Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Report on outing to the Bunya Mountains - May 2015

To begin I must say the TFNC are a wonderful bunch of people for making the best of things. On the first day someone said to me “You can plan for most things but you can’t plan the weather”! On Thursday afternoon we arrived in light rain which continued and became heavier on Friday. Despite this, a cheerful group assembled for drinks at our lodge on Thursday evening and most appeared in full rainwear at Fisher’s Lookout on Friday morning to meet Maurie, the Aboriginal ranger. He finally caught up with us at the National Parks Information Centre and spoke briefly before agreeing to return on Sunday afternoon. We retreated to Udakak for coffee and watched the rain intensify. Bill McDonald offered to do his talk on Borneo on Friday afternoon and that was an excellent way to occupy a wet afternoon. We estimate that well over 100mm of rain fell that day. Neil kept the log fire burning so we were all cosy and dry. All assembled there again in the evening for a shared meal.
The rain cleared on Saturday and we were able to go to Westcott and walk back to Paradise. The birdlife was disappointing for the birdos though Lesley, in her efficient way, accumulated an impressive list by the end of the weekend. The botanists, assisted by experts, Bill and Gwen Harden, were not so affected by the weather as demonstrated by their taking three hours to walk the 3.2 kilometres studying the big range and diversity of plants along the way. A late lunch was followed by a workshop conducted by Gwen and Bill on their new digital plant ID key which was valuable to those interested. The barbecue on Saturday night was also held at Udakak as it had a large gas barbecue and plenty of verandah space.
On Sunday morning about 20 of us pooled cars and drove to the Seton’s property “Warmga Park” where we saw a different suite of plants and birds and were impressed by the efficient way in which Bernice and Don have adapted to Don’s disability so that, even in his wheelchair, he was able to join us exploring the property.
The cloud descended again and the wind got up so that by 2.00pm it was quite unsuitable for Maurie’s walks and talks which, sadly, were abandoned. Some of us walked to Festoon Falls at Dandabah and the rest followed their own interests. We met at the Gardner’s lodge at 4.30pm for last drinks, additions to the bird list, and formal thanks to Bill and Gwen for sharing their expertise with us. I thank you all for your understanding and kind words and the lovely box of chocolates presented to me. Dinner at Elz Bistro was, I think, above expectations and then, on Monday morning, after packing up, we met again at Poppies for coffee, thereby sharing our largesse, before final farewells and the trek home.
So much more to see and do at this wonderful destination with its majestic Bunya Pines, diverse birdlife and wallabies quietly grazing on the kikuyu lawns - but it will have to wait for another occasion.

Report by Elizabeth Russell

Murri History of Bunya Mountains

May Day was cold, wet and misty at 1000 metres on Bunya Mountains. We retreated from Fisher’s Lookout to the National Parks office at Dandabah. Here Maurie, a Murri ranger, talked to us, in a rather quiet voice, about the importance of Bunya Mountains (Booburrgan Ngmmunge) to the Murri people.
He told us that Booburrgan Ngmmunge is regarded by Murri people over a wide area as their spiritual Mother. Likewise the bunya nuts are the mother’s milk. Tribes (mobs) came from as far apart as the Sydney to Rock-hampton areas every third year for the Bunya Feast. The tribes were summoned by lighting the grass on some of the balds. As these were seen by other mobs they, in turn, lit fires on traditional high points and so the message quickly spread over the great distances. Of course mobs at the furthest extremes took months to arrive. By this time the burned grass on the balds was regrowing and providing grazing for macropods. So this resource was also available to the visitors.
The Bunya Feasts were important for inter-tribal discussions on boundaries, ceremonies and relationships generally, for coming of age and marriage ceremonies, for dream-time stories and religious rites such as dances, and for harvesting and feasting on the bunya nuts.
Maurie told us about the recent (2011) plan for Murri rangers to take over responsibility for managing Russell Park and the rest of the Bunya Mountains National Park under auspices of the ‘Caring for Country’ program.  This will give better protection to this very important Murri site. He handed out literature to us explaining this plan in much more detail.
In view of the weather Maurie suggested that we delay visits with him to the bunya nut forests and the balds to Sunday afternoon. Maurie lives some distance away at Wondai so it would have taken up all of a week-end afternoon and, by Sunday, the weather hadn't improved enough so the outing was cancelled. This was a pity as there was much more we would like to have heard about. Another time!  
Report by Mike Russell

