Birdwatching in Wagga Wagga


PechaKucha Night, July 21
July 7, 2011, 7:27 pm
Filed under: Fungi, General

This is just a quick note to say that I have been invited to give a presentation as part of PechaKucha Night on the 21st of July. For those (like me until very recently) not familiar with PechaKucha, the website gives an explanation and includes some recordings of presentations given elsewhere in the world. The page for the upcoming Wagga event is here.

I’m going to be talking about fungi – chiefly the local fungal flora, with a few examples from elsewhere. I’ve no idea who the other presenters will be or what they will be talking about, but it should be interesting.

The event is going to be held at the old council chambers at 6pm on the 21st of July. A flyer (.pdf) is available here.

Finally, I realise I have been neglecting this blog. I hope at some stage to do some reorganisation and maybe add some more content, but we’ll see.

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The Mates Gully Rd TSR [Flora]

The Mates Gully Rd TSR is a long, narrow strip of remnant Box-Ironbark forest running northwest to southeast along Mates Gully Rd. near Tarcutta. A report by the Department of Environment and Conservation (now the Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water) estimates that prior to European settlement almost 12,000 hectares of Box-Ironbark forest would have been found in the Wagga area. According to that same report, less than 10% of this forest-type remains. The authors recommend listing this woodland community as vulnerable under the TSC Act. They give their rationale as follows:

Although some remnants in fair to good condition remain, most notably in Mates Gully travelling stock reserve and small areas around Tarcutta, a large proportion of this community has been cleared or degraded as a result of clearing and grazing by stock [DEC, 2005: 28].

Mates Gully does show some signs of clearing and degradation, and noxious weeds like St. John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum) and Paterson’s curse (Echium plantagineum) have infiltrated the reserve, but it is nevertheless remarkably well-preserved.

A small and by no means complete list of bird species recorded in the TSR can be found here. Two vulnerable species, the black-chinned honeyeater (Melithreptus gularis) and brown treecreeper (Climacteris picumnus), have been recorded in the reserve. The Mates Gully Rd TSR is also a known overwintering site for the endangered swift parrot (Lathamus discolor), though I haven’t recorded it there.

The reserve is also home to a number of reptiles, including the lace monitor (Varanus varius) and several skinks.

Trees

The dominant canopy species are Mugga Ironbark (Eucalyptus sideroxylon), Red Stringybark (E. macrorhyncha), Red Box (E. polyanthemos), Grey Box (E. microcarpa) and Blakely’s Red Gum (E. blakelyi). The northwestern section of the TSR is only sparsely treed, presumably as a product of historical clearing, and is dominated by Red Stringybark and Mugga Ironbark. Immediately adjacent to this is a large stand of Red Box, which is relatively uncommon in the area. The southeastern end of the reserve has a much thicker canopy.

Shrubs

The Mates Gully Rd TSR displays a much greater diversity in the shrub-layer than do most of the area’s reserves. The northwestern section of the reserve, though dominated by forbs and grasses, contains four wattle species (Acacia paradoxa, A. genistifolia, A. pycnantha and A. lanigera) and five shrub legumes (Daviesia leptophylla, Dillwynia sericea, Hardenbergia violacea, Indigofera australis and Pultenaea foliolosa), as well as the yellow rice-flower (Pimelea curviflora) and a New Holland daisy (Vittadinia sp.). The centre of the TSR is dominated by Cassinia species, sometimes to the exclusion of all else. The southeastern end possesses probably the greatest shrub diversity in the reserve, containing heaths, wattles and legumes, including Hovea linearis, Dillwynia phylicoides and Platylobium formosum. The daphne heath (Brachyloma daphnoides), the peach heath (Lissanthe strigosa), the urn heath (Melichrus urceolatus) and a beard heath (Leucopogon sp.) are all common here. Hibbertia obtusifolia can also be found at this end.

