Saturday, June 5, 2021

OUTING REPORTS (CAMP WEEKEND): Saturday & Sunday, 01-2 May 2021 Lake Broadwater Conservation Park

Saturday: Lake Broadwater Conservation Park

The Park lies 30 kilometers south west of Dalby on a broad alluvial plain that drains north into the Condamine River via Wilkie Creek. Lake Broadwater is fed from two ephemeral streams, Broadwater and Surveyors Gully. It dries out in periods of extended drought and even in times of good rain it is only three to four metres deep, which is how we experienced it at the time of our visit.

Trish Gardner was leader for the day. Field Nats, together with a few members of Trish’s recent botany class, gathered at the Wilga Campground early in the morning to learn about the local geology and formation of the Lake, before investigating the flora. The ecosystem in this area is Brigalow (Acacia harpophylla) /Wilga (Geij-era parviflora) Scrub. We identified these trees and were shown how to tell the difference between two other abundant species: Belah (Casuarina cristata) and Bull Oak (Allocasuarina luehmannii). Contrary to popular belief, you cannot depend on Bull Oak always having branchlets that point up and Belah having ones that point down. Belah can do either; instead you must rely on their cones (see next page). Progress down the track that leads to the lake was slow and with so many plants to identify time ran out before we reached our lakeside destination and had to turn back for morning tea in the picnic shelter.

Our next location was the south-west corner of the Park, permission having been obtained from the Park Manager to access this area, which is normally closed off to the public. We drove through open Poplar Box (Eucalyptus populnea) woodland before reaching a gate and then crossed open grassland to a low sandy ridge,

which is a remnant of an ancient river system. On 28 June 2019 “Poplar Box Grassy Woodland on Alluvial Plains” (also known as Bimble Box) was listed as a threatened ecological community under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act). The dominant tree species in this south-west corner are White Cypress Pine (Callitris glaucaphylla), Bulloak and Belah, with an open understorey of forbs and grass-like plants (lomandra, sedge, dianella, murdannia). Woody Pear (Xylomelum pyriforme) with its “clothes peg” woody fruit was a first for many. We saw three species of mistletoe and sampled fruit from the Drooping Mistletoe (Amyema pendula) discovering that the tasty berries are called “snotty gobbles”, referring to the slimy, sticky substance surrounding the seeds. A damp patch on the track supported a colony of Sundew (Drosera indica).

Returning to the main camping/day-use area we braved chilly winds to eat lunch beside the Lake before leaving for the Bird Hide area to walk through an ephemeral wetland, enjoying splashes of bright yellow provided by the Water Primrose (Ludwigia peploides ssp. Montevidensis). Glenda Walter pointed out the abandoned pupal shell of a Cup Moth and a Praying Mantis egg case. A Sand Goanna (Varanus gouldii) was spotted as were a few Grass Yellow (Eurema hecabe) butterflies, and two Black Swans (Cygnus atratus) on the water.

We headed back to Dalby mid-afternoon, congregated at the Dalby Caravan Park at 5.00pm for “Happy Hour” and several Nats repaired to the local Steak House for dinner.

Belah - rounded cones

Bull Oak - flattened cones

(Report and photograph by Deb Ford)

Sunday 2 May: Morning walk at "Highwoods", Jimbour

Majestic bottle trees (Brachychiton rupestris) are a welcoming sign at the entrance to Highwoods property, East Jimbour, and these bottle trees make an emphatic statement of the owners’ commitment to conservation on this property. Martin and Karen Ambrose bought the 77-hectare property in 2012 with the specific intention of removing invasive flora, and of allowing the native vegetation and to return to its natural state. Remnant forest covers 30 percent of the property, 40 percent is regrowth, and 30 percent open grazing. Running cattle on the open grazing section has already enabled half of the property to be paid for.


