Scott Creek CP (11th Sept, 2022)

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.

iNaturalist Projects:

Scott Creek Conservation Park, South Australia

Bushfire Recovery – Scott Creek CP (2021-2024)

Ferals in South Australian Reserves – Scott Creek CP

See the full list of 66 observations covering 53 species on iNaturalist

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.

The weeds continued along the vehicle track with several Boneseeds (Osteospermum moniliferum) in flower and patches of Bridal Creeper infected with Bridal Creeper Rust (Puccinia myrsiphylli).

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.

Onkaparinga River NP (10th Sept, 2022)

Context: 15.4km2 of steep river valley, remnant Eucalyptus woodland, degraded ex-farmland infested with introduced European Olive, and revegetation sites. Numerous recreational walking tracks and lookouts over the valley and down to the river. Includes Hardy’s Scrub on the the south side of Chapel Hill Road.

iNaturalist Projects

Onkaparinga River National Park, South Australia

Ferals in South Australian Reserves – Onkaparinga River NP

See the full list of 83 observations covering 55 species on iNaturalist

After somewhat of a Winter hiatus, I’ve returned to regular biodiversity hiking now the weather is improving. A good place to start was a short loop around a section of Hardy’s Scrub in the Onkaparinga River National Park. Following Old Quarry Track for approx. 150m, I took a left turn and followed a narrow track that ran through the scrub, down to Blewitt Springs Road, then back up to Old Quarry Track.

The introduced Freesias that are a significant invasive species in parts of Hardy’s Scrub were appearing near the Chapel Hill Rd gate. Although not in the great numbers as other sections of the park. A patch of Geraniums and the all too common Bridal Creeper had their place near the gate too.

The track slopes gently to the right side. This time of year the high side of the track is populated by three, perhaps four, native carnivorous Sundew species. The most prominent is Drosera gunniana. One of the tall growing species, its mucin droplets produced by the stalked glands on the leaves glisten in the sunlight. The species has the inflorescence close to the final leaves, with hairy sepals. The similar Drosera auriculata has the inflorescence held well above the leaves, with glabrous sepals. The other two are the common in the region Drosera whittakeri with its rosette of leaves a few inches in diameter, and the much smaller Drosera glanduligera.

On that first section of track, we spotted one of my favourite local Ant species on a Grass Tree, a Dolichoderus scabridus, with its golden gaster and red legs. Their nests can sometimes be found in rotting logs.

Along the narrow side track we startled a couple of Western Grey Kangaroos (Macropus fuliginosus). They are always about this park, but are often hidden during the day, relaxing amongst the dense undergrowth. One paused to strike a pose resulting an a few quality photos.

There are numerous large patches of Red Beaks / Fire Orchids (Pyrorchis nigricans) throughout Hardy’s Scrub. Typically they do not flower unless a fire has come through recently. Some have leaves reaching 10cm across. Occasionally some will flower without fire, perhaps fewer than 1 in 200. However flowering can also occur due to disturbance, so those near the edge of a walking track may present flowers more frequently. We didn’t spot any flowering or in bud this time around.

This time of year, if you know where to look, certain Insect species are quite easy to locate. The Leaf Beetle Callidemum hypochalceum, a species we might call the Metallic Dodonaea Leaf Beetle, can be frequently found on the Sticky Hop-Bush (Dodonaea viscosa). These Plants are quite easy to identify themselves as the female plants this time of year are covered in winged fruit ranging from lime green through to dark maroon. So if you’re out in nature and spot such a Hop-Bush, pause to take a closer look and you might find a few of these iridescent Beetles.

That invasive pest, Bridal Creeper (Asparagus asparagoides), is present in this park as well as so many others. To combat the spread a Rust Fungi known as Bridal Creeper Rust (Puccinia myrsiphylli) was introduced in 2000. It infects the plants, absorbing the nutrients from the leaves resulting in visible yellow spots and leaf shedding. It is most prominent during Spring. I’ve typically ignored this in the past, but creating an iNaturalist record to show its presence in an area has value, and I’ll look to do that more frequently.

On the return section of the track back up the hill from Blewitt Springs Road there is a large patch of Heath Teatrees (Leptospermum myrsinoides) that while flowering from late September through November play host to a wide range of Insects, in particular some spectacular Jewel Beetles. We were too early this visit with none of the Teatrees yet flowering. Over a few visits I’ve recorded 13 Insects on or around these Teatrees, including 4 Jewel beetles in the Genus Castiarina. This is a spot I try to visit each year.

