Thursday, 26 November 2015

NOVEMBER OUTING ----- BIRDS AND A BIT OF HISTORY.

The early birders arrived at Wahpunga School Park. This was the site of a state school from 1910 that closed in 1967, one of many small schools around the Kin Kin district. Many of our members may remember school arbor days and today we witnessed the happy result of many years of tree plantings.
Rose-crowned Fruit Dove enjoying Small Leaf Figs
The Rose-crowned Fruit-Dove and many other birds enjoyed the ripe fruit of the Small Leaf Fig (Ficus obliqua). This fruit dove is often heard with its slow 'woop-whoo' call becoming faster to again fade away as it calls from the high canopy of the rainforest. These birds were also working the Small Leaf Figs at Sheppersons Park not far away on Wahpunga Creek. Another fig tree bearing fruit was the Hairy Fig (Ficus hispida), with a small number of fruit on the trunk and old branches. Not to be confused with the cluster Fig (Ficus racemosa), which also bears fruit in large number on the trunk.

Kin Kin Creek flows beside the school park and also provided good birding with the most noted bird being a Rufous Fantail: always darting and low down in the canopy and very difficult to photograph. A short drive around to Sheppersons Park also provided good birding with many of our old favourites, like the Eastern Yellow Robin and the Red-browed Finch, which have been present in numbers this year.

Eastern Yellow Robin

Red-browed Finch (also Firetail)
The Millaa Millaa Vine (Elaeagus triflora) was in full fruit. This rambling climber was growing in abundance adjacent to the forest canopy in areas where light was available. It has small four-petaled perfumed flowers followed by an edible fruit as shown in the photo. A taste indicated the fruit was generally sweet but slightly astringent. No birds were seen feasting on the ripe fruit: the Small Leaf Fig appeared a better choice. The caterpillars of the Indigo Flash Butterfly (Rapala varuna) are reported to feed on the flower buds and flowers.
Millaa Millaa Vine (Elaeagus triflora) in fruit
After morning tea the group traveled to the Doggrell Tree Protection Area, Como Forestry Reserve, Kin Kin to view the old growth stand of Gympie Messmate (Eucalyptus cloeziana) at the southernmost point in its natural distribution. The original Doggrell tree was named after Reg Doggrell, a forest ranger from Gympie. He was instrumental in preserving this area. Our life members Peter and Bruce reflected on the time about 40 years when the club visited the tree. The tree had a boardwalk around the base with a protection fence. This has all long been dismantled with no identification of where the tree once stood. It was claimed it took 15 people with linked arms to reach around the base of the tree. Reportedly, the Doggrell Tree was over 60m tall and had a girth of almost 7m (Parks Australia).

Lunch was taken on the shores of Lake Cootharaba at Elanda Point. A very strong easterly wind made conditions were very pleasant. Unfortunately the weather declined, so most members headed home soon after lunch.

"Home Bug Gardner" Dave will now be administering this club blog site. "Coolnat" Lionel hopes to provide postings relating to birding with bird photos in the future and we all should give him a round of applause for his unstinting efforts to keep the blog going in the past. Thanks Lionel!

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Alas poor Yorick, I knew him well

A male Grey Butcherbird in bum crack mode
Greetings fellow Gympie Nats. I was tempted to go full arthropod on my first posting, but decided that a good bird would be more appropriate, not in the William Tecumseh Sherman sense, but a thoroughly content Grey Butcherbird soaking up the Sunshine Coast Hinterlands sunshine while exposing his uropygial glands. I've seen similar corpse-like sprawls in Brush Turkeys and Crested Pigeons, so this 'passive anting' behaviour seems to be widespread in birds (no ants were present).
The same bird when hunger overcomes sun-worship
Not that birds and arthropods don't go together: without arthropods there would be no birds. Butcherbirds, however, can be pretty hard on the local large arthropods.
I moved this female huntsman (Holconia immanis) from my home to the garden. Alas she soon became Butcherbird food.

