Birdwatching in Wagga Wagga


The First Bulbine Lilies (and More)

The first of Willans Hill’s bulbine lilies emerged just over a week ago. Bulbines are extremely common and conspicuous, making them a good indicator of the onset of spring. A few less noticeable species have also begun flowering on the hill, including the glycines (Glycine spp.) and the native geranium (Geranium solanderi).

Livingstone National Park is home to the greatest diversity of plant life in the region, and a number of interesting species have started to emerge there. The parrot’s beak orchid (Pterostylis nutans), also known as the nodding greenhood, is one example.

Among the more interesting plants recorded in flower at Livingstone were the peach heath (Lissanthe strigosa), the pea-flower Hovea heterophylla, the granite mintbush (Prostanthera granitica) and a species of sundew (Drosera sp.), a carnivorous plant.

Also recorded were a species of buttercup (Ranunculus sp.), the purple coral-pea (Hardenbergia violacea) and a tiny star (Hypoxis sp.). The austral bear’s ear (Cymbonotus preissianus), an inconspicuous and unspectacular plant, was also in flower.

The golden wattle (Acacia pycnantha) is flowering along roadsides near Livingstone, as is the early wattle (Acacia genistifolia) and another species that may be the gold-dust wattle (Acacia acinacea). Within the park itself, some kangaroo thorn (Acacia paradoxa) and ploughshare wattle (Acacia gunnii) plants carried a few flowers.

Also recorded recently in Livingstone was a species of mosquito orchid (possiblyAcianthus collinus ).

Acianthus collinus is winter-flowering, rather than spring-flowering. This is the fourteenth orchid species I have recorded at Livingstone.

Addendum (13/08): Some Creamy Candles (Stackhousia monogyna) have started to emerge as well.

Also, a patch of greenhoods (possibly Pterostylis nana) was recorded on Willans Hill.

Advertisements


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.



Native Orchids in Livingstone National Park, Autumn Edition
May 21, 2010, 9:06 pm
Filed under: Flora | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Livingstone National Park has been logged, mined for gold, tin and wolframite, and used as a bombing range. And yet it is almost certainly the best-preserved area of remnant vegetation in the vicinity of Wagga. It was finally gazetted (as Livingstone National Park and Nature Reserve) in 2001. In 2006, the southern end (adjacent to the locality of Burrandana) was declared a State Conservation Area.

The park is apparently home to 20 or more species of orchid. Nine spring-flowering species were documented in this earlier post. PlantNET lists four further spring-flowering species (Caladenia dimorpha, C. phaeoclavia, Pterostylis mutica and Thelymitra ixioides) in the park. The management plan lists another four species: the greenhoods Pterostylis curta and Pterostylis longifolia, the ruddyhood Pterostylis pusilla and the tiny finger orchid Caladenia mentiens. Additionally, four species of autumn-flowering orchid are known from the park. These are profiled here.

* * *

Eriochilus cucullatus is a tiny, delicate and inconspicuous species. Each plant may carry up to five flowers, though most have only one or two. It has been recorded from the both the northern and southern sections of the park, and also from Murraguldrie Flora Reserve.

This identification is tentative. Genoplesium is a large genus, but G. rufum is the only species listed by PlantNET for the NSW South-West Slopes bioregion. This species is extremely variable. Its colouration runs the gamut from deep purple-black to mostly green with reddish or brownish tips to the lateral sepals (as in this case). Some debate exists as to whether Genoplesium rufum constitutes a single species or a complex of related varieties. The flowers on this particular specimen have closed for the year.

The Pterostylis sp. aff. parviflora complex accounts for almost a dozen species, subspecies or varieties of orchid. The variety found at Livingstone (assuming there is only one) may be the one referred to in Bishop’s 1996 field guide (currently out of print) as Pterostylis sp. aff. parviflora (Large Red-brown). Complicating this identification is the fact that many plants were found to have seven or eight flowers, whereas Bishop claims that Pterostylis sp. aff. parviflora (Large Red-brown) only rarely has more than six. Another variety it resembles commonly has up to eight flowers, but is known only from the Melbourne, Victoria area (designated by Bishop as Pterostylis sp. aff. parviflora (Eastern Melbourne)).

