Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Some photos from the NPA walk to "The Grotto"

Here is my favourite shot from the walk to "The Grotto" which I wrote about two days ago. It shows a still pool, with tree ferns growing on the far side, reflected in the water.

Here is an opening flower of the Lambertia formosa. These seven long tubular buds split open, and the four sides of the perianth tube roll backwards, to about one fifth of the length of the flower. That leaves a long style protruding from each flower. As you can see here, the "style" is still covered when the bud is still unopened. These flowers are the brightest flowers in the Sandstone bush around the Southern Highlands at present. The Honeyeaters and the Rosellas and Gang Gang Cockatoos love these flowers which are full of nectar.
This juvenile Eastern Spinebill, was sitting very quietly in a shrub beside the track. Unfortunately my photo was not very clear. But it was unusual enough that I felt it worthwhile showing at small size. The adults have very different markings, with a white throat, black "v" shaped mark on the chest. The white tail feathers (on the outside edge of the tail) are clearly visible. Spinebills (a type of Honeyeater) are very common in this patch of sandstone scrub. Here is a photo of a single flower of Fieldia australis which was growing underneath the waterfall. It superficially resembles a correa flower, but it is not closely related to those plants. It is related to Gloxinias, and African Violets.
Here is a photo of a half-opened Banksia paludosa flower head (inflorescence). There are several points of interest. The most obvious thing is that the individual flowers open from the bottom upwards, sequentially. The brownish "match-heads" are the unopened tepals of the flowers. These flower buds are in pairs, arising from a common point on the stem. The fine points of the brush at the lower part of the flower are the "styles" in the opened flowers. They are all bright yellow, still being fresh with pollen. In this species these "stules" are straight, except for a slight bend near the point. By contrast, the commonest Banksia species in this area, Banksia cunninghamii, (generally referred to as B. spinulosa) has what are referred to as "hairpin" shaped styles. Note the Honey Bee enjoying the rich source of nectar.
This is a Red Spider Ant (Leptomyrmex rufipes) (or else a closely related species). There were several of these ants running around on the Banksia flower, which clearly was producing lots of nectar. You can see that the flower head was in the process of opening - and so the flowers were clearly very fresh. These Ants are distinctive in that they have very long legs, and they hold their black abdomen reversed, held high over their thorax. The red head is distinctive. These ants were moving very quickly, using their long legs to run over the top of the buds of the unopened flowers. Half a dozen of these ants had left the flower by the time I had changed lenses to get a close shot. This ant left the flower before I could get a second (clearer) shot. That is a fast moving ant.While we had lunch down beside the river, below the waterfall, some members of our group found this leech, which climbed onto this piece of wire. The red and yellow markings become much more prominent, if the Leech manages to attach itself to a "victim" and engorges itself.We had all prepared ourselves for Leech attacks, as my colleague Alan had taken home a Leech with him, just a few days previously. Nobody wants to be bitten by a Leech, except a recent shark attack victim.


Tsun-Thai Chai said...

Hi Denis,

That still pool with tree fern is such a BEAUTY!

So how did you prepare yourself for leech attacks? (Or not getting attacked)


Denis Wilson said...

Hi Chai
Thanks. I think I will use that image as my blog masthead, for a change.
Aerogard, sprayed vigorously around the ankles, almost soaking the socks; and on the boots.

mick said...

That first photo is magical! All the walk looks beautiful - except for the leech that is :-( Your close-up photos are wonderful.

Denis Wilson said...

Hi Mick

Many thanks
I really liked that shot. Very relaxing to look at.
Other people on the walk got better shots than I did. I blame it on the need to lead the walk - thinking ahead, etc. You know what I mean. Still, I am not complaining, I got a few nice shots.

Duncan said...

Great stuff Denis, you've got some lovely territory up there.

Denis Wilson said...

Hi Duncan
It is a very varied region, with sandstone plateaux underlying some basalt ridges, and coastal escarpments not far away.
Good place to potter around. There's always something happening somewhere.