Friday, December 2, 2016

Outings Report - Sunday 06 November, 2016

Dwyers Scrub                                                                                           (Report by Deb Ford)
Dwyers Scrub Conservation Park is on the eastern fall of the Great Dividing Range approximately 30 kilometres south-west of Gatton. The Queensland National Parks and Wildlife Service brochure describes the park thus: ‘The area of semi-evergreen vine forest in the north-eastern corner has very high conservation values. The tall to very tall open forest and woodland communities occurring over the remainder of the park contain species of significance as well as providing habitat for animals.’ A biological assessment of the park has identified 335 different plant species through the different ecosystems.
The drive from Toowoomba, via Flagstone Creek, was accompanied by a ‘snow storm’ of Caper White butterflies (Belenois java). On arrival at our destination we found a cloud of these insects surrounding a completely defoliated tree – probably Capparis arborea – on which many pupae were visible on the underside of the bare branches. Albert Orr and Robert Kitching, on p. 155 of their book, The Butterflies of Australia, inform the reader that ‘males flutter around groups of pupae and mate with females soon after they emerge’.  This behaviour is probably what we were witnessing.
Eighteen Field Nats visited the endangered semi-evergreen vine forest in the north-eastern corner.  We met on the road that dissects the park from the north-west to the eastern boundary where we were joined by Paul Stevens and Ken Kennedy, volunteers from Lockyer Uplands Catchment Inc. (LUCI) who have been working to remove weeds from the vine forest. A daunting task indeed: Cat’s Claw Creeper (Macfadyena unguis-cati) and Madeira Vine (Anredera cordifolia) have smothered large areas of the canopy, and Lantana (Lantana camara) has invaded the under storey. It was heartening to see that where the canopy had been liberated from the clutches of the invasive vines new leaf is appearing, but the ground was carpeted with Madeira Vine seed-lings all waiting to re-colonise.
After inspecting a small part of the microphyll forest, Field Nats repaired to the home of local landowners, Peter and Elspeth Darvall, for morning tea. A generous spread had been laid on for us, which we enjoyed on their cool and comfortable verandah. The Darvalls moved their rustic home from Chinchilla, disassembling and numbering each piece, and re-erecting it in its present location. As well as volunteering in Dwyers Scrub, they also support the local flora and fauna through the Land for Wildlife program.
After leaving the Darvalls we travelled via East Egypt Road and Spinach Creek Road to reach our next hosts, Jim Kerr and Judy Whistler, at about noon. Jim and Judy’s property is located at some distance outside the southern boundary of Dwyers Scrub with Spinach Creek forming their northern boundary. A short walk afforded us a view north across the steep-sided creek gully to Dwyers Scrub, which could be seen on the summit of the opposite slope. Jim and Judy have fenced off the land leading down to the creek to aid regen-eration of vine scrub. The creek banks were badly eroded in the 2011 flood and extensive planting has also been undertaken for flood mitigation.
An unexpected treat, after a picnic lunch in the shade of Macadamia trees, was being able to view the beautiful art work of Jim and Judy’s friend, artist Irena Kobald. Irena creates and photographs beautiful, ephemeral designs using a palette of flowers, fruit, leaves, and stones, with a particular focus on the desert environment. 
Field Nats headed for home early in the afternoon, the general consensus being that it was too hot for further exploration.  Our thanks go to Dougal Johnston for organising the trip.
A small sample of plant species identified over the day:
Kennedy’s Road, en-route to Dwyers Scrub: Orange Flowered Mistletoe (Dendrophthoe glabrescens), Narrow-leaved Ironbark (Eucalyptus crebra), Silver-leaved Ironbark (Eucalyptus melanophloia).
Dwyers Scrub Conservation Park: Brush Coral Treee (Erythrina sp. Croftby), Chain Fruit (Alyxia ruscifolia), Currant Bush (Carissa ovata), King Orchid (Dendrobium speciosum), Leopard Ash (Flindersia collina), Red Ash/Soap Tree (Alphitonia excelsa), Robber Fern (Pyrrosia confluens), Rosewood (Acacia fasciculifera), Scrub Cherry (Exocarpos latifolius), Stiff Canthium (Psydrax buxifolia).
Jim & Judy’s property: Breynia (Breynia ooblongifolia), Native Holly (Alchornea ilicifolia), Red Kamala (Mallotus philippensis), White Cedar (Melia azedarach), White Fig (Ficus virens subsp. laceolata).
Fauna List (compiled by Al Young)
Bird List (Dwyer’s Scrub): Bar-shouldered Dove, Lewin’s Honeyeater, Eastern Yellow Robin, Eastern Whipbird, Grey Shrike-thrush, Cicadabird and Australasian Figbird.
Eastern Yellow Robin (Photo:Al Young)
Caper Female Whhite (Photo: Al Young)r
Bird List Other Areas (Stockyard Creek Road, Kennedy’s Road, East Egypt Road, Spinach Creek Road, Sawpit Gully Road.):
Crested Pigeon, Channel-billed Cuckoo, Pacific or Eastern Koel, Laughing Kookaburra, White-throated Gerygone, Lewin’s Honeyeater, Brown Honeyeater, Eastern Whipbird, Grey Shrike-thrush, Magpie Lark, Willie Wagtail, Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike, Olive-backed Oriole, Australasian Figbird, Pied Butcherbird, Grey Butcherbird, Australian Magpie, Pied Currawong and Torresian Crow.
Reptiles (Stockyard Creek Road): Common or Eastern Brown Snake (Pseudonaja textilis) (road kill) and Common or Eastern Bearded Dragon (Pogona barbata).
Mammals (Stockyard Creek Road): Red-necked Wallaby (Macropus rufogriseus) and Swamp Wallaby (Wallabia bicolor).
Butterflies (Dwyers Scrub CP). There was a profusion of Caper White Butterflies (Belenois java) in most areas during the outing, including Dwyers Scrub CP. The larvae feed mainly on Capparis spp and they will often de-foliate their host plants as was the case in Dwyers Scrub. A tree (Capparis sp?) near the road was almost completely de-foliated and there were numerous pupae, mostly on the underside of the defoliated branches.

Caper White pupae (close-up)
Caper White pupae on defoliated host tree   

 [Photos by Al Young]

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