Author Archives: Elspeth

Out and About

 

 

Have you ever visited the Loddon Falls Reserve near Glenlyon, the scenery is magnificent and the Manna Gums are huge?

 

 

Another place to visit is the Spargo Creek Mineral Springs off the Daylesford Road. On a visit at Christmas time we noticed twining fringe-lily and podolepis, which we hadn’t noticed there before. Take some bottles as the mineral water is very pleasant.

 

There has been plenty to see out and about lately. On our Facebook page we reported on the sighting of Dianella amoena, Matted Flax-lily at Victoria Park Ballarat, a plants listed as endangered. We have added a link for blog subscribers, on the right hand side of the page about halfway down, if you want to see the latest on our Facebook page.

Dianella amoena

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More Enfield Flowers

These photos have been supplied by Emily and relate back to our club excursion to Enfield Forest in November.

We look forward to seeing members and visitors tonight for our last club meeting for this year. Members will be sharing a few of their highlights from this year, 7.30 pm at the Fed Uni Campus on the corner of Gillies St and Gregory St Wendouree.

Beacon Hill

Mt Misery Garden

Surface Point

Among the Enfield Flowers

Over 30 people gathered at Little Hard Hills Hotel, Enfield on Sunday 4 November 2018. Our numbers were swelled by members of the Geelong Field Naturalists Club and visitors who had attended the Stella Bedggood Memorial Lecture on Friday night.

We entered Enfield State Park at Misery Creek Road and traveled to Surface Point picnic area. The walking track passed through an area where the topsoil had been removed during the gold mining period leaving the clay subsoil.

Surface Hill Diggings

Surface Hill Diggings

Broad-leaved Peppermint Eucalyptus dives, Brown Stringybark E. baxteri and Candlebark E. rubida provided the overstorey. Small plants growing here included Slender Speedwell Veronica gracilis, Trailing Goodenia Goodenia lanata, St John’s Wort Hypericum gramineum, Common Rice-flower Pimelea humilis, Grey Parrot-pea Dillwynia cinerascens and Small Rustyhood Pterostylis pusilla. Three short, thick, asparagus-like stems of a Hyacinth Orchid had forced their way through the hard soil making an early start to their summer growing period. Wattles found in the area were Snake Wattle Acacia aculeatissima with developing seed pods, Prickly Moses A. verticillata subsp. ovoidea, Hedge Wattle A. paradoxa and Blackwood A. melanoxylon.

memorial to Chinese miners

memorial to Chinese miners

Beside the dry creek, taller trees of Manna Gum Eucalyptus viminalis, Messmate E. obliqua and Scentbark E. aromaphloia grew, many with hollows. A pair of Striated Pardalotes Pardalotus striatus was observed flying in and out of one small hollow in a Manna Gum, and an Eastern Yellow Robin closely observed the group. Interesting plants in flower were Yam Daisy Microseris walteri, Rough Bedstraw, Galium gaudichaudii, Common Bird-orchid Chiloglottis valida and Austral Indigo Indigofera australis. A new species for the already extensive plant list for Enfield State Park was found budding along the track north of the creek: Austral Bugle Ajuga australis.

By lunch-time, the cloud cover had broken up and we sought shade to enjoy our lunch. Blue Bottle-daisy Lagenophora stipitata was flowering amongst the grass.

After lunch we travelled up Misery Creek Road to Mt Misery Garden. This was declared a reserve area in 1964 in the then state forest following FNCB lobbying led by Stella Bedggood. Many different species were growing along the ridge, including Stella’s namesake, the flowering Enfield Grevillea Grevillea bedggoodiana. Also flowering were Twining Fringe-lily Thysanotus patersonii, Ivy-leaf Violet Viola hederacea, Wattle Mat-rush Lomandra filiformis, Common Trigger-plant Stylidium armeria, Button Everlasting Coronidium scorpioides, Common Apple-berry Billardiera mutabilis, Purple Beard-orchid Calochilus robertsonii and Musky Caladenia Caladenia moschata flowering close to the road. Sully’s keen eyes picked-out Tiger Orchids Diuris sulphurea amongst the peas and Poa tussocks. Two species of Leek Orchid Prasophyllum sp were found but identifying the genus was difficult. Both seem likely to be part of the P. odoratum group given their strong scents. Colourful patches of yellow and orange/ red–flowered Matted Bush-pea Pultenaea pedunculata spread in clumps.

