Thursday, October 29, 2009

Some LV Orchids

G'day Readers,
Yesterday, Duncan and I took a trip to a couple of well known reserves in the Latrobe Valley where we'd heard there were some orchids in flower. The valley is less than 50 kilometres from us here in central Gippsland, but the weather patterns can be so different as can be the variety of flora.

Our first stop was at the Edward Hunter Reserve in Moe, a place neither of us had previously been to - 'fresh fields and pastures new' I can remember my dad saying!

Part of the wetland area - Edward Hunter Reserve, Moe.

I had to mow some fairways before we could get away, so we arrived just at cuppa time. So eager were we to explore the new territory, we wandered about adjacent to the car park, drinking our coffee as we looked. We hadn't finished our drinks before we had located a 'first tick' orchid for both of us, a Leek-orchid.

Leek-orchid, Prasophyllum sp, (odoratum?).

Please forgive my lack of positive identification for a lot of this stuff, I'm quite new to the game, and at this stage I'm just enjoying the delights of discovering some of these beautiful terrestrial orchids.

We headed off along several walking tracks and with noses to the ground we took numerous detours into the bushland and grassland areas. Compared to our little corner of the world, there seemed to be flowers every few steps.

The next delight was to come across quite a few colonies of the beautiful, (Spotted I guess), Sun-orchid.

Spotted Sun-orchid, Thelymitra sp, (ixiodes?).

In close proximity to the above were some similar flowers without the spots. Probably another specie we surmised, but this one was interesting for the 'bug' that was on the flower. I took shots of several of these plants and only discovered the aphid like insect in most of the pictures once I got them into the computer.

Thankfully, if they were aphids or similar sap suckers, they were not in plague proportion and nor were they to this stage doing any obvious damage to the plants.

We came across another first tick plant for us both, when we climbed up onto a much drier hillside. My photograph doesn't do it justice, but the purple tipped labellum and the general colour and form probably makes it a Honey Caladenia. There was a very useful information board at the car park with an extensive list of the flora and fauna in the reserve and this gave us the clue.

Honey Caladenia, Caladenia hildae?

By now it was after 1pm and we were starting to feel hungry. Back at the ute, with the field guides out, we enjoyed some good reseach time with our lunch.

From Moe we headed straight to the Crinigan Road Reserve in Morwell. Just like at Moe, we were barely out of the vehicle and were standing in a large patch of Green-comb Spider-orchids and Salmon Sun-orchids.

Green-comb Spider-orchid, Caladenia dilatata.

(Blogger seems to be playing up - suddenly I can't get rid of the italics!? Sorry about that.)

Here is an enlarged view of this beautiful orchid, showing some of the intricate detail of the flower.

We quickly explored some of the familiar tracks of the reserve and at one point came across a 'forest' of the Spider-orchids.

Twelve months previous to this, Duncan recalled seeing some Sickle Greenhoods in a damp spot just off one of the tracks. Unerringly he zeroed in on to the spot and we found just a couple of plants of this generally uncommon greenhood.

Sickle Greenhood, Pterostylis sp.

What a day we had! We got home late, tired and dirty, and near full camera cards - you can't ask for much more than that.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Urticating Caterpillar

So called because it can 'urt?

DF and I came across this 'Chinese Junk' or Cup Moth caterpillar today while we were orchid hunting around Moe - more of the orchid stuff shortly.

There are several different cup moth species that feed on eucalypts and they can vary in colour and size. The spines, (or urticating / irritating hairs), on the body can inflict a sting rather like a nettle.

There is some interesting information here that is worth reading, from the University of Sydney department of Medical Entomology regarding the effects of stings from these glorious looking creatures.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Early Morning On The Course.

G'day Folks,
This morning I decided to take the camera 'to work'.

First, I checked on how the Choughs were going. All in order.

As I crossed the bridge to the pump shed I spotted a lonely Pelican cruising the dam.

Then I had to lift the hoses on all the greens. As I crossed the 4th fairway there was a pair of Wood Ducks grazing. For all their 'common-ness' and lack of appeal in some quarters, I rather like the 'woodies'.

There had obviously been an early morning Magpie fledging. Several young birds were perched precariously on low branches, and this one on the ground didn't want to get out of the way of the motorbike.

Down on the second green where a hose was still dribbling, a Galah was taking an early dip.