Herbs and Forbs

The TSR also displays a great diversity in its groundcover species. Orchids recorded in the reserve are Cyanicula caerulea, Diuris chryseopsis, Hymenochilus muticus, Microtis unifolia, Petalochilus fuscatus (see below), Pterostylis nutans, two species of Stegostyla, and a sun orchid (possibly Thelymitra pauciflora). There are likely to be others. The northwestern end is dominated by the Common Everlasting (Chrysocephalum apiculatum), which can be seen in the photograph above, and also contains many Bulbine Lilies (Bulbine bulbosa) and Chocolate Lilies (Dichopogon strictus). Familiar herbs/forbs found in the TSR include a rock fern (Cheilanthes sp.), the pygmy sunray (Triptilodiscus pygmaeus), the smooth solenogyne (Solenogyne dominii), a woodruff (Asperula sp.) the native carrot (Dauchus glochidiatus), two saltbushes (Einadia hastata and Einadia nutans), the twining legume Glycine clandestina, the murnong or yam daisy (Microseris lanceolata), bluebells (Wahlenbergia spp.), the hill raspwort (Gonocarpus elatior) and the common raspwort (Gonocarpus tetragynus), the ivy goodenia (Goodenia hederacea), scrambled eggs (Goodenia pinnatifida), the pale sundew (Drosera peltata), the stinking pennywort (Hydrocotyle laxiflora), the many-flowered mat-rush (Lomandra multiflora), a fireweed (Senecio sp.), a native plantain (Plantago sp.), the black-anthered flax-lily (Dianella revoluta) and the blue flax-lily (Dianella longifolia), and the yellow rush-lily (Tricoryne elatior). Some areas are dominated by the shrub-like forb Stypandra glauca and there are many patches of the common buttercup (Ranunculus lappaceus) and the familiar sticky everlasting (Xerochrysum viscosum) at the southeastern end. Among the less familiar groundcover species found in the area are a copper-wire daisy (Podolepis sp.), spur velleia (Velleia paradoxa), kidneyweed (Dichondra repens), many finger flowers (Cheiranthera cyanea) and the blue pincushion (Brunonia australis). Hyssop loosestrife (Lythrum hyssopifolia), considered by some sources native and by others introduced, occurs in wetter areas of the TSR.

Grasses, Rushes and Sedges

The northwestern section of the reserve is a grassy open woodland dominated by speargrasses (Austrostipa spp.). At least three speargrass species are present, the most conspicuous being Austrostipa densiflora, which can be seen in the photograph at the top of this article. There are also two wiregrass (Aristida) species, including the brush wiregrass (Aristida behriana). Nineawn grass (Enneapogon nigricans) and common wheat-grass (Elymus scaber) occur in patches. Wallaby grass (Austrodanthonia sp.) and kangaroo grass (Themeda triandra) are also present in the reserve, as is weeping grass (Microlaena stipoides) and what looks like a native lovegrass (Eragrostis sp.). Red-anthered wallaby grass (Joycea pallida) occurs at the southeastern end. A sedge (Carex sp.) and a rush (Juncus sp.) have been recorded in the wetter areas of the reserve.

Fungi

The reserve also appears to possess significant fungal diversity. The following species/genera have been recorded in the area (though difficulties of identification mean that this list may not be entirely accurate): Agaricus, Aleurina, Amanita, Arcyria, Calocera, Campanella, Cheilymenia, Clitocybe, Coltricia cinnamomea, Coprinus, Cortinarius, Cyathus stercoreus, Geastrum, Hypholoma, Limacella, Lycoperdon, Macrolepiota, Mycena, Omphalina chromacea, Pisolithus, Poronia erici, Pycnoporus, Ramaria, Russula, Scleroderma, Stereum, Tremella, Xerula/Oudemansiella. Also recorded in the TSR was a small, ground-hugging cup fungus, possibly a species of Peziza. Both brown and black specimens were found.



Fungi (Again)
July 29, 2010, 8:05 pm
Filed under: Fungi, Observations | Tags: , , , , ,

A sequel to this earlier post.

