Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Monday, July 28, 2008

Bird Orchids again

Colin and Mischa came out to the sandstone plateau country of the Budderoo to see the Bird Orchids. According to their sharp eyes, it seems there are many Orchids which should be able to be found there at other seasons - Thelymitra (Sun Orchids), Speculantha (Tiny Greenhoods) and Corunastylis (Midge Orchids).
There were not many Bird Orchids in flower. However, it was great to see areas where the ground was carpeted in leaves.
While some flowers are fully open, many buds were in evidence.
This Bird Orchid is fully open, and the pollinia (pollen grains) had been dislodged by an insect attempting to mate with the flower, in the course of pollinating it. You can see the relatively large golden pollinia lying on the labellum.
We left the Budderoo and went across to Macquarie Pass to see the Pterostylis hildae, which is new to them. Straight away, they settled in to photographing these plants, from all angles. The two lightened "rings" in the image indicate the location of Greenhoods they were each photographing. By contrast, I have to lie down on the ground and get within 4 inches of the flower to capture decent images. Different technologies for different people.
This shot indicates one of the drawbacks of my approach - a leech firmly planted on a wet leaf, is sniffing the air, working out where its prey (me) is.
I put my finger down in front of the leech, and it latched on straight away. I had expected that it would "loop" its way up along my finger. But it did not. I did a bit of a panic, and sought help from Colin to get it off me (because I had my camera in my other hand), before it had time to cut its way into my finger, and inject its anti-coagulant juices. Fortunately, we were fast enough to have avoided it cutting into me.Colin, who claims to have a magnetic force field to attract leeches, then checked his ankles, and had to remove at least one leech. Mischa did the same a little while later.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Myrmechila species - comparisons

Here are some comparative photos of a number of Myrmechila (Chiloglottis) Orchids which were observed on Macquarie Pass today.
It appears that there are two species here - basically one with calli (glands) down to the very tip of the labellum, (Myrmechila formicifera) and one with calli (mostly) restricted to the rear (upper) half of the labellum (Myrmechila trapeziformis)

It is hard to make "hard and fast rules" for these plants, as one (the far right flower) has some tiny "bubbles" on the very tip of the labellum. However, when one looks at these 4 separate flowers, it is apparent that the two on the left have a different shape to the labellum from those on the right, which both clearly have a prominent central point to the labellum, which then curves in slightly, before pointing further out again, on either side.
These slight differences are more obvious if you click on the image to view it a full size. I should warn you that it was drizzling today, and these flowers have rain drops on their labellums, as well as the glands, but once warned, you will work that out easily.

Here are images of three "labellums" of Chiloglottis species. They show the obvious similarities, but the glands (pseudo-insects) are shaped differently having a general heart shape at the apex, whereas the Myrmechila have divergent heads, resembling "bug eyed" creatures. The differences between these plants and the closely related Chiloglottis Orchids is basically that these plants flower in winter and spring, and the others flower in summer and autumn. However, the lateral sepals (called "clubs") in these two species are widely divergent, in a more or less horizontal plane. By contrast, the clubs of the Chiloglottis Orchids photographed in the local area are held low down, under the labellum (and sometimes reflexed). See the various photos of the full flowers of Chiloglottis in this posting from March 2008.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

A few more photos of the Bird Orchid.

A few more photos of the Bird Orchid which I took with Chris from the Australasian Native Orchid Society (Illawarra Branch) today. Chris came down from Helensburgh to see these plants, and Colin and Mischa are going to come from Melbourne soon, too, to see both lots of plants.
Chris and I first went to see the Pterostylis hildae (Rainforest Greenhood) on Macquarie Pass. I was pleased to note that there are many buds still coming on. I did look at some other Chiloglottis leaves down there, but one which I had been following (with very large leaves) had been nibbled off, as its bud developed. Bugger. How can a Wallaby know to pick out the particular Orchid bud which is likely to be of special interest, as the one to eat? It ain't fair!

The good news was that when Chris and I moved across to the Budderoo Plateau, we found a Bird Orchid flower which was just a bud last week. Great.
Wollongong Bird Orchid, Simpliglottis chlorantha (Chiloglottis chlorantha)
At least this one was out in the open, not underneath a low-growing Banksia bush like last week's plant. You can see the oval-shaped leaves, the short stem, and the relatively large flower, compared to other members of the Chiloglottis group.

