Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Orchids and fungi at Uralla Nature Reserve

Uralla is one of my favourite nearby places to explore nature. This well-maintained reserve is situated right on the southern edge of the town boundary of Trafalgar, (limited parking and no toilets). 

The invasive pittosporum species is being slowly eradicated by some dedicated work crews at the moment. It will be interesting to see what species will return.

Cobra Greenhood
The winter greenhoods have started in many places in Baw Baw, mostly Nodding Greenhoods, so it was pleasing to find a couple of the less common Cobra Greenhoods beside Bullocky Track.

One reference quotes this species of terrestrial orchid as being, “… rarely encountered in the wild, and known from very few, widely scattered locations”.

Hairy Curtain Crust (I think)
This species of Stereum can vary widely in appearance but a close inspection does clearly show the hairs growing on the upper surface.

Golden Curtain Crust (probably)
Much larger than its hairy cousin and lacking the hairs. This fungus always stands out in the dark understorey of wet forests.

Rainbow Fungus
This common world-wide fungus always makes an impression when the colony grows large enough. It can vary in colour and at times the term ‘rainbow’ is very apt.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Fungi and fire

With the current cold front and its accompanying showers and low temperatures sweeping across southern Victoria, it seems odd to be talking about bush fires. Back in early March, a bush fire devastated parts of Bunyip State Park, destroying 29 homes and people’s properties and livelihoods.

The Bunyip State Park fire burnt through the Mt Cannibal Flora and Fauna Reserve which remains closed while track safety is attended to, (disheartening to see the number of social media posts indicating some people have ignored the Park Closed signs). 

Mt Cannibal from the north-west
The popular rock outcrop at the north lookout
It will be interesting to discover the effect of the fire on the range of wildflowers and orchids that grow in the park. A week or two ago, a brief visit to some areas of the roadside adjacent to the park indicated just how quickly the native vegetation can recover.

Just as some plants are stimulated by fire and smoke, some species of fungi thrive after fire. Some fungi will be unaffected by fire, others need fire to stimulate their reproduction cycle.

Certain species appear very shortly after a fire and will quickly disappear, others take longer before putting up their fruiting bodies but will continue to be prolific for some years after the burn.

Research into the effects of bushfires on fungal species is quite young in Australia.

Some cup-and disc-shaped fungi are only found on recently burnt bush or woodland soil. They are commonly known as pyrophilous, or fire-loving, fungi and seem to prefer the alkaline soil conditions that prevail immediately after fire. 

Pyrophilous fungi are most prevalent in the first autumn after fire and are only found in low numbers for the following year or two. Generally they don’t appear again until after the next bushfire.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Some recent observations

While ‘holidaying’ at Frankston recently, a brief visit to the Frankston Reservoir Reserve was particularly rewarding bird-wise.

Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo
A flock of about 20 of these majestic birds flew screeching into the top of some pine trees just as I arrived in the car park. Always amazed at how powerful their bills must be to tackle unripe pine cones.

While exploring the heathland area in the reserve, a few eucs with an invasion of mistletoe caught my attention and encouraged me to keep the eyes peeled for the possibility of the attendant birds. I was rewarded pretty quickly with a male that came in, even doing his twisting defecation trick – which I missed with the camera – and leaving his sticky faecal sac on a branch.
Excellent description of this habit here – Australian NationalHerbarium.

Apologies for the tardiness of reports lately – will try to catch up a bit.