AUGUST 2020 – KRMB FIELD TRIP
The August field outing was to Bindoon and the Chittering Valley and our hosts for the weekend were Rosalie and Geoff Barritt who moved into a bush block at Bindoon about a year ago. Eight members made the trip up on the Saturday morning to join Rosalie and Geoff at their property.
Image: Colin Prickett
The block sits on laterite and has a mixture of Wandoo, Powderbark and Jarrah trees with a varied heath understorey. It is rich in birdlife and upon arrival we immediately viewed a large group of Common Bronzewings foraging on the ground close to the residence while Ringneck Parrots were active in the trees. A male Scarlet Robin was seen busily feeding close to our parked cars. Red-capped Parrots and Grey Shrike-thrush were also sighted. Kangaroos and Wallabies are also common visitors to the backyard of the house.
After a quick cuppa we set out to explore the block and discover its treasure-trove of flora. Two species that immediately caught the eye were Pink Star Flowers (Calytrix sylvana) and the Crinkle-leaved Poison (Gastrolobium villosum) while low to the ground Petrophile striata, with its interestingly-shaped flowers, was widespread.
Also sighted were Beard Heath (Leucopogon pulchellus), the beautiful Scented Banjine (Pimelia suaveolens) and three species of Hibbertia, the Large Hibbertia (Hibbertia lasiopus), H. commutata and H. glomerata. Three species of Banksia were present – Parrot Bush (Banksia sessilis), Golden Dryandra (B. nobilis) and Honeypot Dryandra (B. nivea). Three species of orchids were flowering – Cowslip Orchids (Caladenia flava), Small-flowered Donkey Orchid (Diuris porrifolia) and Dark-banded Greenhood (Pterostylis sanguinea). The Wheel Sundew (Drosera leucoblasta) was a cryptic beauty growing out of the laterite.
Crinkle-leaved Poison – Gastrolobium villosum Image: Colin Prickett
After a break for morning tea we then set out to explore a portion of similar bushland adjacent to the property that is set aside as a nature reserve. Here we found many more Scented Banjine plus the Pale Rainbow Drosera (Drosera pallida) in flower. Also spotted was a Katydid (Pachysaga sp.) crawling around in the leaf litter.
We then went back to the house for lunch. After lunch I was instructed by Geoff to get my camera and come for a short walk. In fact it was a very short walk of less than 10 steps to a bird bath with the bowl supported on a log. Geoff, after instructing me to get ready with my camera, removed the bowl to reveal a Thick-tailed Gecko (Underwoodisaurus milii), which, to Geoff’s surprise, did not immediately bolt down into the hollow of the log allowing a few nice photographs to be taken.
We then set off for our afternoon walk that involved a drive to Blackboy Ridge Nature Reserve via Spoonbill Lake to look for wetland birds. Black Swans, Eurasian Coots, Australasian Grebes and Black Ducks were on the lake. Blackboy Ridge Nature Reserve, as the name suggests, is a reserve on the side of a hill overlooking the Chittering Valley and features large numbers of Xanthorrhoea acanthostacha. The reserve proved very popular and we encountered many walkers out enjoying the beautiful weather during our visit.
Along with the Xanthorrhoea we sighted Common Donkey Orchids (Diuris corymbosa), Small-flowered Donkey Orchids (Diuris porrifolia), the Two-coloured Kangaroo Paw (Anigozanthos bicolor), Stackhousia monogyna, Banksia fraseri, Prickly Bitter Pea (Daviesia decurrens) and Milkmaids (Burchardia congesta). Those of us that made the walk to the lookout at the top were rewarded with a beautiful view of the valley.
On the descent a Leaping Spider Orchid (Caladenia macrostylis) was a nice sighting while another tall spider orchid was found in bud. In total around 20 species of flora were identified on this reserve. Also spotted on the descent was a Stick Katydid (Phasmodes sp.) nymph.
As the last of us made it back to the bottom of the ridge where a bridge over a small creek would take us back to the car park, a frog was heard calling with a “Quack Quack”. I made a recording and submitted it to the FrogId app on my phone. As expected, it was confirmed to be the call of the Quacking Frog (Crinia georgiana).
We then made our way back to the Barritt’s property where some of us would spend the night. While we were relaxing on the deck, the setting sun shone brightly on the wings of the Common Bronzewings, highlighting the colouration that gives them their common name. Carnaby’s Black Cockatoos flew in just on dusk and about a dozen Western Grey Kangaroos came through, some nervous, others seemingly oblivious to our presence. Geoff lit a campfire and we sat around watching the comings and goings of the kangaroos for a while before lighting the BBQ to prepare dinner. It was a perfect end to a great day. Following dinner we farewelled the last of those that were only attending for the single day. During the night a Southern Boobook Owl was heard calling.
We awoke to light showers of rain. Low clouds blocked the sunrise but a mist drifted up from the valley below to provide some atmosphere to the vista from the deck. After breakfast Daniel and Desiree Heald drove in to join us for the day. We again walked around the block, with Daniel, as always, on the lookout for invertebrates in addition to the flora. He spotted a large hairy caterpillar on top of a fallen branch, a tiny Jumping Spider, believed to be an as yet to be described species, a nymph of the Mimetic Gumleaf Grasshopper and a Swift Spider (Nyssus coloripes).
An unexpected sighting was a Slender Tree Frog (Litoria adelaidensis) that judging by its size was doing very nicely despite there being no water body on the block.
We then made our way up the Great Northern Highway to Udumung Reserve, Wannamal. Here we found nice displays of the Many-headed Dryandra (Banksia polycephala).
Also sighted were Jug Orchids (Pterostylis recurva) and more of the Small-flowered Donkey Orchids. The Slender Smokebush (Conospermum huegelii), Blue Leschenaultia (Leschenaultia biloba) and Isopogon dubius were also flowering here.
From Udumung Reserve we drove west along Hay Flat Road to a granite outcrop rising up from the side of the road. At this spot we found Thomasia grandiflora, Rhodanthe citrina, Boyra sphaerocephala, Lawrencella rosea and Grevillea endlicheriana in flower.
We also saw Winter Donkey Orchids (Diuris brumalis), Common Donkey Orchids (Diuris corymbosa) and Small-flowered Donkey Orchids (Diuris porrifolia) flowering on the same ledge, along with the Early Dwarf White Spider Orchid (Caladenia hiemalis).
Our last stop was alongside the train line at Wannamal where Rosalie had found some Silky Blue Orchids flowering the previous week. Sadly these were now finished but we did spot Cowslip Orchids (Caladenia flava), Tribonanthes longipetala and Grevillea endlicheriana in flower.
It was then time to return to our base where we packed our cars for the trip back home. It had been a great weekend with a total of 20 bird species, numerous flora species and several invertebrate species found. Many images of the orchids, other flora and invertebrates have been posted on the KRMB Facebook Page.
We extend our sincere thanks to Rosalie and Geoff for their hospitality over the weekend.