August Northern Suburbs Branch
The unseasonably hot weather forecast did not stop a very pleasing turnout of 16 members and visitors (at least three of whom had seen it on Meetup, including a recent arrival from Wales) from visiting Marangaroo Conservation Reserve—all of them I think for the first time. The walk was timed to coincide with the peak season for orchids.
Geoff and Robyn Forbes, founding members of The Friend of Marangaroo Conservation Reserve were our guides. It was clear from their 30 plus years of involvement that they were both very knowledgeable and passionate about the area, which now consists of only 21 ha of the original 60 ha—the rest having been claimed for the adjacent public golf course.
We learnt that over 600 species or subspecies of native plants have been recorded here, including 24 orchids. Geoff and Robyn were able to show us many patches of Donkey Orchids, as well as Carousel, Cowslip, Jug and Snail Orchids in flower. We also saw the leaves of Sun Orchids—which will start flowering late next month—Leopard Orchids, which will flower in November, and Rattlebeaks, which rarely flower.
It was interesting to learn that there are no White Spider Orchids here, the only other of this type being Caladenia georgei (left, D Poynton)
Altogether, we recorded 35 native plants in flower excluding the orchids but there were many more that were not yet in flower and therefore did not stand out. The larger flora included five Banksia species (B. attenuata, B. dallanneyi, B. grandis, B. ilicifolia, B. menziesii,), three Hakea (H. prostrata, H. ruscifolia, H. trifurcata), three Jacksonia (J. floribunda, J. furcellata, J. sternbergiana) and two Pimelea (P. leucantha, P.sulphurea).
The yellow flowers of three species of Conostylis (C. aculeata,C. juncea, C. setigera) and two or possibly three Hibbertia (H. heugelii, H. hypericoides, ? H. racemosa) predominated and there was plenty of camera action when vivid green Scarab Beetles were spotted on the Hibbertia flowers on several occasions.
Verticordia nitens was surprisingly absent, given that reserves within a few kilometres of Marangaroo contain the species in large numbers; Marangaroo CR has a solitary V. nitens plant. (October’s GOLLY walk is scheduled to visit Thaxter Park in Landsdale to see the mass flowering of these spectacular plants.)
The Star of Bethlehem (Calectasia narragara) (right, D Poynton) was another plant we only saw once—but there are probably more in the reserve.
Despite the warm weather, we failed to find any reptiles sunning themselves (there are known to be two species of Monitors here) and only a few common birds were sighted. Geoff did say they are having problems with the Red-tailed Black Cockatoos. Apparently they are tip pruning just about every large species of plant, which means no new growth for flowers next year and hence no new seed for regeneration.
Fortunately we finished our walk before Perth recorded its hottest August day (30 degrees) for forty years. GOLLY, I am glad we did!