Friday, 25 September 2015

SEPTEMBER FIELD TRIP

 September outing took the early birders to the Widgee state forest reserve, a left turn not far past the Glastonbury hall. The forest road was in fair condition taking the group on a circuit of about 15Km . The habitat for birds varied from open eucalyptus forest, vine scrub on a number of moist gullies and Hoop Pine plantations on the ridges.The rise in altitude from the plains to reach a height of 550 meter reasonably high on Glastonbury mountain. The view from that point were looking across the grazing areas of Glastonbury creek. The forest density and type at this height suggested better soil with a little more moisture available.The grazing flats showing some signs of drying after winter and the noted lack of recent rain. Looking more in a westerly direction the highest peak in our district, Mount Widgee was visible at a height of about 660 meters.After a few hours of good birding we returned to the hall via the Glastonbury Creek road. My high points was a good photo of the White-eared Monarch and a Australasian Grebe on its grass nest in the middle of a lagoon. Unfortunately saw us and took a very long dive --- no photo.
Called Honeycomb Sandstone Patterning ---- this feature on the ceiling at one of the rock shelters.----- note the section which has collapsed and fell to he floor below.

Dockrillia linguiforme  (tick orchid) ----the lichen on the rock
showing signs of  moisture stress.----- nice flowers. 
Travelling to the Brooyar State Forest to meet the rest of the group for morning tea at Point Pure Lookout. The two lookouts in the forest reserve, very popular with the rock climbing family, these people enjoy the shear sandstone cliffs. The rest of us just look up in wonderment.
A number of native orchids attach to the boulders, the only one in flower on the day was the Dockrillia linguiforme ( tick or tongue orchid) . The Dendrobium  monophyllum (lily of the valley) Dendrobium speciosum (king orchid) were not in flower.
Lunch taken at Glastonbury Creek camping area, members kept company by a considerable number of bird species. A large group of Red-browed Finch were very nice , and didn't mind a number of people watching their activities.
One of the rock shelters.
 After lunch a number of energetic people walked to the rock shelters. Where over time the soft sandstone has eroded leaving large overhangs and caves. The very interesting patterns and in particular the honeycomb patterns in the roof of one of the overhangs. Water, wind and a very long period of time created these very unusual patterns in the softer sandstone A very interesting day, and once again I drove home wondering .

Satin Flycatcher ---- small bird to 15-17 cm ----- not as common as the Restless Flycatcher.
White-throated Treecreeper ------ as the name suggests , picking insects from under the bark  ------White throat with white streaks on the flanks ----- small bird to 15cm.
White-eared Monarch -----small 13-14 cm ---- considered to be uncommon ----- spent a considerable time collecting insects from the Silky Oak (Grevillea robusta) . I shall add this photo to my collection.
Little Shrike-thrush ----larger bird to 19cm 
White-throated Gerygone (Inmature) ------ the white throat just starting to develop ----- very small bird at 10cm.
Varied Triller (F) ----- about 20 cm in size ---- is a smaller member of the Cuckoo-shrike family----- the female has the pronounced brown bars across her breast.
 







Sunday, 6 September 2015

BIRDS ----- MYALL PARK BOTANICAL GARDENS

Superb Fairy-Wren (M)
Brown Honeyeater


White-eared Honeyeater
 Continuing travels out to Myall Park Botanical Gardens, birding was the main past time of members.  The new bird hide was given the seal of approval as the pond situated closely to the viewing window provided ideal viewing as well as photography.  The Gardens are not only a memorial to their creators, but a credit to the numerous volunteers that keep this stunning place humming along so well.  Since our last visit, we have noticed numerous new editions to the garden, especially the new planting of Hakea varieties, should be stunning once matured.
The birds take up residence here both continually and migratory.
Spiny-checked Honeyeater

Yellow-faced Honeyeater

A look inside a birds nest ---- this hanging nest believed to be that of the Mistletoebird  ----- the material inside may be from last seasons clutch.

Pale-headed Rosella.
Yellow-faced Whip Snake ----- venomous snake, but not considered dangerous.

Double-barred Finch


Australian Raven ---- note the shaggy, long hackles under the neck.

Striped Honeyeater

Spotted Bowerbird ---- the grey band just visible at the base of the neck ---- this male's display bower was quite close to the water point.

Rufous Whistler (M)
 As with most Australian plants their life expectancy is not forever.  During travels around the garden a row of Eucalyptus subrius I admired on an earlier visit ha a few dead branches, hopefully they have a few more years left in them yet. Opposite these beautiful trees I notice new planting of Subrius have been carried out, undoubtedly the custodians are keen to keep these beauties in the garden in the future.  It was also noted the Eucalyptus varieties of Mallee have been planted by the Caboolture S.G.A.P., these trees seem to prefer the dry sandy structure of soil of the garden.
The heralded Robyn Gordon Grevillea, still a favourite with gardeners, and associated developed species are still growing and flowering in their special patch.
White-throated Honeyeater


Saturday, 5 September 2015

WILDFLOWERS ---- BARAKULA,GURULMUNDI,WAAJI AREA.

