Thursday, September 24, 2015

Outing Reports - 6 September, 2015: Felton South via Leyburn

A good turnout for 2015’s first spring outing, with Len Mengel leading members through a part of the Downs with which he is very familiar. The outing started beside the well-known dam on the Back Plains – Clifton Road. The dam, which is on private property, could be seen easily from the road and yielded a number of bird sightings, listed elsewhere in the newsletter. Plant lovers were also rewarded with a number of interesting species that are listed at the end of this report.
Leaving the dam, we took the Felton View Road, turning first left into Snell Road and then right onto Mill-brook Road where we were able to stop beside the road for morning tea and a chance to explore the verges.  Refreshed, we moved on to Leyburn for a comfort stop and then onto the Condamine Reserve where we stopped for lunch. The spacious reserve has recently been the focus of some revegetation work under the auspices of the Condamine Alliance, and offers bush campers well-shaded sites under massive River Red Gums, (Eucalyptus camaldulensis) along the banks of the Condamine. The presence of Common Nardoo (Marsilea drummondi) and Mountain Buttercup (Ranunculus meristus) provided evidence that parts of the Reserve are inundated during flood.
A leisurely lunch and investigation of the Reserve was followed by a visit to a popular swimming area further along the Condamine. Thereafter most members returned home, while seven hardy souls went on to Durikai State Forest, to see the famous Durikai mallees, and look for wildflowers. Thank you, Len, for a relaxing day with lots to see.
Plant list:
By the dam: Scrub Wilga (Geijera salicifolia), Mitchell’s Native Caper (Capparis mitchelli), Kurrajong (Brachychiton populneus), Jasmine sp.,  Notolea sp., Senna artemisoides subsp. zygophylla, Psydrax odorata subsp. buxifolium, Cough Bush (Cassinia laevis), Prickly Moses (Acacia farnesiana (exotic)), Wombat Berry (Eustrephus latifolius).
Millbrook Road: Stiff Jasmine, Sandalwood (Santalum lanceolatum), Gumbi Gumbi (Pittosporum angustifolium), Orangebark (Denhamia bilocularis), Square-stemmed Broom (Spartothemnella juncea), White tamarind (Elattostachys xylocarpa).
Condamine Reserve: Rough-barked Apple (Angophora floribunda), Common Nardoo  (Marsilea drummondi),  Mountain Buttercup (Ranunculus meristus), a spectacular spread of red Slender Darling Pea, (Swainsona brachycarpa) and the broad leafed Scrub Cherry (Exocarpus latifolius).

(Report by Deb Ford)

On the Durakai
Acacia sampler, Durikai (photo Trish Gardner)
Six of us decided that it would round off our highly enjoyable outing to the Felton area, to take advantage of Nicci Thompson’s local knowledge and offer to lead us to a stand of Durikai mallee (Eucalyptus infera) in the Durikai State Forest. It was very interesting. It is so rare for us to see a pure stand of mallee in Queensland that it seems a remarkable sight - rather like being in South Australia. To add to the pleasure, the trees were in flower - tight clusters of flowers of the typical eucalypt type, but unusually small, as were the gumnuts which we also found. 
Stone gecko Diplodactylus vittatus at Durikai - photo Diana Ball

Eucalyptus infera is listed as vulnerable, and is found only on the southern Darling Downs, usually restricted to traprock country. We had also hoped to see the wildflowers for which the area is known but we were too early for them, except for the wattles. There were plenty of these. We seemed to find a new species every time we stopped.
(Report by Trish Gardner) 

