Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Sea Eagles playing in late afternoon.

Here are some images (combined) of two White-bellied Sea Eagles, (Haliaeetus leucogaster) (one a juvenile bird) playing together along the beach at Shoalhaven Heads yesterday.

Click to enlarge this compound image.
4 combined images of two Sea Eagles, one single shot of juvenile bird.

Other species of birds seen along the beach, on the way to the whale were as follows.
Red-capped Dotterels
I believe the smaller birds in this next image are Pacific Golden Plovers (Pluvialis fulva), but I am not very experienced with Waders.
Click to enlarge the image.

Pacific Golden Plovers (I think) and Bar-tailed Godwits
This was a surprise when I developed the image - one of the Pied Oystercatchers I was following had a yellow "flag" clearly numbered 35, on its right leg.
Australian Pied Oystercatcher, with numbered "flag" on leg,
I am hoping that Mick may be able to give me a clue as to where to report this tagged bird. As far as I know these Oystercatchers are not migratory, but even so, the dated "sighting" might just add to the knowledge base of the life cycle of these birds. But I need to be able to report the sighting to the appropriate persons.

Feedback so far:

30/12/2010 Information gathered so far on the "flagging" of Waders in Australia. I have emailed the local, national contacts, and the most likely person in north-west Western Australia who uses the same positioning code of yellow flag on the tibia of the bird. As Mark Clayton noted, there appears to be no metal band to match the yellow flag.
Shorebird Color Flagging Protocol on the EAAF (by color)
Upper leg Lower leg Country Location
Yellow no flag AUSTRALIA N Western Australia
All reports of flag sightings will be replied to, even if you see the same flag colour many times. Please report all sightings. Report all sightings to .

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A Bryde's Whale dead on the beach at Shoalhaven Heads

There is no way to say this gently - this Whale, a Bryde's Whale died some hours after being found, beached, at Shoalhaven Heads, near Nowra. 

It was found after noon on Sunday 26 December, and died early on Monday morning, after attempts to rescue it failed. The Whale was measured at 12.2 metres long, and estimated to weigh about 20 tonnes (I would think that is an overestimation). This species of Whale is slightly longer, but less heavy than, the more familiar Hump-Backed Whale,

Another Bryde's Whale was found washed up on a beach at Iluka (Northern Rivers area of NSW) last Friday. That story includes a good image of that Whale.

Today Kirsten and I decided to go and see for ourselves the remains of this creature.
Brydes's Whale at Shoalhaven Heads
The Whale was found lying belly down, on Sunday. But at some stage it has rolled or been rolled by the waves, so it is now lying on its back, with the belly exposed and the ribbed skin of the throat clearly visible.
Ribbed throat of the Bryde's Whale.
Eye socket of the Bryde's Whale
The animal is lying on its side, virtually upside down. The heavily ribbed throat markings are just starting - in front of the eye. The pink flesh is recent damage to the surface of the skin.
Lower abdomen and flanks of the whale

The skin on the lower flanks has many marks of parasites on it. The fresh scratch marks are injuries incurred by the Whale before it died.
There are many strange patterned marks along the flanks. (Click to enlarge).
Small fin of the Bryde's Whale.
We walked from the car park at Shoalhaven Heads, right to the southern end of the beach - a  distance of some 5 Kms, according to Google's Satellite View. We enjoyed watching two Sea Eagles circling above us, on the way back.

There was a steady stream of people walking to and from the tip of the beach. Two young Beach Patrol officers declined our requests for a lift in their 4WD Beach Buggy.

My legs ache from the unfamiliar amount of exercise.

Post-script: Here how to NOT dispose of a whale carcase. An example from the USA.

Rainbow Lorikeets in "Flowering Gum Tree"

All Gum Trees flower, but the flowers of the so-called "Flowering Gum Tree" are truly spectacular.
Corymbia ficifolia - "Flowering Gum Tree"
But what's in a name? It is now called Corymbia ficifolia.