Labellum - cropped.
One group I am looking forward to photographing is this pair of buds, which conveniently look as if the flowers will be facing eachother. That should be a nice image when these buds open.
Then we went to look at and sniff the aroma of the Leucopogons. While doing that, we found a whole heap more of the Bird Orchids. So I left them for another day's photographing.

Friday, July 25, 2008

A Doctor for Robertson?

Hey folks, this is important news.

I live in a rural village, 40 Kms from both Bowral and Moss Vale. We have a population of 1206 people within the village, and 1901 in the total district (approx 5 Km radius) - based on 2006 ABS Census data.

We used have a Doctor's surgery open 3 part days per week. But at least we did not have to drive to Bowral or Moss Vale. Anyway, that arrangement ceased about 4 months ago.

The locals signed petitions and contacted local politicians (as you do). Not much help.

Now I have heard that a Doctor who has a Medical Practise in Bowral will open up in the old consulting rooms - and it will be staffed 5 days a week.

It might be too good to be true. But lets hope this story does prove to be true.

Having gone to a meeting last night of the CANWin Transition Shire movement, where we saw a film called "The End of Suburbia", and afterwards discussed the future need for local communities to be self-sufficient, the idea of not having to drive 80 Kms (round trip) to visit the Doctor is great news to me - and to many other residents of Robertson.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

White-faced Heron - up close and personal

Here is a very common bird, but seen a bit closer than normal. It is the White-faced Heron (Egretta novaehollandiae). It is a common bird across the eastern states (and the rest of the country too, it seems, except the dry centre). By "common" I do not mean "numerous", but certainly it is seldom a surprise to see one of these birds. It may be found around ovals and parks, fish ponds in private gardens (which you thought had goldfish in them), urban lakes like this, and is also often seen stalking insects such as crickets and grasshoppers in paddocks. It builds a large stick nest, high in a large tree, often a great distance away from water.

These shots were taken ages ago, on a trip to Melbourne (September 2006). It was at one of a series of lakes/swamps/reserves on the Dandenong Creek. This was at "Bushy Park" Reserve. I was in a "hide", which explains why the bird was not too scared of me. Clearly it knew I was inside the shelter of the hide, but my presence did not disturb the bird at all. It just kept on feeding , right outside the hide.

What happened was that the bird was working the water's edge, and I stayed put (in the hide), and let the bird walk closer and closer to me.
As you can see, the bird stared at me - but, once it was reassured, it kept on coming.Note the long yellow-green legs, and the typical pose of the hunting Heron. Compare this photo with the last one, where the legs are in deep water. Back in the water, the Heron is now keeping a steady watch for small fish.
This next photo is the one which got away. Not the fish - I am sure it is safely gulped down, but the photo. Occasionally one sees a photo like this, with a fish visible in mid air, about to be swallowed. It is just a sudden snap of movement. I missed that image, by about 1/100th of a second, I figure.

These birds catch their prey, hold the beak fixed (for just a moment) and then in one very swift move, pull the neck and head backwards, then open the beak, thus swallowing the fish which has been literally thrown down the bird's neck. See how closely the neck has been drawn back over the birds shoulders, compared to the posture in the photo above.
Note how deep this water is. If you check back to the photo of the bird walking towards the camera, all the yellow-green part of the bird's leg which is visible in that photo, is now covered in water.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Camellias - for a change.

These flowers will be recognisable to most readers, at least in terms of their size. No microscopic flowers to day, I promise. They are all Camellias - mostly are in a group known as "Williamsii hybrids". One was bred in Australia, by Professor Waterhouse. There are two exceptions, which are old European varieties of Camellia japonica.

The first of these old varieties is known as "roma risorta". It is a lovely flower in "formal double" shape, with red flecks over a pale pink background. Unlike some plants with variegated flowers, this plant is a lovely healthy plant.
The second "old" variety is "Dona Herzilia de Freitas Magalhaes". Please do not dispute the name, it is so frequently misspelled that I can do no better than refer to the checklist of Camellia varietal names from the International Camellia Society. It is NOT "Donna Hertzilia.... " OK?

