Sunday, 5 March 2017

Brooloo & the Pratt's Property 19 February 2017

A Red Triangle Spider Arkys lancearius on a Kangaroo Vine leaf
The Brooloo district seems to have taken its name from Brooloo Bluff above a paddock on Imbil Station and may be a misspelling of an Aboriginal word for 'white colour' (booloo). A public hall was built in 1915 along with a post office and a rail office followed the next year. In the 2011 census 445 people were recorded as living in Brooloo.
Kangaroo Vine in Fruit at the Pratt's
BROOLOO OUTING                                                                                        19th February 2017
Despite the predicted heat, 26 hardy members rolled up to the February outing of the club, very grateful to Allan and Diane Pratt for inviting the group to their Brooloo property. We took advantage of the shady area along the little water course to sit and walk, and Allan showed us his excellent video of the wildlife which he has filmed, mostly right there on his own block. Some of the featured fauna were gliders, possum, koala, melomys, bats, rat, bandicoot, wallaby, snakes, Saw-shelled and Long-necked Turtles, frogs, lizards, and fish. The Platypus sequence was quite exceptional. Thank you to Diane for the cold drinks!
The elusive Russet-tailed Thrush
Thirteen “Early Birders” were met at the gate by Allan and his son Stephen, and drove up the hill to see the resident Bush Stone-curlews. On our return to the front of the block, even though the air rang with the persistent chinking of the Bell Miners, other birds were quickly seen, including both the Large-billed and White-browed Scrubwrens. Bird of the Day? - had to be the very laid back Russet-tailed Thrush, feeding on the lawn and later barely perceptible, the cryptic plumage bending perfectly with the fallen leaves in dappled light. By contrast, the group of Sulphur-crested Cockatoos were even more raucous than usual, being attacked by the Bell Miners.  A large flock of Figbirds was about. The Spectacled Monarch hunted for insects in the canopy, interestingly in the same trees where it was seen some months earlier.
Flooded Gum
The birders took advantage of their early start to walk up the through a neighbouring block of a young mixed tree plantation, thickly under grown with tall grass. Birds seen included Red-browed Finch, Chestnut-breasted Manikin, Yellow Robin, Golden Whistler, Bee-eater, Spangled Drongo, Dollarbird, Cicadabird, Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike, Little Wattlebird, Noisy Friarbird, Brown Quail, White-throated Gerygone, King Parrot, Rainbow Lorikeet, Scaly-breasted Lorikeet, Pale-headed Rosella, Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo, both butcherbirds, Peewee, Currawong, and close encounters with a very active family group of Variegated Fairy-wrens. On distant powerlines, four kingfishers challenged our  identification powers, but the buff breasts led to a decision for Sacred. However, as a later debate on the Field Nats Facebook page proved, immature Forest kingfishers also have buff tinted breast feathers. Perched high in the sparse top branches of a gum tree was a Little Pied Cormorant! Honeyeaters enjoying the grevilleas, callistemon and insects were the Brown, Blue-faced, Lewin’s, Yellow-faced, New Holland, Scarlet and Dusky.
Young Forest Kingfisher looking unusually buff
The next group of members arrived, and crossed the wee footbridge to a grand spot for shade by the little stream. We met our energetic host, Allan Pratt, whose evident enthusiasm for his goal of transforming his bloke into a wildlife haven is to be congratulated. We had an easy walk along his driveway, noting a variety of plants and trees. He showed us one of the last remaining slash pines on his property, where he had been charmed by a parliament of four Barking Owls, until he noticed all the feathers (from their prey) below their regular perch. With mixed feelings, he reports that they have moved on.
Native stingless bees (commonly called Sugarbag Bees now) attending to a water lily.
As well as the larger fauna, there were countless invertebrates. Butterflies seen included Wanderer, Lesser Wanderer, Blue Tiger, Varied Eggfly, Greater Grass Yellow, Orchard Swallowtail, Common Crow.
Allan hopes that members can return at other seasons when different species will be present. Rahima Farnham

On arrival, we came upon the dam where unfortunately we didn’t see the resident platypus. Obvious water plants were two waterlilies – Nymphoides indica with its small, white, fringed flowers and Nymphaea caerulea, an exotic with larger blue flowers (but well visited by native stingless bees). Also, there was a bulrush (Typha orientalis) and a yellow flowering bladderwort (Utricularia gibba).
Behind this was a moist gully with a still trickling small creek. Here the canopy was made up of majestic Flooded Gums (Eucalyptus grandis), Hoop Pines (Araucaria cunninghamii), Picabeen Palms (Archontophoenix cunninghamiana) and a Small-leafed Fig (Ficus obliqua), among others.
Nymphoides indica the Snowflake waterliliy
The next layer of vegetation included such species as Celerywood (Polyscias elegans), the abundant Wild Quince (Guioa semiglauca), Red Kamala (Mallotus philippensis), Foam Bark (Jagera pseudorhus), Glossy Laurel (Cryptocarya laevigata), Brown Bolly Gum (Litsea leefeana), White Bolly Gum (Neolitsea dealbata) and Deep Yellowwood (Rhodosphaera rhodanthema).
Yellow Bladderwort Urticularia gibba
One of the smallest plants at ground level was the Love Flower (Pseuderanthemum variabile). Also there were maiden hair ferns and Prickly Rasp Fern (Doodia aspera), Scrambling Lily (Geitonoplesium cymosum), Barbed-wire Vine (Smilax australis), cordylines, Currant Bush (Carissa ovata), Native Holly (Alchornia ilicifolia) and the abundant Kangaroo Vine with its purple grape-like fruit (Cissus antarctica).
Native Pepper Vine Piper hederaceum
Apologies from a rank amateur for omissions and errors. Bev McKay.

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