The original species was red, but pink and orange forms have been "selected" by nursery-operators and then grafted on ot fungus-resistant root-stock, making this West Australian native tree suitable as a garden plant in the eastern States. So much so that this specimen was growing in a car park in Nowra's shopping area (on the South Coast of NSW).

But here is the reason I took the photograph. There was a pair of Rainbow Lorikeets (Trichoglossus haematodus)  feeding enthusiastically amongst the flowers. The Lorikeet group of parrots are specialist nectar feeders, with a modified tongue, which has a brush-like surface making them perfect nectar feeders.

But then there is the colour blend. These parrots are so brightly coloured one could hardly imagine that they could "blend in" - but if you check the photo above, you will see that they can and do camouflage brilliantly in this bright tree.
Rainbow Lorikeet
 This next bird presumably is just "caught" at a moment of blinking, but it looks as if it is falling asleep. Perhaps it was bored with posing for my camera?

Have you finished taking photos? I'm bored!
Stunning birds, but almost a nuisance these days, as they have been advantaged by our penchant for planting gardens which attract birds. They have spread down the NSW coast, and along the Gippsland coast of Victoria, and into Melbourne. They are also common in Adelaide and Perth, but as those populations are "disjunct", those populations are presumably based upon caged-bird escapees.

Recently they have arrived in Canberra, and the question is being asked there by Canberra Ornithologists as to whether to not they are natural arrivals of escaped birds, or indeed descendants from some birds apparently deliberately released. Experience shows that once they arrive they will "naturalise" very quickly. Trouble is they are so active, they tend to out-compete the quieter species of parrots, such as the Eastern Rosella and Crimson Rosella.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Image - Beard Orchid - Calochilus campestris

Happy Christmas and a very good New Year.
For those of you who know me for my water lobbying, or my other endeavours (or hobbies), or just for drinking coffee at Cafe Pirouette, or for wearing a Blue Hat around Robertson, I also spend a lot of time trying to photograph Orchids.
This is why.

This is my Christmas image for the year 2010 - a Copper Beard Orchid - so named for obvious reasons. (Calochilus campestris)

Click on image to see it in its full glory
Calochilus campestris - the Copper Beard Orchid
Photo: DJ Wilson
The flower is about an inch and a half long (roughly 40 mm).
But it grows on quite a tall stem (waist height), with about 6 - 8 flowers on a good plant.
The "false eyes" are scent glands 
which serve to attract insect pollinators to the flower.
This plant is part of the marvels of Nature in Robertson.
Calochilus campestris - side on - DJ Wilson

One of those things which is there for everyone to see, 
but so few people take the time to actually look.

Best wishes to you for the Season and the New Year.

Peace to all.
Denis Wilson

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Summer Solstice and Lunar Eclipse - farewell 2010.

Well, the year is not quite over, but it might as well be.

The Summer Solstice is here (as I write) - but eastern Australia has been in the grip of huge blasts of wintery weather. That seems un-natural, but not totally unusual - as Climate Change fastens its grip on our weather patterns. Snow has been reported from the alps in many Decembers previously.

This evening, just after sunset, the full moon rose in the shadow of the earth, creating a lunar eclipse.
I watched it from the top of the Illawarra Escarpment, at Lees Road. We are looking at the lights of Port Kembla, and the mountains on the left are the hills overlooking Wollongong, which is just out of sight, a bit further up the coast. Click to enlarge image.
Lunar Eclipse over Illawarra 22.10.2010

Here we are overlooking Lake Illawarra, and Port Kembla (the Steel Works burst of steam is visible in this shot). The lights at sea come from Coal Freighters awaiting loading from Port Kembla, ready to spread our disease of carbon addiction across the world. 
Click to enlarge image.

Lunar Eclipse 22.12.2010 over Lake Illawarra and Port Kembla.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Small Flying Duck Orchid

This is both a descriptive title and the "proper name" of an unusual Orchid which I saw when on a trip to Lithgow with the RiversSOS people. I have previously reported on several other rare plants I saw on that trip - Grevillea acanthifolia and also the Pagoda Rock Daisy.

