Field Trip to Hamel Eco-Park

22 NOVEMBER 2020

Our November field trip was to Hamel Eco-Park, a small reserve near Waroona, which attracted an excellent turnout of 19 attendees. Our guide for the day was Heather Adamson. Situated on Burney Road in Hamel, the Hamel Eco-Park was originally known as the Hamel Nursery. Between 1925 and 1957, the nursery produced a total of 4.5 million trees of different varieties and flowers were sent to Perth to decorate the Premier’s Office. The site is now a popular picnic spot with a stream passing through, heritage listed trees and four walk trails.

Being the site of a former nursery, it should be noted that the plants and trees to be found are, in the main, not natives of southwest WA. This was brought home on our first walk, which was along a trail that passed through a grove of Camellias that had grown much taller than the shrub sized plants found in many back yards. Rain earlier in November left some dampness in the leaf litter and a few patches of medium sized mushroom type fungi were found. Many orb weaving spiders took advantage of the shade provided by the grove of trees and had set up their webs alongside the trail; one was recognized as a Garden Orb Weaver (Eriophora sp). Our next walk took us past a very tall Date Palm on our way to inspect some large Cork trees growing alongside the brook that flows through the park. Typically found in southern Spain, this type of tree was the source of cork for use in the wine industry prior to the relatively recent uptake of screw tops. The open area near this path contains some very large Acacia sp that originated in the eastern states.

Arkys walckanaeri (Image by Colin Prickett)

After a brief stop at the picnic area for a drink, we set out on another trail that winds through more open woodland. Along this trail we found a large specimen of Ceratopetalum gummiferum, the New South Wales Christmas, in flower. It attracted a variety of insects, including the Western Brown butterfly. This area also had a very nice Grevillea in flower, in all probability another eastern state variety. Unfortunately, there were some weed species present, such as Watsonia and the California Tree (or Matilija) Poppy (Romneya coulteri), which was flowering along the railway track.

Daniel Heald was busy finding other insects, such as a Eurybrachid Planthopper nymph and a small moth, Metaphrastis acrochalca. A large surface fungus on the trunk of a Eucalypt attracted a variety of insects including a Tetrastichinae Eulophid wasp that was probably parasitizing beetle larvae in the fungus. A tiny, colourful spider, found on a leaf of a shrub was later identified as Arkys walckanaeri.

The sighting of the day had to be a recently emerged Cicada that was still in the process of hardening its wings and developing its adult colouration. It was found low on the trunk of a Eucalypt alongside its exuvia. Bird sightings were low, probably due to the large numbers of attendees in a relatively small reserve.

After exploring each of the walk trails, we gathered at the picnic area for a well-earned cuppa and snack. It had been an interesting morning’s walk through this historic reserve. To see a selection of photos from the walk check out Sophie Xiang’s and Heather Adamson’s posts on the KRMB Facebook Page.

Colin Prickett