Tthe genus Speculantha has been proposed to distinguish the tiny greenhoods from the larger species, like the one below.


Another complicated identification. Pterostylis falcata is not recognised by Bishop and does not have an entry in PlantNET’s Flora of New South Wales. Nevertheless it is the only autumn-flowering greenhood that comes up in a PlantNET search for the flora of the Wagga Wagga LGA. (That list is not complete, however)

This species is extremely common in Livingstone National Park, often occuring in colonies of up to thirty plants. These colonies are composed of plants at varying stages of maturity. Younger and older flowers often take on unusual shapes:

* * *

Coming soon: posts on Nest Hill Nature Reserve and Plum Pudding Hill TSR and a series of posts on common urban and suburban birds of Wagga.



Native Orchids in Livingstone National Park
October 26, 2009, 9:51 am
Filed under: Flora | Tags: , , , ,

Livingstone National Park and State Conservation Area is located around 30 kilometres south of Wagga Wagga. It covers just under 2,500 hectares of land and is something of a haven for native flora and fauna in the area. Sadly, few substantial areas of native vegetation remain around Wagga, and so Livingstone is extremely important.

The management plan developed by the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service can be found here, and is an excellent source of information on the park. Be sure to check out Appendix 1, which lists all native fauna species recorded within the park’s boundaries. My own list, unfortunately, is much smaller, though I suspect it more accurately reflects the sorts of species you are likely to find in the park.

This is the first in what I am sure will be a lengthy series on Livingstone. Part of the park’s appeal is that it supports a large number of native plant species that are not commonly found in the region. Most interesting of these, I think, are the orchids. According to the park’s Wikipedia article, three species of orchid have been recorded in the area. The management plan, however, mentions five. Neither is correct. To date I have photographed nine species of orchid in the park. They are shown here.

Waxlip Orchid (Glossodia major)

Waxlip Orchid (Glossodia major)


Tiger or Leopard Orchid (Diuris sp., possibly Diuris pardina)

Tiger or Leopard Orchid (Diuris sp., possibly Diuris pardina)


Pink Fingers (Caladenia carnea)

Pink Fingers (Caladenia carnea)


Hooded Caladenia (Caladenia cucullata), aka Cowl-Carrying Caladenia, Lemon Caps

Hooded Caladenia (Caladenia cucullata), aka Cowl-Carrying Caladenia, Lemon Caps



There is a very similar species called Musky Caladenia (Caladenia gracilis). To the best of my knowledge it can only be reliably distinguished from C. cucullata by smell. Whereas C. cucullata smells faintly of citrus, C. gracilis apparently has a very strong musky odour.

Dusky Fingers (Caladenia fuscata)

Dusky Fingers (Caladenia fuscata)


Nodding Greenhood (Pterostylis nutans), aka Parrot's Beak Orchid

Nodding Greenhood (Pterostylis nutans), aka Parrot's Beak Orchid


Blue Fingers (Caladenia caerulea)

Blue Fingers (Caladenia caerulea)


Mantis Orchid (Caladenia tentaculata), aka Green Comb, Fringed Spider Orchid

Mantis Orchid (Caladenia tentaculata), aka Green Comb, Fringed Spider Orchid


Caladenia tentaculata can be found within the park as individuals or as groups. In some cases multiple individuals grow very close to one another, as seen here.

The next (and last, for now) is undoubtedly my favourite:

Purple Beard Orchid (Calochilus robertsonii)

Purple Beard Orchid (Calochilus robertsonii)

The next post in this series will detail some of the other flora found in the park, as well as some of its fauna. The Willans Hill series (part one, part two) is also still in progress.