What I was not able to adequately report at the time was that Louise, from the Lithgow Environment Group, who I was with on that wet and soggy tour of cracked cliff edges and the Pagodas, mentioned that she had spotted some "small Orchids - about 3 inches high". I immediately leapt out of the car, to go back with her, as I knew that it was way past the flowering season of most small Orchids, such as the "Caladenias". So any Orchid in flower up there which was as small as she said was likely to be "unusual".

My mistake was to not take my "Macro Lens" with me, so the images I managed to take through the fogged-up camera lens, while peering through my rain-spotted glasses, were barely recognisable. But I could see that in fact they were of the "Small Flying Duck Orchid". Sullivania minor (formerly Paracaleana minor).

That is a plant I had never seen before.

Since that weekend, I have been tied up with building work, and then it has been raining heavily. The site was on a really awkward-to-access Forestry Trail on the hills beyond Lithgow, and the road was bad enough in reasonable weather, but it has been bucketing down frequently since that weekend. So, I did not trust my energy levels, and my navigation skills, and Mud-Bashing driving technique enough to make the trip back to Lithgow (about 4 hours from Robertson). So I had made the resolve to "get back there another year, in late November".

Well, fortunately, Chris Jonkers (from Lithgow) who was leading that Rivers SOS tour that wet afternoon, has managed to get back to the exact spot where Louise saw those little orchids and has kindly sent me some images. I know he tried at least once without finding these Small Flying Duck Orchids, but he did find some of the regular (and much taller) "Flying Duck Orchids". In the process of that trip, Chris clearly got a drenching for his troubles. But he went back yet again to find the spot Louise had told him about - this time with success.

Several days ago Chris sent me these photos.

Small Flying Duck Orchid 
(Image courtesy Chris Jonkers)
Sullivania minor (Image C. Jonkers)
 Small Flying Duck Orchid
Head down (triggered closed)
Sullivania minor (Image C. Jonkers)
Those two images serve to show the similarities and some differences between this species and the regular Flying Duck Orchid (Caleana major).

Caleana major holds the "wings" back
and its entire flower is poised more vertically.
The "head" is well rounded, and smooth in texture.
Flying Duck Orchid - Caleana major
Photo: Denis Wilson
 By contrast, the Small Flying Duck Orchid 
holds the "wings" down beside the flower
and the head is distinctly "warty".
I should mention that the body is green
and of course, there is the matter of the height.
Sullivania minor (Image C. Jonkers)
This Species is a mere 100 mm high, whereas the regular Flying Duck Orchid stands about four times as tall as that (350 mm to 400 mm approx.)

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Fitzroy Falls - in late afternoon light

This afternoon, after a series of harsh squalls had passed through, I suggested to Brendan that, as we had stopped work, but the weather had suddenly cleared off, we might as well go for a bit of a drive.

It turned out that he had never been to Fitzroy Falls. As it our most famous local waterfall, it was an easy decision to make, to show Brendan Fitzroy Falls.

The late afternoon light was fantastic. Rain storms can have the effect of clearing the dust and haze.
Fitzroy Falls
From "Jersey Lookout" 
(added in response to Hazel's question)
(click to see larger image)
As we have had plenty of rain recently, the creek was flowing well. And from this distant vantage point one gets a perfect view of the main drop of the falls.

The wall of rock is stained black in parts, but there is one section, to our left of the falls, and half-way down, where the wall of rock is coloured bright orange. This is a patch of a local algae, which is often found on rocks or even old trees, But seldom have I seen such a large and prominent patch. It probably indicates an area on the rock wall where there is a permanent "soak" coming through to sustain the algal growth. That theory is confirmed by the masses of ferns growing on the rock face in that area, and below it.

Fitzroy Falls is far and away the most visited place in the Southern Highlands. It is on the main road from Moss Vale to Kangaroo Valley (and hence on to Nowra). It is maintained by the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NSW) and is the show-case point of the Morton National Park.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Baywatch Armatree Video

A bunch of Blokes at Armatree, NSW (north-west of Gilgandra) have decided to "take the piss" in a good-hearted Aussie way. Armatree is on the flooded Castlereagh River. These guys' crops might well be ruined. Certainly their cattle will have been in trouble, and needed to be moved to higher ground (if there is any such thing around). Fences need fixing, etc, etc.