Lastly, while recording one of the flowering Gorse Bitter Peas (Daviesia ulicifolia) I unintentionally recorded my second ever sighting of a native Trichocolletes Bee. I’d really like to take some quality photos of this Genus, but I expect I’ll need a good macro lens before I can get them.

A few additional highlights from the day below.

Aldinga Reef (2nd May, 2022)

Context: Limestone platform extending 400 meters out from the coastal cliffs forming part of the Aldinga Reef Sanctuary Zone. Walk to the edge of the platform during low tide. Snorkel off the edge. Keep an eye out for Red-capped Plovers and Red-necked Stints.

iNaturalist Projects

Aldinga Reef Sanctuary Zone, South Australia

NATUREhoodz Aldinga to Maslin Beach Coast

Aldinga Bay, South Australia

See the full list of 28 observations covering 26 species on iNaturalist

On the last City Nature Challenge day we took the opportunity to stop in at Aldinga Reef around low tide. With the limestone platform exposed, I’d hoped to add a few Birds to the species list.

We found a few seashells we hadn’t found during the CNC, including a Banded Ark (Barbatia pistachia), Southern Ribbed Top Snail (Austrocochlea constricta) and a Conical Moon Snail (Conuber conicum). I also added my first record of a Half-grained Bonnet (Semicassis semigranosa) and Tenagodus australis.

Port Jackson Sharks (Heterodontus portusjacksoni) are quite common along Adelaide’s coastline. They tuck their eggs into rock crevices, some of which get loose and wash up on the shore. You’re almost guaranteed to find a few any time you walk along this section of Aldinga Beach.

This was the only stop during the CNC where we’d possibly spot Red-capped Plovers and Red-necked Stints. We dipped on both. We did however spot a Sooty Oystercatcher (Haematopus fuliginosus) which wasn’t expected.

While the tide is out and the limestone platform exposed, many of the shorebirds rest far from the sandy shore. I’ll often extend the camera to full zoom and take some panning shots to review when I return home. Occasionally I’ll spot a Bird in the mix I would have otherwise missed. In this instance, the technique worked. Off to the side of one of the photos was an Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) feeding. This was my first record of this species and it was completely unexpected. Endangered in SA, these are considered absent on the Fleurieu Peninsula, although this is likely referring to breeding pairs. It’s a shame I didn’t spot it while we were on site. I might have been able to get some more reasonable photos, without disturbing it of course.

Brodie Road Wetland (2nd May, 2022)

Context: Manmade wetlands along Christie Creek as part of the City of Onkaparinga’s Water Proofing the South project. Home to many water Birds, visiting Black-fronted Dotterels and Pied Stilts.

iNaturalist Projects

NATUREhoodz Brodie Road Wetland

See the full list of 27 observations covering 18 species on iNaturalist

On the final day of the City Nature Challenge we stopped in at Brodie Road Wetlands along Christie Creek. An easy suburban walk around a manmade wetland guaranteed to add a few Birds to my CNC species list.

The usual water Bird species were present, Australasian Swamphens (Porphyrio melanotus), Dusky Moorhens (Gallinula tenebrosa), and Eurasian Coots (Fulica atra). The larger Northern pond is a favourite with the Grey Teals (Anas gracilis), Wood Ducks (Chenonetta jubata Australian) and Pacific Black Ducks. Although at this location, and many other suburban waterways across SA, the Pacific Black Ducks are in fact hybrids with Mallards. One particular individual Pacific Black Duck × Mallard Hybrid (Anas superciliosa × platyrhynchos) showing much brighter feather colours.

Many of the Bird species here will follow you around, suggesting they are regularly fed. Not just the waterfowl, but the Crested Pigeons (Ocyphaps lophotes) which are in abundance. Where the actual creek runs through the wetlands, there are exposed muddy sections where Black-fronted Dotterels (Elseyornis melanops) can be found, and the occasional Pied Stilt (Himantopus leucocephalus).

Chance encounters that were both additional species for the CNC were a pair of feeding Eastern Rosellas (Platycercus eximius), and a couple of Australian Pelicans (Pelecanus conspicillatus).

