Bendigo hosted the South East Australian Naturalsits Association spring camp from 17-20 August. Evening meals and guest speakers were held in the Mandurang Hall on the south eastern edge of Bendigo.
On Friday night Rob Moors gave an historical outline of the area touching on geological periods, aboriginal occupation, grazing, mining, railway and water supply. This lead to an explanation of the natural vegetation types which we would visit over the weekend. The evening concluded with Peter Ellis explaining the development of dance music which he played on button accordian, concentina, tin whistle and harmonica.
Speakers on Saturday night titled their presentation Moth Magic. Marilyn Hewish spoke about her interest in moths leading to working on the series of books Moths of Victoria. She showed many interesting and bizarre species photographed on moth-hunting travels. Steve Williams has discovered details of moth life cycles by growing many of the local species of moths from eggs or larvae, finding the food-plants and habitats on which they rely, vital information for moth conservation. With the assistance of Ken Harris lights were set up next to vertical sheets to attract moths.
On Sunday night Jenny Shield spoke of her study of spiders on an irrigation farm near Cohuna. Using pitfall traps she surveyed the spiders species found in irrigated pasture, shelter belts and remnant vegetation. Shelter belts and remnant vegetation had the greatest diversity of spiders, generally species which hunt their prey, while species living in pasture build flat webs below the vegetation.
Excursions covered a range of interests including vegetation, birds, geology, fossils, wetlands, forest management, mammals and history. On Saturday I went on an excursion to the Kamarooka and Whipstick sections of Greater Bendigo National park to the north of Bendigo. We were shown a variant of Grevillea rosemarifolia. Flower colours on the few remnant plants ranged through shades of green, yellow and red. Botanists are studying the plants which may be classified as a separate species.
In a patch of Mallee the diagnostic features of the 4 species of Mallee (Kamarooka, Bull, Blue and Green) were explained. Dwarf Greenhood Pterostylis nana and Large Striped Greenhood Pterostylis robusta were found. Two plants of the rare Common Sour Bush Choretrum glomeratum were shown to us. These broom-like shrubs appearing leafless are well hidden amongst the mallee. Patches of the forest were yellow with Whirrakee Wattle contrasted against the dark bark of Red Ironbark.
On roadsides we looked at plants near the southern edge of their range including Desert Cassia Senna artemoides ssp nemophila, Long-leaf Emu-bush Erimophila longifolia and several Myporum species. A good patch of flowering shrubs in the Whipstick included the showy Rosy Beackea Euryomyrtus ramossima.
The Welsford Forest excursion on Sunday first traveled to Eppalock Reservoir. In a bushland area two grey Box trees had scars Photo on their trunks where bark had been removed. Blue Caladenia were flowering and Blue-faced Honeyeater and Musk Lorikeets were flying overhead. At the Dam wall we heard that in January 2011 water level was 2 metres over the main spillway and 1 metre over the emergency spillway causing severe erosion down stream.
At Axedale, adjacent to the cemetery, the woodland on sand was dominated by Yellow Gum and Mealy Bundy with Rough, Spreading and Golden Wattle flowering.
In the Welsford Forest we were shown one old Red Ironbark which had escaped felling, all the other trees were copice regrowth or a younger tree grown from seed. Blue Caladenia Caladenia caerulea and Leopard Orchid Diuris paladina flowering. Wattles included the rare Ausfeld’s Wattle Acacia ausfeldii with white dots on the phyllodes; and Acacia difformis which produces few seeds but suckers freely. Later in the day we saw a Whirrakee Wattle and a Golden Wattle growing about a metre apart and between them was a hybrid of the two. It was a more robust plant with linear phyllodes longer and wider than Whirrakee.
An area burnt in autumn showed the common damage done to coppice regrowth when fire burns the stump and the coppiced stems collapse.
The camp conluded on Monday morning at No 7 Reservoir on the southern edge of Bendigo. The Coliban Water ranger spoke of the history of the reservoir built in 1861 but now decomissioned and managed as a recreation and conservation area. Stuffed museum specimens of birds and mammals collected and prepared by the Bendigo Field Naturalists Club were displayed.
Thanks to the members of the Bendigo Field Naturalists Club for conduction a well orgainised and interesting SEANA camp.