But in the face of adversity they make a spoof Baywatch video.

Good for them I say.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Common Splendid Ghost Moth

On Saturday morning, a bright sunny morning in Robertson, my friend Kirsten and I were sitting outside Cafe Pirouette having coffee, prior to going out to see the Sun Orchids of Tourist Road.

Suddenly Kirsten made a squeak, and reached inside her blouse
and grabbed some large insect and pulled it out.
At first she had no idea what it was.
She just knew it was large and flapping furiously.
Then she looked down and said: "Oh it's Pooped on me!"
I looked at her hand, and said, "No, she's Laying eggs"
Kirsten, a keen naturalist herself, felt slightly embarrassed
that she had nor realised herself quite what was going on.

We re-arranged her grip on the Moth (for we had worked out by now roughly what it was) and knew it was not dangerous. I had grabbed my camera. (For once I had it with me!) So I snapped off a few quick shots.

I have done some searching on the internet
and come to the conclusion that this is a female (well, we knew that) Common Splendid Ghost Moth.
(Aenetus ligniveren)
This CSIRO site shows an almost identical moth from Mt Keira (not far away, near Wollongong). That website also shows the very different-looking male moth. Don Herbison-Evans's Lepidoptera Website says: " The females are larger and have red (hind) wings, with variable green patches on the forewings". Unlike the related "Swift Moths" (Hepalidae) which swarm here in late autumn and winter, in this species, "The adult moths emerge in early summer". That fits with this occurrence.

Here are links to photos of a live specimen of the male moth. It looks so different, one could think they were of a different species.

Post Script: The moth was released, and the eggs were deposited carefully by Kirsten in the grooves of the bark of a tree.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Forked Sundew in flower in the swamps

The striking pure white flowers of the tall, "Forked Sundews" (Drosera binata) are dominant in the wet boggy areas of our Southern Highlands at present.

The leaves of this plant remind me of tiny Reindeer Antlers.

Note the curled-up tips of the forked leaves.
Here is the Illustration from PlantNET.
Here are the leaves and flowers "in situ".
Click to enlarge the image.
Look for the reddish stems.
Another view of the same group of plants.
The low-growing green mats
are groups of small Selaginella plants

But the flowers emerge straight up from the base on an unforked stem. There are numerous white flower buds per stem.

Beautiful pure-white flowers of Drosera binata.

These large patches of white coming from the mud and the ooze of a boggy patch of a farm look quite out of place.

Life is full of surprises.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Another Sun Orchid - Thelymitra circumsepta

This pretty Sun Orchid is a late flowerer, by comparison with all the others which I find here in the Southern Highlands of NSW. Most of them have their peak around the first weekend of November. These plants are flowering for the first time this year, on 11 December. I previously saw this plant flowering, in the same place, on 4 December 2007. Allowing a few days for delay because of the rain we have had this year, this flowering event is about on that same schedule - roughly the end of the first week in December - and importantly, a full month later than most other Sun Orchids in this district.

I have checked for these plants several times in recent weeks. Eventually, on Wednesday this last week, I found two plants which were in bud, which I was able to confirm as being on this species.
But I needed them to open fully to properly record the species, its true nature, and get it established on the public record for the Southern Highlands.This plant is Thelymitra circumsepta. It is reported as flowering in December/January, and growing in soaks, in high rainfall areas. Bingo!

The pink or reddish colour of the top of the "column" (the "Post-anther Lobe") and the yellow tufts on the "lateral arms" of the column are diagnostic of this species. Colin Rowan reports very similar flowers (from Victoria), but lacking the reddish colour on the column. Everything else looks the same. His plants from Tasmania have the pink "post-anther lobe".
I cannot quite make out the details of the bead of moisture held in the lateral arms of this flower. I did not notice this detail until I got back home, at the end of along day.
This is such an attractive colour,
especially the "pink bits" of the flower.
Here is a close-up view of the flower, taken against a white shirt.
As these plants are growing adjacent to a road, in an area which the SCA has slashed, traditionally. I have asked the local supervisor to not allow slashing in this and other areas until winter, when any slashing tractors will do minimal damage to the flowering Orchids. At the moment is it simply too wet to allow tractors into this area.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Pet of the Week - me!