Onkaparinga River NP (1st May, 2022)

Context: 15.4km2 of steep river valley, remnant Eucalyptus woodland, degraded ex-farmland infested with introduced European Olive, and revegetation sites. Numerous recreational walking tracks and lookouts over the valley and down to the river. Includes Hardy’s Scrub on the the south side of Chapel Hill Road.

iNaturalist Projects

Onkaparinga River National Park, South Australia

Ferals in South Australian Reserves – Onkaparinga River NP

See the full list of 58 observations covering 37 species on iNaturalist

With a few hours left on day three of the City Nature Challenge I stopped in at Onkaparinga River National Park to search along the start of the Echidna Hike. The section of the hike that runs parallel to Piggott Range Road seems relatively undisturbed, with quite a high number of species in a small area.

First record was an abnormal growth on a Sticky Hop-Bush (Dodonaea viscosa). These growths are quite common with many plants showing at least one patch, and some with dozens. The growth is potentially caused by a Phytoplasma (Genus Phytoplasma). These small genome Bacteria are obligate intracellular parasites of plant phloem tissue, transmitted by sap-sucking Insects. I’ve never noticed any particular Hemiptera associated with these Dodonaeas, but it might be worth taking a closer look. The literature suggests that multiple Hemiptera species are involved, but it seems likely there is a primary transmitter in each area or region. If that’s the case I should be able to find a particular species of Bug on multiple Hop-Bushes.

This time of year identifying some species requires knowledge of either what dried seed pods look like, or be able to recognise the first shoots emerging now the rainy season is beginning. The finished flower stalk and empty fruit capsules of Milkmaids (Burchardia umbellata) are easy to ID, due to the way the stalk branches. The tall flower stalk of the Nodding Chocolate Lily (Arthropodium fimbriatum) is also quite distinct. It can be separated from the stalk of the Common Chocolate-lily (Arthropodium strictum) in that the flowers occur in groups of 2 to 4 emerging from the same axil.

The emerging Fringe-Lilies are easy to recognise from their twining branches, with the Twining Fringe-Lily (Thysanotus patersonii) most common at this location. Also emerging are the leaves of the Blue Stars (Chamaescilla corymbosa), which I used to mistake for Orchids, and can be separated in that they have multiple emerging leaves, whereas the local similar looking Orchids have a single leaf at this stage.

I didn’t really walk slow enough to find many Insect species but did record my second Australian Painted Lady (Vanessa kershawi) for the CNC, and a Mud-nesting Spider Wasps (Genus Fabriogenia) on the hunt.

Jupiter Creek Diggings (1st May, 2022)

Context: Native woodland covering historic gold minefield with numerous mine shafts throughout. Landscape sloping down toward a feeder creek for the Echunga Creek system. Includes a section of the Heysen Trail. Messmate Stringybark, Cup Gum and Pink Gum woodland over Beaked Hakea, Heath Tea-tree, Large-leaf Bush Pea, Honeypots and Fire Daisy. Keep an eye out for uncommon Birds down by the creek including Purple-crowned Lorikeets, Crested Shrike-Tits, White-naped Honeyeaters, and Yellow-faced Honeyeaters.

iNaturalist Projects

Jupiter Creek Diggings, South Australia

Birding Hot Spot – Long Gully section of Heysen Trail

See the full list of 100 observations covering 57 species on iNaturalist

Third stop on day three of the City Nature Challenge was the Jupiter Creek Diggings. Starting at the main carpark I followed the track to the South, then down toward the creek, along a section of the Heysen Trail, and back up the hill.

This area has been heavily turned over by historic mining operations, but there’s still quite a dense woodland here. Cup Gum (Eucalyptus cosmophylla) and Brown-top Stringybark (Eucalyptus obliqua) are common, with an understory that includes Large-leaf Bush Pea (Pultenaea daphnoides), Common Flat-Pea (Platylobium obtusangulum) and Fire Daisies (Ixodia achillaeoides).

The Pale-flecked Garden Sunskinks (Lampropholis guichenoti) are common here but always dart off into the leaf litter as soon as I spot them. I managed to record only a couple. I was hoping to find a few of the less common Bird species here which sometimes can be found along the creek line. This time out, I only found the common Scarlet Robin (Petroica boodang) and a White-naped Honeyeater (Melithreptus lunatus).