This Camellia is a Robertson special, because, when grown in normal soil, it is a dull red plant. When grown in Robertson's rich red basalt soil, the plant fades to purple, as it ages. This is apparently because of the low pH readings of the soil here (highly acidic soil). From the first spring season in which I lived in Robertson I wanted to grow this plant, for it can become truly spectacular. Now I have smallish plant established. I have to decide in a few weeks if I need to transplant this and many other Camellias, for when I first planted them I had very little protected garden space, so I planted them at the spacings I would have used in my former garden, in Canberra. But Camellias grow far more strongly here in Robertson than they ever would in Canberra. So, my plants are too close together, and too close to the house.
The next plant is one of which I am no longer sure of the true name. I believe it to be the species Camellia saluensis. If it is correctly named, then it is the parent of an important group of hybrid Camellias known as "Williamsii hybrids". That is an old phrase, which according to newer nomenclature rules ought not be used, as the name "Williamsii" comes not from a plant, but from the person who owned the plants which were hybridised - Camellia japonica and Camellia saluensis.

That was an important cross, for the Saluensis parent plant brought a degree of hardiness which helped growers overcome a limiting factor of lack of cold tolerance in the original Camellia japonica plants. It also helped add a particular silver/pink tone into many of the resultant hybrids. So, this plant was responsible for a "colour break" in Camellias, introducing a delicacy in the range of pink and lilac-pink shades which the true "Japonicas" did not include.

This next flower is Camellia "Brian", which according to the books, is a Williamsii x reticulata hybrid Camellia. It is one of my favourites, showing that elusive lilac pink shade of which I have just written. Another feature of the Williamsii hybrids (which I like) is that as the flowers age, they drop from the plant. So you always have a clean plant, without old, dead flowers hanging on the bush. And now for an oddity, which is Camellia "Jamie", which is classed as a Williamsii hybrid, because it was found as a chance seedling growing under Dr Waterhouse's original plant of Camellia saluensis. Its pollen parent is not known. However, coming from Camellia saluensis, it is classed amongst the Williamsii hybrids.

It is a totally atypical Williamsii hybrid, however, for the reason you can see - it is a pure scarlet red. A most amazing plant - and not carrying any of the typical delicate pink shades of which I have just written. Its foliage is fine, and slightly "toothed" in a manner typical of the Williamsii hybrids.
The main known fact about this plant is its historical provenance. It was bred in Professor Waterhouse's garden, Eryldene, in Gordon, in the northern suburbs of Sydney. It was named by Professor Waterhouse himself for one of his grandchildren. Professor Waterhouse founded the Camellia Grove Nursery, originally at St Ives, from where I bought this particular plant. It hardly gets more direct than that, does it?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Pink Beard-heath - Leucopogon ericoides

Firstly, this is the general habitat of the Budderoo Plateau. We are looking from "heathland" (not visible because of the long-lens image) out over a lower section of Eucalypt forest. Clearly this is part of a sandstone plateau. In the medium distance you can see the one of the bluffs in the Barren Grounds (to the centre left), and to the right is Broughton Head, a free-standing ridge which is an ancient remnant of the Illawarra Escarpment.
You are looking through Broughton Pass. Broughton Head is an isolated outcrop of rock which separates Kangaroo Valley from the coastal strip. It is the dominant mountain located behind the village of Berry, on the Pacific Highway. In the far distance, one can just make out a flat coastal stretch of land, with the Pacific Ocean just visible as a light blue line below the horizon. From the map, this would be where Gerringong is located, south from Kiama.

You can see that while the Budderoo Plateau area is quite high (approx 740 metres), the climate is definitely influenced by its proximity to the Ocean. It is cool and very high in rainfall, and subject to sudden fogs, especially in summer.

Leucopogon ericoides (Pink Beard-heath) is a very dense-growing heath plant from out on the sandstone country on the Budderoo Plateau. It has a quite strong perfume, which is noticeable as you walk along the road, close to where these plants are growing.
In this photo you can see the flowers, the buds (with a red sepals, from which the white flowers can be seen to be emerging- see the buds at centre right of image). The narrow, dark leaves are visible, and on the far left one can clearly see the striped and slightly recurved underside of a leaf. All these features are diagnostic of this species.