A. M. Young (A Field Guide to the Fungi of Australia, UNSW Press) estimates that there may be as many as 250 000 species of fungus in Australia, of which the vast majority are the so-called ‘microfungi’ – moulds, plant rusts, mildews and so on. ‘Macrofungi’ (mushrooms, toadstools, puffballs, cups, jellies, coral fungi and so on) account for a relatively small percentage of our overall fungal flora, but there may still be as many as 20 000 macrofungus species in Australia. Most of these are undescribed; many are entirely unknown.

Little is known about the distribution of Australian fungus species (except that the rainforests of eastern Queensland and New South Wales are probably among the most diverse locations), so there is no estimate for the number of species found in the Wagga Wagga area. The thumbnail gallery presently contains 57 images, accounting for probably 54 species (though many have not been properly identified). There are likely to be several hundred more occurring in the area.

This post illustrates a few of the more interesting fungus species from the area.

Mycena clarkeana seems to vary from a vivid pink to a darkish pink-brown. This identification (which is by no means certain) was suggested by I. R. McCann’s Australian Fungi Illustrated.

This photograph was taken in a well-treed area along the Mundarlo Road, which seems to support a surprising diversity (as roadsides go) of both flora and fauna. The fungus was found growing in a sheltered spot at the base of a eucalypt.

This species produces tiny parasols on the side of (in fact, almost underneath) rotting logs. This behaviour is shared by many members of the genus Mycena, making identification extremely difficult.

This photograph was taken at Wiesners Swamp Nature Reserve, which is roughly 100km (so Google Maps tells me) south-west of Wagga Wagga. Specimens belonging to this species, or to a closely related species, are often found much closer to Wagga, however.

This is a common and distinctive species, identified by its tall stem (which extends a short distance underground), its brown cap and its bright white gills. The subterranean part of the stem resembles a long taproot, giving the species its common name. The Rooting Shank can be quite viscid when wet but seems to dry rapidly in warmer weather. Young specimens have rounded caps, whereas older ones tend to have flattened caps, sometimes with a small raised section in the middle (called the ‘boss’ or ‘umbo’).

This species has been recorded along Mundarlo Road, on Willans Hill (where the photograph was taken) and at Livingstone National Park. It is likely to be found elsewhere.

Ramaria species produce coral- or lichen-like fruiting bodies, often amongst leaf-litter in woodland. The photograph above shows the only coral fungus specimen I have seen in the Wagga area. It is assumed to be a species of Ramaria, though there are at least two other genera of coral fungus represented in Australia (Ramariopsis and Clavaria). This specimen was found on the northern part of Livingstone National Park.

Poronia erici is a common and distinctive coprophilous (dung-loving) species. It is usually found on kangaroo dung, but according to Bruce Fuhrer (A Field Guide to Australian Fungi, Bloomings Books) it can also occur on wombat, rabbit and occasionally horse dung. Individual discs (or ‘buttons’) are less (often much less) than 1cm in diameter.

It has been recorded at Mates Gully Rd. TSR, Wokolena Rd. TSR, Willans Hill and Livingstone National Park, and can probably be found wherever there are kangaroos (which is almost anywhere, really). The photograph above was taken at Mates Gully.

The earlier post on fungi profiled the coprophilous Bird’s Nest fungus Cyathus stercoreus, which has been recorded at Mates Gully Rd. TSR and Kyeamba TSR. The species above grows on wood rather than dung and has been recorded at Matong, Ganmain and Kindra State Forests. Crucibulum laeve produces smaller fruiting bodies than its dung-loving cousin and is pale brown rather than blackish in colour. It grows in large clusters – the photograph shows only a small part of a much larger colony, possibly consisting of several hundred fruiting bodies.

This photograph was taken in Kindra State Forest near Coolamon.

