placed over the 52 metre deep shaft.

Enfield State Park

After a cold dull week, the weekend sunshine provided an excellent chance to visit Enfield State Park. Winter-flowering plants are beginning to add colour to the landscape.