The plan was for a brief call to the shopping centre followed by a trip to the Elbow Orchid spot in the hope of getting a photo or three. The first part was successful but the orchids gave me the elbow, the disused track where I’d previously seen them is rapidly becoming impenetrable due to Burgan regrowth. Despite searching diligently I found none, although Little Duck orchids were reasonably numerous. However, every cloud has a silver lining as the old saying goes, and while looking under some undergrowth I saw something that was new to me. A group of curious small fronds that although a first sighting, immediately rang a bell, Comb Fern said the busy brain, Schizaea asperula, seen a long time ago in a book on ferns and filed away for future reference.
Back at the vehicle and the question arose, no elbows so what will I do now, answer, just keep wandering and see what crops up in front of the camera lens, like this Sawtooth Banksia beside the track for instance, the old and the new.
I said the first part of the day was successful, and it was, but what a relief to escape from the pre-Christmas traffic jam and crowds at the centre into the peace and beauty of the bush. If there is a more spectacular plant than the grass tree in this state park I’m yet to see it.
Although the majority of the park is sandy with associated dry country banksia and eucalypt vegetation, on the southern edge there is some moist forest with towering manna gums above the clear-running creek, where a lucky sighting of a platypus may be made. That wasn’t to be on this occasion, but a Pacific Black Duck’s paddling feet could be clearly seen through the faintly tannin-stained water. Bronze Needle Damselflies are a feature of this creek, and drew the photographer down the somewhat precipitous animal pad to the steep creek bank. Strangely, Odonata seemed to be completely absent, but then movement as a female Common Flatwing landed and posed very calmly, while the aforementioned photographer struggled to get into position, hold the camera steady, focus, and avoid slipping into the water.
Further along an even steeper animal pad or should I say slide pointed upwards, and with the help of obliging shrubs and tufts of lomandra, the level ground was reached with a surprising lack of drama. A Twining Glycine also utilising the shrubbery was even snapped on the way.
At this time of year wildflower colour is getting scarce, although white and yellow can still be seen. Yellow Stars for instance were scattered through the bush among the olearias that had long since finished flowering.
A glance up through the treetops on the way out of the bush provided the season’s first sighting of a White-throated Needletail, scything through the air ahead of the approaching storm. Then, out on the open plains a sickle-winged Hobby was the last sighting of a flying creature until I reached the outskirts of the town, where I stopped to greet the flying foxes who have returned to spend their summer holidays with us once again.
And while the flying foxes will be enjoying their festive fare somewhere out there in the darkness, the young Red Wattlebirds will be having their Christmas dinner in the garden grevillea cultivars. Honey Gem for main course, Peaches and Cream for dessert, and Coconut Ice for afters.
Click all images to enlarge.