Both Beaked Hakea (Hakea rostrata) and Erect Hakea (Hakea carinata) occur through this area, easily differentiated from one another by looking at the seed pods. I also recorded Wrinkled Hakeas (Hakea rugosa) elsewhere during the CNC. Always record the seed pods if you want a species level ID when uploading to iNaturalist.

This area offers a lot more on a warm Spring day, with Waxlip Orchids, flowering Bitter Peas and Pimeleas, and a greater array of local Bird species. The tall Eucalypts down by the creek offer a lot of nesting sites for Purple-crowned and Rainbow Lorikeets.

Rocky Creek Forest (1st May, 2022)

Context: A 3.4km2 section of ForestrySA’s Kuitpo Forest consisting of pine, softwood and hardwood plantations, and a small section of native forest, camp grounds and recreation areas.

iNaturalist Projects

Rocky Creek Forest, South Australia

Birding Hot Spot – Rocky Creek Forest, Meadows South Australia

See the full list of 94 observations covering 46 species on iNaturalist

Second stop on day three of the City Nature Challenge was the Rocky Creek Forest section of Kuitpo Forest. Starting on Razorback Road, where the Heysen Trail crosses, I hiked South-West through several of the plantations, and looped back. The established hardwood plantations have a sparse understory of native shrubs, groundcovers and a few Orchids.

Plantation forests are a good place to collect a few introduced species for any BioBlitz. Many of the farmed species produce seedlings that can be recorded. In this case a Southern Blue Gum (Eucalyptus globulus). They also have a range of associated introduced weed species, including the Sydney Golden Wattle (Acacia longifolia ssp. longifolia).

Along the edge of the track I spotted a small patch of Red-banded Greenhoods (Pterostylis sanguinea). Four in total over a few square metres with one beginning to flower. A little further along another patch of two. For both of these I took note of the number growing, the surrounds, and took pictures of the area around the Orchids, and above, and added the observations to the Wild Orchid Watch Australia iNaturalist project. Further down the track I was surprised to find a single double-headed Parson’s Band Orchid (Eriochilus collinus).

The shade in the plantations are always good for a few Moss species. I added Sparse Fern Moss (Thuidiopsis sparsa) to my CNC species list, and also spotted the common Cypress-leaved Plait-Moss (Hypnum cupressiforme), Juniper Haircap Moss (Polytrichum juniperinum), and Bronze Moss (Sematophyllum homomallum).

Other than Creeping Bossiaea (Bossiaea prostrata) and Myrmecia pyriformis, my third Bull Ant species for the weekend, this location didn’t have much to offer. Given what others have seen here, Springs probably a better time to visit.

Mount Bold Reservoir (1st May, 2022)

Context: 55km2 of natural woodland, creeks, and forestry reserves surrounding the largest reservoir in SA, on the Onkaparinga River. Walking trails open to the public from Razorback Road in 2022. Messmate Stringybark, Pink Gum, and Cup Gum mid woodland over Golden Wattle, Large-leaf Bush Pea, Beaked Hakea, Heath Tea-tree, Slaty Oak-bush, Austral Bracken, Wire Rapier-sedge and Native Cranberry. A significant section of the Northern side of the reservoir was burnt out in the 2021 Cherry Gardens bushfire. Look out for more than 30 Orchid and 9 Sundew species, Southern Brown Bandicoots and Yellow-footed Antechinus, and Peregrine Falcons.

iNaturalist Projects

Mount Bold Reservoir

See the full list of 114 observations covering 56 species on iNaturalist

First hike of the City Nature Challenge day three was the recently opened section of Mount Bold Reservoir. Having not visited before I opted for the easy Lookout Trail, but found some time to add a loop around some woodland just East of the carpark.

At the entrance was a Health Alert sign warning that encephalitis causing mosquitoes may be present in the area. Long sleeves, long pants and DEET are recommended.

This accessible Grade 2 walk runs through Eucalyptus woodland with a dense thicket of Golden Wattle (Acacia pycnantha). This being a pioneer species, I assume this area experienced a fire some years back. The high density of this growth is typical, eventually thinning out as the slower growing Eucalypts begin to overtake them. This process is just beginning in the burnt sections of Scott Creek I hiked through recently with a high density of two foot tall Golden Wattles. Scott Creek also had high density areas of Hop Goodenia (Goodenia ovata) and Myrtle Wattle (Acacia myrtifolia), but these were absent here.