Insect report -- Bunya Mountains weekend
Plutellidae moth

The weather on the Bunya Mountains weekend was not the best for insects. The only butterfly I could positively ID was a Caper White. There were a few brave moths on the walk from Westcliff to Paradise, the most notable being from the family Plutellidae (thanks to Mike Ford), possibly Leuroperna sera species (see photo).  Length about 8-10mm.

Harlequin bug

There were a few unidentified micro moths and some small moths from the Pyralidae family. The visit to Don and Bernice Seton near Bell added a Cabbage White butterfly, a Small Grass Yellow, a moth from the Cram-bidae Family, possibly Spoladea recurvalis, and a number from Pyralidae family. There were also Harlequin bugs, Tectocoris diophthalmus,(see photo), family Scutelleridae, also known as shield-backed bugs.

Report by Don Gardener

Plants at the Bunyas
Despite the rain, the Field Nats managed (in their usual style) to have a great weekend at the Bunyas. A high-light was the walk from Westcott to Paradise, with Bill McDonald and Gwen Harden. It was a real pleasure to be out with people who knew the plants so well, and could explain some subtle (and perhaps less subtle) botan-ical points. The plant of interest in the photo (see page 4) is not a moss, as most of us had thought, but a leafy liverwort. That particular walk is a good one as it offers much variety with a rather easy three kilometre walk. There is a lot of rainforest edge, a few small bits of Eucalypt woodland, and lovely views over the Darling Downs. I put several of the plants onto my blog, ( for those who would like to have a look.
Report by Trish Gardner

Bunya Mountains plant list, May 2015: Westcott to Paradise
Northern end – Dry Rainforest
Southern End – Cool, Sub-tropical Rainforest
Euodia micrococca
Streblus brunonianus
Cryptocarya obovata
Polyscias elegans
Alectryon pubescens
Euroschinus falcatus
Eucalyptus tereticornis subsp. basaltica
Diospyros australis
Rhodosphaera rhodanthema
Myrsine variabilis
Capparis arborea
Sambucus australasica
Claoxylon australe
Geijera salicifolia (in flower)
Elatostema xylocarpa
Hibiscus heterophyllus
Alyxia ruscifolia (in flower & fruit)

Smilax australis
Sicyos australis
Sarcostemma viminale subsp. brunonianum
Marsdenia lloydii
Flagellaria indica
Stephania aculeata
Urtica incisa
Parietaria debilis
Stipa verticilliata
Poa labillardiera
Adiantum atroviride
Doodia aspera
Lastreopsis decompositum
Pyrrosia confluens
Urtica dioica
Papillaria – should have asked Bill about this one.
Brachychiton discolor
Syzygium australe
Baloghia inophylla
Dendrocnide excelsa
Diploglottis australis
Guioa semiglauca
Eucalyptus eugenioides
Olea paniculata
Neolitsea australis
Omalanthus populifolius
Ficus macrophylla
Diospyros pentamera
Elaeocarpus kirtonii (Mowbullan Whitewood)
Ficus obliqua
Citronella moorei
Archontophoenix cunninghamiana
Cryptocarya obovata
Litsea reticulata
Araucaria bidwillii
Dictymia brownii
Arthropteris tenella
Embelia australiana
Ripogonum brevifolium
Parsonsia velutina
Pandorea pandorana
Eustrephus latifolius
Geitonoplesium cymosum
Cayratia clematoides
Legnephora moorei
Cynanchum bowmanii (check sp. with Bill)
Celastrus australis
Piper hederaceum
Rubus moluccanus
Morinda jasminoides
Dianella caerulea
Bulbine bulbosa
Lomandra  longifolia
Pollia crispate
Plectranthus sp.
Opuntia tomentosa (Tree Pear)
Lantana camara

