Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Orchids and Birds at Bullio

Glossy Black-Cockatoos are listed as Vulnerable in NSW.
They love Casuarina seed cones (of which they eat both the small seeds and the woody cone itself). We were tipped off by the owner of the property we were on that "Glossies like to hang out here".
Female Glossy Black-Cockatoo
which is listed as Vulnerable under the
NSW Threatened Species Act
Sure enough within a few minutes we heard their relatively quiet squawks and creaking sounds (much quieter than the Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoos I am familiar with).

They were sitting quietly in the Casuarina trees, and allowed us to approach fairly close, before dropping out of the Casuarinas and flying to a nearby Eucalypt tree.
The photo above is pretty awful, but it shows the orange red colour of te tail and, if you click to enlarge it, you can just make out a few yellow feathers on the neck.
I will always defend publishing an image of low quality if it shows the relevant diagnostic features.

Sandstone escarpment on the Wombeyan Caves Road
near the Wollondilly Lookout
which is almost directly over this property.
This is just close to the "tunnel" archway
on that road.

We watched a "Wedgie" circle below the cliff-line until it managed to gain enough height to then set off in along steady glide, to cross the Wollondilly Valley. It is lovely to watch these birds behaving so masterfully - in full control of the elements.

Young Wedge-tailed Eagles are mid brown in colour with reddish-brown heads and wings. They become progressively blacker for at least the first ten years of their lives; adults are mostly dark blackish-brown.

Circling below the cliff lines was a young
(note the light colour patches)
Wedge-tailed Eagle

In our guests' backyard they had many garden flowers which attracted the Monarch Butterflies (Danaus plexippus) This is a nice grey-leaved Salvia with blue flowers. These Butterflies are greedy nectar-feeders. They rely upon the Mild Weeds and native vines (and sometimes Figs) as host plants, though for their food for their Caterpillars. The Milk Weed was very common, growing beside the track down the hill to this house. I did not see any on their property, but Monarch Butterflies earn their name Wanderer Butterfly, so a few minutes flying time is no problem for them.
Monarch Butterfly on Salvia flowers.
The reason we were at this property was because Ken, our host, had rung me on Friday, in fulfillment of  a two year old promise to "ring me when the Little Dumpies come into flower".

When he rang me he said he had "hundreds of Little Dumpies" A small group of us came to the property on Sunday to see what Ken had to show us. 
This is what he meant. 
He was not kidding, nor was he exaggerating.

"Little Dumpies" is the popular name for Diplodium truncatum.

A colony of "Little Dumpies"
This is how they get their popular name.
Little Dumpy (Diplodium truncatum)
You can see the mown lawn grass in the background
so you can see how short the flower stem is.

"Parsons Bands Orchid" Eriochilus cucullatus

We also saw a few other Orchid species while walking around this wonderful property.

This charming little Acianthus pusillus was a total surprise for most of us, except for Bruce and Alison (from the Central Coast) who happened to have seen this species in flower when travelling through Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park on their way down here.

These tiny Acianthus flowers were barely the height of a finger. Much smaller than the related Acianthus exsertus we had seen on Saturday

But there were more subtle differences in flower shape which Bruce and I worked through by comparing our various photos.
  1. The protruding tips of the lateral sepals (underneath the labellum) are more prominent than in Acianthus exsertus
  2. The dorsal sepal has this wide section over the column, which then suddenly tapers to a tip.
    Acianthus exsertus is more or less straight the full length of the dorsal sepal.
  3. Bruce also pointed out that the bract underneath the flower is at least half the length of the ovary, whereas Acianthus exsertus is a much larger flower and yet the bract is roughly the same size, so proportionately, this one's bract covers more of the ovary.
Acianthus pusillus
Acianthus pusillus
This is a Blunt Greenhood (Diplodium obtusum)
These plants were growing in an open grassed area.
(Diplodium obtusum)

And now for a fungus which I had never seen before.
I kid you not - this fungus is called
"Phallus rubicundus"
This specimen had collapsed already.
My Blogging colleague Martin has posted about 
after the rains around Bungendore and Canberra.

Phallus rubicundus


Flabmeister said...

Excellent outing!

Two things are surprising me about the fallic phungus.

The first is how quickly they collapse. A bunch emerged at home yesterday (I presume over night) and by 8am half of them had collapsed.

Second, how widespread they are. A colleague at the ANPS walk yesterday said he had some in his garden in Aranda.

Denis Wilson said...

Hi Martin
Well I take your word for how quickly they collapse, as I have only seen them once.
Certainly the related Aseroe rubra is very fast to collapse.
Thanks for the advice and comment.

Lorne Johnson said...

Nice work re the Glossies at Bullio, Denis. You should put that in the Birdline NSW section of a terrific Aussie bird data site.

Have a top Easter,


Anonymous said...

Hi Denis, this is a fungus of the genus Russula. The species identification is not easy. The most important feature is the color of spore dust.

Greetings to Australia.

Anonymous said...

Crap, I have answered the wrong blog. This also relates the orange mushroom below.


Denis Wilson said...

Thanks Peter
I know which one you mean.
I shall edit the text to include your comment.
Many thanks.