Sean Spence Posted October 27, 2006 Report Share Posted October 27, 2006 Firstly, an apology to those using dial-up. The following fieldtrip occurred over the past weekend and of the 400+ photos that were taken, I was only able to knock the total down to around 80. It may take awhile to get through these if you have a slow connection. This is by far the longest post I have ever and will ever make. Anyway, Last Friday a small group of VCPS members visited an area located in western Victoria, probably the best area to see native CPs in south eastern Australia. We left early that morning and spent 3 full days searching for CPs and native orchids- we found plenty of each. The area is a mountainous area of granite and sandstone and arises from a flat plain. It is a National Park known as "Gariwerd", formerly known as the Grampians National Park. I had visited the area countless times during the past 25 years but this year was special. A massive bushfire had burnt out around half of the 170,000 hectares. This would allow easy access to previously inaccessible areas as well as result in the flowering of species that I had never before seen. For those interested, here's a link with a little more info on the area- http://www.parkweb.vic.gov.au/1park_display.cfm?park=109 The main objective was to find populations of Drosera binata which are supposed to occur around watercourses. I had never managed to find the species in any of my visits and I was hoping that my luck would change on this occasion. Now to the photos. Our first stop was at a small stream that winded along one of the main roads. I'd checked it out many years prior, but had found nothing. It didn't take long before we had found our first Drosera, and it was D. binata! Also found in this area was D. spatulata, auriculata, pygmaea, whittakerii ssp. aberrans, peltata var. gracilis & Utricularia dichotoma. A few shots of the habitat- Me walking through the burnt out area- Carpets of Drosera binata growing in semi-shade- by a stream- Some plants closer up- A couple in full sun- Drosera peltata var. gracilis growing amongst the D. binata- Nearby Drosera spatulata- In slightly more elevated positions were colonies of orange Drosera whittakerii ssp. aberrans- A typical Drosera auriculata growing with the D. binata- Utricularia dichotoma growing in the same area- A fantastic Beard orchid (Calochilus robertsonii) found growing in dry substrate on the high side of the road- A small pink fairy orchid (Caladenia pusilla) growing close to the Beard orchid- After spending an hour or so in this spot we headed up to the highest point in the ranges, Mt. William. This peak rises to around 1000m and could be classified as sub-alpine. The CP species found here differ from those in the low valleys. Here are a couple of views from the mountain. You can clearly see the damage done by the bushfires. The area was previously densely covered by low Eucalyptus vegetation- Looking east towards the flat plains- Colonies of a beautiful, small growing red form of Drosera auriculata are common. The temps here would regularly drop well below zero deg C during winter and spring. A nice red form of Drosera whittakerii ssp. aberrans occur here. Still at their peak and many have been pollinated. During my travels I have found that it is uncommon for many of the flowers to be fertilized. Perhaps the lack of cover after the burn made the flowers more easily accessible to insects- A weird double double flower of the highland form of Utricularia dichotoma- That was it for the Friday as we retired to our accomodation. The following day we headed towards the centre of the ranges in search of other CPs. The main road south is composed mainly of low heathland dominated by grasstrees (Xanthorrhoea australis). This plant only flowers after a fire and the display it put on was breathtaking- We pulled up alongside the dry burnt out heathland to see what was around. By chance, a small manmade waterhole happened to be adjacent to us. As we approached the waterhole we could see that the banks were glowing red. Drosera pygmaea was present in the thousands! As the area was incredibly dry around the waterhole, only the dead remains of Drosera auriculata and typical D. peltata were found. I did see an interesting moth though- After heading back to town for lunch we then headed north. The northern parts of the park are much drier than the south and we did not locate a single live CP, but we did see our only dead specimens of Drosera macrantha ssp. planchonii. The views were good though as we climbed Mt. Stapylton and a couple of orchids made things interesting. A Spider orchid, Caladenia tentaculata- Next we headed over Mirranatwa Gap and into the central valley of the ranges. On the way through we encountered a nice small growing species of orchid, the Bronzey Caladenia, Caladenia iridescens- We then moved down into the valley. The first thing of interest that we came across was this grump little fellow sunbathing in the middle of the road, the Shinglebacked or Stumpytailed lizard, (Trachydosaurus rugosus)- Past the lizard the road turned to dirt and we headed into dry Eucalyptus forest that had not been burnt. Here we found a couple of orchid species and Drosera peltata that was past its best. One of my highlights of the trip occurred here- A couple of habitat shots first- Caladenia clavigera, the clubbed Spider orchid- The highlight, some Drosera bugs hunting on the leaves on Drosera peltata- Further up the valley in another heathy area we found a couple of small swampy waterholes by the dirt road. Here we found a very small growing form of D. binata as well as Drosera peltata var. gracilis and Utricularia tenella. The habitat- Further up in a rocky dried area besides a large swamp we found huge (for the species anyway) plants of Drosera pygmaea which grew to almost an inch in diameter- In an open area of River Redgum woodland we found the remains of an old waterhole that was all but bone dry. Amazingly, many flowers of the lowland form of Utricularia dichotoma were found. My only shot taken of these didn't turn out but you can see the habitat here- Out onto the open road we headed for a huge swamp which bounds the Henty Highway. Unfortunately due to the drough tof the past 10 years, the area was completely dry. We drove back a bit to a river and cut along a 4 x 4 track until we could get close to the river. We headed down by foot and found our first and only specimen of Drosera glanduligera for the weekend. Also found growing closeby was the tall growing form of Drosera peltata, closely related to Drosera peltata var. foliosa but not clump forming and much taller- We then headed home through what was all but a wasteland. The fire had been so intense here that many of the trees that have evolved to cope with fires were obliterated and dead. A grasstree in the area- And a Southern Rock scorpion- Final day was the sunniest we had so back up Mt. William to get some shots of the highland Utricularia dichotoma. Steve Fretwell taking photos of the U. dichotoma which grow in the natural gutters of the roadside- Another orchid, the Musky Caladenia, Caladenia gracilis- Next back down to near where we first found the D. binata a small track led us into the open swampy area and luckily drove straight through it. We found some great things in here. Firstly, in the dry verge of the swamp, a rare Leek orchid (Prasophyllum elatum) in flower. This species generally only flowers after fire- We'd heard of a pale form of D. binata occurring here and were hoping to find it. At this location we did, and it was quite common. This was another highlight as the only form found in this part of the country is generally the small red form pictured earlier. Nice Drosera spatulata also grew here- Lovely forms of Utricularia were abundant. The typical colour- A white form- A pale form with purple margins. A real little gem- A very pale form with no purple colouration around palette- We then headed for home via a final track. Here we found dead Drosera only but a couple of great orchids. Firstly a habitat shot- Then the orchids- Then the orchids- The Spotted Sun orchid, Thelymitra ixioides- The Leopard Sun orchid., a rare species I was rapt to discover in great numbers- Another rare Leek orchid, Prasophyllum sp. aff fitzgeraldii I think- And finally a Hornet orchid, Diuris sulphurea- Once again, sorry for the massive volume of pics. 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