Today I was adopted by an animal as its "host". I guess that made me "pet of the week" in its mind.

Unfortunately, I was not inclined to tolerate my guest once I realised what it was that was causing me to itch like hell.

I eventually checked in the mirror to see why my neck was sore, and realised I had a little "tenant". I took a photo of the insect "in situ".

I then rang my friend George, to ask if he would:
  1. take a clean photo for me; and then
  2. please carefully remove my guest.
By this time I had worked out that it was a Tick, but I didn't know if it was "just a scrub tick".

Well, several hours later, I have looked at the photos and it is apparent that my tick was in fact a Paralysis Tick - even if it is a very small one.

DJW EDIT: To clarify:
This is a real live Paralysis Tick, which had nearly paralysed
a puppy of my friends Steve and Celeste.

My Tick was smaller than this. That's because it had been discovered and removed within a few hours. It had not time to swell to its full bloated size, which is when they are usually causing paralysis of dogs.

Another shot of the Tick which nearly killed my friend's dog.
Comparing "my" tick with this one, I am confident that they are the same species.

Damned glad George was able to get it out totally (which took some concentrated effort). Now all I have to do is resist the temptation to scratch my neck. I have a considerable swelling, several inches long, by about an inch from top to bottom.

This is the first Tick I had found on myself in 5 years. The previous one was contracted in Sydney. I was out and about yesterday, on Tourist Road and also at Manning Lookout - both are potential tick sites. However, as it was a fresh attack, perhaps the Tick had stayed overnight in my car, then attached itself to me this morning, when I got back in the car.

The alternative (that it attached itself to me in Robertson), is puzzling, for it would be the first Paralysis Tick attack that I know of, from Robertson proper. I do know they occur in the district, but usually closer to the escarpment, or at lower levels - on the Sandstone plateaux below Robertson.


Tick removal with O'TOM Tick Twister
Uploaded by H3D. - Watch hilarious animal videos

Thursday, December 09, 2010

A different Potato Orchid

Potato Orchids live in the Robertson Rainforest - but I have only found them in association with some old massive, introduced Pinus radiata trees. That doesn't mean they are not naturally occurring, it just seems to indicate a preference for living in the deep leaf litter at the base of 120 year old Pine Trees.

It is interesting to speculate on whether there is a mycorrhizal association with the Red "Fairy Toadstools" (Amanita muscaria) which I have reported on previously in Robertson, growing in association with old Pine Trees.

There are two plants with flowers in this image
(in front of the old log on the ground).
There are two more stems with buds (further back)
Another shot of the habitat
One plant still has buds, the other is just opening.

Unlike the previous species of Potato Orchid, these ones are Gastrodia sesamoides. I have seen these plants previously, but not really studied them until asked by Alan Stephenson to examine reports of Gastrodia procera in Kangaloon. (Oh, I get it - two species of Potato Orchid, in the local area, not one, eh? I had never noticed the differences.)
The first thing to note is the height.
This plant was 75 cm high (pocket height)
but the others nearby
(and there are nearly always others in this species)
were all much shorter than that - less than knee height.
The second thing to note is the shape of the flower.
The tubular part of the flower (the perianth)
is considerably wider than the flared opening of the flower.
That fact is more evident in the previous photo
where you can see the flower is hanging nearly vertically.
Here is a "portrait" shot
In order to show the two species in comparison,
I have merged the two best shots I have taken this season.
I cannot guarantee the "scale" of the two separate plant images,
but the proportions of the flower on the right (G, sesamoides)
are clearly plumper than the one on the left (G. procera).
The other thing I notice is that the petals of the flower on the left
are more reflexed.
However, I would want to have more flowers to compare
before I declare that to be a "hard and fast rule".

