June KRM Branch Report
Heavy rainfall during the preceding few days led to several members pulling out of this walk—and more overnight rain persuaded others to do the same, resulting in only three of us (Daniel Heald, Debbie James and myself) meeting at the car park off Albany Highway.
The BOM radar image looked promising, so we headed across the highway and onto Sullivan Rock. On the edge of the highway we found Earthstar Fungi that had forced their way up through the hard shoulder. A group of six Red-tailed Black Cockatoos was spotted up in some Jarrah trees just off the highway. Sunshine broke out as we started to explore the granite outcrop. At the base of the rock we found Holly-leaved Hovea (Hovea chorizemifolia), Candle Cranberry (Astroloma ciliatum) and Sea Urchin Hakea (Hakea petiolaris) in flower.
On the rock itself, the winter rains had brought the Resurrection Plants (or Pincushions, Borya sphaerocephala) back to life and wet depressions were filled with moss, amongst which we found small Sundews in flower (Drosera bulbosa subsp. bulbosa) and Coral Lichen (Cladia sp.) (above, C Prickett). One area had an unusual type of moss, not growing as a flat carpet but rather having vertical pinnacle-like projections about 50mm high.
A check of water-filled pools at the top of the rock showed little sign of life: no tadpoles or small shrimps were seen. However, we did spot two small diving beetles that were only visible when they came up for air for a few seconds before diving back down to the bottom where they blended into the vegetation.
From the rock we walked into the woodland and along the walking track until we came to an intersection of the Bibbulmun Track and a fire access track. We decided not to take the Bibbulmun Track, as it would take us up to Mt Vincent where the track would be quite slippery after the rainfall; instead we headed north along the fire access track. While walking we kept a lookout for fungi, which we expected would be abundant after the rainfall—but were to be disappointed. Only a few small Golden Wood fungi were spotted. Initially, birds were also scarce, with only a few calls from a Striated Pardalote heard. Daniel inspected a few shrubs for invertebrates by shaking them over an up-turned umbrella, with no luck.
Along the track, several shrubs were in flower. We found Acacia obovata (Wavy-leaved Wattle), Marianthus drummondianus (Drummond’s Billardiera), Andersonia lehmanniana as well as more of the Candle Cranberry. Hibbertia hypericoides was just starting to produce flowers. A single Grevillea pimeleoides was found in flower: a good sighting, as this is a Priority 4 species. The decoratively coloured leaves of the Red Ink Sundew (Drosera erythrorhiza) were to be found on the edge of the track.
When we reached the base of Mt Vincent, bird activity started to pick up and Whistlers were calling, but were impossible to spot up in the canopy of the Jarrah trees, and Singing Honeyeaters were spotted flying between trees. A wetland area between our track and Mt Vincent produced a few frog calls, believed to be the Red-thighed Froglet (Crinea georgiana) from the few ‘quack quack’ calls we heard. Unfortunately the calls were too infrequent for me to use the Frog ID app on my phone to get a definitive identification.
A Balga (or Grass Tree, Xanthorrhoea preissi) provided Daniel with another opportunity to use his umbrella to check for invertebrates. By shaking the dry fronds in the skirt of the Balga over his up-turned umbrella, he found two tiny pseudoscorpions (right) plus a small wasp (above, both C Prickett). The pseudoscorpions were posted on iNaturalist and identified by Mike Harvey of the WA Museum as belonging to the Genus Protochelifer of the family Cheliferidae. The wasp was identified as being from the genus Antrocephalus, a member of the Chalcidid Wasps (Family Chalcididae). At this point we turned around and headed back to our cars. At the base of Sullivan Rock, Daniel shook another Balga and two more pseudoscorpions were found. A great end to what had been a very enjoyable walk.