Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Friday, April 17, 2009

An Orchid, an Acacia and a Frog (my 900th posting)

I know it might seem trivial to persons other than myself, but the fact that I have persevered this far is pretty amazing (to me). 900 postings, since 26 November 2005. And to think that I started out with "Odd little things which grow around Robertson", about a Flying Duck Orchid, and here I am three years, and 5 months later, still writing about Orchids (and frogs), and many other things in between.

Anni Heino deserves a round of thanks too, as she showed me how to go about Blogging. Thanks Anni!

Late this afternoon I had about 30 minutes of daylight left, and decided to venture a little further past Carrington Falls Road, along the Jamberoo Mountain Road, to quickly check for any signs of Orchids at a spot I know which is quite accessible, out on the Budderoo Plateau. This is just a few kilometres from Robertson.

I was wanting to check on some Greenhood plants which I know are found there, but which I have not yet seen in flower, and which I therefore cannot yet identify. The plants are there, OK, but still not in flower. I decided to look a little further afield for any Corunastylis (Midge Orchids). Also no luck there, alas.

But I did chance upon a creamy-white flowered member of the Leek Orchid tribe. It was formerly known as Prasophyllum striatum, but now is called Mecopodum striatum. Unusually for a member of the Leek Orchid grouping, this plant flowers in autumn and winter. It likes shallow moss beds on sandstone rock shelves - exactly the circumstances where I found it tonight.I referred to the flower as creamy-white, for that is the impression that it gives, when one first spots it in the heathland. But in fact, most of the flower is green, with dark reddish-purple stripes, the source of its specific name. Apparently it has a musky odour, a fact which I overlooked tonight. I wonder if it is worth another trip - just to test my scent glands?Oh well, I guess I am in for another session lying down on moist mossy soil, sticking my face down amongst the low shrubbery testing tiny Orchids for their scent. The things we Orchid enthiusiasts do, out in the bush. No wonder other people think we are strange!

There is no need for me to check for a perfume on this next plant.

Its perfume is overwhelmingly beautiful. It is Acacia suaveolens which name translates as "Sweet Wattle".
The distinctive thing about this wattle (apart from its exquisite perfume), is the bracts which enclose the buds, at their early stage of development. The bracts fall off before the flower buds enlarge, and then open. The smooth looking buds at the top of the flower stem are the bracts to which I refer. The ones in the centre of the image are just about to fall off.Most Wattles simply form their buds as small rounded clusters of tiny "golf ball" shaped objects (technically what we think of as a single wattle flower is in fact a raceme of many flowers held together in a bunch). This wattle has that form, but when the buds are developing they are enclosed in these protective sheaths, which are noticeable sticky to the the touch.

This wattle also is a very early flowerer (if one can say that of such a huge genus, which has something in flower every month of the year). But as all Aussies know, Wattle blossom is axiomatically associated with the first signs of Springtime. That's why I describe this one as "early". The Sunshine Wattle (A. terminalis) is also just starting to flower in the sandstone plateaux around Robertson, but it is also famously "early".

And next up is a Peron's Tree Frog (Litoria peroni) (or the "Emerald-spotted Tree Frog").

That name is right up there with the "Red-kneed Dotterel", and the "Red Wattlebird", in my book of accurate, but uselessly precise names. The Red-kneed Dotterel does indeed have red knees, but only early bird collectors (who thought nothing of blasting away with "bird shot" in their shot guns) or persons with a very fancy set-up of telescopes and cameras, can ever see that feature on the bird, in the field. And the "Red Wattlebird" is predominantly grey, with a yellow belly patch, and a tiny pink "wattle" (a loose flap of skin) hanging from below its eye. But I digress.

Here is the Frog in question. It does have tiny green spots on its skin. Click on the image to enlarge it, so you can see that some of the spots are indeed bright green - but only some of them.
By the way, the frog was clinging on to a door architrave on my front porch a few nights back. It was in fact facing vertically, up the wall. But it shows better when posted horizontally. This is what it really looked like. Frogs have great eyes by the way. And the ear plate (clearly visible behind the eye) is often often diagnostic amongst different frog species.

The large toe pads are typical of Tree Frogs. Its what enables them to climb smooth surfaces, such as windows, so easily.
Needless to say, it was on my front porch on a moist night, when there were many moths about. I did not see it catch any moths, but you can see a video of just such behaviour (with the same species of Frog) on David Young's blog. It is well worth a look. Frogs spend a lot of time sitting still, but when they decide to move, they are very fast movers indeed. Check out David's excellent short video. The Video is only 54 seconds long.

Incidentally, this Frog has a distinctive call, and yellow thighs, when seen from underneath. Perhaps it ought be re-named the yellow-thighed Tree Frog?
Just kidding folks!
It is already known as the "Maniacal Cackle Frog" - due to its distinctive call. That is burden enough for any animal.

Who knows what I shall be wrinting about in another 3 years and 5 months?


mick said...

Long may your blog continue!
Very interesting post about acacia suaveolens. I know that wattle but had never looked closely enough to see the detail about the bracts. Just another positive feature of blogging!

Denis Wilson said...

Thanks Mick
Nice to have your encouragement, along my journey.
A. suaveolens seemingly has a wide distribution. I only know it from the Sydney Sandstone region.
Denis (still battling away on borrowed computers - hence my erratic posting regime, and not checking eveyone else's postings). I hope to be back to full activity soon.

swampythings said...

Sorry to hear about your computer problems Denis - hope all is well soon. Great detail on the Orchid photos but I was particularly interested in your post on Litoria peronii as it so closely resembles Litoria rothii, which we have in our area. I did enlarge the image so I could see the tiny green spots! L. rothii also has a laughing call described by one of our good friends as sounding like 'a sheep calling up a drainpipe'. However described it is certainly loud when you have quite a few residing on the verandah. And L. rothii like L.peronii has black marks on yellow on the backs of its thighs. Apparently the species overlap between Rockhampton and Maryborough but neither of us have to worry about that!

Denis Wilson said...

Hi Barbara

Interesting comment.

There is another Tree frog here, the "Bleating Tree Frog" which loves to live in roof gutters, but sounds like a little lost Lamb.
Small Frog, but penetrating call.