Below is a photo of a stem with pink buds and the pointed leaves. The fact that these flowers appear in groups, in the leaf axils is also diagnostic. Most of the colour actually comes from the sepals through which the flowers emerge, as they open. The tips of the flowers, when in bud, are pink, but they open white.
Below is a close-up of a single flower. You can see the woolly surface of the inside of the flower from which this plant genus gets its name - meaning "white beard". These woolly flowers distinguish Leucopogon from other related plants, such as Epacris. This species holds its flower widely reflexed when fully opened. The width of this flower is approx 5mm. The stamens, which in this genus are said to be held deep within the corolla tube, in fact are quite clearly visible, because of the way the flower opens itself so widely. The parts of the flower are in "fives" - 5 "lobes" (in layman's speak - petals), 5 stamens.
This image will open to full screen size. It is worth clicking on the image, to open it up to its full size, to see the flower in full detail.

Monday, July 21, 2008

White Sour Bush - Choretrum candollei - rampantly in flower

When I wrote this post, many years ago, I gave an incorrect identification of this plant.
It is not (Leptomeria acida), but the closely related Choretrum candollei  (known as the "White Sour Bush")

This has some of the smallest flowers which I am able to photograph. One really needs a 10 power lens to make anything of these flowers when out in the bush. This image is about 15 times real size (depending on your screen, of course) - but you get the idea. It is tiny. About half the size of a match-head.
The white part of the flowers (above) are called "tepals" and that each is 0.5mm long. So, the flower would be less than 2.5mm in diameter. The fruit develop to 7mm long (which is large, relative to the flower).

This plant makes up for the tiny flower size by the abundance of its flowers. Virtually the whole bush was covered in these tiny white dots of flowers. Here are several photos of sprays of these tiny flowers. Unfortunately, I did not photograph the entire plant - thinking that I already had done so. Apparently not.
Anyway, here is a link to a stock photo from another website, which shows a spray with developing fruit, which give the plant its common name. This link will take you to a dark photo, but it shows well the ripe fruit which have a translucent appearance, similar to real currants in appearance. This flower is not yet ripe (as you can tell, from the fact that the remains of the flower are still evident). The fruit develop to about 7mm long - again reminiscent of the true Currant (which is not related to this plant).
The fruits of this plant are reported to have been used as a food source by Aboriginal peoples. It is apparently rich in vitamin C, but it is very acidic (tart) in flavour. But for a tired bushwalker, a few fruit can make a refreshing wake-up snack. I would not over-do it, myself. 3 or 4 berries is my limit.

This plant is within the world-wide Family Santalaceae, which puts them as relatives of the famous Sandalwood, but it also means it is a root parasite (a semi-parasite, or hemi-parasite) depending upon who you read.

This website on parasitic plants has photos of plants of this family from all around the world, many of which have flowers which are extremely similar in shape and form to my specimen. It is interesting to just take a minute to see the obvious similarities of these related plants.
Example A: Kunkeliella - from Canary Islands
Example B: Thesium (4 plant species) - from South Africa
Example C: Thesium sp. - from Bavaria, Germany
Example D: Jodina - from Uruguay

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Wood Duck love

We bloggers are guilty of posting about the rare and the exotic, and overlooking the mundane.

In the centre of Robertson there is a park, Hampden Park, which has playing fields, and a creek "Caalang Creek", which runs through it. The combination of fresh green grass, and water is perfect for Australian Wood Ducks (Chenonetta jubata). These birds are dry country grazers, as distinct from "dabbling ducks" which often up-end themselves, when feeding (when swimming), to feed on water weeds. The phrase: "Dry country" is relative. I should say grass eaters. The grass of Robertson is pretty lush and green, as you can tell from the background colours. But they also hang out in mobs around "farm dams" in genuinely dry land areas.

Wood Ducks (or "Maned Geese" as I grew up calling them), are good walkers, even capable of getting up a pretty good pace on land, as opposed to Black Ducks, which are adapted to swimming, and have their legs positioned further down the body. Black Ducks are not good runners on dry land.

The male has a darker head, and very fine markings (which look uniformly grey) on his flanks and lower chest. The female has large spots on her chest, which markings tend to extend down the breast. She has a slight pale ring around her eye. His posture is nearly always more upright than hers, making him look taller, but it is probably his posture, rather than his size.

