KRM Branch 25 Oct 2020
A good turn out of 11 members attended the October field excursion to the Spectacles Nature Reserve, Kwinana.
The Spectacles is a 360ha reserve that is part of the Beeliar Regional Park system. Consisting of Banksia woodland and a central wetland fringed with Freshwater Paperbarks (Melaleuca rhaphiophylla), the Reserve is usually a lovely area to walk through during Spring. However, the Reserve had been badly burned by an extensive bushfire in December 2019 and was only in the early stages of recovery when we visited. We arrived to find the car park almost full and the reason became apparent as we set off on our walk around the Banksia Woodland Trail. We immediately encountered a steady stream of runners participating in an event that involved participants completing several laps of the same trail we had chosen for our walk. With the forecast for a top temperature of over 30oC it was certainly no ‘Fun Run’.
Last summer’s bushfire had certainly devastated the woodland and the Banksia species, for which the trail was named, had been particularly impacted. Some understorey shrubs had recovered fairly well, for example the Swan River Myrtle (Hypocalymma robustum) had put on a fine display this year, though most we saw had finished flowering. Weeds had been quick to seize the opportunity left by the fire, with Veldt Grass particularly noticeable along the track. However, there were native species in flower, providing some nice colour to the blackened landscape. Pixie Mops (Petrophile linearis) and Mulla Mulla (Ptilotus drummondii) were plentiful.
As is typical after a fire, almost every grass tree (Xanthorrhoea preissii and Xanthorrhoea brunonis subsp. semibarbata were present) had a flower spike in full bloom. These proved to be a bonanza for insects with Stinking Longicorn Beetles (Stenoderus suturalis), Flower Wasps, Hover Flies, Monarch Butterflies and Honey Bees present on each one in large numbers. Daniel Heald found that there were up to three species of Flower Wasps present on a single spike. Many of the Flower Wasps were mating pairs, consisting of the winged male and a flightless female.
On the edge of the walk track we spotted the pink flowers of Calandrinia liniflora as well as clumps of Stone Crop (Crassula sp.), Fringed Lily (Thysanotus arenarius), Pineapple Bush (Dasypogon bromeliifolius) and Cats Paws (Anigozanthos humilis). Towards the end of the trail we found Free-flowering Leschenaultia (Lechenaultia floribunda) and Yellow Autumn Lily (Tricoryne elatior).
After coming to the end of the walk trail loop, we then made our way down to the wetland area. Here a 130m long boardwalk winds through a Melaleuca dominated swamp, with a background of frog calls, to a bird hide that overlooks a large lake. The forward members of our group spotted a Tiger Snake swimming through the swamp from the boardwalk. Until this point our bird list for the day was very poor, with only Australian Ravens, Australian Ringneck, Striated Pardalote, Rufous Whistler, Black-faced Cuckoo Shrike, Silvereyes, White and Straw-necked Ibis and Dusky Woodswallows spotted. No doubt the number of people on the trail was a contributing factor to the lack of bird sightings. However, the total lack of Honeyeater species was especially noticeable, a direct result of the fire destroying their sources of nectar.
The wetland proved a much better area for bird sightings and we spotted Eurasian Coots, Australasian Grebes, two Swamp Harriers, Whistling Kites and Splendid Fairy Wrens. A Grey Butcherbird, Grey Currawong, Willie Wagtail, Australian Magpie and Kookaburra were also added to the list, making a total of 19 species for the day. This list was uploaded to Birdata. It appeared that White Ibis were nesting amongst the Melaleucas further up the lake. After spending some time at the bird hide, we then made our way back to the car park for a well-earned cuppa and a slice of Rosalie’s cake (Happy Birthday Rosalie). It had been an enjoyable morning. It is to be hoped that the Reserve is allowed to continue to recover from the fire for many years without suffering the same fate again.
Note: Check out the post by Sophie Xiang on the KRMB Facebook group for more images of this outing. Use search term: spectacles :