All in all, a pleasant start to the morning's work!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Near Rosedale

Yesterday the sun was out, so it was the ideal opportunity to return to the Rosedale - Longford Rd spot to see the Salmon Sun Orchids.

When Glen and I were there last week, one of the field nats gave us the 'heads up' on a bit of bush closer to Rosedale, where there was a chance for some Ruddyhoods to be still in flower.

I hadn't seen one of these, so I managed to locate the spot and get some shots. While I was prone on the ground struggling with camera settings, there was a scratching sound from the large tree right behind me. After getting some acceptable Ruddyhood images, I checked the tree and discovered a largish Lace Monitor in the upper reaches.

I'm rather pleased that while I was lying on the ground in his territory, he didn't mistake me for an invading competitor!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Progress ...

... is being made.

I checked in on the Chough's nest on the golf course this morning, and got there just at breakfast.

All's well apparently.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

New Arrivals

These two new arrivals appeared today on the golf course...

Bluebell, (Wahlenbergia sp I hope), and attendant Hoverfly.

Hornet Orchid, (?), Diuris sulphurea.

I think both colonies were far enough off the beaten track not to get cut off in their prime by the rough's mower!
Regards to all,

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Purple Diuris Survey

G'day All,
Today it was my turn to check out the orchids in the 'Long Paddock' at Longford. After Duncan returned from there yesterday, he emailed me to say, "The horkids were up". Glen and I needed to go to Sale, so we swung on by the Rosedale - Longford Rd on the way home.

I know the location well, but we couldn't have missed it today ...

The Latrobe Valley Field Naturalists accompanied by Peter from Vicroads, were surveying the Purple Diuris. The group had completed two other sites nearby as we arrived, and the numbers were up to several thousand! I thought this was pretty good, but they told me that not too many seasons ago they had totals of 15 thousand plus. The good news was though, that of recent times the number and range of the plant seemed to be on the increase.

There seemed to be some variety in the depth of colour, but they were all pretty stunning. Peter from Vicroads even pointed out an all white version...

Just to round off the brief stop nicely for Glen and I, there was some of one of my favourites in flower too, the Running Postman.

I was intigued a little by the presence of Peter from Vicroads. He in fact is the Environmental Officer for the region and he explained to me the rather active role that Vicroads plays in protecting significant roadside vegetation areas. Here's a link to the 'Biodiversity Page' of their website where you can read heaps of guidelines under such headings as Protecting Trees, Protecting Natural Regeneration, Minimising Mowing and Slashing, Avoid 'Tidying Up' Vegetation, etc.

It was a particularly dull and grey afternoon, resulting in the numerous Salmon Sun Orchids remaining closed. Can't have everything I suppose - just gotta go back for another visit!

Saturday, October 17, 2009


G'day Blog Followers,
We have a rowdy visitor to the golf course at the moment. I haven't noticed the Noisy Friarbirds for a season or two, so it is a pleasure to have them around. A lot of the eucs are heavily in flower and the friars are in good number.

While I was trying to capture a satisfactory image of a Friarbird, a pair of Olive-backed Orioles were persistently calling from a neighbouring tree.

We seem to get at least a pair of Orioles in the same patch of bush every year, and until today I haven't been able to get a satisfactory shot of one. It took me a little while to pin him down - that camouflage does a remarkably good job.
Regards to all,

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

A Bit of a Squeeze!

Out on our nature strip, right beside the road, a pair of Eastern Rosellas have opted to nest in the hollow of a trunk about 2metres above the ground. The opening is particularly small and the birds have to squeeze through with considerable effort each time they enter or exit the nest.

After this bird flew off this morning,

I placed my lens cover across the opening for comparison.

The widest part of the opening behind is about 3/4 the diameter of the cover, or around 30 to 40mm. Marvelous.

Some days ...

... your luck's in.

G'day Readers,
Yesterday, on my way back from DF's in Maffra, I just happened to be passing the Glenmaggie Flora Reserve. People who know the area will appreciate that is a little off route, but that's another story.

The reserve is situated in a bit of dry Box - Ironbark country and it has a small waterhole in the centre that sometimes concentrates the birds if there is some water in it. A little recent rain made me think it was worth a chance!

