A Winter Wander.

On a cool early winter day the bush was calling, and one spot in particular, the Avon River Channel where over millions of years the rushing water has carved a narrow passage through the red rock, sculpting a myriad of fantastic shapes along the way.

avon channel


avon channel

It is a botanically rich area that I’ve covered in previous posts so I won’t go over old ground, this was just a wander in the bush with a snapshot camera and the macro outfit. As soon as the walk down to the river started it was apparent that things were on the move, the pomaderris, golden grevillea, beard heath, parrot pea, and wattles were in bud and getting ready for an early spring flowering. One parrot pea already had a flower with more buds nearly ready to open. With the calls of a lyrebird ringing out, the first fungal fruiting body showed up beside a burnt log.

fungi

Fungi were scarce, but further down the track where a large gully runs into the river, the local form of Correa reflexa with large rough flower clasping leaves and lime green flowers was flowering freely. While I was taking photos a pair of Golden Whistlers were keeping in contact with soft calls, and Grey Fantails were flitting busily. The fantails were very dark birds, possibly of the Tasmanian race, some of which migrate north in winter.

correa reflexa

On approaching the river I could see fresh tracks that indicated one or more sambar deer had come to the water’s edge for a drink shortly before I arrived. These animals are doing a lot of damage, browsing, ringbarking trees, wallowing, and generally damaging habitat vital to native species like the Sooty Owl.

tracks

A brief scramble along the rocky bank gave the opening pictures and one of the first flowers on the Phebalium lamprophyllum that is common along the river here.

phebalium

Back to the walking track, and a search for cordyceps under the wattles was unsuccessful, but a termite metropolis was certainly worth a picture. I wonder how long it will be before the tree is gone and just a just a mound of clay remains.

termites

The gully seemed a good place to look for fungi, and it yielded brackets, jelly, and one more.

bracket fungi


jelly fungus


fungi

And just above the gully on the way out, early Trim Greenhoods, Pterostylis concinna.

trim grenhood

While climbing the track back to the vehicle the home of a timber moth larva in a Sticky Hopbush stem, Dodonaea viscosa, caught the eye.

larval home

And amongst the charcoal of a burnt tree trunk another species of fungi.

fungi

The bush is quite drab at this time of year, the Sunshine Wattle, A. terminalis is still in flower, the local form has white to pale cream flowers, but here and there a plant of Common Heath, Epacris impressa brightened the shade beneath the forest understory.

common heath

I’ve been roaming these foothills for longer than I care to remember, and in a box/ironbark area there is a very large ironbark, E. tricarpa, that I’ve been watching for much of that time. It is growing right on the edge of the forest road which probably explains why it has not been damaged by the many fires that have gone through. Its outstanding feature is its bark, seen in the picture, and when passing I always stop to admire it. On this occasion I measured the most striking bark projections, some reached 200mm in depth, long may it survive.

ironbark


Click pictures to enlarge.


creek

Despite the autumn and early winter rain the heavily vegetated foothill creek is dry apart from a few small pools, it seems as though the creek catchment has largely missed out. I’ve been neglecting fungi for quite a while, so they were on the agenda, but dropping down towards the creek bed and flats shaded by tall oliveberry trees it didn’t look too hopeful, with not much to be seen. Australia has a huge number of fungi species with many showing considerable beauty and elegance. I have to admit I’m not driven to try and identify most that I see, my main interest is in the photographic opportunities they offer and the first I found on this occasion exhibited the elegance I mentioned, rising slender and tall from the leaf litter.

fungi

Photograph taken I climbed over a fallen tree trunk, looked down and saw a small colony of the beautiful winter flowering Cobra Greenhood, Pterostylis grandiflora. Several were freshly emerged and only in bud but one was in flower.

cobra greenhood

This is an orchid I love to see, and after taking a few shots I stepped over a second log and found another magnificent tall specimen. This had to be photographed too, and when I checked the image in the camera monitor I thought there was a small fragment of litter adhering to the flower and spoiling the picture. This had to be removed for another shot, but when I looked there was nothing there, strange, what was going on I wondered, and then I saw it, a tiny green flower spider roaming around.

cobra greenhood


flower spider


flower spider

This added another layer of interest, the Cobra Greenhood in common with a lot of others is pollinated by tiny fungus gnats, seen here. The little flower spider is taking advantage of that fact, living in a beautiful home and being supplied with meals on wings. The next photo taken by Mitch of the Woolenook Native Nursery shows the remains of four gnats that have fallen victim to a spider living in a Trim Greenhood flower.

trim greenhood

On then in search of fungi and a splash of colour in the gloom, a delightful small coral fungus that only grows to about 50mm tall, Ramariopsis crocea.

coral fungus

That species displayed beauty of shape as well as colour, and these fruiting bodies that were growing on a rotting log in the creek certainly took richness of colour to another level.

fungi

Some gregarious fungi grow in what could be described as beautiful miniature gardens. The genus Mycena to which I believe the following species belongs is a good example.

mycena sp.

Several more species were photographed but they can perhaps wait for another day. When I got back to the vehicle a movement on the ground caught my eye, it was a Red-headed Spider Ant. These ants can forage singly or together, although I searched I could not find any more, it is of course winter and insect activity has quietened down. This ant was certainly active though and I had to take shots while it was on the move, this was the most successful effort.

spider ant

These photos were taken on the Queen’s Birthday long weekend, when the area was popular with trail bike riders and four wheel drivers. The bikers I met were doing the right thing and sticking to the track, but sadly some of the four wheelers had been irresponsible as shown in the picture, creating a likely spot for erosion to start. Totally uncalled for and displaying a complete lack of regard for the well-being of the bush.

track


Click to enlarge.

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