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In The Foothills #3.

We recently took part in a second flying-fox count at Maffra, and the final tally came in at sixteen thousand, up slightly on the first count. This time the great majority headed towards the foothills in a northerly direction, in contrast to the north-westerly route they took on the first occasion. A few days later I was able to watch the fly out in the evening light through binoculars from our property, and again they headed due north. It was interesting that one stream was at a higher altitude to the lower stream that contained the bulk of the population.
Soon afterwards I had the opportunity of a trip with a friend, to the Avon River Channel that is in the country towards which the flying-foxes were heading, giving me the chance to check on their likely food source. As soon as we drove into the ironbark forest we saw birds in the canopy and stopped to check, White-naped and Yellow-faced Honeyeaters were in abundance with Red Wattlebirds, and wherever we stopped on the trip the predominant sound was the humming of bees in the blossom. Although flowering is well under way there is obviously still a good nectar supply available for birds, bees, and bats alike.

The bush around the Channel is botanically very rich, and was looking moist and good with lovely growths of flowering Boronia anemonifolia, and a wealth of other plants in bud.


Fixed to trees and posts however were signs advising that the procedure euphemistically described as prescribed burning is to take place this autumn. This now appears to be undertaken on government decreed area based criteria, with little or no regard for damage done to sensitive environmental components. I just hope that the bush remains moist enough to limit the impact on the flora and the food supply of the flying-foxes.


Fungi were on the menu again with many nice species in fruit like this Shaggy Cap.

shaggy cap

Small fungi gardens can make a most attractive pictures.


On the track down to the river we found orchids, the Small Mosquito Orchid, Acianthus pusillus, and a nice colony of the Tiny Greenhood, Pterostylis parviflora. The flower spike of this species can be up to 25 cm tall with a number of small flowers to about 10 mm.


The Avon upstream of the Channel was looking great with a nice flow of water coming down. I took no photos of the Channel as such, but click here for a previous post showing it at low flow, and in flood when it is awe inspiring to behold.


Those roaring floods have over the eons sculpted the red rock into many interesting shapes.


The plants along the river have had to be tough to withstand the rushing water, it would be interesting to know how old this one is, and how many times its foliage has been stripped only to regenerate once more.


Insect life was quiet, I did see a late Wandering Percher dragonfly but the most interesting were a few individuals of an ant species new to me, the Golden Spiny Ant, Polyrhachis species. They have very long antennae for an ant, and we watched a couple that appeared to be having a drink from a shallow film of water. There’s always something new to see.

golden spiny ant

When we reached the edge of the bush on our way home birds again caught our eye, and we spent time enjoying good views of Scarlet Robin, male Golden Whistler, Grey Shrike-thrush, Grey Fantail, Kookaburra, Spotted Pardalote, Striated Thornbills, and a very large flock of Buff-rumped Thornbills, always a treat to see. A good end to an interesting day.

Click to enlarge.

In The Foothills #2.

Fungi would be easy to walk past with just a cursory glance, but take the time to look more closely and their beauty and diversity will catch the eye. The genus Mycena is varied and attractive and I was lucky to spot these M. viscidocruenta in a shaded spot growing on rotting twigs and leaf litter.


Some grow in attractive little gardens, for example these Omphalina umbellifera, described by Bruce Fuhrer as a lichenised fungus, growing associated with algal cells as in lichens.


Fragments of the veil adhere to the caps of some fungi, adding to their beauty. This I think is a newly emerging Amanita xanthocephala

fungus with veil

Bracket fungi are familiar, this is a young one showing the fresh mycelium at its base.


The fleshy-pore fungi are commonly known as Boletes.


Amanita farinaceae is covered at first with “a thick layer of powdery meal that quickly erodes” (B Fuhrer) The convex caps flatten with age and the ragged edge is the remains of the annulus.
This fruiting body seems to hold true to that description.


Acianthus exsertus and pusillus, the very similar Large and Small Mosquito Orchids both flower in autumn. One of the distinguishing features is the height of the flower spike, the former reaching 300 mm. The specimens I found were at least that so I’m reasonably confident it is A. exsertus.



Click to enlarge.

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