On Sunday morning, 02 May, in fine weather, about 20 Toowoomba field nats made a return visit to the property. Welcoming them were Martin (a QPWS senior ranger), Rod Hobson and Mark Weaver (retired rangers), photographer/ranger Rob Ashdown, and butterfly and moths authority Wes Jenkinson. Martin intro-duced to field nats Karen (his wife and co-owner of the property), their daughter Mathea, and her partner Matt, who called at the property briefly to meet the visitors. With Rod and fellow rangers, plus Wes, there was a wealth of knowledge (of the property in particular) to call upon, as hosts and field nats set off. The group quickly became spread out, but not before the sighting of the larvae and pupae of the Orchard Swallowtail (Papilio aegeus) on a Belah (Casuarina crostata) tree near the property cottage, and Martin pointing out a newly planted African Sausage Tree (the fruit of which is food for hippopotamuses in its native country). Early on the walk, there was a double treat, with both the spectacular caterpillar of the Joseph’s coat moth (Agarista agricola) and the chrysalis of the Common Crow butterfly (Euploea core) on the same bush.

Other sightings were of the blue skimmer dragonfly (Orthetrum caledonicum), Orchard Swallowtail (Papilio aegeus), and Golden Orb-weavers (Trichonephila edulis). Grey-crowned babblers could be heard. Rod explained that it was common for this species to build several decoy nests. The spread-out group continued along the third side of the remnant forest area. Exotic Japanese sunflowers caught the eye, and, although becoming a nuisance, were a haven for insects. Bird alarm calls indicated that a Hobby (Falco longipennis) was on the hunt nearby. The Hobby is a medium-sized falcon and is among the most agile and acrobatic birds of prey. Towards the end of the three-plus hour walk, field nats rested beside the tranquil main dam on the property. During this time, James Sparshott and Glenda Walter found an echidna nearby. An echidna is often seen at the dam, and Martin thinks this may be a resident animal. The group then made their way back to the cottage for a most welcome seat and a lunch break.

Highwoods is certainly a rich source of diverse native fauna and flora. Martin, with expert team effort, already has a list for the property of 186 species of vertebrate animals (including 135 bird species), 154 species of invertebrate animals (including 58 moth and 36 butterfly species) and 53 land plants and trees. Many thanks to Sandy Eastoe for her organisation and attention to detail, and to the rangers (current and retired) for sharing their wealth of knowledge.

(Report by Michael Rooke)

 

Sunday 02 May – afternoon walk at “Highwoods”, Jimbour 

The afternoon commenced with Rod Hobson briefly describing the difference between native dung beetles (dung buriers) and introduced dung beetles (ball rollers) and he showed a round dung ball made by an intro-duced beetle. Trish Gardner pointed out several Acacia tenuinervis, a rare species of wattle found only in south-east Queensland and only within a very restricted area. We walked along the start of the track covered in the morning, but then progressed north-east over basalt country, mostly grassy, but with patches of vine scrub. 

The stand-out trees were the beautiful Queensland Bottle Trees (Brachychiton rupestris). Other plants that aroused the writer’s interest included Scrub Sandalwood (Exocarpus latifolius), a parasitic tree, which, in this case, was parasitizing a Small-leafed Condoo (Planchonella cotinifolia). Ground-cover Plumbago (Plumbago zeylanica) was spotted in a shady area and Rough Silkpod vine (Parsonsia lanceolata) was evident as seedlings in the grass and twining up trees and shrubs. Plumbago is host plant to the Plumbago/Zebra Blue butterfly (Leptotes Plinius), and the Silk Pod hosts the Common Crow butterfly (Euploea core). We enjoyed the aro-matic scent of Mintweed (Salvia reflexa) crushed underfoot. The Narrow-leafed Croton (Croton phebalioides) was new to me – the reverse of its leaves are silvery and old leaves turn a vivid orange before they fall. Buffel Grass (Cenchris ciliaris) with its fluffy “fox tail” flower heads, an introduced pasture grass, was also new.



 There was great excitement with the discovery of a small White Crowned Snake (Cacophis harriettae) under an overturned log - a "first" for the property. This nocturnal snake was very patient as Rod Hobson handled it gently so that all could view it and after being released it disappeared into a fissure in the log. The final stop on this walk was Martin’s Mandarin tree where we were all treated to a delicious fruit before returning to relax around the campfire.