Compiled by Mike Russell

Plants at the Seton Property, Bell - 03 May 2015
As a club, we don’t spend much time in brigalow scrubs, so this was a particularly interesting place for us to visit. The scrub on this property, though obviously reduced from what would have been its original condition, still contains a delightfully rich variety of plants of the dry rainforest type. This would be a good part of the reason why the property supports such a rich and interesting variety of bird life - much more than we would usually find in such open country. There was only time to make a very quick survey of the plants, but here is some of what we found. (I didn’t include the gumtrees or the wattles, of which there were a number of species, except for the keynote wattle.)
Acacia harpophylla BRIGALOW, Alectryon diversifolius SCRUB BOONAREE, Alphitonia excelsa SOAP ASH, Amyema congener VARIABLE MISTLETOE, Amyema miquellii on Eucalyptus sp. RUSSET MISTLETOE,
Apophyllum anomalum WARRIOR BUSH, Atalaya salicifolia BRUSH WHITEWOOD, Brachychiton populneus KURRAJONG, Brachychiton rupestris COMMON BOTTLE TREE, Breynia oblongifolia BREYNIA, Callitris glauca WHITE CYPRESS, Capparis lasiantha SPLIT JACK, Capparis loranthifolia (?) NARROW LEAF CAPER TREE,
Capparis mitchellii MITCHELL’S CAPER TREE, Cayratia clematidea SLENDER WATER VINE, Denhamia bilocularis (Maytenus bilocularis) HEDGE ORANGEBARK, Elaeodendron australe RED OLIVE PLUM, Erythroxylon sp. Splityard Ck REDWOOD BUSH, Flindersia australis CROWS ASH, Flindersia collina LEOPARD ASH, Geijera parvifolia COMMON WILGA, Geijera salicifolia SCRUB WILGA, Jasminum didymum subsp. racemosum TRIPLE LEAF JASMINE, Jasminum simplicifolium STIFF JASMINE, Lysiana subfalcata on Alectryon subdentatus BANANA MISTLETOE, Maireana microphylla SMALL LEAFED COTTONBUSH, Parsonsia eucalyptophylla GARGALOO VINE, Parsonsia straminea MONKEY ROPE VINE, Pittosporum spinescens WALLABY APPLE, Pittosporum viscidum BIRDS NEST BUSH, Psydrax odoratum subsp. buxifolium (canthium buxifolium) BOX LEAFED CANTHIUM.

