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.
Author Archives: Elspeth
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
At each club meeting, members give reports of interesting sightings that they’ve had over the previous month. At our recent meeting, Carol spoke about the sighting for the magpie geese at Lake Wendouree. See previous post for a photo.
Apparently this is the first sighting since the 1890’s and while reports indicate that there were 12 goslings, the number decreased over subsequent days. There was discussion as to whether this might be due to the rakali (native water rat) having a snack or a swamp harrier.
Another field report of note was the finding of a feathertail glider at Scarsdale by Bill. These tiny animals are the smallest of our possums that glide. While still relatively common they not often seen and this one was dead, so provided an opportunity for detailed examination. They are active at night and eat insects, nectar, honeydew and pollen and rely on tree hollows for nest sites.
At our annual general meeting on Friday night our club president John Gregurke, awarded a life membership to Bill Murphy. The club in its 65th year has only awarded 10 life memberships and the last one was many years ago to Mary White.
Bill has been a member for 50 years and this in itself a marvelous achievement. He and his wife Pat, joined the club not long after attending their first meeting in 1968. They were invited to attend a meeting by Stella Bedggood, who thought they might be interested in coming along to hear the guest speaker, who turned out to be none other than Jim Willis.
From that time on they were hooked and actively participated in many of the club functions including field trips, campouts and working bees. Bill was president of the club in 1972, 73 and 75 and when he retired from work in the late 1980’s he was able to join Pat on many forays into the bush. Continue reading