July 2018 Field Visit – Cocoparra National Park

My apologies for the great delay in getting July’s field trip post online.

For July’s field trip I decided to head back to Cocoparra National Park, near Griffith. I visited Cocoparra last year, but had forgotten that that visit was also in July, so another apology for the lack of seasonal diversity. Coincidentally both visits were on July 26, which amuses me as it was completely by accident.

I decided to head in to a different part of Cocoparra this time, around the other side of the park and hill from last time, and went to see Jack’s Creek.

In the car-parking area I found this nest – not sure who it belongs to, I saw no birds nearby.

On my walk in, however, I did see a lot of these little Eastern Yellow Robins (Eopsaltria australis) flitting about and being beautiful.

And this little master of blending in, whom I believe is a Speckled Warbler (Chthonicola sagittata).

July also saw the triumphant return of everyone’s favourite Riverina Wildlife blog activity: Kimberley photographs bark!

Seriously though, look at this bark. I found a fallen tree with the bark sloughing off, and look at that zigzag pattern. Both the bark and the underlying timber had very interesting textures, I’ve tried to capture both in these photos.

I later noticed the same on some live trees.

More bark ribboning off a eucalypt.

Shaggy, shaggy Yellow Box (Eucalyptus melliodora) bark.

That ‘windswept’ look.

(I’m not sure what actually caused this appearance, I assume it wasn’t really wind-related)

Amazing texture in this Cypress Pine – much more heavily fissured than on the smaller trees I’m accustomed to seeing.

Obligatory contrast shot.

Blakely’s Red Gums (Eucalyptus blakelyi), showing the lovely patches common to red gums.

The bark on this dead tree was gone, revealing the past work of borers.

In non-bark-related features: Here’s the creek.

It’s odd to remember that some people live in places where ‘creek’ means ‘permanent, flowing watercourse’. For any readers from higher rainfall areas: this type of rocky, dry, creek-bed is often recreated on a smaller scale by home-gardeners around here, as a garden feature. In some places people have ponds and water-features, around here we have mini dry creek-beds, often complete with highly unnecessary little bridges to cross them. It’s funny the things that are considered ‘normal’ across cultural and geographical landscapes.

There were signs up along the walking track beside Jack’s Creek, explaining that in the past the creek used to run more often, with higher volumes of water, and had cut the gorge through the rocks. There are much more dramatic gorges around the world, but this one was pretty impressive if it’s entirely the work of the one little creek.

I did a little bit of geology & geomorphology at uni, many, many years ago. It’s at times like these that I wish I’d learned more.

For example: What causes these extremely straight fissures in the rock?

And these step-like ‘shelves’ or terraces up the side of the gorge?

And just the general plate-like nature of the fissured rock layers?

I know broadly speaking that it has to do with sediment being laid down in layers, and planes of resistance/weakness, the effects of water erosion and the mineral make-up of the rocks, tectonic movement, and so forth, but I still stand in places like this and look at the fascinating rock formations, and wonder specifically why they look the way they do.

On the other hand, even I can tell that this has to have been due to subsidence or an uplifting event at some point in the past.

(This was quite impressive in person, but I am unable to take panorama shots, so you’ll have to make do with these limited slices, I’m afraid. Or head there yourself, if you live in the area.)

I should probably add some books on geomorphology and geology to my ‘Want To Buy’ lists, so I can learn more about this subject. Maybe hunt up my old uni textbooks, which are surely lurking on a shelf here somewhere.

I’d also like to head back to Jack’s Creek – and Cocoparra in general – in the warmer months, and maybe just set up a small shade shelter somewhere to sit and watch, because I bet this place is great for reptiles. Rocks for sunning and all manner of holes, gaps, caves, and cracks for sheltering in? Reptile heaven I’m sure.

August’s field trip is looming around the corner, and I shall do my upmost to make sure the next blog post goes up on time. See you then!

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4 thoughts on “July 2018 Field Visit – Cocoparra National Park

  1. A.M. Valenza August 27, 2018 / 12:03 pm

    I’m not used to seeing robins with yellow!!!

    And, wait, is the creek completely dry or does it get a stream going in rainy season? (I’m from a significantly wetter area compared to yours, so creek does indeed mean perma-water)

    Liked by 1 person

    • riverinawildlife August 29, 2018 / 11:53 am

      We have different species of robins with yellow, red, and pink, although I haven’t seen any pink ones in person. They’re super cute. I’m not sure if our robins are related to your robins or not. A lot of Australian species (particularly birds) have been named after unrelated northern hemisphere species, but some are actually related, and a few are the same species, so it gets confusing.

      The creek would have water in it during a wet year, at least for a short while. It’s basically a downward-sloping path of least-resistance which water can follow, if there happens to be water available in large enough quantities. Which there hasn’t been this year. The Riverina – and particularly this part of it – is a low-rainfall area, so a lot of creeks tend to be dry a lot of the time. There’s also increasing frequency, severity, and duration of drought over recent decades (yay climate change), although extended periods of drought have never been all that uncommon. Currently my entire state is in drought. Two years ago it was in flood. It seems to be always either one or the other.

      (Also, you should look up the Henley-on-Todd Regatta, which is held on the Todd River every year)

      Liked by 1 person

      • A.M. Valenza August 31, 2018 / 10:44 pm

        OMG that is SO FUNNY I love it *LOL* a dry boat race, that is ultimate sarcasm omg

        Liked by 1 person

      • riverinawildlife September 5, 2018 / 8:47 pm

        Welcome to Australia. :p When the Todd River has water in it, it makes the national news. A dry boat race is about the most Australian thing I can think of.

        Liked by 1 person

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