About Elspeth

I am interested in land management, native wildlife and plants. The views expressed are my own.

African weed-orchid

African weed-orchid is a spreading into many reserves. The leaves are starting to emerge again for this season and are noticeable as the dead seed head is usually still present. The leaves have a purplish tinge underneath. The seeds are fine like dust and each plant produces millions. It is a weed of disturbed sites but now seen in more often in undisturbed grasslands.

 

 

Bridal Creeper

Bridal Creeper is a highly competitive climbing weed in bushland and it is actively growing now. Spotted some at Linton on Sunday. It is on the list of weeds of National Significance which is an indicator of how invasive the authorities think it is.

The multiple stems are wiry and hard to break and can form dense curtains. The flowers are small and greenish-white and are followed by a green berry which ripens to red and are spread by birds. The leaves (cladodes) are oval, light green and glossy with pointed tips.

Another feature is the tuberous root system which allows the plant to survive hot, dry conditions. The entire root system needs to be dug out if you are trying to eradicate the plant. Make sure you dispose of the plant so that it does not re-invade the bush.

These days is you have an smart phone it is possible to take a photo of a weed that includes the location and date to make it easier to go back to the same place next year for follow up work.

Bird’s Nest Fungi

These tiny fungi belong to a group known as bird’s nest fungi. I think these are Nidula emodensis. They grow on rotting twigs, dung or humus and look like very tiny nests with eggs. The small cup-shaped structures are about 5mm across. Young specimens have a lid-like covering  and when that falls off, the ‘eggs’ or packages of spores called peridioles are exposed. They are released when raindrops fall into the cups and splash out the brown packages.

Walking along the Werribee River

The Friends of Werribee River through Bacchus Marsh have been putting in a lot of effort to improve the riverbank with extra plantings. There are paths beside the river that are easily accessed from the Bacchus Marsh train station. Yesterday it was great to see a cormorant sunning itself on a dead branch and wood ducks looking for a nesting hollow. The works around the Hallets Way extension are blocking the full walking option but the new road extension is due to open soon.

Spotting a pardalote

Male Spotted Pardalote

In the Brisbane Ranges National Park on Sunday, I noticed a Spotted Pardalote busy on the ground. They are one of our smallest birds and the male is brightly coloured and as they spend most of their time high up in the tree canopy searching for insects we don’t often get a good look at them.

Female Spotted Pardalote and the male is in the hole

Next there were 2 birds and they were busy excavating for a nest. It was very strange to see a small bid disappear into the ground and then see a lot of soil coming out of a hole. They build a nest at the end of a horizontal tunnel dug into soil, in places such as creek banks or a quarry wall. Some people also find them nesting in a pile of sand left over from a building project. They will also nest in a specially made nest box if it has a pipe leading into the entrance.

Pardalote hole that may be a decoy nest site

Both birds share the nest excavation, the incubation of the eggs and the feeding of the young.