Mount Beckworth excursion November 6th 2011

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Sticky Everlasting. Bracteantha viscosa.

 On a warm overcast day with no breeze, eight members headed off to Mount Beckworth. Fran explained the geology of the mount that was formed 400 million years ago from magma that was pushed up into the overlying  Ordivician rock  and cooled to form granite.   The Ordivician rock has been eroded away leaving the granite mount seen today.  The mount has an altitude of 634 metres.  Messmate, Manna Gum and Long-leaved Box trees grow on the lower slopes with Silver Banksia, Drooping Sheoak and Yellow Box on the higher slopes.

Near the small dam at the entrance from Mountain creek road White-browed Wood-swallows were seen overhead. Yellow-tufted, Fuscous and Black-chinned Honeyeaters were also seen here. There were some flowers remaining on the Hedge Wattle Acacia paradoxa which is the most common understorey plant in this area. Near the main dam Late Black Wattle Acacia mearnsii was in flower. White-faced and White-necked Herons were feeding in the dam.  Their reflection could be seen in the still water. Exotic Fog, Shell and Sweet Vernal grasses were growing well this year as well as Kangaroo, Spear and Wallaby grass species. Two mushrooms with greyish caps were seen. These had white gills and white stems that were encased in a sac or volva at the bottom. These were an Amanita species, possibly Amanita umbrinella.

In the area east of the picnic tables we saw the Stinking Pennywort Hydrocotyle laxiflora, Scaly Buttons Leptorhynchos squamatus, Twining Fringe-lily Thysanotus patersonii, St Johns Wort Hypericum perforatum, Wiry Buttons, and the Tall Sundew Drosera peltata. The pale blue Slender Sun Orchid Thelmitra pauciflora was the most common sun orchid seen. The Dotted Sun Orchid Thelmitra ixioides was also seen. Masses of Chocolate lilies Thysanotus patersonii were seen, especially in the damper spots. MilkmaidsBurchardia umbellata were still flowering as was Daphne Heath Brachyloma daphnoides, Wattle Mat-rush Lomandra multiflora and the Purple Beard Orchid Calochilus robertsonii. Various shades of the Blue Pincushion Brunonia australis were seen. Honey bees were using a hole of a Yellow box tree for a hive.

A group of Varied Sitellas was seen feeding on the trunk of a box tree. These birds generally move downward when feeding, unlike the tree-creepers that move upward. Various Melaleucas, Tea Trees and Banksia have been planted near the dam. Blue Wrens were feeding here and Long-billed Corellas were flying overhead. A Sacred Kingfisher perched on a horizontal branch of a gum about 100 metres away from the dam for a few minutes before flying off.

After lunch a now smaller group drove around to the Cork Oaks on the west side of the mount. We passed through large areas of the bright yellow flowered Sticky Everlastings Bracteanta viscosa. In the valley below the cork oaks, chest high bracken was growing. Mistletoe with drooping leaves was growing in a Late Black Wattle and in a Blackwood. In the flatter area we visited later, we saw the Rock Fern Cheilanthes austrotenuifolia, Magenta Storksbill Pelargonium rodneyanum, Kangaroo Apple Solanum lacinatum and the Showy Parrot-pea Dillwynia sericea.

Back at the entrance dam we added Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike, Eastern Rosellas and a calling Fan-tailed Cuckoo to our bird list. Two Wedge-tailed Eagles were seen flying in the distance. On our way out along Mountain creek road, the dainty Fairies Aprons Utricularia dichotoma, Small Loosestrife Lythrum hyssopifolia, and the Yellow Star Hypoxis vaginatus were noticed.

On Eastern Peake road near Mount Bolton we stopped when we saw an Echidna on the side of the road. We were able to view it for a while before it move off into the grass. A male Scarlet robin was seen. Magpies were harassing a Brown Falcon that was sitting in a gum tree in a paddock. On a full Lake Learmonth, Wood and White-eyed ducks, Coots and Swans were seen from the road. At the Burrumbeet race course John was keen to check up on the Brolgas nesting in the water in the centre of the track. One bird was sitting on a nest in the water about 30 metres from the edge. Brolga eggs have an incubation period of 28-30 days. A bird has been on the nest for over three weeks, so the eggs should soon be hatched. The young leave the nest a day or two after hatching, have body feathers 4-5 weeks later, and are fully feathered in three months and can fly at three and a half months. After we had left the nest John spotted another brolga flying toward the nest area. We returned towards the nest and the brolga that had returned was now about 20 metres from the bird on the nest, and was preening its feathers while standing in the water. Both sexes are said to share incubation of the eggs.

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