October 2015 Field Visit – The Rock Nature Reserve

This month’s field visit was to The Rock Nature Reserve. The Rock is one of those regional landmarks that I’ve grown up familiar with, but never actually visited, so I decided to fix that. It’s another location now firmly on the ‘I must revisit’ list – not least because I really want to climb all the way to the top sometime.

The Rock
The Rock

As one would generally expect with a hillside, the vegetation changed as the slope increased. The lower elevations were dominated by Common Fringe-Myrtle (Calytrix tetragona) with most of the flowers having passed, leaving these lovely red calyces behind.

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As I went further up the hillside more and more of the fringe-myrtle flowers were still on the plants, and the calyces were less of a deep red and more orange-brown in colour.

Common Fringe-myrtle
Common Fringe-myrtle (Calytrix tetragona)

 

path
Heading up the walking path at The Rock

Gradually the fringe-myrtle petered out and the understorey became more open, with a proliferation of Wahlenbergia bluebells, Creamy Candles (Stackhousia monogyna), and Silky Guinea Flower (Hibbertia sericea) – these were present throughout, but became more dominant the further upslope I walked.

Native bluebells
Native bluebells (Whalenbergia sp.)
Wahlenbergia
Wahlenbergia flower up close
Guinea-flower
Silky Guinea-flower (Hibbertia sericea)
Guinea-flower
Guinea-flower up close
Creamy Candles
Creamy Candles (Stackhousia monogyna)
Follow-the-moss
Moss delineating a drainage line where water runs down-slope after rain.

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In the steeper, rockier areas I found a few Purple Burr-daisies (Calotis cuneifolia) lurking.

Purple Burr-daisy
Purple Burr-daisy (Calotis cuneifolia) beside the rocky stairs.

I was also delighted to find a few Chocolate Lilies (Dichopogon sp.) lurking beside the path. I do not know how or why Nature evolved an Australian forb that smells like chocolate, but I am ever so glad they exist. For an added bonus the flowers are very pretty and the bulbs can be eaten, although I’ve never done so, so I can’t tell you what they taste like. Probably not chocolate though. (I suddenly find myself pondering if the flowers can be used in place of rose petals when baking, and if they’d impart a chocolatey flavour. If the chocolate lilies I bought from the native plant nursery thrive in my garden I may have to try that sometime.)

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choc-lily-fly
Chocolate Lily (Dichopogon sp.) being pollinated by a native fly (species unknown)

It has been very warm recently, so I was expecting to see snakes, and hoping to see a goanna, and possibly other lizards, but the only reptile I saw the entire time I was there was this little skink, whose species I am unable to identify (if any readers know, please let me know in the comments). Skink identified as Cryptoblepharus pannosus, Ragged Snake-eyed Skink, formerly Carnaby’s Wall Skink, C. carnabyii – my thanks to Matt Herring (@Matt_HerringOz on Twitter).

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Also seen:

Grasstree
Grasstree (Xanthorrhoea sp.)
 Casuarina flowers
Spent male Casuarina flowers
tree-hollow
Fine Real Estate
landscape
Landscape views
weevil-porn
Mating weevils

My thanks to ecologists Manu Saunders (@ManuSaunders on Twitter) and Henry Cook (@Manic_Henry) for their assistance with the invertebrate IDs.

I was surrounded by bird calls the entire time, but the only bird I clapped eyes on was a LBJ – a Little Brown Job. The Reserve is home to several rare and threatened bird species though, so I will be heading back to look for those when I get the chance.

 

BONUS SECTION:

The day I visited The Rock was same day the nearby town of Lockhart was holding their Spirit of the Land Festival, which is centred around an always-impressive farm art sculpture competition. I stopped in before heading home and got some more pictures of local native wildlife.

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rhino
Okay, maybe not this guy
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2 thoughts on “October 2015 Field Visit – The Rock Nature Reserve

  1. A.M. Valenza October 30, 2015 / 11:31 pm

    Oh. My. Gosh.

    Flowers.

    That Smell Like Chocolate.

    CHOCOLATE.

    *mindblown*

    You’d think you’d only find that in a Diana Wynne Jones novel, but it’s REAL.

    Liked by 1 person

    • riverinawildlife October 31, 2015 / 11:43 am

      I know right? Some smell more like vanilla, but others are distinctly chocolate, I don’t even know how that could have happened, but it’s amazing. I know farmers who have them growing in their back paddocks who could never figure out why they always felt hungry when working in those paddocks, until they realised it was the chocolatey smell of the flowers setting them off.

      I have some growing in my garden that I bought from a native plant nursery, and they’re flowering at the moment too. I hope they multiply and spread through the garden bed, because hell yes I’d like a grand display of gorgeous purple flowers that smell like chocolate in my front garden.

      Liked by 1 person

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