Sunday, 5 March 2017

Brooloo & the Pratt's Property 19 February 2017

A Red Triangle Spider Arkys lancearius on a Kangaroo Vine leaf
The Brooloo district seems to have taken its name from Brooloo Bluff above a paddock on Imbil Station and may be a misspelling of an Aboriginal word for 'white colour' (booloo). A public hall was built in 1915 along with a post office and a rail office followed the next year. In the 2011 census 445 people were recorded as living in Brooloo.
Kangaroo Vine in Fruit at the Pratt's
BROOLOO OUTING                                                                                        19th February 2017
Despite the predicted heat, 26 hardy members rolled up to the February outing of the club, very grateful to Allan and Diane Pratt for inviting the group to their Brooloo property. We took advantage of the shady area along the little water course to sit and walk, and Allan showed us his excellent video of the wildlife which he has filmed, mostly right there on his own block. Some of the featured fauna were gliders, possum, koala, melomys, bats, rat, bandicoot, wallaby, snakes, Saw-shelled and Long-necked Turtles, frogs, lizards, and fish. The Platypus sequence was quite exceptional. Thank you to Diane for the cold drinks!
The elusive Russet-tailed Thrush
Thirteen “Early Birders” were met at the gate by Allan and his son Stephen, and drove up the hill to see the resident Bush Stone-curlews. On our return to the front of the block, even though the air rang with the persistent chinking of the Bell Miners, other birds were quickly seen, including both the Large-billed and White-browed Scrubwrens. Bird of the Day? - had to be the very laid back Russet-tailed Thrush, feeding on the lawn and later barely perceptible, the cryptic plumage bending perfectly with the fallen leaves in dappled light. By contrast, the group of Sulphur-crested Cockatoos were even more raucous than usual, being attacked by the Bell Miners.  A large flock of Figbirds was about. The Spectacled Monarch hunted for insects in the canopy, interestingly in the same trees where it was seen some months earlier.
Flooded Gum
The birders took advantage of their early start to walk up the through a neighbouring block of a young mixed tree plantation, thickly under grown with tall grass. Birds seen included Red-browed Finch, Chestnut-breasted Manikin, Yellow Robin, Golden Whistler, Bee-eater, Spangled Drongo, Dollarbird, Cicadabird, Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike, Little Wattlebird, Noisy Friarbird, Brown Quail, White-throated Gerygone, King Parrot, Rainbow Lorikeet, Scaly-breasted Lorikeet, Pale-headed Rosella, Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo, both butcherbirds, Peewee, Currawong, and close encounters with a very active family group of Variegated Fairy-wrens. On distant powerlines, four kingfishers challenged our  identification powers, but the buff breasts led to a decision for Sacred. However, as a later debate on the Field Nats Facebook page proved, immature Forest kingfishers also have buff tinted breast feathers. Perched high in the sparse top branches of a gum tree was a Little Pied Cormorant! Honeyeaters enjoying the grevilleas, callistemon and insects were the Brown, Blue-faced, Lewin’s, Yellow-faced, New Holland, Scarlet and Dusky.
Young Forest Kingfisher looking unusually buff
The next group of members arrived, and crossed the wee footbridge to a grand spot for shade by the little stream. We met our energetic host, Allan Pratt, whose evident enthusiasm for his goal of transforming his bloke into a wildlife haven is to be congratulated. We had an easy walk along his driveway, noting a variety of plants and trees. He showed us one of the last remaining slash pines on his property, where he had been charmed by a parliament of four Barking Owls, until he noticed all the feathers (from their prey) below their regular perch. With mixed feelings, he reports that they have moved on.
Native stingless bees (commonly called Sugarbag Bees now) attending to a water lily.
As well as the larger fauna, there were countless invertebrates. Butterflies seen included Wanderer, Lesser Wanderer, Blue Tiger, Varied Eggfly, Greater Grass Yellow, Orchard Swallowtail, Common Crow.
Allan hopes that members can return at other seasons when different species will be present. Rahima Farnham


