Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Fitzroy Falls "East Rim" Walk

Today I led a walk along the Fitzroy Falls East Rim trail. The walk went off well, with 13 people, mostly NPA members, participating.
As with all my walks I made it clear the objective was to observe the "little things". We started of well with a Yellow Robin having a bath in the creek just near the bridge, accompanied by a Brown Thornbill in the long grass beside the creek and a White-browed Scrubwren hopping along a dirt track. Across the creek and past the bridge, we saw some bright red Boletus fungi (white pores underneath). We continued, with discussion of the protective bark of two different species of Persoonias (Geebungs).

In the dry heath country, we examined some of the prolific Lambertia formosa ("Mountain Devil" flowers.The towering Eucalypt trees in the gully were very impressive in the clear morning light, with their bark still damp from overnight dew. The ferns in the deep gullies were glowing beautifully. We even discussed the formation of the "croziers" (the fronds) and noted the patterns (as described in the mathematical theory of "fractals") in which the entire frond unfolds, but that each smaller level of sub-frond, also replicates the pattern, as each unfolds.

We noticed how much scratching of the wet forest floor had taken place - a signs of Lyrebirds.

A few flowers of the "Lesser Flannel Flower" (Actinotus minor) were examined under 10 power hand lenses. Always fascinating.

We then examined some tiny insects walking around in some of the gilled fungi we found on the track. I have photographed one of these before, and after seeking advice from Blogging colleagues, we concluded they are a form of "Springtail" (Collembola spp) some of the most prolific animals on the planet, yet seldom noticed by people, because they are so tiny.

We went out to several of the lookouts along the East Rim trail. One gave us this view back to the main Fitzroy Falls. Note the many tourists on the viewing platform beside the Falls.
As we were walking back out of the Gully on the East Rim Trail, we noticed a Lyrebird (Menura novaehollandiae) just below the track, beside the creek. We all stopped, and watched in amazement as this bird, a male, came right up onto the track.
We were all quiet and the bird took virtually no notice of us. It was a special moment for us all.
This is a moment which the youngsters in our group will treasure forever, I dare to say.
The bird walked down along the track towards us, and then crossed over the path just a few metres in front of the kids, and then walked along beside our entire group.
I vividly remember my own introduction to bird watching and learning about tiny and frequently overlooked plants, on Field Naturalists' trips, in Victoria, when I was less than 8 years old. Those experiences have stayed with me, and I sincerely hope that these little girls gain the same inspiration from today's walk which I experienced as a child myself, all those years ago.

What a joyous end to a very pleasant walk.


mick said...

A very interesting walk - the scenery is certainly spectacular and seeing that lyrebird and being able to take photos so close is amazing! Wish I had been there too!

Duncan said...

You really turned it on for them Denis!

Gouldiae said...

Just wonderful Denis,
Like Mick said, wish I'd been there.

Snail said...

Fantastic luck with the lyrebird. What a beauty!

Whole ecosystems live on the underside of fungi. I'm always amazed at what appears if you knock off a bit of fungus and stick it in a container for a while.

swampythings said...

How delightful that you were able to share this special day with some appreciative children - I am sure they will remember it always.
Lovely story Denis

Jarrett said...

The first time I went to Fitzroy I was so enchanted by the plants along the trail that I forgot to look at the waterfall.