High in one of the Eucalypts I heard, then spotted a Western Whistler (Pachycephala fuliginosa). Until recently these were known as South Australian Golden Whistlers (Pachycephala pectoralis fuligens), but a recent genetic study indicates these are morphologically and genetically much closer to birds from SW Western Australia than to Golden Whistlers from eastern Australia and are essentially indistinguishable from western birds. Following naming conventions, the WA Birds and those in SA are now Pachycephala fuliginosa, with a crossover area in South-East SA with the Eastern species Pachycephala pectoralis.

Heading down toward the the lookout the understory biodiversity increases with Spoon-leaf Spyridium (Spyridium spathulatum) becoming common. This is a rare local SA species with patches occurring in Mount Bold, Morialta CP and Deep Creek. (More common on KI). I didn’t expect to find it here. It’s a new species for my Life List and for my CNC observations. Also present was Leafless Bitter-pea (Daviesia brevifolia), a species that puts on an excellent flower show at the right time of year.

The lookout is ideally located with a long view across the reservoir and down to the dam. Afternoon is perhaps a better time to visit to admire the view, when the sun will be lighting up the dam wall.

Near the lookout a Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus) shot out from the trees and began circling around the area directly out from the lookout. Species like this are hard to specifically search for during a bioblitz, but if you spend enough time looking you’ll have many such chance encounters with uncommon species.

To highlight exactly this, walking back along the Lookout Trail I spotted a Robin amongst the Golden Wattles. I took a few photos before realising this was not the common Scarlet Robin seen in the area, but a Red-capped Robin (Petroica goodenovii). Although it’s not unheard of to spot one here, or other locations in the Adelaide Hills, this species tends to live in more arid regions. These nearest location where they are frequently sighted is around Monarto.

This walk was quicker than I’d expected so I continued with a short loop to the East of the main carpark. Along the boundary track there were quite a few introduced weed species including South African Daisy (Senecio pterophorus), Boneseed (Osteospermum moniliferum ssp. moniliferum), Olive (Olea europaea), Spear Thistle (Cirsium vulgare), Bridal Creeper (Asparagus asparagoides), Orchard Grass (Dactylis glomerata), a well established Tree Lucern (Chamaecytisus prolifer), and half a dozen Mediterranean Buckthorn (Rhamnus alaternus). In this area I also pickup up a few additional species for the CNC including Australian Dusty Miller (Spyridium parvifolium), Woolly Rice-Flower (Pimelea octophylla) and an Inchman Ant (Myrmecia forficata).

Mount Billy CP (30th Apr, 2022)

Context: 200 hectares of Brown Stringybark, Cup Gum, Manna Gum, and Pink Gum woodland over Heath Tea-tree, Beaked Hakea, Silver Banksia, Flat-leaf Grass-tree, Common Flat-Pea, Austral Bracken and numerous Orchids. Keep an eye out for Wallflower, Rabbit and Hare Orchids, Purple Beard Orchids, Pygmy Sundews, and Bassian Thrush.

iNaturalist Projects

Mount Billy Conservation Park, South Australia

See the full list of 42 observations covering 29 species on iNaturalist

Fifth and final stop on the second City Nature Challenge day was Mount Billy Conservation Park. This park is only a short drive from Spring Mount CP and was worth a quick visit to pick up a few extra species. I started at the Northern most gate on Hindmarsh Tiers Road and hiked a short 600 metre loop around the fire tracks in the top corner of the park.

I wasn’t aware prior to my visit that this corner of the park had recently undergone a prescribed burn. As such I stuck to the fire track to avoid disturbing the burnt ground.

I picked up a few additional Plant species for my CNC species list including Gland Flower (Adenanthos terminalis), Desert Banksia (Banksia ornata), and Prickly Tea-Tree (Leptospermum continentale). The prescribed burn must have been recent as the Flat-leaf Grass-trees (Xanthorrhoea semiplana) hadn’t yet added regrowth or started to flower.

Along the border of the fire track some Greenhoods (Genus Pterostylis) had started putting up their leaves, possibly Maroonhoods (Pterostylis pedunculata) or Nodding Greenhoods (Pterostylis nutans) which I’ve sighted flowering here previously. Other Orchids were doing the same, include the Red Beaks (Pyrorchis nigricans) which might produce a good flowering display brought on by the fire. The Hare Orchids (Leporella fimbriata) were back, right in the middle of the fire track. Even when flowering these are tough to see unless you are specifically looking for them. It’s always worth keeping an eye on where you are stepping when walking through these parks.