Felton/Leyburn Fauna Report

We all gathered at the Ashwell Dam where immediately the birdos trained their eyes on the dam while the botanists and entomologists studied the road verges. It wasn’t long before we had an impressive bird list, demonstrating that these farm dams are so important to wildlife in the dry areas. It isn’t only water birds that were in abundance but a variety of bush birds were seen and heard. We had good views of pelicans, spoonbills, and fairy-wrens, and a Little Grassbird was heard but remained elusive. Our leader, Len, gave us plenty of time here but eventually we had to move on. 
Our morning tea stop was on the verge of Millbrook Road where we were delighted by the bush birds especially the male and female Rufous Whistler, Speckled Warblers and Variegated Fairy-wrens. We took a detour into Leyburn for a comfort stop. This was a good move as far as the birdos were concerned as a Mugga, Eucalyptus sideroxylon, was in flower nearby and was full of honeyeaters. We then returned to the Millbrook area for lunch at the Condamine Reserve. Here the pardalotes fossicked in the leaves above us and the cockatoos and corellas screeched at us for disturbing their peace.
Lastly, Len took us to our last stop on the Condamine at Felton Inn, an old Cobb & Co staging post. Five more bird species were added to our list including the White-plumed Honeyeater. This is one of the closest areas to see this species near Toowoomba as it’s at the eastern limit of its range in Queensland.
P.S. As we were so close to the Durikai Forest at the end of the outing seven stalwart members continued on to check out the wattles and mulga in the traprock country. There was blossom but not many birds with only White-throated Treecreeper, Yellow-faced Honeyeater and Golden Whistler not seen earlier in the day.
A = Ashwell Dam (28 species); M = morning tea stop, Millbrook Rd (14 species); L = Leyburn (8 species); C = lunch stop, Condamine Reserve on Passmore Rd (18 species); F = Felton Inn on the Condamine River (6 species); R = miscellaneous sightings along the byways. Total 55 species)
Australian Wood Duck (L, C), Grey Teal (A), Pacific Black Duck (A, C), Hardhead (A), Australasian Grebe (A), Crested Pigeon (A, M, L), Bar-shouldered Dove (A), Australasian Darter (A), Little Pied Cormorant (A), Little Black Cormorant (A), Australian Pelican (A), White-faced Heron (F), Straw-necked Ibis (L), Yellow-billed Spoonbill (A),Black-shouldered Kite (R), Black Kite (C), Wedge-tailed Eagle (C), Nankeen Kestrel (R), Masked Lapwing (F), Gull-billed Tern (A), Galah (A, C), Little Corella (A, L, C), Sulphur-crested Cockatoo (A, C, F), Little Lorikeet (C), Red-winged Parrot (M), Pale-headed Rosella (C), Laughing Kookaburra (C), Superb Fairy-wren (A), Red-backed Fairy-wren (A), Variegated Fairy-wren (M), Speckled Warbler (M), White-throated Gerygone (A, M, C), Striated Pardalote (A, M, C), White-plumed Honeyeater (F), Noisy Miner (A, M), Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater (L), Brown Honeyeater (L), Blue-faced Honeyeater (F), Noisy Friarbird (L), Little Friarbird (C), Striped Honeyeater (A, C), Rufous Whistler (M), Olive-backed Oriole (M), Grey Butcherbird (A), Pied Butcherbird (A, C), Australian Magpie (M, C), Pied Currawong (F), Grey Fantail (A, M), Willie Wagtail (A), Australian Raven (C), Torresian Crow (A, M, C, F), Apostlebird (M), Little Grassbird (A), Silvereye (A, M), Mistletoebird (L).

Geckoes: Stone Gecko Diplodactylus vittatus 

Butterflies: Small Grass-yellow Eurema smilax (C), Cabbage White Pieris rapae (A,M,C), Meadow Argus Junonia villida (C), Wanderer Danaus plexippus (R-Durikai), Long-tailed Pea Blue Lampides boeticus (C).

Macropods: Eastern Grey Kangaroo, Macropus giganteus (R); Red-necked Wallaby, Macropus rufogriseus (M, R); Common Wallaroo, Macropus robustus (R-Durikai).   

Mammals: Red Fox, Vulpes vulpes (R-dead). Black-tailed Antechinus (Antechinus arktos)

Those wanting to follow up Bob Fuller’s report of a discovery of more species of the black tailed Antechinus will find plenty of interest on the internet. This is a new species discovered last year. At the time it brought the total number of antechinus species up to 13.
(Report by Lesley Beaton)

Swainsona brachycarpa - Condamine Reserve, Felton South (;photo by Trish Gardner)

The following photos and identification are by Diana Bull:

Wattle at Durikai

Wattle at Durikai


Instar phase of the long-nosed grasshopper Acrida sp. (beside river lunch spot)

Senna bush

Tragopogan porrifolius
The Tragopogan porrifolius was growing on the verge where we parked our cars on the Back Plains - Clifton road and caused a certain amount of interest as it is not a commonly seen weed in these parts.  Also known as oyster plant as the cooked roots of the cultivated plant are edible and apparently have a delicate oyster flavour.

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