Field Trip to Tarin Rock

18 Sept 2020

On Friday 18 September at 2pm in the afternoon, the weather was sunny and it appeared to be a beautiful afternoon. Eighteen people from the Western Australian Naturalists’ Club and the Wildflower Society of Western Australia were met by Jolanda at the Kukerin Caravan Park, where she explained that due to changing weather forecast for the next couple of days, the location to be visited that afternoon was changed in order to see orchids and wildflowers on the only granite pavement present in the Reserve.

On Friday 18 September at 2pm in the afternoon, the weather was sunny and it appeared to be a beautiful afternoon. Eighteen people from the Western Australian Naturalists’ Club and the Wildflower Society of Western Australia were met by Jolanda at the Kukerin Caravan Park, where she explained that due to changing weather forecast for the next couple of days, the location to be visited that afternoon was changed in order to see orchids and wildflowers on the only granite pavement present in the Reserve. Image Joan Sharp

The whole group spent the afternoon hours at the granite pavement finding the Vanilla or Lemon-scented Sun Orchid (Thelemitra antennifera), Donkey Orchid (Diuris corymbosa), Purple Enamel Orchid (Elythranthera brunonis), Little Laughing Leek Orchid (Prasophyllum gracile), and Clown Spider Orchid (Caladenia roei). Most of these had not been observed in previous years of Jolanda’s survey of the Nature Reserve.
Image: J Keeble

The granite pavement was also awash with a carpet of yellow Podolepis lessonii. Surrounding the granite were flowering Jam trees and Quandongs amongst the Allocasuarina campestris shrubs.

The next day loomed cloudy, cold and rainy. We met at 9am in the Kukerin Caravan Park, where we discovered we had two additional guests for the day, both students, and so we set off with a party of twenty-five people. We travelled the backroads to the Tarin Rock Water Reserve where we spent time along the railway line reserve before visiting the Duggan Dam. We had morning tea near the old Duggan Siding where Don Poynton found a witchetty grub trying to find a place to hide.

We then visited a Kwongan heath area along the Dumbleyung-Lake Grace Road where lots of Robust Tinsel Lilies were flowering (Calectasia valida). The next stop before lunch was on the lower slope of the Tarin Rock Hill, at an old track around a fire scar. Some of our group observed a young Bardick snake making its way unhurriedly across the track. After lunch on the main track, we visited the summit of Tarin Rock Hill before descending on the northern side of the hill to visit an alien looking area with Banksia fasciculata (Priority 3) and Isopogon gardneri providing interesting shapes, and Beaufortia incana flowering. We then descended from laterite back into loamy sand kwongan vegetation where, to Jolanda’s delight, we found the Catspaw (Anigozanthos humilis) in flower. We also found several other declared plant species, notably the prostrate Acacia depressa (not in flower, Threatened) and Jacksonia debilis (Priority 1).

At the end of the day we visited the Eucalyptus longicornis woodland on Hills Road where we visited an aboriginal heritage site, and found Eremophila lehmanniana, Cowslip Orchid (Caladenia flava), and Fringed Mantis Orchid (Caladenia falcata).

Sunday started as a very cold and windy day. Again we started from the Kukerin Caravan Park and travelled to White Dam Road to see if we could find a Hibbertia that Kevin Thiele had asked us to look for. Unfortunately the area was so degraded that the only interesting features were the birds. A flock of Tree Martins greeted us when we arrived, and a Striated Pardalote entertained us before we left to visit the Jam Patch located north of Lake Grace. This is a granite outcrop and at this time in spring a mass of wildflowers was out. Hakea preissii was in full flower as was the Delicate Clematis (Clematis delicata) and several Fringed Lily species. We had lunch in the shelter at the old tennis courts area before we headed off to visit North Tarin Rock Nature Reserve. A Wedge-tailed Eagle flew above the road before we entered the reserve. First we went to the north-eastern side of the Reserve to find and collect the Hibbertia for Kevin Thiele, which we managed to do after half an hour surveying. Then we drove through the Reserve and stopped to look for Conostylis rogeri (another Threatened species) and our last stop was at the breakaway before heading back to Kukerin. Don Poynton explained the geology of this extraordinary place.

Conostylis rogeri Image: J Keeble

In the evening we met at Cambinata Yabbies to have a meal. The Nenke family had kindly offered for us to meet in their shearing shed as the weather was awfully windy and cold.

Monday morning we again met at the Kukerin Caravan Park and travelled back to Tarin Rock Nature Reserve to search for any presence or evidence of Malleefowl in the area where they previously had been found (1970 was the last sighting). We spread out in a row along the central firebreak track and walked north through the vegetation. Unfortunately we did not find any signs of Malleefowl, nor did we find their old nesting mounds.

After a late morning tea we drove back to the Dumbleyung Lake Grace Road as most people wanted to go home. Only a few remained to visit Oliver Road to look at some other vegetation. At the end of this long weekend we had observed 43 bird species in the areas we visited, along with around 75 plant species.

Jolanda Keeble