Report compiled by Trish Gardner

Bird Report for TFNC Bunya Mountains Camp, 30 April-04 May 2015
The rain on the first two days kept the birds quiet but they came out on the Sunday. Early that morning at Bid-willi Crescent, where I was staying, three Wonga Pigeons, a Yellow-throated Scrubwren, an Eastern Yellow Robin and numerous Satin Bowerbirds were foraging in the damp grass verges. More Satin Bowerbirds and Figbirds were in the large fig across the road. Then there were all the calls coming from the surrounding forest.
Our excursion to Warmga Park near Bell supplied an abundance of bush birds even while sitting on the veranda for morning tea. Unfortunately there was too much water around to tempt any ducks to the dams. However the bird of the camp would have to be the Diamond Firetail seen by Mary-Ann and Genevieve at the Dandabah Camping Area. This species is a rarity for the Bunyas.
Bird Species (total 76 species)
Australian Brush-turkey, White-headed Pigeon, Brown Cuckoo-Dove, Emerald Dove, Wonga Pigeon, Rose-crowned Fruit-Dove, Topknot Pigeon, Wedge-tailed Eagle, Galah, Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Australian King-Parrot, Crimson Rosella, Shining Bronze-Cuckoo, Fan-tailed Cuckoo, Southern Boobook, Laughing Kookaburra, White-throated Tree-creeper, Green Catbird, Regent Bowerbird, Satin Bowerbird, Superb Fairy-wren, Yellow-throated Scrubwren, White-browed Scrubwren, Large-billed Scrubwren, Brown Gerygone, Eastern Spinebill, Lewin's Honeyeater, Brown Honey-eater, Eastern Whipbird, Golden Whistler, Grey Shrike-thrush, Australian Magpie, Pied Currawong, Grey Fantail, Willie Wagtail, Torresian Crow, Magpie-lark, Paradise Riflebird, Eastern Yellow Robin, Silvereye, Bassian Thrush, Double-barred Finch, Red-browed Finch, Diamond Firetail. (44 species)
Birds seen at Seton’s property, Warmga Park:
Crested Pigeon, Bar-shouldered Dove, Straw-necked Ibis, Wedge-tailed Eagle, Nankeen Kestrel, Galah, Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Cockatiel, Rainbow Lorikeet, Scaly-breasted Lorikeet, Pale-headed Rosella, Red-rumped Parrot, Superb Fairy-wren, Red-backed Fairy-wren, Weebill, Yellow Thornbill, Yellow-rumped Thornbill, Buff-rumped Thornbill, Striated Pardalote, Noisy Miner, Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater, Brown Honeyeater, Striped Honeyeater, Grey-crowned Babbler, Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike, Golden Whistler, Rufous Whistler, Australasian Figbird, Olive-backed Oriole, Grey Butcher-bird, Pied Butcherbird, Australian Magpie, Grey Fantail, Willie Wagtail, Australian Raven, Torresian Crow, Magpie-lark, Apostlebird, Rose Robin, Silvereye, Common Myna, Mistletoebird, Zebra Finch, Double-barred Finch. (44 species)
Birds not already listed seen on roadside between Bunyas and Warmga Park:
White-faced Heron, Masked Lapwing, Pheasant Coucal. (3 species)

Report compiled by Lesley Beaton

Bill, Gwen, and leafy liverwort

Psydrax odorata forma buxifolia fruit 

(Photos: Trish Gardener)

Bill McDonald’s talk on Borneo 
It was a rainy day outside, the mountain covered in mist and a bit of a chill in the air. It was a perfect opportunity to hear about the tropical forests of Borneo from our dear friend Bill McDonald while in the comfort of a lounge room with a fire. Bill has been volunteering his botanical skills to various conservation and research organisations in Sabah, Borneo, for years. Although Bill spoke about many conservation reserves it was Danum Valley that stood out in my mind.
Danum Valley is a large reserve being one of the most important conservation areas in SE Asia and includes the very important Danum Valley Field Centre part of SEARRP (South East Asian Rainforest Research Project). It covers a large area of predominantly lowland rainforest and has outstanding biodiversity. This reserve is extremely important as surrounding areas have been/are being logged for a number of reasons.
Palm oil is a major issue for Indonesia with much of the natural forest being converted to this economic crop.  Other issues include the logging of rainforest trees (Dipterocarpus) to provide the market with Merantia common timber found in hardware stores everywhere. In response to these markets a number of conservation organisations have arisen. Bill spoke to us about these concerning issues with such conviction (and highlighting the complexity) I’m sure many in the audience were considering volunteering their time to help (I know I was).
Bill also shared his experiences of the beauty and uniqueness of the tropical forests in this area including its creatures. Of course the orangutans are a key species of these forests and we have all heard about the devastating impact that palm plantations have had on their population, but to see other creatures such as the gibbons, pygmy elephants and sun bears reinforces how diverse and important the rainforests of this area are. I was amazed at Bill's photos of the hornbills; they seemed like a fantastical bird from a Sir David Attenborough documentary. The gingers were not unlike the ones in our region but they were varied and spectacular in their flowering, Borneo being home to a large number of Zingiberaceae species. Bill's photos were so vivid you could imagine the beautiful rhododendrons bursting with colour in their natural environment. Overall Bill’s talk not only illustrated the importance of conservation of this area but also informed us about the beauty that can be seen when visiting. It was a truly inspiring talk and one that will hopefully help us to become better consumers and inspire me one day to visit this unique and important area. For more information
(Report by Jane Orme)

