Author Archives: cygnet21

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

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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

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.

Continue reading

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

Rediscovering Ballarat’s Bushland

On our July excursion led by Emily Noble, we visited some of the bushland areas included in Discovering Ballarat’s Bushland*, published by the Club in 2002.

Mt Buninyong in the fog

A group of 11 gathered at the Blackberry Lane car park on a cold morning with low cloud covering Mt Buninyong. We walked past mature Messmate and Manna Gum, some with hollows. As we climbed higher the weedy species grew fewer. The ground cover was mainly Common Tussock-grass and Weeping Grass. Herbs among the grass included Bidgee-widgee, and Prickly Starwort. A variety of fungi were seen. Continue reading

Fantastic Fungi

At our June meeting Les Hanrahan gave a fascinating presentation about fungi. He has a wealth of knowledge built up over the last 15 years or so. After the autumn rains many fungi start to appear. They come in shapes and sizes and are seen in a variety of habitats.

The Sunday following the presentation, Les led a fungi  excursion to one our our favorite fungi spots at Blackwood. Twenty six people turned up to be led through the bush to see where fungi occur.

When identifying fungi there are a number of characteristics that need to be observed such as size, colour, shape, margin, moisture on the cap, spore print and texture to name a few. This list is to emphasize that it is not always possible to definitively identify fungi from a photo. Some fungi are poisonous so you need to be very sure of which ones are edible if you plan to cook any. There are a lot of myths around about how to test if the fungi is edible and they are not to be relied upon.

Here is the presentation which has been slightly modified allow uploading. Les retains the photo copyright. There is a list of useful resources at the end of the slides.

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A passion for plants

Goodenia lanata, Trailing Goodenia

Most Ballarat Field Naturalist members will have been sent this link but some of you in our wider community may be interested in this fascinating story about one of our past members.

Patricia Murphy was a valued member of our group and contributed in  numerous of ways to our club as you will find out. Susan Kruss has written a beautiful and well researched article about Pat, which has been published in Muelleria. Here is a link to A passion for plants: The botanical contribution of collector P.J. Murphy.

 

 

A silent killer

 

Sunshine highlighting a grass tree

Grass trees are one of the most recognised victims of the silent killer Phytophthora cinnamomi, but other plants are also impacted. A recent talk highlighted the problem of how to prevent the spread to other areas of bushland.

Here are some brief notes about Phytophthora cinnamomi (P c.) from a presentation by David Smith, from the Dept. of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources to the Friends of Canadian Corridor at the Earth Ed Centre, Mt Helen.

Often referred as being a fungus it is now classified in the Order Oomycota and therefore closely related to slime moulds. There are currently at least 124 species of Phytophthora in the world, with the number rising each year. Some species only occur on the foliage of plants while others such as P c. only occur in the soil. Continue reading

Art Gallery Highlights

Quite a few of our members are also interested in what is on at the Art Gallery of Ballarat and one of our members alerted us to the current exhibition, Beckler’s Botanical Bounty: The flora of Menindie. It is on until 27 May.

This is taken from the gallery website

This exhibition by twenty Melbourne-based botanical artists was inspired by the 150th anniversary of the Victorian Exploring Expedition (VEE), better known as the Burke and Wills Expedition, and the work of pioneer botanical collector Dr Hermann Beckler.

Beckler was in charge of the VEE Supply Party, which remained in the outback area of Menindee on the Darling River in south-west New South Wales for some three months. During this time, Beckler collected 120 plant species in the Menindee region. His original plant collection is now a national treasure, housed at the National Herbarium Victoria.

Over eight consecutive years, twenty-six artists have visited Beckler’s collecting grounds around Menindie to locate, collect, preserve and illustrate the same 120 plants species that Beckler collected in 1860–61.

Also from 3 March there are another 2 exhibitions worth investigationg –       In occupation – Pastoral settlement in the Wimmera and Animalia Australis

Marine excursion plans for March

Get out your reference books and beach gear, we are going to the beach. On Saturday 24 March, Ballarat Field Naturalists are going to near Torquay, to meet up with the marine research group of the Victorian Field Naturalists” Club, to look at what lives in and on rock platforms. It will be an early start as we are leaving from our usual rendezvous point at 7:15am.

a selection of useful marine reference books

Members  interested in participating should contact Andy so that he knows who is coming and to let you know if the plan changes. You will need to have good footwear like gym boots or canvas shoes so that you can walk on the slippery surface, taking a camera and a notebook is also a good idea plus a plastic container to carry finds to the experts for identification..

Each year we usually try to have an excursion down to the coast and this is one of the many different activities that we undertake as a club. If you were thinking about joining our group this would be an ideal time to do it, as it is the beginning of the financial year. Membership includes insurance for club activities meetings, excursions and a newsletter. We publish a list of our activities for the coming year on our website and it will be updated soon. For further info about membership or the excursion, email our secretary Emily at ballaratfnc@gmail.com