Although the male (on the left) has turned his head away, you can actually see the shape of the head, and the way the skull of these birds is shaped in such a way as to allow close to 300 degree vision - perfect for birds which are subject to predation, because they spend so much time on the ground. Although his head is facing away, he could still see me taking his photograph.

These photos are displayed in the same sequence as they were taken, to show the body language of these birds.
The males are always very watchful, especially when they have chicks. But when that happens, it is the females who do the "guarding", and the male does the "watching out". I saw the first "chicks" (ducklings) on 8 September last year - a mere 6 weeks away from this time. So, I would expect this pair to be actively breeding shortly.

Here the female walks back to the male, perhaps for protection, or reassurance.Seen below is a clear "bonding" posture. She has to be saying something privately to him - whether in words, or gesture. There is a definite communication going on here.
Now they set off together, walking back towards me, trying to get past my parked car.The female is making a quick move, now.I expect to see ducklings in 2 months.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Yes, Yes, Yes - The Bird Orchids are starting!

Yes, Yes, Yes - The Bird Orchids are starting! I am talking about the Wollongong Bird Orchid, Simpliglottis chlorantha (Chiloglottis chlorantha).
You will note that, as against the 50 cent coin which is 33mm (or 1.5 inches) in diameter, the leaves of this plant are relatively large, well, at least broad, compared to the related Chiloglottis species. But the stem is very short indeed. The flower is a mere 3 cm high. But the bud shows it is going to be a relatively large flower. Contradictions all the way round.

For the botanically inclined amongst you, dear readers, these are traditionally placed in the same genus, Chiloglottis, as the Wasp Orchids (Chiloglottis), and the Ant Orchids (Myrmechila). It is these latter plants about which I wrote two days ago. Those plants are both much finer in flower size, but their flower structure is clearly similar. The column, which in the flower image I published two days ago (with the spider in it) was 3mm wide. This one is closer to 12mm wide. The entire flower is 25mm wide, whereas the previous flower was a mere 10mm wide (or high).

But the labellum is in the same position relative to the column, and the pollinia, as in those related plants. And importantly, the labellum has a similar structure of glands (called "osmophores") which are there to produce the scent which is what attracts male insect to pollinate these flowers. Slight differences between each species in these related plants, but the similarities are obvious. These glands look like red blobs of jelly, and the green ones are transparent, and look like "blisters" on the Labellum. The petals are held wide, and nearly flat, whereas on the Wasp Orchids, they are held pressed vertically against the stem of the flower. The "clubs" (lateral sepals) stick straight out in front of the flower. In the Ant Orchids they are held widely divergent from, but in a similar plane as the labellum, whereas in the Wasp Orchids they are reflexed and held low under the labellum. This botanical sketch will show you the similarities and differences within this group of flowers.

I was first told about these plants by David Jones, (formerly of CSIRO National Herbarium, in Canberra) who is credited with describing the species - so he should know. As with most careful Orchid experts, he told me where they grew, but only in a very general way - two years ago. I first found these plants in flower (well a single specimen, anyway), in late September last year. Today, I decided to check on them, as I recalled David Jones saying they flowered "early" in the Southern Highlands. And after all, some of the winter-flowering related plants are now flowering just 20 Kms away, on Macquarie Pass.

At first I found a number of leaves, then I found two advanced buds, (with a few other tiny ones just starting). I was preparing to leave the area, (intending to come back next weekend). However, I decided to do one more circuit.

Yes, Yes, Yes!
There is an open flower.
I punched my fist into my hand, and did a little jump!
Nobody was looking, so it's all right.
Hiding under a low-growing Banksia bush, there was indeed a fully opened flower. Of course, it was facing into the centre of the bush, making a good photo impossible, but, hey, who cares? Lets record the back of the flower first. The dorsal sepal is very wide, and the labellum (which is even wider) is in the far side of the flower from my camera. If you look low down, at the shadow, you will see how the two green central structures are in fact separate. The petals are held wide. In the related small flowered Ant and Wasp Orchids, the petals are totally reflexed, held vertically, pressed against the stem of the flower.
Denis - talking to himself again:
"Down on the hands and knees, Denis.
Roll over on your side. Brush some sticks out of the way.
Manual focus on. Click.
Black image. Damn.
Press the flash button. OK.
Focus not quite right.
Try again, and again, and again, and again."

