Friday, 15 May 2009

Life on the heath

I wasn't the only creature wandering through the heath at Anglesea. This little chap was doing its own thing on the ground until I disturbed its peace and stuck a camera in its face. This particular weevil is flightless I believe, a member of the Curculionidae Family, Amycterinae Subfamily. Phew! I think I've got the spelling right!

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Parson's bands

You'd think that an orchid with pure white petals would stand out from the crowd wouldn't you. But not necessarily so.

Yesterday I went looking for autumn orchids (and whatever else was around) in the open, heathy forest behind Anglsea. It's not the sort of heath there that you have trouble walking through but rather more open, with lots of bare spaces and leaf litter. I followed kangaroo tracks, and at one stage was under close scrutiny by two kangaroos. (You know how they stop and prop with their chests puffed out and their heads turned your way, almost invisible amongst the trees despite their proximity?)

After about ten minutes I got my eye in, which means I could actually see what I was looking for, and started to see the minutiae on the forest floor. Including the little white orchid that goes by the glorious name of Parson's Bands Eriochilus cucullatus. The reason for the common name is obvious, the two white sepals looking like the collar of a parson. It's also called the Leafless Parson's Bands, because the leaf develops after flowering, but the ones I saw each had a tiny oval-shaped leaf hugging the ground. Despite the white sepals these little orchids are quite difficult to see, but well worth looking for.

Dead in the water

What do you reckon is going on here? All those dead trees beside Thompson Creek at Connewarre.

Every year our group visits this area on our Challenge Bird Count route. There is a small reserve on Dans Road that provides access and shade, the latter most important because some Challenge days have been awfully hot! We have seen some 'good' birds here, and dipped on a lot as well. Yesterday I called in and there was nothing there. Not a thing. So it gave me the chance to really look at the creek. Thompson Creek is only short and here it only has a kilometre or two to run before it runs out the sea at Point Impossible - if there's enough water to breach the sandbar. I haven't been to the Point for a while so maybe it's closed and the water backing upstream is brackish or too salty for the trees that used to grow on the banks.

And while I'm on the subject of 'nothing to be seen' let me just say that there is nothing in the bush either. I spent some time in the forest north of Anglesea earlier in the day looking for autumn orchids, and hardly heard a bird. The long drought, climate change, feral cats, lack of insects or flowering trees - something or everything is causing the numbers of birds to drop.

PS Are you happy now Stephan? (He, my b-i-l, was complaining that I hadn't blogged for a while. Maybe he should start his own.)