Main Club August Excursion
On Friday 17th August, a group of 12 naturalists from three of our branches arrived at Mt Gibson Sanctuary around midday, planning to go on our first excursion at 2pm. We decided to walk up to the quartz-stone ridge not far from our camp site, which has a new camp kitchen and ablution facilities and a fire-pit for use with firewood provided by the camp hosts. Very luxurious! Our walk towards and up the ridge was through York Gum woodland (Eucalyptus loxophleba ssp. supralaevis) and we saw Regent Parrots and Mulga Parrots. We also found a Priority 1 Grevillea species (G. scabrida) and Hakea recurva. There was evidence of old goat droppings on the ridge boulders but no animals were encountered. Then we walked part of the Homestead Ridge trail and found some Spider Orchids and a threatened Hybanthus species before returning to camp. We gratefully gathered around the fire pit as the temperature was dropping rapidly. It was an early night for all.
The next morning we woke to the beautiful song of the Crested Bellbird and also the joy of several Red Kangaroos hopping through the campsite. It was a chilly morning but after a nice warm cuppa our group of bird and plant loving naturalists headed out to Mushroom Rocks and Lake Moore to discover many orchids, wildflowers and bush birds. Some highlights included the Red-capped Robin, Pied Honeyeater, Rufous Treecreeper, Hooded Robin, Rufous Whistler, and the gorgeous Woodswallows. Amongst the flora, there were Clown and Spider Orchids galore and we mustn’t forget the Eremophila and mistletoes too! Night-time was enjoyed around a lovely warm campfire with drinks, nibbles and good company.
On our third day we explored the greenstone hills which have rocks around three billion years old, formed from lava flows rich in iron resulting in a hill of hard green rock pieces in red soil.
An Acacia exclosure houses rare translocated wattles of this soil type including the Mt Gibson Wattle (Acacia imitans) and the Ninghan Wattle (A. unguicula), amongst other rare plants. The beautiful Dodonaea amplisemina is a Priority 4 plant. (above, Joan Sharpe)
Another highlight of the day was the Salmon Gum woodlands, a breeding site for Red-tailed Black-cockatoos and Regent Parrots and we saw impressive numbers of both of these. It was a pleasure to see these old trees with multiple nesting hollows and fallen limbs—all potential habitats.
Ancient granites about two billion years old underlie most of Mt Gibson and we explored Kuckamanyou Hill, a beautifully rich granitic biome. Flora included yet more species of Acacia, beautiful orchids such as the Clown Orchid (Caladenia roei), Phelodenia (Cyanicula) deformis, closely resembling Cyanicula amplexans, as well as Prasophyllum gracile. A new record of the curious ‘Upside-down Bush’ (Leptosema daviesioides) (below, Joan Sharpe) was also noted, with its bright red pea-flowers underneath the foliage.
In the shallow gnamma holes were tadpoles and Daphnia shrimps and hundreds of tiny worms.
We packed up early the next morning as another group of naturalists was expected to arrive that day. We saw 39 bird species and 88+ plant species of which five were threatened or priority species and six were not on the existing list for the property—so presumably they were new records. We saw few lizards and skinks during our stay, but found a native cockroach and some beautiful crickets and beetles.
Jolanda Keeble, Joan Sharpe and Ruth Clark