White Crowned Snake – image accessed on the internet 07 May 2021, with permission from Snake Catchers Brisbane

  (Report by Deb Ford)

 Sunday 02 May Evening: Spotlighting at "Highwoods"

We set off with some excitement after nightfall, hoping to spot some interesting critters after an early dinner around the fire at Martin and Karen Ambrose’s wonderful property ‘’Highwoods’’ about 30 kilometres north of Dalby near Jimbour. First port of call was Wes’s light trap about 20 metres down the track, where he had set up a white spot-lit sheet on which a variety of mostly tiny moths were crawling and fluttering. Two dragonflies and a variety of other insects also found the light hard to resist. Wes will spend the next few weeks identifying what he collected and let us know the results. We found various beetles, a katydid and saw numerous wolf spiders. Our entomologists will let us know their identities at a later date.


Taken by L.Moodie using an iPhone


Our fearless young photographer James Sparshott heard the rustling of a Dubious Dtella Gecko (Gehyra dubia) in the leaf litter on the floor of the dry vine scrub, with ensuing encirclement by the field Nats to have a good look. This arboreal and rock dwelling gecko is distributed through eastern and central Qld and also likes to live in people’s houses. Two eggs are laid. Members of the genus Gehyra are known to lay eggs communally.

Rod found a small (and venomous) Pale-headed Snake (Hoplocephalus bitorquatus) under some bark a short distance from the gecko in the scrub. This species can grow up to 900 mm in length. According to Wilson and Swan, their arboreal habits are unusual in elapid snakes. They feed largely on frogs and lizards but will also eat mammals. A live- bearer, this species produces up to 11 young. The Pale-headed Snake likes to shelter under loose bark or in hollows in standing timber. It is described as potentially dangerous so seek medical help if you are envenomated.

A yellow patterned Diamond Python or Carpet Snake (Morelia spilota), about one metre in length was spotted by the rear guard of naturalists. Unlike Pale-headed Snakes young Carpet Snakes are hatched from external eggs. Clutch size varies from nine to 52 eggs. Although often arboreal, they can also live in burrows made by other animals, feeding on a wide variety of terrestrial vertebrates. Maximum length reached is approximately four metres. The only mammal the group spotted was a single Brush-Tail Possum (Trichosurus vulpecula) known to occur on the property.

References: Cogger, H.G. (2014) ‘Reptiles & Amphibians of Australia’ Seventh Edition, CSIRO Publishing 1033 pp.

Wilson, S and Swan, G (2013,) Á Complete Guide to Reptiles of Australia, Fourth Edition, New Holland Publishers, 592 pp

 

Morelia spilota Photograph by Mike Ford (2019)

Gehyra dubia Photograph from Cogger, HG (2014)

Hoplocephalus bitorquatus Photograph from Cogger, HG (2014)

 

SPECIES LIST: “Highwoods”, Loves Road, Jimbour East SEQ - TFN outing; 02-03 May 2021

MAMMALS: Short-beaked Echidna, Common Brushtail Possum, Eastern Grey Kangaroo, Black-striped Wallaby, Red-necked Wallaby, Swamp Wallaby, Red Fox, Dingo, Rabbit.

BIRDS: Pacific Black Duck, Australasian Grebe, Common Bronzewing, Crested Pigeon, Peaceful Dove, Bar-shouldered Dove, Tawny Frogmouth, White-faced Heron, Straw-necked Ibis, Wedge-tailed Eagle, Brown Falcon, Australian Hobby, Painted Button-quail, Galah, Little Corella, Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Cockatiel, Australian King Parrot, Pale-headed Rosella, Blue Bonnet (red-vented), Pheasant Coucal, Fan-tailed Cuckoo, Laughing Kookaburra, Superb Fairy-wren, White-browed Scrubwren, Speckled Warbler, Weebill, Yellow Thornbill, Yellow-rumped Thornbill, Striated Pardalote, Noisy Miner, Blue-faced Honeyeater, Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater, Brown Honeyeater, Striped Honeyeater, Grey-crowned Babbler, Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike, Rufous Whistler, Olive-backed Oriole, Grey Butcherbird, Pied Butcherbird, Austra-lian Magpie, Pied Currawong, Grey Fantail, Willie Wagtail, Australian Raven, Torresian Crow, Restless Flycatcher, Magpie-lark, Rose Robin, Welcome Swallow, Mistletoebird, Zebra Finch, Double-barred Finch.