Members of the Gympie and District Field Naturalists' Club and their friends travelled to the southern slopes of the Great Dividing Range, north of Miles and Chinchilla on the Western Darling Downs.  The purpose of this trip was to search for the wildflowers known to be growing in the sandstone gullies and on the rocky ridges.  The weather was magnificent, the guiding party provided by the Chinchilla Field Naturalists was informative, and the company congenial resulting in an ideal mix for a great week.
Members were guide through the Barakula State Forest, Binkey State Forest, Gurulmundi State Forest, and the Waaje area.  The Leichhardt Highway dissects these areas. The days were very full driving to and walking in the different countryside. The nights spent around the camp fire discussing what we had seen were an enjoyable finish to the days activities.
Acacia barakulensis (Wajja wattle) ----- shrub to 2 metres.
Acacia amblygona  (fan wattle) ----- low spreading
habit ----- sharp point on end of leaves.
Acacia buxifolia  (box-leaf wattle) ---- shrub to 4 metres ---
bright yellow flowers in bracelets.

Acacia julifera . subsp. julifera
Wattles in the Midwest  -   The varieties of these Australian beauties  were flowering wherever the group ventured.  However, arriving at L.Tree Creek ( named after Leichhardt's tree, the one of many he blazed L into the bark to help with identification on the return trip), the different golden, yellows were overwhelming. These are some of the photographs of the different wattles one can see and have fun identifying.
The plant lists, kindly given to us by our hosts, list fifty (50) different names to align your photos to.





Acacia spectabilis  (glory wattle)
Acacia caroleae (Carol's wattle) 

Acacia juncifolia (rush-leaf wattle) ----- shrub to 2 metres
Homalocalyx poyandrus  ----- photo on the left





Tin Hut -  Blinkey State Forest -  This is the last standing structure of the property of H.Mason . The State forest was gazetted after the property was purchased in 1950.  The land was first settled during 1800's and the owners grazed sheep.  The remains of other structures believed to be Pig-sty, Blacksmith workshop , large shed for wagons, sulkies and sheep shearing area.  An old abandoned wool wagon has been taken to the local museum. The 'Tin Hut' has Cypress walls, undoubtedly, the reason it is still there, has not been attached by Termites.  The property is on Tin Hut Creek, and evidence of many wells around the property exist, the continual looking for water a constant chore.  When the owners took up the land it was different to what we viewed on the day.  The Black Cypress are abundant, however records state the owners state they have taken up a holding in a well grassed open area.  It is believed the area was kept open by burning by the Aboriginal people of the area.  When the sheep arrived they continued with the culling of the small Cypress growth.  The area is now left to grow naturally.

Grevillea  longistyla ---- occurs naturally in open forest woodlands on the sandstone ridges of the Great Dividing Range.
Micromyrtus sessilis ----- curly-bark micromyrtus --- small white to pink flowers  for a great display. ----- note the woolly bark.
Micromyrtus carinta (yellow ) and Micromyrtus patula (white) ------ Gurulmundi Heath-myrtle ----- inhabits the tops of ridges on yellow or red sands. ----- a member looking  for more flowers.
This water storage hole was in the lower section of the sandstone plateau  ------ believed to be a water storage hole used by previous generations ----- filled by soil over the years and now supporting a tree and grass.
Homoranthus melanostictus -----mouse bush ----- member of the Myrtaceae family ----- This one has grey-green foliage, another variety decumbens, has purple foliage.  These plants were admired by all members, only grows in this section of Australia.
Dampiera adpressa ------ small shrub ----- named for William Dampier  
Hakea purpurea (needle-wood) --- erect shrub 1 to 3 meters in height. ---- flower followed by woody seed pods 40mm long by 15mm wide ---- The pods don't shed their seeds until stimulated by bushfire.

Kunzea opposita (Kunzea)

Boronia glabra (sandstone boronia)  ------ growing on the sand plains of Waaji
forest reserve.----- similar to our coastal Boronia.



Eucalyptus fibrosa subsp. nubila (blue-leaved ironbark)
Calytrix gurulmundensis  (yellow calytrix)
photo above and below. 
Calytrix tetragona (white calytrix)









Amyema quandang (grey mistletoe) grows in arid inland areas ---- acacia being the host tree ----- providing nectar for the spiny-cheeked honeyeater and mistletoebirds.
Jacksonia rhadinoclona  (western dogwood)