Main Club 3rd – 7th May 2021
The Notley Late Easter Camp this year, ably organised by Jolanda, was held at Nature’s Guesthouse in the Tone-Perup Nature Reserve. It is an area of State Forest, mostly Jarrah and Marri with areas of Wandoo and Paperbark. It’s east of Manjimup and south of Boyup Brook, between the Tone and the Perup Rivers. We stayed in comfortable cottages, with a central spacious dining/meeting room and kitchen.
Our first meeting with wildlife was in the kitchen! A grille has been put into the old Metters stove so that the resident Brushtail Possum can be seen when we open the front. Apparently, she has brought up families in this stove, reached via the chimney. What we hoped – to see a Numbat in the wild – was not achieved. However, we did get fleeting glimpses of Woylies, Quendas, Western Grey Kangaroos, and Brushtail and Ringtail Possums. There were also plenty of bird sightings, frog calls, a few fungi, some early wildflowers and a wonderfully clear night sky. We took several walks along the local marked trails. At night we walked with our red torches, looking for mammals without luck, but found dozens of Wolf Spiders (Lycosidae) on the ground using head torches to catch the glimmer of their eyes, and using a U/V torch we found a scorpion.
On Tuesday, we drove on a 90km route mainly to the south of the accommodation. We cruised slowly on bush tracks through Jarrah/Marri forest, in search of Numbats, and stopping occasionally to explore. In recently burnt areas there was a mass re-sprouting of Zamias from their underground stems. Some wildflowers were beginning to appear in the bush. We saw Bunny Orchids (Eriochilus sp), Greenhoods (Pterostylis sp), the Hairy Jug Flower (Adenanthos barbigera), a Winged Wattle (Acacia stenoptera), Leucopogon nutans and in the wet areas a paperbark (Melaleuca preissiana), and the Swamp Banksia (Banksia littoralis). In sandy soil there was the Native Violet (Hybanthus calycinus), and Drumsticks (Dasypogon bromelifoius). A splash of bright yellow turned out to be a Dog Vomit slime mould, and two fungi were spotted – the Curry Punk, a bracket fungus (Piptoporus australiensis) and an Amanita species. We had a beautiful view of a circling Wedge-tailed Eagle, and Carnaby’s and Red-tailed Cockatoos flew over noisily. Scarlet Robins and White-cheeked Honeyeaters were seen. Back at the house, a Grey Fantail was having a bath. That evening, one of our campers Nick Cox gave us an interesting talk on the hydrology of Unicup Nature Reserve.
On Wednesday we cruised in a similar way, mainly to the east of our base. Forestry activity had left a few enormous old Jarrah and Marri trees, too twisted to harvest but magnificent to behold. We heard the bell-like call of the Spotted Pardalote. A Panus fungus was found, with its hairy top surface of the cap, as well as an orange jelly fungus (Tremella mesenterica), a Boletus, a Rhubarb Fungus and a resupinate fungus. Commonly growing on branches was Usnea, the fruticose lichen known as Old Man’s Beard. There were patches of Styphelia, Astroloma ciliatum, Andersonia, a pink Myrtle, tiny trigger plants and beautiful sundews (Drosera sp) with a basal rosette of red leaves and a white flower.
An unusual find was a male Bird of Paradise Fly, with a tuft of long glassy white waxen filaments protruding from the tip of the abdomen. Other invertebrates were Red Mites, stick insects, lerps (the waxy covers of Psyllid bugs) and a jumping spider. Back at the house, we were delighted to see a family of Fairy Wrens. And we were surprised by a group of very large moths on a wall, some of them dead on the ground. Perhaps the skins of huge insects emerging from the ground were from the pupae of these giant moths.
We drove south on a loop road to Lake Muir on Thursday. The morning dew was making visible hundreds of trampoline spider webs beside the road. On the way we called at Lake Unicup, with its beautiful Melaleucas and Swamp Paperbarks, and walked among the Gahnia sedges. Then to Red Lake, with its big flock of swans. Lake Muir was quite a shock for us, because when we viewed it from the specially built viewing platform, it was completely dry. We were lucky to have Nick with us, because he was able to enlighten us on the geology and the hydrology of the area. Nick explained that a drying climate was the sole reason for this 10km long lake to have dried up over the last few years. It illustrates the reality of Climate Change.
On the way back, at Kodijinup Reserve, there were Hairy Jug Flowers (Adenanthos barbigera), a pink Boronia, Swamp Banksia and the brilliant Red Swamp Bottlebrush (Beaufortia sparsa). Other wildflowers seen that day included the Flag Iris (Patersonia occidentalis), Australian Bluebell or Sollya (Billardiera fusiformis) and a Hibbertia cunninghamii.
Other birds we saw during the camp were the Dusky Woodswallow, Ringneck Parrot, Striated Pardalote and Scarlet Robin. Frogs were calling from the wetlands every evening, including the Moaning Frog (Helioporus eyrii), the Banjo Frog (Limnodyastes dorsalis), and as far as we could tell, the Crawling Toadlet (Pseudophryne gunteri) and the South Coast Toadlet (Crinia subinsignifera). For me, it was an almost mystical experience listening to the distant call of the frogs while looking up at the millions of stars in the clear night sky.