This identification is somewhat tentative. I have based it on the manner in which the outer skin (which is rubbery and rather clammy in young fruits) dries and cracks to reveal the spore mass, a habit it shares with, for example, Calvatia cyathiformis. (See the wonderful Australian Fungi – a blog for information on that species).

This is quite a large species – the specimen photographed reached almost 20cm in diameter – but next to its relative Calvatia gigantea, which has been known to reach 150cm, it seems rather pathetic. That species is not found in Australia.

The photograph was taken in January of this year. The specimen was found in a lawn composed principally of introduced grasses (with some Wallaby Grass Austrodanthonia sp.) on the edge of Willans Hill.

Coprinus comatus is a common species of lawns and parks around Wagga. It often grows in loose colonies, as here. It is also known as the Shaggy Ink Cap.

Once these fruiting bodies reach maturity they quickly begin to autodigest, and before long all that will be left is a thick black liquid and a stem.

This photograph was taken on Pine Gully Rd., near Joyes Hall. Nearby was a colony of the Yellow Stainer (Agaricus xanthodermus) and a number of unidentified puffballs.

This is only a small selection of local species. For more, see the thumbnail gallery.



Nest Hill Nature Reserve

Nest Hill Nature Reserve, formerly Pulletop State Forest, was gazetted in January 2001. It is located roughly 35km south of Wagga Wagga and 25km north of Holbrook. It is accessible only via management trails. The management plan can be found here, but is sadly rather light on details.

Surveys carried out by the National Parks and Wildlife Service recorded only 20 bird species in the park. The following is a list of more than thirty recorded by me in the space of a single visit (the discrepancy is hard to explain):
1. Australian Magpie
2. Australian Raven
3. +Australian Wood-Duck
4. +Black Swan
5. Black-Faced Cuckoo-Shrike
6. Brown Falcon
7. Brown Treecreeper
8. Common Bronzewing
9. Crested Pigeon
10. Eastern Rosella
11. Eastern Yellow Robin
12. Flame Robin
13. Galah
14. Grey Fantail
15. Grey Shrike-Thrush
16. Laughing Kookaburra
17. Magpie-lark
18. +Masked Lapwing
19. Pied Currawong
20. Red Wattlebird
21. Red-Rumped Parrot
22. Restless Flycatcher
23. Rufous Whistler
24. Striated Pardalote
25. Sulphur-Crested Cockatoo
26. Superb Fairy-Wren
27. Weebill
28. Welcome Swallow
29. White-Plumed Honeyeater
30. White-Throated Treecreeper
31. White-Winged Chough
32. Willie Wagtail
33. Yellow Thornbill

(Those species marked with a + were recorded on a farm dam immediately adjacent to the reserve). Of particular note is the Brown Treecreeper, the eastern subspecies of which (Climacteris picumnus victoriae) is classed as Vulnerable. (Though there is some debate as to whether the local subspecies is C. p. victoriae or C. p. picumnus). The Fantail Cuckoo and Cockatiel were recorded in the surrounding area in spring.

The Reserve is dominated by three vegetation communities:
1. Rough-Barked Red Box (Eucalyptus polyanthemos)/White Box (E. albens)
2. Inland Scribbly Gum (E. rossii)/Norton’s Box (E. nortonii)
3. Red Stringybark (E. macrorhyncha; pictured above)/Inland Scribbly Gum/Rough-Barked Red Box

Nest Hill NR contains what is probably the largest stand of Red Box in the Wagga area (it is found in smaller quantities in Livingstone NP and Mates Gully Rd TSR). The presence of Red Stringybark is also noteworthy for similar reasons.

The understorey is sparse and generally lacking in diversity, owing to extensive grazing prior to the Reserve’s gazettal. Weeds (including *Sonchus asper, *Galium aparine and *Trifolium spp.) are encroaching on the Reserve’s boundaries.