REPTILES: (snakes):  Carpet Python Morelia spilota, White-crowned Snake Cacophis harriettae, Pale-headed Snake Hoplocephalus bitorquatus.

REPTILES: (Lizards)  Dubious Dtella Gehyra dubia, Elegant Snake-eyed Skink, Cryptoblepharus pulcher pulcher, South-eastern Morethia Skink Morethia boulengeri.

ODONATA  (Dragonflies and Damselflies): Wandering Ringtail Austrolestes leda, Red and Blue Damselfly Xanthia-grion erythroneurum, Australian Emperor Anax papuensis, Wandering Percher Diplacodes bipunctata, Blue Skimmer Orthetrum caledonicum.

AMPHIBIANSSpotted Grass Frog Limnodynastes tasmaniensis,Broad Palmed Rocketfrog Litoria latopalmata, Ornate Burrowing Frog Platyplectrum ornatum,Cane Toad Rhinella marina.

    


Plant list - Lake Broadwater Conservation Park (Deb Ford)

Saturday, 01 May 2021



Key:  WCG = Wilga Campground.  SWC = South-West Corner.  BH = Bird Hide area

Trees - Botanical name

Common name

Location

Acacia harpophylla

BRIGALOW

WCG

Acacia salicina

SALLY WATTLE

WCG

Alectryon diversifolius

SCRUB BOONAREE

WCG

Callitris glaucophylla

WHITE CYPRESS

WCG/SWC

Casuarina cristata

BELAH

WCG

Allocasuarina luehmannii

BULL OAK or BULOKE

WCG

Corymbia clarksoniana

CLARKSON'S BLOODWOOD

SWC

Eucalptus camaldulensis ssp. acuta

RIVER RED GUM

WCG/BH

Eucalyptus populnea

POPLAR BOX

SWC

Eucalyptus woollsiana

NARROW-LEAVED GREY BOX

WCG

Geijera parviflora

COMMON WILGA

WCG

Petalostigma pubescens

NATIVE QUININE TREE

SWC

Psydrax odorata f. subnitida

CANTHIUM

SWC

Xylomelum pyriforme

WOODY PEAR

SWC

Shrubs



Carissa ovata

KUNKERBERRY

WCG

Dodonaea viscosa ssp. Spatulata

STICKY HOP BUSH

WCG

Jacksonia scoparia

DOGWOOD

SWC

Kunzea opposita

MAUVE-FLOWERED KUNZEA

SWC

Leucopogon sp.

HEATH

SWC

Senna coronilloides

BRIGALOW SENNA

WCG

Teucrium junceum

SQUARE-STEMMED BROOM

WCG

Forbs/lilies/grasses/ground covers



Calotis dentix

WHITE BURR DAISY

SWC

Chrysocephalum acuminatum

YELLOW BUTTONS

SWC

Commelina sp.

COMMELINA

WCG

Dianella revoluta

BLUE FLAX LILY

SWC

Dicanthium sericeum

QUEENSLAND BLUE GRASS

WCG

Drosera indica

SUNDEW

SWC

Einadia hastata

RED BERRY SALTBUSH

WCG

Einadia nutans

NODDING SALTBUSH

WCG

Einadia nutans ssp. linafolia

NARROW LEAF NODDING SALTBUSH

BH

Enchylaena tomentosa

RUBY SALTBUSH (RED & YELLOW FORMS)

WCG/SWC/BH

Eremophila debilis

DEVIL'S MARBLES

BH

Goodenia glabra

SHINY PANSY

SWC

Ludwigia peploides ssp. montevidensis

WATER PRIMROSE

BH

Murdannia graminea

SLUG HERB

SWC

Nyssanthes erecta


WCG

Sclerolaena birchii

GALVANISED BURR

WCG/BH

Tetragonia tetragonioides

WARRIGAL GREENS/NEW ZEALAND SPINACH

WCG

Vines



Parsonsia eucalyptophylla

GARGALOO

WCG

Mistletoes



Amyema cambugia

SHEOAK MISTLETOE

SWC

Amyema pendula

DROOPING MISTLETOE

SWC

Lysiani exocarpi

HARLEQUIN MISTLETOE

SWC