PLANT OBSERVATIONS FROM BELLBIRD HOLLOW, BROOLOO
On arrival, we came upon the dam where unfortunately we didn’t see the resident platypus. Obvious water plants were two waterlilies – Nymphoides indica with its small, white, fringed flowers and Nymphaea caerulea, an exotic with larger blue flowers (but well visited by native stingless bees). Also, there was a bulrush (Typha orientalis) and a yellow flowering bladderwort (Utricularia gibba).
Behind this was a moist gully with a still trickling small creek. Here the canopy was made up of majestic Flooded Gums (Eucalyptus grandis), Hoop Pines (Araucaria cunninghamii), Picabeen Palms (Archontophoenix cunninghamiana) and a Small-leafed Fig (Ficus obliqua), among others.
Nymphoides indica the Snowflake waterliliy
The next layer of vegetation included such species as Celerywood (Polyscias elegans), the abundant Wild Quince (Guioa semiglauca), Red Kamala (Mallotus philippensis), Foam Bark (Jagera pseudorhus), Glossy Laurel (Cryptocarya laevigata), Brown Bolly Gum (Litsea leefeana), White Bolly Gum (Neolitsea dealbata) and Deep Yellowwood (Rhodosphaera rhodanthema).
Yellow Bladderwort Urticularia gibba
One of the smallest plants at ground level was the Love Flower (Pseuderanthemum variabile). Also there were maiden hair ferns and Prickly Rasp Fern (Doodia aspera), Scrambling Lily (Geitonoplesium cymosum), Barbed-wire Vine (Smilax australis), cordylines, Currant Bush (Carissa ovata), Native Holly (Alchornia ilicifolia) and the abundant Kangaroo Vine with its purple grape-like fruit (Cissus antarctica).
Native Pepper Vine Piper hederaceum
Apologies from a rank amateur for omissions and errors. Bev McKay.




Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Sunday, 20th November, 2016. Mudlo National Park & the Property of Tony Perrett, Kilkivan.

Parched country near Kilkivan

Leader: Berry Doak. 

Our outing started with a visit to Mudlo National Park for a walk and morning tea. There were thirty-six in our group, including three new members and three guests. The park and surrounding district is badly in need of some good rain. The creek is completely dry but a walk along the bush track yielded some interesting birds. There was a Rose-crowned Fruit Dove spotted sitting quietly on a branch and a White-eared Monarch calling but eluding being spotted by most of the group. A cuckoo appeared to be following us as we walked along the track. While there was discussion about which cuckoo it was, the distinctive eye ring and pale feet seemed to confirm it was a Fan-tailed Cuckoo. A flowering Giant Blood Vine spotted near the track aroused quite a deal of interest.  A Brown Falcon and a beautiful Rainbow Bee-eater were seen as we travelled to Tony’s property. 
Rose-crowned Fruit Dove. Photo by Vincent

This excursion provided an interesting contrast to the two previous excursions to properties on the upper reaches of the Mary River. The property straddles the edges of two catchments; the Mary River catchment to the east and the Burnett catchment to the north and west. Because the property is further west there is less rainfall and this is reflected in the vegetation types. The country is more open with Casuarinas lining the seasonal creeks. Tony led the way to an area where there are patches of scrub along the watercourse as it leads into the higher country. Clinging to some of the callistemon trees along the creek were Dockrillia liguiformis orchids, commonly called tongue orchids.

Gympie Nats under the giant fig on the hilltop. Photo B. Hughes
After exploring the creek, the group made its way to some large fig trees on the top of a hill where we settled down for lunch. Tony explained some of his management practices for the property and how he stocks according to the season. It is evident he has a strong focus on weed control and is proud of the fact that there is no Giant Rat’s Tail Grass or Cats Claw.  Each year Tony and his family walk the creeks on the property to control weeds that may wash down when the creeks flow.  Some flowering Batwing Coral Trees, Erythrina vespertilio, were interesting. While there are few leaves and the tree has an untidy appearance, the flowers are bright and colourful.
Batwing Coral Tree being visualised (Photo B. Hughes) and result
The outing proved to be very enjoyable for me. Apart from exploring a different type of environment, sharing the day with members who have a great knowledge of the flora and fauna enriches the experience.