Among the species recorded were the heaths Melichrus urceolatus (Urn Heath; pictured above) and Lissanthe strigosa (Peach Heath); the orchids Pterostylis sp. aff. parviflora (Tiny Greenhood; see here and here) and Pterostylis falcata (Autumn or Sickle Greenhood); and the small herbs Goodenia hederacea (Ivy Goodenia; pictured below), Cymbonotus preissianus (Austral Bear’s-Ear; pictured below), Geranium solanderi (Native Geranium), Hydrocotyle laxiflora (Stinking Pennywort) and Dauchus glochidiatus (Austral Carrot).

Also recorded were the grasses Austrostipa scabra (Rough Speargrass), Microlaena stipoides (Weeping or Meadow Rice-Grass; uncommon) and a species of Poa (Tussock Grass). Grass Trees (Xanthorrhoea sp.) were also present.

There was also a substantial fungus population, including several large colonies of Phylloporus clelandii (pictured above), Limacella spp., Pisolithus tinctorius (Horse Dropping Fungus) and a small, woolly bracket fungus (possibly a species of Stereum; pictured below).

There were also a number of mosses and lichens.

***

This information comes from a single visit to the Reserve. Future visits are likely to yield much more.



Fungi — Wallpapers
May 15, 2010, 6:02 pm
Filed under: Fungi | Tags: , , , ,

I’ve produced three wallpaper versions (1024×768, 1280×1024 and 1600×1200) of the Resupinatus cinerascens shot from the previous post, if anybody is interested.

Resupinatus cinerascens

Resupinatus cinerascens

All links open in new windows:

1600×1200
1280×1024
1024×768

I may do this with other photographs (flowers, birds, and so on) if there is any interest.



Fungi
May 10, 2010, 7:18 pm
Filed under: Fungi | Tags: , , , , ,

This post has been a long time in coming. Apologies!

The rains in December, February and March brought out a large crop of fungi of various kinds, and now, with the temperature dropping and dew beginning to form, there seems to be a constant supply of unusual and interesting fungus species. A few of the more interesting are shown below.


Resupinatus cinerascens is a tiny fungus – the largest fruiting body being around 1cm in diameter – found on the underside of rotting logs. This particular specimen was found in Wallacetown.

***


Coprinus plicatilis is a common but inconspicuous fungus of lawns and gardens. The fruit has an extremely short life, sometimes lasting only a few hours before putrefaction sets in. It occurs in clusters as seen here:
Fairy's Parasols (Coprinus plicatilis)

Fairy's Parasols (Coprinus plicatilis)


Young fruits are only a few millimetres across.

***


The genus Calocera contains a number of very similar ‘jelly’ fungi. This specimen was photographed on the side of a rotting log in Ganmain State Forest.

***


Geastrum triplex is larger and more attractive than most of the Earth Stars found in the area. It seems to occur in colonies in very wet leaf litter.


This particular colony was found in a wet gully on the northern end of Livingstone National Park.

***


This fungus has been tentatively identified as Phylloporus clelandii, one of a group of large, fleshy fungi sometimes referred to as gilled boletes (true boletes have pores rather than gills on the undersurface of the cap). This fungus is, according to Bruce Fuhrer’s field guide, generally uncommon. This particular specimen was again photographed on the northern end of Livingstone National Park.

***


Macrolepiota species are very large (around 20cm, in this case) and are found in a variety of locations. The specimens seen here were part of a very large colony found in the grounds of the Wagga Wagga Botanic Gardens. Despite their size the young fruiting bodies grew very close together:
Macrolepiota sp.

Macrolepiota sp.


Competition for space may explain why many of the fruiting bodies had been uprooted. This particular species – found as it was in a lawn composed of exotic grasses – may not be native to Australia.

***


Finally, the bird’s-nest fungus Cyathus stercoreus. This extraordinary species is usually found on herbivore dung – in this case cow. The small ‘seeds’ or ‘eggs’ are called peridioles. These contain the spores and are dispersed by raindrops. This cluster of fruiting bodies was spotted at the Kyeamba TSR (which may recieve a full profile at a later date).

