Thirty Darling Range Branch members visited the areas around Kulin, Kondinin and Corrigin for four days in mid-October. Led by the energetic Kulin wildflower expert, Robin Campbell, we visited an impressive variety of places. Specific areas, such as the Corrigin Rifle Range, were ablaze with wildflowers including seven varieties of Verticordia, e.g. Yellow Featherflower (Verticordia chrysantha), Painted Verticordia (Verticordia picta) and Roe’s Featherflower (Verticordia roei).
Other areas were very dry, with only half the normal rainfall having been received this year. On the Macrocarpa Trail, the Eucalyptus macrocarpa were in poor condition, as if struck by drought, disease or insect infestation and only one Macrocarpa flower was seen and none were in bud.
However, there were many other flowers of interest elsewhere, far too many to log or report. Flowering along the roadsides was the Flame Grevillea (Grevillea excelsior). Dampiera wellsiana was abundant in several places, and a Granite Bee Orchid (Diuris picta) was still flowering. We also saw a rare (Priority 4) Cushion Lechenaultia (Lechenaultia pulvinaris), which looks like a blue wreath.
The Melaleuca shrubland behind the Caravan Park is known to have 120 plant species, from trees to groundcovers but it was also very dry. However, we saw the soft grey groundcover Silky Wilsonia (Wilsonia humilis), green-fringed lichen cups (Usnea scabrida) and healthy specimens of the Needle Bush (Hakea preissii) but without flowers.
Of the fifty-two bird species seen, highlights included a Horsfield’s Bronze Cuckoo (Chrysococcyx basalis), Red-capped Robin (Petroica goodenovii), Regent Parrot (Polytelis anthopeplus), Elegant Parrot (Neophema elegans), Rainbow Bee-eater (Merops ornatus), and a dead Barn Owl (Tyto alba). A Mallee Fowl mound was found near Buckley’s Breakaway but no birds were seen.
Yeerakine Rock, McCann’s Rock Pool and the Corrigin Dam also featured on our itinerary, as did many trees including Salmon Gums (Eucalyptus salmonophloia) and Gimlets (Eucalyptus salubris) (left, K Dorn).
Local farmers, Barry West, Robbie, Jean, and Harold Proud generously gave us talks. Concern was expressed regarding the purchase of local farms by Chinese and Arabic owners, who reportedly avoided scrutiny by purchasing multiple small farms.
The plants at the Kondinin Salt Marsh had people, including June Butcher, enthralled. “There was a mass of colour and the plants are tiny and incredibly adapted to the harsh hot, dry and salty conditions,” she said. An example of this was the Yellow Salt Star (Gunniopsis septifraga).
But did we mention the millions of flies? The local shops did a roaring trade in fly-nets and a praying mantis even took a walk up one whilst Poppy was wearing it! We had a great time, as was evident from the large number of photographs shown each evening.
There were fewer reptiles than expected and except for Bobtail Lizards and a Gould’s Monitor (Varanus gouldii) virtually none were found. Insects were equally low in number, although a Blue-banded Bee was sighted on a grey Native Foxglove (Pityrodia terminalis) and a green and yellow grasshopper was seen
Photo: E Norbury