My first bit of luck came as I slowly moved down the track and was followed by a Grey Fantail. I'm guessing there was a nest nearby, as he kept his eye on me for some distance. The luck bit was that from time to time, he sat still enough for a picture. I seem to manage lots of pictures of twigs that a grey-fan was sitting on moments before.

The second bit of luck came straight away. While I was sneaking about quietly trying for the fantail shot, I sensed the presence of a raptor overhead. The track is fairly overgrown and there was only a narrow view of the sky, and I only got occasional views of it as it disappeared from one side to the other. I managed a quick shot or two and discovered when I enlarged on the screen that it was a Square-tailed Kite.

This bird is described as widely but thinly distributed and rather uncommon. The barring right out near the fingertips, palish head and of course the square tail are good identifiers. Just for comparison, here's a recent shot of the far more common Whistling Kite ...

A third lucky break happened a little earlier in the day when I was spraying some greens. As I approached the 18th, a pair of Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos flew out of a nearby tree. I followed them from tree to tree for a little and finally managed to get off some shots.

While I'm in an educational mood, this second shot is helpful in showing the difference in the sexes. The male has a duller cheek patch than the female and his eye ring is reddish and hers is grey.

("There will be a test next week". Strewth, that brings back memories).

PS: My luck has just run out - Blogger won't let me change to my favourite font!?

Monday, October 12, 2009

Heyfield Birdwatchers - October '09

G’day All,
Yesterday was the October excursion for the Heyfield Birdwatchers. Just before N&J and I met up with the others, we ducked into Lake Guyatt to see what might be present. Three Clamorous Reed Warblers were working the reed beds in front of us and an Egret strolled imperiously by.

We met the group and welcomed Jane, Wayne and Barry to our fold. Hope you had a good day folks. Our numbers were improved further when the Sale Field Naturalists joined our ranks for the morning session. We set off from Sale in a convoy of 11 vehicles.

The Giffard Flora Reserve was the first port of call, an old favourite of mine and we weren’t to be disappointed this time either. The bird list included White-naped and White-eared Honeyeaters, Dusky Woodswallows, Gan-gang and Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos, White-winged Triller and this accommodating Grey Fantail upon the nest in the middle of a clump of Kangaroo Thorn …

Grey Fantail

While the birdos had their eyes to the tree tops, the field nats found plenty on the ground. Among the orchids, the Wax-lips were in flower, including the occasional all white one.

Wax-lip orchid

During a cuppa, we had plenty of discussion as the two groups endeavoured to explain, identify, etc their particular species of bird or plant. Great fun and very rewarding!

We then ‘convoyed’ down to Jack Smith Lake where I’d hoped to sight some Blue-winged Parrots, but we either were not looking in the right place at the right time, or perhaps their migratory pattern meant they’d moved on. Red-capped Dotterells, White-fronted Chats, Richard’s Pipit, Skylarks and Shellduck were some of the species we did spot, and a few of the group got to see their first Calamanthus or Striated Fieldwren.

White-fronted Chat - a previous photo at JSLake

After lunch, the field nats invited us to accompany them to a particular spot in Holey Plains State Park where the very scarce Wellington Mint Bush was in flower. On the way, we were briefly ‘held up’ by the sighting of 25+ young Australian Shelduck on a farmer’s dam beside the road. This was an interesting sighting as there seemed to be two clutches of slightly different ages. We only spotted one adult bird, so we’re wondering if they were a creche of 2 or more separate breedings.

Baby Australian Shelduck
We'd also disturbed a pair of Black Swans from the same small dam, but they eventually circled back and settled on the water.

Black Swan circling

We caught up with the others at the designated spot in Holey Plains, and Norma gave us a run down on the effort being made to protect the mint Prostanthera Galbraithiae. (You may like to glance at an earlier entry on this rather scarce and vulnerable plant). While we were examining the mint population, we came across a healthy Duck orchid that got the cameras clicking away.

The much photographed Duck orchid

It was mid afternoon by now, and an approaching storm helped to make our minds up about heading home. It was a wonderful day spent in great company – might do it again one day!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Caution - Nesting In Progress!

G'day Readers,
There is plenty of nesting still happening around here at present.

King Parrots looking -

Chough sitting -

Noisy Miner about to fledge -

Right profile?

Straight on?

Left profile? Nope, only a mother could love it!

Lots of Eastern Rosellas using the nest boxes too.