Context: 750 hectares located north of Mount Bold Reservoir consisting of hilly terrain and creeks through stringybark scrub with dense understory, walking tracks and historic mining operations. The Eastern half of the park was burnt out by intense wildfire in January 2021.
Typical of early Spring, the sun shines during the week and it rains on the weekends just when I’m available to get outdoors. This Sunday wasn’t too bad though, light drizzle at most. Still, overcast and tough conditions for getting good photos. Also cool, keeping the Insects grounded.
I took to Scott Creek Conservation Park to wander a section I’ve not visited before. Starting at the staging area along Frith Road I hopped the fence and followed the rough vehicle track west until opposite Thornley Road, then headed north, down the hill along the edge of the scrub.
Most of the undergrowth has been removed in this area, with the a sparse population of Eucalypts remaining and the more hardy large shrubs like Kangaroo Thorn and Sticky Hop-Bush.
The open grass area, like any other degraded area, was filled with the usual invasive weeds. A patch of Onion-Leafed Asphodel (Asphodelus fistulosus) and lots of Paterson’s Curse (Echium plantagineum) being visited by Honey Bees (Apis mellifera).
Much of this area has had multiple uses over the years, so it’s not uncommon to find introduced plant species that may or may not have been planted many decades ago. In an open spot there was a large Bear’s Breeches (Acanthus mollis). This one is considered an environmental weed in some areas. It also happens to be a new species for my Life List.
Along the fence line were a few large Beaked Hakeas (Hakea rostrata) in full flower. One of these I spotted at Hardy’s Scrub recently was awash with Insect life, especially native Bees, once the morning sun had warmed it enough. This morning however was too cold and the only species I found on it was the Honey Bee (Apis mellifera). These introduced Bees can forage in temperatures 12-15°C, whereas many of our native Bees need a few degrees warmer before they can forage. Amongst the thicket of old shrubs and Hakeas along the fence, several Superb Fairywrens (Malurus cyaneus) were flitting about showing beginnings of breeding plumage.
A Scarlet Robin (Petroica boodang) shot out from across the road and spun around for a while on top of a fence post. I also managed to glimpse a Brown-headed Honeyeater (Melithreptus brevirostris) amongst the branches of a Drooping Sheoak. I don’t come across this species often.
I’ve been attempting to take note of anomalous plant growth caused by pathogens or triggered by various Insects. On one of the Sticky Hop-Bushes (Dodonaea viscosa) there were a few areas of distorted growth caused by a Phytoplasma. These bacteria are often transmitted by Leafhoppers (Family Cicadellidae) and cause a ‘witch’s broom’ type of growth, which is quite easy to spot.
Perched at the top of a dead Eucalyptus trunk I spotted and Fan-tailed Cuckoo (Cacomantis flabelliformis). It hung around for a few minutes periodically calling. A couple of White-browed Scrubwrens (Sericornis frontalis) had also spotted the Cuckoo and were rather unhappy about its presence.
I followed the vehicle track north and downhill along the edge of the scrub. The upper story seems to be mostly Pink Gum (Eucalyptus fasciculosa), Brown-top Stringybark (Eucalyptus obliqua) and Cup Gum (Eucalyptus cosmophylla). The open grass area was being utilised by a mob of Western Grey Kangaroo (Macropus fuliginosus). At the bottom of the hill where the park met farmland, an old vehicle track headed west into the scrub. I didn’t realise this track was here as I couldn’t see it on the satellite maps. It ran along side the farmland and met up with a feeder creek that appears to eventually join up with the Onkaparinga River. I located a few Whittaker’s Sundews (Drosera whittakeri), Rock Ferns (Cheilanthes austrotenuifolia) and some Prickly Guinea-Flowers (Hibbertia exutiacies). The creek was flowing heavily this time of year. The track continued past the creek but I was out of time and will need to return another time to investigate further. There are likely to be a few interesting species worth recording along the creek line.