Monday, December 1, 2014

Outing Report: West Creek, 09 November, 2014

Twenty Field Nats gathered at the rotunda on Creedon Drive at 9.00am, to be joined by a few more late arrivals. Margaret’s purpose for the outing was twofold – for us to contemplate the changes to the creek wrought by 150+ years of European intervention; and to show us what some of West Creeks’s detention basins look like (to help us project what East Creek’s current and controversial developments might morph into, given time). 

Margaret had quotes from Archibald Meston’s evaluations of “The Swamp”, with comments of mullet in these creeks and leptospermums along the banks where the creek lines connected the then different wetlands along the way. Meston, I believe, was only 18 when he first arrived in Drayton, later to work with Aborigines, and eventually to become Queensland’s Protector of Aborigines by the end of the Nineteenth Century. It would seem that, at 18, he was not accurate in his identifications of fish or plants – yet his letters still carry weight as historical records! 

We learned that this section of West Creek, southwards from the rotunda to Stenner Street, was developed in the 1980s to suit Toowoomba City Council’s then priority for an International Gardens theme – specifically here to create a Palm Grove (Egypt) and the canal structures that connect successive detention basins were to be reminiscent of Holland. Nearby, there are separate lines of Queensland Kauris, ficus species, eucalypts, casuar- inas, willows and poplars – giving us a certain sense of identity crisis. 

Northwards from the rotunda we did a short loop walk around the next few basins, here connected by under- ground pipes. These basins are beside and slightly above the present watercourse, which is lined with imported rocks, to slow the flood flow. The ponds had three species of waterlilies, some of which were beginning to clog the ponds. One wonders what happens to this surplus of (regenerative) plant matter when there is a big flush event. For many of us, the feature of the day was the massed display of the “Snow in Summers” (Melaleuca linariifolia) which were just short of their very best, and intermittently lining the major ponds. Most of us turned around at the end of that first loop, where a tree stump had been expertly capped, so making an ideal habitat for a large and active colony of native bees.    

I think that we as Field Nats were most appreciative of the natives on show, and can’t help but wonder what the creek-scape would have looked like if it were exclusively native species. A chance missed for Toowoomba to have showcased Australia’s unique vegetation. This would have been an ideal opportunity for Toowoomba, the second largest city within the Murray-Darling Basin, and in a significant headwater position within this basin, to have set an example of environmental responsibility. 

While not oppressively hot, it was a very warm morning as we ambled around West Creek. Morning-tea at 10.40am was late for us Nats, but proved leisurely, and gradually lingered towards midday, when we all took an early mark and dismissed for the day. Jean and I walked this area last November and were blown away by the “Snow in Summers”, so I settled upon this for our November 2014, outing. While on our W.A. trip, I became anxious that I may not have time to pull together my part preparations for West Creek if we arrived back too late in October. My thanks to Margaret for taking up this theme on short notice and coordinating our day. 
(Report by Ben Gundry)

Trees      (Compiled by John Swarbrick)

 Over many years Council has developed the parklands and wetlands of West Creek between Alderley Street and Stenner Street into extensive parklands and wetlands, and has planted many species of trees. The list of species noted during the November outing is incomplete. It include both native and exotic species. 

Dwarf date palm (Phoenix roebelinii), queen palm (Syagrum romazoffianum) , Canary Island date palm (Phoenix canariensis), cotton palm (Washingtonia filifera) and other true palms, pony-tail palm (Nolina longifolia), and several species of cycads. Flame tree (Brachychiton acerifolius), narrow-leaved bottle tree (B. rupestris), crows ash (Flindersia australis), several eucalypt species (Eucalyptus, Corymbia), swamp cypress (Taxodium distichum), Leichhardt bean (Cassia brewsteri), bottlebrush (Callistemon viminalis), five-nerved tea tree (Melaleuca quinquenervia), English oak (Quercus robur), Moreton Bay fig (Ficus macrophylla), Chinese pistachio (Pistacio chinensis), Queensland kauri (Agathis robusta), belah (Casuarina cristata), two species of poplars (Populus), brush box (Lophostemon confertus), Queensland blue gum (Eucalyptus tereticornis), other species of fig (Ficus), golden weeping willow (Salix x sepulcralis), flax-leaved paperbark (Melalueca linariifolia).
Birds      (Compiled by Barbara Weller from members' sightings)

Sacred Ibis, Little Black Cormorant, Pied Cormorant, Magpie Lark (nesting), Australian Grebe, Buff-banded Rail, Pacific Black Duck, Wood Duck, White-eyed Duck, Eurasian Coot,  Dusky Moorhen, House Sparrow, Brown Honeyeater, Noisy Miner (nesting), Little Friarbird, Noisy Friarbird, Superb Blue Wren, Common Myna, Crested Pigeon, Masked Lapwing, Fairy Martin, Spotted Turtle Dove, Black-backed Magpie, Willy Wagtail, Black-faced Cuckoo-Shrike, Satin Bowerbird (female) .

Australian Grebe (left)

White-eyed Duck (right)

(Both photos by Peter Evans)

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