A Lace Monitor treed in Mudlo National Park
Editorial addendum: As well as a reasonably good cache of bird sightings, we also had a record butterfly day with 15 species recorded, all but one  (the Evening Brown) observed on Tony’s Perret’s property, especially along the well maintained and weed-free creek:
Large Grass Yellow - its caterpillars feed on cassias, sennas, and other legumes
Swallowtails: Orchard Swallowtail, Checkered Swallowtail

Whites & Yellows: Large Grass Yellow, Caper White, Yellow Albatross, Lemon Migrant

Nymphs & Satyrs: Wanderer, Lesser Wanderer, Common Crow, Blue Tiger, Meadow Argus, Australian Painted Lady, Glasswing, Evening Brown


Blues: Small Pea Blue
Evening Brown looking like another dead leaf on the forest floor

Saturday, 29 October 2016

Visit to King property, Aherns Road, Conondale, 18.09.2016 by Annette


A damp, but still pleasant vista in the Conodales
Light showers to very occasional heavy downpour, did not deter some intrepid individuals and early morning birders of the G & D.F.N on their monthly day out. The venue: the Conondale property of Mary and John King had the added attraction of rainforest liqueur tasting. Morning tea (including liqueurs and a sampling of Mary and John’s bush tucker flavoured cheese cake) was enjoyed on the spacious elevated verandah which afforded excellent views of the local bird population. Two male leaden flycatchers interrupted our scheduled monthly meeting with a spirited territorial display of aggression, closely watched an attendant female.

Good birding and good food and liqueurs and out of the rain!

An interesting and informative talk by John introduced us to the history of his work with bush tucker and rainforest liqueurs in particular. The place of bush tucker in our natural environment was highlighted and our lack of appreciation, generally, for this resource is of concern to him. The Indigenous connection to bush tucker is apparent in the use of Aboriginal names for various liqueurs:- Gidneywallum liqueur -  Podocarpus elatus (Brown Plum Pine). John emphasised his use of indigenous herbs and flavours in his recipes for everyday meals and discussed how he uses fruit and flowers in his liqueur preparation. Practitioners of Chinese medicine use the bark of Acronychia oblongifolia (White Aspen) in their herbal pharmaceuticals. 

A hand axe left behind by an earlier inhabitant of the property

A walk into the rainforest challenged our climbing and dodging skills as lawyer vines attacked us from all directions. The new growth and shape of an Argyrodendron sp. Kin Kin (Rusty tulip oak) caught our attention.  Dockrilla linguiformis (Tongue, Tick Orchid), Dendrobium speciosum (King Orchid) and Callerya megasperma (Native Wisteria) had put on special floral displays.

A Tongue Orchid flourishing
Purple and white flowers of the Native Wisteria dotted the trails

A walk back to the house along the bank of the Mary River, finished off the day’s activities, a river many of us were convinced was flowing in the wrong direction.

Rasp Fern Doodia aspera in the understory

Mary and John are happy to welcome visitors to their property for a tasting of their liqueurs. They can be contacted via their web site www.rainforestliqueurs.com.au

Wasp Moth - probably Eressa angustipenna - flying by day as do many tiger moths




Monday, 15 August 2016

Wildflowers in Memoriam

Now that spring is in the air and the wildflower season is closely approaching, it seems a fitting time to remember a member who won't be with us this spring. She loved wildflowers, and birds and even bugs, and we will miss her terribly. The name is withheld at the request of the family, but here are a few of her pictures to remember her by. (Editor's note - I've had to guess at the identity of some, so any errors of identification are my fault.)
Banksia spinulosa - Golden Candlestick

Blue Forester Moth Pollanisus apicalis 

Bulbine bulbosa - Bulbine Lily, Wild Onion, Golden Lily, Leek Lily, Yellow Onion Weed or Native Leek

Hovea acutifolia - Purple pea bush

Melastoma malabathricum - Native Lasiandra, Blue tongue

Patersonia sericea - Native Iris

Pterostylis sp. - Greenhood Orchid

Scarlet Jezebel Butterfly Delias argenthona

Grevillea insignia - Wax Grevillea 

Xerochrysun bracteatum - Golden everlasting or Paper daisy

Golden Wattle