I hope soon to add a post on the autumn-flowering orchids recorded in the area. The bird count remains unchanged.



(More of) The Flora and Fauna of Lake Albert
November 26, 2009, 12:35 pm
Filed under: Flora, Fungi | Tags: , , , , , ,


The lake is not looking especially healthy at the moment – and this picture was taken before the worst of the recent weather. Birdlife is scarce (though I have recently added the Sacred Kingfisher to the list), so I’ve decided to continue with my series on the flora of the lake. This is the second post in the series. The first can be found here.

Common Blown-Grass (Lachnagrostis filiformis)

Common Blown-Grass (Lachnagrostis filiformis) Seedhead


Common Blown-Grass (Lachnagrostis filiformis)

Common Blown-Grass (Lachnagrostis filiformis)


Common Blown-Grass is easily the most conspicuous of the grasses around the lake. It’s one of a number of “native tumbleweeds,” seedheads of which are often found in large drifts by roadsides. Hairy Panic (Panicum effusum) is another well-known and widely distributed species.

Onion Grass (*Romulea rosea)

Onion Grass (*Romulea rosea)


Small-Flowered Onion Grass (*Romulea minutiflora)

Small-Flowered Onion Grass (*Romulea minutiflora)


These two are common, widespread and potentially destructive introduced species. They are a favourite foodsource of the Sulphur-Crested Cockatoo (Cacatua galerita) and Galah (Eolophus roseicapillus), however.

Barley Grass (Hordeum sp.)

Barley Grass (*Hordeum sp.)


Ripgut Brome (*Bromus catharticus)

Ripgut Brome (*Bromus catharticus)


Soft Brome (*Bromus molliformis)

Soft Brome (*Bromus molliformis)


Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) Seedhead

Dandelion (*Taraxacum officinale) Seedhead


Ryegrass (*Lolium sp.)

Ryegrass (*Lolium sp.)


Narrow-Leaf Plantain (*Plantago lanceolata)

Narrow-Leaf Plantain (*Plantago lanceolata)


Flatweed (*Hypochoeris radicata)

Flatweed (*Hypochoeris radicata)


Mouse-Ear Chickweed (*Cerastium glomeratum)

Mouse-Ear Chickweed (*Cerastium glomeratum)


Tall Flatsedge (*Cyperus eragrostis)

Tall Flatsedge (*Cyperus eragrostis)


These are all very common, very widespread weeds. The following are also weeds, and also reasonably common, but are at least better-looking!

Common Centaury (*Centaurium erythraea)

Common Centaury (*Centaurium erythraea)


Celery-Leaved Buttercup (*Ranunculus sceleratus), aka Cursed Buttercup, Poison Buttercup

Celery-Leaved Buttercup (*Ranunculus sceleratus), aka Cursed Buttercup, Poison Buttercup


Redflower or Carolina Mallow (*Modiola caroliniana)

Redflower or Carolina Mallow (*Modiola caroliniana)


Redflower Mallow can be recognised by its distinctive fruits. This is a young fruit and this an old one.

Wallaby Grass (Austrodanthonia sp.)

Wallaby Grass (Austrodanthonia sp.)


This is probably the most successful native grass in the area, frequently appearing in lawns and parks. Austrodanthonia species are not easy to separate – so I haven’t bothered trying.

And finally, some fungi:

Puffballs (Lycoperdon sp.)

Puffballs (Lycoperdon sp.)


The following fungus (Bolbitius vitellinus, I believe) formed an enormous colony, extending a kilometre or more, alongside the walking track next to the lake.

Young Fruiting Body

Young Fruiting Body


Typical Fruiting Body

Typical Fruiting Body


Older Fruiting Body

Older Fruiting Body


This last fungus is among the most common in the area. I have seen it near the lake, on Willans Hill and in many local parks and gardens.

Laccaria lateritia

Laccaria lateritia

That’s all for now. There will probably be more later.