This photo reminds me to tell you the origin of the common name: "Bird Orchid". The first of these plants was so named because it reminded the early botanist of a baby bird sticking its head back, with its beak held wide open, begging for food. Certainly the posture is right for that idea. Denis - talking to himself again:
"Now try around the side of the flower,
and for the next one, can we get a bit more straight on?
OK. That'll have to do.
This is ridiculous."

The underside of the flower (as seen in this shot) is distinctly reddish.

Compare the photos above with this photo of Chiloglottis sylvestris.
to confirm the similarities and differences between the Bird Orchid and the other Chiloglottis types, especially the way the lateral sepals are held tight against the stem, and the clubs are held very differently.

Denis - talking to himself again: "And then, before I leave, I may as well look on the other side of the road as well. A few more leaves, but no buds.

Then a few Greenhood leaves - tiny things, maybe Speculanthas. Take a few "location" shots as clues for next autumn."

Denis - talking to himself again: "And then, what's that? A few more Bird Orchid leaves, right out in an open position, in moss over a rock shelf. Quite different from the other side of the road. No flower buds, but its good to find so many plants of such an unusual flower."Denis - talking to himself again:
"Have you noticed - It is nearly dark, and it is cold.
Go home, Denis!"

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Ant Orchids - two species? Maybe - a few metres apart.

"Ant Orchids" will be the death of me (and I am not mocking Duncan's words of wisdom from yesterday) - about other people knowing where a solitary naturalist has disappeared, in search of an Orchid, or something else of interest. The advice he was given is good advice.

These tiny flowers are so hard to see, and then, even harder to photograph. These are half-way down Macquarie Pass, hidden amongst dead branches, ferns, mosses and long grass, in an old clearing. even when you know to look for them, they are hard to see, and then their is the question of identifying them.

I long for the day (and this is the stuff of science fiction, I am sure) when one can insert a tiny probe into the leaf of the plant, and get a genetic (or should I say, a DNA) read-out which would tell me exactly which species I am looking at. And when that is available for these plants, then lets work on the Caladenias, and then the Greenhoods (Pterostylis group). And then the Persoonias, then then the myriad of "Eggs and Bacon" flowers, and then,,,,,,
Dream on, Denis.

This first flower is a definite identification : Myrmechila formicifera (Chiloglottis formicifera)
Note how the small glands extend all the way down to the tip of the labellum. This is quite a large image, and will open up well if you click on the photo. The detail is amazing. Contrast this image with the image of a different plant two below - possibly another species.Here is the same flower - from the side - showing the glands (pseudo-insect) and the steep angle of the labellum (the large section of the flower in front).
This is possibly a member of another related species - Myrmechila (Chiloglottis) trapeziformis. Note how the labellum of this plant is almost plain. But it does just have a few little tiny "bubbles" - so possibly, just possibly, this is an individual variation, rather than a different species. (Thus ruining my original title for this post).

I will reserve judgement on whether or not it is a separate species. The dorsal sepal is held higher than in the other flower, but again that might be a simple variation between individuals. My problem is simple. There was only one specimen of this flower out there, today. If I had found lots of them, all the same, I would know I was on safer ground declaring it to be a different species from the other plant.This front-on shot (below), is mostly of interest for the very small spider which ran up its web (on the right hand side of the flower) while I was lying down taking lots of shots (to ensure I got something in focus). It was a very small-bodied Spider, and as you can see (if you click to enlarge the image) it has quite long legs, which are banded in alternate dark and light coloured sections.

Spiders love Orchids, as they know that insects are attracted to the Orchid flower, and so Spiders hang out near the orchids - waiting for lunch. In this heavily cropped image (below) it resembles a "Daddy Long-legs", but in real size, it was considerably smaller than that, and its legs were so fine that they were virtually invisible (to my poor eyes, lying in the grass, in a dark rainforest). Its body (head and abdomen) were less than the size of a match-head. The whole flower is approximately 1 cm - (from tip to base). The "column" - the vertical part of the flower is said to be about 3mm wide (according to the books). That makes the spider a mere 3mm long, in body. That seems about right to me. Here is the same image, cropped, cut and rotated to make it easier to recognise. It appears to have relatively large white palps underneath what appears to be fairly large, dark eyes.One piece of good news is that these particular plants flower in winter/spring, whereas their autumn cousins flower when the weather is warmer, and therefore, when lying (prone) on the grass attracts great numbers of leeches and/or ticks. At least, at this time of year, I do not have to worry about those Creepy-Crawlies.