Bunya Mountains Fungi
The Bunya trip was not only a very enjoyable few days away but also proved excellent for fungi hunting. In fact the haul was so great that identifying all the specimens (from photos) was somewhat overwhelming. I managed to put names to 55 genera, many having multiple species e.g. Mycena. There are still a large number of unidentified ones and the Ascomycetes and Slime Moulds are not included.
The weed fungus Favolaschia calocera (orange ping pong bats) was much in evidence throughout the Bunyas.  Jim and I stayed up there an extra night and overall walked six different tracks and saw this Madagascan import on all of them. It probably usurps niches some of the native species should occupy.
Another widespread, noticeable and attractive fungus was Stereum ostrea, a leathery bracket common on dead wood in wet native forests. This fungus has large, thin, funnel-shaped fruit bodies often massed along the whole length of a fallen tree trunk. Colours grade from brown at the base through orange and yellow to cream edges.  Also present was the  leathery fungus Cymatoderma elegans which was not so prevalent but the individual specimens are quite large and have a very pleasing cream goblet shape on a brown woody stem.
The split-gill fungus Schizophyllum commune was found on the Dandebah circuit. I did not realize until checking the identification that it is dangerous to smell this one as the spores are known to cause a serious lung infection. The smell of Piptoporus australiensis (curry punk) is unavoidable. I saw a huge specimen on a very large fallen tree beside the road as we were driving along so stopped the car to investigate. There were a few fungal masses on the trunk, the largest being about two thirds of a metre across. The smell was quite frankly appalling but two days later had entirely dissipated.  
At the other end of the size scale was the prettiest small clump of orange fungi covered with a white velvety down. Each hemispherical cap was less than 10mm across and they were nestled in a cavity in the wood. These I have identified. Some Coprinellus desseminatus made up for their small size by inhabiting an area of about 1.5 square metres of earth around the base of an old tree.

One of the most spectacular fungi was found on the Barker Creek circuit near the Big Falls Lookout junction.  There were several clusters of the coral fungus Hericeum coralloides ranging in size from 20mm to 180mm and consisting of white branched downward pointing spines. A favourite of mine is Calvatia, a large puffball which I call ‘brain fungus’. There were a few found on a number of walks.

Brain fungus (Calvatia sp.)

To explain the problems of identification: an unusual pale orange toothed variety should have been easy to name. In fact there was a picture of what appeared to be the very one in my old 1979 Field Guide to Fungi of South-Eastern Australia, authors Ross Macdonald and John Westerman. It was under Hydnums and labelled Odontia australis. Not finding this in any other reference book Google was consulted. The site suggested Odontia was misnamed and should be Grandinia australis though the current name is actually Hyphodontia australis. Checking Hyphodontia I discovered it appeared to be a resupinate fungus i.e. a crust lying flat against the wood.  The Bunya specimen was definitely tiered, having both top surface and teeth underneath.

Back to the references and Antrodiella zonata in A Field Guide to Australian Fungi, author Bruce Fuhrer (2011ed) seemed a fairly close match but the ‘teeth’, of which there was a photo, were white. However in A Field Guide to Tasmanian Fungi, authors Genevieve Gates and David Ratkowsky (2014) Antrodiella zonata is described as having an under surface of apricot pink. I won’t quibble about colour names, this looks like the Bunya specimen. You wonder why I haven’t managed to identify all the others!  
Article and photos by Diana Ball

Antrodiella sp

       Coral Fungus

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