It was a wild, windy, winter day for the Angair Nature ramble on June 10 but by the time the small group of four left Anglesea the wind had dropped, the rain had disappeared and weak sunshine had appeared in its place.
The ramble had been advertised as an orchid survey but we were also keen to see what other things were happening in the natural environment in June.
Our first stop was at the corner of Gum Flat and Forest Road where Phil Watson joined the group. As we entered the Great Otway National Park we were greeted by a number of Banded Greenhoods Pterostylis sanguinea with their colourful reddish-brown flowers. Smaller than in years of good rainfall ,they were nevertheless greatly admired. There were also a number of rosettes of this species indicating that the orchid is certainly establishing well in this area.
The flowering specimens do not have rosettes.
The sunlight showed up the orange-red colour of the Banded Greenhood
Distinctive Banded Greenhood rosette
Another orchid coming into flower here was the small Mosquito Orchid Acianthus pusillus. This small orchid has two glands below the column that emit nectar for pollinators that visit the orchids.
A Mosquito Orchid with flowers beginning to open
We saw leaves of many other species:including Waxlips, Spider Orchids, Sun Orchids, Gnat Orchids, Parson’s Bands and many rosettes of Nodding Greenhoods. BrownTipped Greenhoods were just finishing.
We were keen to observe the Lepidosperma semiteres that is often mistaken for Lepidosperma filiforme. The distinguishing feature is of course the shape of the leaf with filiforme being completely rounded and semiteres having an edge on its leaf.
Gail, Chris and Carl examine the leaves of the Lepidosperma semiteres, Wire Rapier-sedge
From this site we moved out to Portreath Road where we were just so impressed with all the orchid species that can be observed in the area – unfortunately it was just Banded Greenhoods and Mosquito Orchids that were flowering, but there were so may other species in bud or in leaf that we were able to identify including Waxlips, Spider Orchids, Tall Greenhoods, Nodding Greenhoods, Hare Orchids, Gnat Orchids and Sun Orchids. The recent rains certainly make us feel optimistic for the next few months.
Mosquito orchid showing the yellow pollinia – obviously pollinators have not been at work as yet
Nodding Greenhood in bud
Chris, Carl, Margaret and Phil admire a Tall Greenhood
There were also some colourful fungi that captured our attention:
Our third and final stop was at Alison and Phil’s property on Portreath Road where we had two fascinating observations.
Carpets of Autumn Bird Orchids Chiloglottis reflexa with their distinctive paired leaves covered the walking track that had been cleared of bracken and Alison, who had joined us for this part of the ramble, directed us to where some of the orchids were flowering. There were not many but they were in prime condition and greatly admired. These orchids emit a scent that attracts a specific male wasp that in trying to mate with the orchid carries out the pollination process.
An Orchid Bird Orchid amongst the carpet of orchid leaves.
Our final interesting observation was the Caterpillar Fungus Cordyceps gunnii that was also growing on the walking track in close proximity to an Acacia sp. that is their usual habitat. Cordyceps are parasitic fungi that invade moth larvae underground, feeding on it and producing an elongated fruit body that is then sent to the surface to distribute spores to aid in the spreading of the fungus.
Alison and Phil indicate where one of the Cordyceps is growing
Close up of Cordyceps gunnii
Reluctlantly we completed our ramble and felt privileged that we had been able to see so many fascinating observations in such a short time.
hanks to Alison and Phil for sharing their special findings with us.
Report by Margaret MacDonald
Photographs by Gail Slykhuis