Here is something easier - a plant which exactly matches the text books. Pterostylis hildae the so-called "Rainforest Greenhood".
You can see what I mean about it "looking how it is meant to be":
This is the botanical sketch on the RBG PlantNET page. (No artist credit shown.)
It is on its southern limit here, being shown as extending from Wollongong (just north from Macquarie Pass) to Queensland.
This is a perfectly formed flower. How nice is that? It hasn't been chewed by some slug or snail, or trampled by a clumsy Wombat, or dug up by a passing Lyrebird.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Some new images of Robbo Nature Reserve Pines

A few people liked the Bush Stone Curlew, yesterday, even though they were old photos. That's nice, as it is one of my favourite birds, for sentimental reasons to do with the early taste for the Aussie bush - listening to them calling at night, when I was a kid.

Today I went down the Belmore Falls Road, to check for Greenhood Orchids, but I found only one group budding up. No flowers to show you, unfortunately. I am guessing, from the shape of the leaves, that they will turn out to be Pterostylis curta.

However, while I was sloshing around down there, in my gum boots, I did find this Orange-peel Fungus (Aleuria aurantia) which might help Junior Lepid at Flowers, Frogs, Fungi and Feathered. This fungus is clearly NOT stalked, whereas his little orange fungus clearly was on a stalk. So, one option we discussed on his blog is clearly ruled out.
I decided to come back to the Robertson Nature Reserve, to report back on the previous posts about the pruning of some of the huge Pine Trees. See below.

On the way back across the rich green pastures below the Robertson basalt country starts, there was a pair of White-necked Herons (Ardea pacifica). One was conveniently stretching one of its wings, revealing both the slight purple tinge in its dark feathers, but also the distinctive white spots on the leading edge of the wing.At the front of the Robertson Nature Reserve, there were a number of huge Monterey Pine Trees (Pinus Radiata) growing. I have reported before on some of the work done to remove the most dangerous branches of these old trees. I would have to confess that it is not clear if this work is regarded as "finished" - for there are a great number of branches just lying on the ground. While they no longer pose a safety hazard, they are certainly going to create a maintenance problem for the volunteers who weed this Nature Reserve, to try and keep down the Privet seedlings, and other weeds which thrive wherever the canopy is opened (as is now the case, here).These logs on the ground averaged about 25 cm in diameter (one foot approx) - obviously thicker as they got closer to the trunk. The huge forked trunk in the background is about 3 metres in diameter, (10 feet at least). It is huge. The cut branch is about 45 cm in diameter. I do hope that the NPWS contractors will be ordered back to finsh the job they have started.

Below is another trunk of a Radiata Pine, cut at above my head height. It was felled, and the trunk lying on the ground, came up to the height of my pocket (approx one metre). Serious trees. You can make out the natural forest from this I took this photo, looking out towards the roadside edge of the forest. Vines and dark rainforest vegetation predominates, so it is good that the Pines be removed. Hopefully the others will go some time. But, as previous readers will have seen, removing there trees is a huge task. There is nothing like dealing with weeds which are 30 metres high, and have trunks in excess of 3 metres to make you realise why seedling weeds ought be removed, when they are still manageable.
While in the Nature Reserve, I walked the circuit pathway, looking for fungi. In view of the reasonable amount of rain which we have had (not a lot, admittedly, but there has been some), I was surprised that there were not many fungi in evidence. The leathery "Ear Fungi" which are more-or-less permanent are all shrivelled up. I did find these tiny little orange ball-shaped fungi. They are on a branch, a mere stick, which was lying on the ground. The branch was no more than a finger thick. So, using that as a scale, you can see that these little fungi look like tiny "pustules". They are in fact tiny stalked fungi, but there is no evidence that they open up like "mushrooms". Frankly, these are so tiny that i cannot identify them from any web or book references which i have at my disposal.I have been trying to upload several more photos, but the normally reliable Blogger uploading system is failing to night. I give up. Time to go to bed.