Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Mengel Property at Felton, 7 February 2010
Despite uncertain weather after more than a week of rain, 15 Field Nats headed for the Mengel's farming property at Felton, about 30 kilometres south-west of Toowoomba, for the monthly club outing. The 153 hectare Mengel property, combining beef cattle grazing and cultivation, had benefited greatly from more than 100mm of rain, and light showers in the afternoon did not interfere with the day's planned activities.
View from Mt Rubislaw

Among the Field Nats were four members who had attended the previous day's basic grass identification workshop at Perseverance Hall, and the wide variety of seeding grasses gave them a chance to put newly-acquired skills into practice. Before setting out on the morning walk part-way up 673 metre Mt Rubislaw, we gathered near a quarry on the Mengel property. This quarry is leased to Toowoomba Regional Council, and provides gravel for road works in the Felton-Cambooya area.

View from the top

After negotiating a tightly-stranded barbwire fence onto adjoining Harrow, a historic grazing property of more than 3000 acres, we climbed rocky slopes through open timbered country to picturesque views of Cambooya farmland. Highlights of the morning walk were the brief sighting of a snake (described as black with brown features), and on the walk downhill, strolling through a grove of white cypress pine (Callitris baileyi).
After a leisurely lunch at the Mengel farmhouse overlooking part of the farm and the beautiful Felton valley beyond, most of the Nats drove, in light rain, to a grass paddock at the back of the farm. There, as well as seeing grey kangaroos, they found about a dozen Stemmacantha australis (Austral Cornflower), past flowering, but with seed pods. This native species is threatened by overgrazing, and is listed as vulnerable.

Nats on Mt Rubislaw

After the welcome rain of previous days, the Felton valley was a picture of green, yet, within view of the Mengel farmhouse is the site of a proposed large-scale mine and petrochemical plant. It is hard to believe that such a project would even be considered in this fertile farming area.

At the end of the day's energetic and informative outing, Field Nats warmly thanked Len and Frank for giving their time and energy and for increasing everyone's knowledge of natural history in the area and for giving them an insight into ‘life on the farm’. Michael

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