Travelling along the Glenelg Highway we stopped just after Scarsdale to look at the patch of Snow Gum Eucalyptus pauciflora growing on both sides of the road with further regeneration on adjoining private land.
We turned off the highway before Linton onto a track bordering a pine plantation. In two places Common Heath Epacris impressa was flowering with white, light pink and deep pink flowers. This species has a long flowering season; are these the first heath flowers seen in the Ballarat district? One bluebell flower was also noticed in this area.
Arriving at Clarkesdale bird paddock we had a cuppa and observed Grey Fantail, Kookaburra and Crimson Rosella. On the dam were Grey Teal, Australasian Grebe, Coot, Moorhen and Swamphen. Along the creek we added New Holland, Yellow-faced and White-naped Honeyeater. Yellow Robin and Golden Whistler added colour. An Eastern Spinebill was feeding in flowering mistletoe. Nineteen species were seen in the hours walk before returning to the cars along the Rail Trail.
The lunchtime spot was at Edinburgh Reserve in Linton. One White-necked Heron was chasing a smaller and paler bird, which soon flew away; leaving the victor in possession of the wetland.
At the Trust for Nature block trees, along the power line easement had been pruned. A new plant was added to the list for the block – the previously overlooked Common Cassinia Cassinia aculeata was found growing near the gate. We located the 20×20 metre plot surveyed in August 2009 and compared the present vegetation with photographs taken 4 years ago. A large tree has fallen into the northwest corner of the plot. Black She-oak Allocasuarina littoralis and Hedge Wattle Acacia paradoxa plants, barely noticeable 4 years ago, are now over 1 metre high. The highlight was a flowering Parson’s Band Eriochilus cucullatus.
Les told us the fruticose (means branching like a shrub) grey-green lichen often found in extensive mats on the ground in dry forests is Coral Lichen Cladia retipora. Research on the internet revealed it grows in many places in eastern Australia, as well as in New Zealand and New Caledonia. It was first collected from Tasmania in 1792 by Jacques-Julien de Labillardie and later described by him.
We travelled back through Linton to visit Mag Dam on the eastern edge of Snake Valley. Among the 16 bird species seen there were 3 Yellow-billed Spoonbill, 1 Hardhead, Australasian Grebe and Wood Duck.
On the return journey we detoured westwards to drive through the Chepstowe area burnt in January. Gum trees are beginning to sprout from epicormic shoots and grasses including Kangaroo Grass and poas are giving the roadsides a greenish tinge. The fire travelling about 7 km in a northeast direction until it was controlled near the Carngham Cemetery. This was where we ended the excursion and returned to Ballarat.