These plants have flowered three weeks later than the first flowers.
But there is an altitude and habitat difference, which might explain the delayed flowering. But these plants (today) are consistent, for I first saw them flower on 15 December 2005.
Very close to the same time, some 5 years ago.

Strange, weird flowers, these Potato Orchids, but they do have a certain charm.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Spotted Sedge-skipper Butterfly

Several days ago my friend Peter Falk rang me and told me that there were masses of pink Orchids in flower on Tourist Road. I guessed that they were in fact Trigger Plants, but anyway I still appreciate the "tip-off". I had not been down that "dry" end of Tourist Road (not really dry at all, just a relative term, especially this wet season) for several weeks. So until Peter's call, I didn't realise I was missing out on a great floral treat.

This is what I found. A truly spectacular display of Trigger Plants. Stylidium graminifolium
Click to enlarge the image.
Yes, I was lying on the ground to get that effect, but it is the only way to show the real impact of the massed display of flowers.

At the risk of seeming philosophical here, our eyes see things differently from how cameras see things. Or rather, our brains see things differently to how cameras show the world. So, this was my attempt to capture the real impact of such a massed floral display.

While I was down there, wandering around, surrounded by tiny, but beautiful flowers, I found this little jewel of a Butterfly - also clearly in love with Trigger Plants.
Once again click to enlarge the image
of the Skipper Butterfly and the Trigger Plant
(Note the "style" (trigger) held out beside the flower)
That's how it gets both its common name and specific name.
The species is well documented, fortunately. No doubt that is in part due to its dramatic patterning. It is a small Butterfly, in a group known as "Skippers" or "Darts", because of their propensity to "dart off", as soon as one points a camera at them.

It is a Spotted Sedge-skipper (Hesperilla ornata)
Anyway, this little Butterfly was
so deeply in love with the Trigger plant
that it allowed me several shots, even from different angles.
I found two other websites sites with links to images of this species.
The Chew Family's Brisbane Insects site
and the Museum of Victoria Butterfly site.

And here it is, as close as I dared to go,
without disturbing the Butterfly.
The patches of orange on the wings are the colour one sees when these "Darts" are flying. Then they land, and generally disappear from view instantly, because of camouflage.

This species, for some reason, has opted to pretend it is like a small Zebra (look at the abdomens stripes). Only problem is it is in an Australian grassland, so it stands out like the proverbial sore thumb.

Although they are wide spread, I have never seen this species before.

I have seen a number of Darts before, but seldom managed more than a single shot, because of their "jumpy" nature and their fast flight and the ability to disappear once they land.


So many people race along Tourist Road, and they probably wonder what it is that I find so entrancing there.

I, on the other hand cannot understand why they insist on roaring past such a beautiful display, without even glancing sideways.

At least Peter Falk understood that it was important enough to make a phone call to me. And I am grateful to him for letting me know.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Another Leek Orchid - Prasophyllum australe

Last week I received a call from Alan Stephenson asking if I could possibly go to Jervis Bay to meet another friend of his who had reported seeing a Prasophyllum which Alan had not seen. This is more or less Alan's "home turf". Alan wanted some "diagnostic images" to confirm the identity of this species. Alan has an injured leg, and is still wearing his "space boot", and cannot get out and about.

Those of you who know him can tell how it would have pained him to make that call. That makes my re-telling of this story all the more satisfying (to me). I say that in the "nicest possible way". I was perfectly happy to oblige Alan, if only to see this Orchid myself.

The plants had been found, and reported to Alan by Christopher Grounds and Marilyn. As arranged, they kindly agreed to show myself and Kirsten (the Illawarra ANOS Editor) where these plants were.

The location is known as the Heritage Estate, at or near Vincentia, adjacent to Jervis Bay National Park.

Here is a habitat shot, for Mick
A lovely "Scribbly Gum" in the process of shedding its bark.
The old bark increases in colour, just prior to peeling.
The low heath shrubbery has Callistemons in flower.
Not quite as tree-free as most of Mick's "Wallum" country,
but with many similar species, I suspect.
Certainly coastal heath land on a sandstone base.

