Saturday, 18 January 2014

Barwon River above Buckley Falls

It was good to get out of the house this morning after a torrid week, four days above 41°C. It was back to the low twenties and members of the Geelong Field Nats found the walk along the Barwon River very pleasant.

View west from Newtown Lookout, smoke haze from the Grampian fire over the Barrabool Hills
We met at Baums Weir on the north bank of the river near Fyansford, and walked downstream along the footpath as far as the old paper mill near Buckley Falls. It's not very far but, at typical field nat's pace, it took all morning. The river environment has been highly modified by industrial activity (there were several flour mills as well as the paper mill along this stretch of the river), steps, landscaping, footpaths, weirs and quarrying. There are several old quarries along the way so we were able to see the evidence of long-ago volcanic activity here and downstream at Buckley Falls. The Friends of Buckley Falls have been very active for several decades, weeding and planting as well as fighting bureaucracy to create a buffer between the river and the encroaching suburbs. It's still a work in progress but the results so far are magnificent.

Baums Weir
Near the bridge on Geelong Ring Road where it crosses the Barwon.
The race (at left) was constructed in the 1870s to feed water to the paper mill.

Suburbia is not far from the river and getting closer.
Old quarry 
Old quarry
Fairy Martin nests in the old quarry
Buckley Falls
Today we saw a variety of birds along the river (Crested Shrike-tits, Grey Fantails, Silvereyes, cormorants, ducks, Grey Shrike-thrush, Red-browed Finch, Brown Thornbills etc) as well as raptors flying overhead (Whistling Kites, Black Kites). A highlight was the group of seven Whistling Kites moving and talon-grappling in the thermals overhead.

Thursday, 9 January 2014


I have photographed this ephemeral swamp regularly in the last decade. It used to be a cleared paddock, used for grazing cattle, but is now a bluegum plantation. The location is Homerton in Western Victoria.

I was interested to see whether the reeds and rushes would regenerate after the stock were removed. We have had several wet years after the decade-long drought and there appears to have been quite a bit of regrowth. And it's interesting to see that the eucalypt has recuperated as well.

January 2006
January 2007
November 2007
January 2009
October 2011
January 2014

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Fairies' Aprons

I'm glad no one was watching me when I spotted a plant flowering in the bush. I confess to doing a little jig and a yahoo.

I've been gradually surveying a particular area of Victoria for about ten years now, looking for plants in an area about 10 km by 14 km (a degree) east of Heywood in the state's west. It's a diverse area with creeks, sandy heath, woodland and forest, and volcanic stone areas. Over that time I've found a few interesting species of plants and built up my knowledge of the plants that are common.

And I have a list of plants that should be in the area but I haven't found them yet.Top of the list was a beautiful little carnivorous plant called Fairies' Aprons Utricularia dichotoma. The plants have modified stems that trap small organisms. It grows in damp and wet heathy areas and they tend to be the places I avoid in summer because I worry about snakes when I'm by myself. And we're not always here at the right time of the year.

Fairies' Aprons Utrcularia dichotoma
Yesterday I wasn't looking for it because it's January (normally very dry but this year everything here is still green and moist) and the plant flowers in spring and early summer. But there it was, a single plant, looking beautiful in the middle of a muddy section of a bush track in the Annya forest at Milltown.

Fairies' Aprons are probably widespread in this area as they are in other areas of Australia - it's just that I had never found them where I expected them to be. Hence the jig.