Grevillea bedggoodiana Enfiied Grevillea

Grevillea bedggoodiana Enfiied Grevillea

The final stop for the day was at Beacon (Bald) Hill. We drove to the top of the hill, accessible since the navigation beacon was removed. The area is still slashed regularly, maintaining the hill as an open patch suitable for many small species. Many species of lily, pea, heath, orchid and daisy colourfully covered the hillsides and 100’s of iridescent copper-coloured, blue or green beetles covered the Eucalypt saplings. Field Nats were quickly spread down the slope and were soon on hands and knees examining the finer details of flowers. Species drawing the most attention were the prolific sun-orchids and beard orchids. Rush-leaf Sun-orchid Thelymitra juncifolia and Great Sun-orchid Thelymitra aristata were readily identified but others were more difficult and suspected to be hybrids. The most striking one was a crimson-pink, spotted sun-orchid with thick yellow column tufts spotted by Claire. The same sharp pair of eyes spotted Pale Grass-lily Caesia parvifolia. A low-growing plant that was spread across the site was Dwarf Boronia Boronia nana var. nana with compound leaves of three to five leaflets. Earlier in the day Boronia nana var. hyssopifolia with simple narrow leaves had been seen. Quite a few purple-flowered Heath Milkworts Comesperma ericinum were found, and growing amongst them was the rare find (for Enfield State Park) of a Red Beard-orchid Calochilus paludosus, a first for many of the field-trippers. The last treat was the discovery of a bright pink Tiny Fingers orchid, Caladenia pusilla growing amidst a Common Raspwort Gonocarpus tetragynus as we walked back to the top of the hill.

At the end of the excursion Rod Lowther, Geelong FNC president thanked Emily for leading an interesting excursion and showing the group a diverse range of spring flowering plants. This was the third inter-club visit between Geelong and Ballarat, with the Geelong club already considering options for one next year, a great initiative that increases the range of habitats we can visit and provides the added benefit of local knowledge.

Report by John Gregurke and Emily Noble

Plant list FNCB Enfield field trip Nov 2018

 

A day out at Illabarook

Twelve field naturalists gathered in very light precipitation on the Moonlight-Illabarook Road-side next to the Illabarook Rail Reserve on Sunday October 7. The reserve is a 28 hectare crown land reserve, one of more than 50 managed by Ballarat Environment Network since 2005. It was previously the home of the Illabarook Railway Station and goods shed, remnants of which can still be found across the site.

Running Postman

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Naturalists at Narmbool

Seventeen Field Naturalists were treated to the expansive beauty of Narmbool, a 2000 hectare farmstead operated by Sovereign Hill and located South of Ballarat. Generations of graziers had taken advantage of the fertile pastures, which when enhanced with fertiliser, produced quality wool for sale in foreign markets. With the price of wool not being what it was and the change in management in 2000, the outlook for the sheep became decidedly more culinary than crafty. Being surrounded by prospective chops, loins, racks and shanks it is perhaps fitting that Narmbool is a local Indigenous word meaning ‘fatty liver’. This local foie gras once belonged to possums that gorged on the vegetation of the volcanic soils.

narmbool-1-pond-and-homestead

View of Narmbool Homestead

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Roger’s Nature Year

Everyone looks at nature in a slightly different way and each person has their own particular interests they like to pursue. Roger Thomas, a club member, manager of the Ballarat Environment Network Reserves and writer of the Ballarat Courier Nature Notes, has certain plants and animals that he likes to see during the year.

He presented a fascinating talk to club members in August, that highlighted his ‘favorites’ and the depth of his knowledge. Roger doesn’t usually travel widely and most of these plants and birds may be seen within a 40 km radius of Ballarat. There are common and uncommon species and for some birds it is enough to just hear them to be ticked off the list. Roger’s talk was more than a list, it was interspersed with interesting observations gained over many years. Continue reading

Union Jack Reserve Buninyong

On our club’s recent visit to this reserve the weather was rather cold and bleak so I took the opportunity recently to have another quick look.

The Union Jack Education Area is accessed at the end of Elizabeth Street, East of Warrenheip St, Buninyong, and from Wirreanda Drive off Yankee Flat Rd. The reserve is managed by Parks Victoria and the vegetation is heathy dry forest. In winter there the flowers of common heath provide glimpses of colour. There is lots of moss and lichen, occasional fungi and the leaves of orchids beginning to emerge. Many small birds may be seen flying in and out of the bracken. Continue reading

August Excursion

Our half day field excursion for August was to the City of Ballarat Plant Nursery and then onto the adjacent North Gardens Wetlands. Our leader was Roger Thomas who manages the nursery and we were given an interesting insight in the how the nursery operates.

The nursery does not sell to the public but supplies plants to various projects that happen within the footprint of the municipality.  A grant comes from the City of Ballarat to operate the nursery and under guidance from Roger a lot of the work is carried out by a handful of volunteers who meet on Wednesdays.

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Nature Notes

Keeping a nature diary or record of when one sees the first Nodding Greenhood Orchid  or hears the magpies singing in the middle of the night has a long record and many field naturalists will have their own records or books by other naturalists.

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Flora and fauna records matter

Bushy Clubmoss

It is sometimes handy for Field Naturalists and others who are interested in the natural environment to have a list of plants and animals for a place they are visiting.  Such lists are also useful for ecologists and students who are working on projects in particular areas as it gives them a heads up on what to expect or look for when they are surveying an area. Continue reading