This patch of bushland has been the subject of much wrangling, over the years. It has a history of development proposals going way back into the early 20th century. And then there was the intervention by Minster Garrett to declare the development proposals to be a "Controlled Action" under the EPBC Act. The estate is a mixture of some privately owned parcels, and some Council Land. Much of the area is being trashed by trail-bike riders and drunken louts. In between the beer bottles, dumped trampolines and dead vehicles, is some of the best Orchid habitat, on sandstone heathland and open Eucalypt forest, one could wish to find.

This doesn't look like the best Orchid environment.

This wonderful old tree is the last tree in this particular clearing.
The remaining area of the paddock has been cleared.
The stump of the tree has been burnt, but still the tree lives.

I think it should be called the "How Good is that? Tree"
Imagine how long it takes the local drunks to
(Question 1) drink those bottles?
(Question 2) and then throw the empties into the hollow?
(Question 3) and then celebrate how good they are?
Answer - all night?

Photo explanation:
The hole filled with beer bottles is
about 8 metres off the ground.
I have cut and pasted the image into the
lower portion of the image,
so you can see the bottles.
But they are at full height off the ground.
Back to Orchids.

This is the Orchid in question: Prasophyllum australe.
I have double-checked this species ID with my colleagues Colin and Mischa Rowan's marvellous Orchid web reference. I also checked it with David Jones's book and Tony Bishop's book. Between both online references, and the books, I am confident of the ID of this species.

As PlantNET says: "Labellum to 8 mm long, c. 2.5 mm wide, lanceolate when flattened; in living flowers, the upper portion recurving until the tip touches the gibbous base, the margins crisped, pellucid and often undulating. Callus plate extending almost half the length of the lamina ending in 2, compressed but much raised, bumps or prongs."
Despite the "Botanical Speak" there is another clue:
"Flowers white with reddish brown and green stripes, highly fragrant."

My nose is not very sensitive, and Kirsten said
she does not have much of a sense of smell, either.
So I referred the issue to Marilyn and asked her opinion.
She sniffed the flowers, and was delighted to find
it had a sweet honey perfume.
Even I could detect the perfume.
Unfortunately, Blogger does not yet have "Sniff-o-Blog".
One day, perhaps.
Are you there, Google?

Here one can see the recurved labellum
(the pale pink and white bit).
Check the flower low down on the right of the stem,
and the one in the middle right of the image.
The labellum starts out flat, and then bends upwards,
and reflexes right back on itself.
The edges of the labellum are white, crispy and ruffled.

The plant had a very long leaf.
Here Marilyn demonstrates how long the leaf is by holding the tip
between her fingers. Here Kirsten photographs the plant,
up-close and personal.
It was probably at this time that Kirsten allowed a Bull Ant
to climb up her trousers.
Silly woman!

She will be more careful in future.
Those of you who know her, might like to ask her about it.

On the way back to the Car we found this flower.
The iconic Cryptostylis hunteriana.
It is one of the plants for which the then Environment Minister
Peter Garrett decided to step in, and deny development approval
over the Heritage Estate.

It is listed as "Vulnerable" on the EPBC ActThis bizarre plant holds its flower completely upright.
Fully exposing the sexual organs of the flower
to the appropriate insect pollinator (a wasp).
The sepals and petals are all modified
to serve only as "handles" on which the wasp perches
when pollinating the flower.

And the plant has no leaves!
That latter feature makes this plant particularly hard
for Orchid enthusiasts to find
because other related plants have persistent leaves
which can be seen and identified over about 8 months of the year.

There were 3 plants of this species growing together.
And here is a related species,
the Large Tongue Orchid, Cryptostylis subulata.
This plant has similar arrangement of reduced or curled
petals and sepals (once the flower opens).
But this one holds its "private parts"
hidden underneath the flower.
To make up for its "modesty" it has a large series of glands
along underneath the flower,
to attract its pollinators by scent.

The black line of glands
is very obvious from low down

and off to the side.

Yes, I was lying in the grass, when I took this photo
But at least I didn't get bitten by Bull Ants!