The Sundews are also starting to appear. Whittaker’s Sundews (Drosera whittakeri) along this section of the track. I missed out on the Pygmy Sundews (Drosera pygmaea) which have been seen here too, but I’m not surprised. At less than 15mm across, if you’re not specifically looking for them, you’ll likely walk right past them.

Given the prescribed burn there wasn’t much in the way of understory left. Near the park boundary fence was a Common Correa (Correa reflexa) in good shape with a couple of flowers, and nearby a fruiting Dwarf Micrantheum (Micrantheum demissum), a very underrated little Plant rare on mainland SA.

Spring Mount CP (30th Apr, 2022)

Context: 2.8km2 of mature Brown and Messmate Stringybark over Beaked Hakea, Large-leaf Bush Pea, Common Heath, Common Flat-pea, Honeypots and Wire Rapier-sedge. Breeding ground for the Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoo and habitat for the Bassian Thrush. Look out for Hairy Correa, Dwarf Micrantheum, Scrambling Guinea-flower and Yellow-footed Antechinus.

iNaturalist Projects

Spring Mount Conservation Park, South Australia

See the full list of 82 observations covering 40 species on iNaturalist

Stop four on the second City Nature Challenge day was Spring Mount Conservation Park. The original plan was to follow the fire break along the boundary fence heading North. But upon arrival this looked to be a dense layer of medium height shrubs about 20 metres deep. I’d miss much of the bird life here as the Stringybark trees were much further back. As such I took a short hike along the main fire track through the park starting at the carpark on Mount Alma Road.

This park is often seems very quiet and still, unless the Sulphur-crested or Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos are hanging about. Their calls almost echo through the park. There’s not a lot of colour about this time of year, but the Common Heath (Epacris impressa) flowers stand out.

The old Stringybark Eucalypts drop a lot of leaves, thick bark and branches, which make great habitat for ground dwelling critters. Carefully lifting and replacing a few of the logs along the edge of the track I was able to add quite a few species to my CNC species list. A Three-toed Earless Skink (Hemiergis decresiensis) and my first record of a Wishbone Spider (Family Anamidae). Unfortunately this one wasn’t willing to sit still for a clear photo. A Heteromastix Soldier Beetle (Genus Heteromastix) that landed on me. I’ve only spotted this Genus once before in the nearby Mount Billy Conservation Park. On that occasion a dozen or so were attracted to a Millipede. Exactly why this was occurring remains a mystery.

I finally found my first Harvestmen, a Triaenonychid (Family Triaenonychidae), but photos missed diagnostic features so it may be stuck at a Family level ID. Also the Land Planarian Fletchamia mediolineata, which I’ve also found on my suburban property. A Trilobite Cockroach (Genus Laxta) that looks a little different from another species in the same Subfamily I found here in 2019. These spend the daylight hours, often in groups, under bark or in rock crevices from which they emerge at night to forage(1).

Different parks seem to have different species of Bull Ants that dominate. Aldinga Scrub, for example, has a lot of Black-scaped Bull Ants (Myrmecia nigriscapa). Look down as you walk along and you’ll spot multiple on every walk, usually after they’ve spotted you and begun backing away. In Spring Mount CP the Black Jumper Ants (Myrmecia pilosula) dominate. Their nests can easily be spotted along the edge of the fire track. These are active during the day and climb up understory shrubs looking for prey. It’s all too easy to brush past a branch and end up with one or more of these crawling on you. Unfortunately their venom is quite immunogenic and responsible for the majority of anaphylactic reactions associated with Ants in Australia. So, long sleeves and long pants recommended in this and nearby parks.

Under a few logs I found several colonies of Pale-footed Ants (Genus Technomyrmex). My first sighting of these. Also a Somethus Millipede (Genus Somethus). It’s nice to see a native Millipede as opposed to the all too common Portuguese Millipede.

No sighting of any Cockatoos. There were a few small Bird species high in the trees, but against the overcast daylight these were difficult to spot, let alone photograph. I did encounter a White-throated Treecreeper (Cormobates leucophaea) doing its thing up one of the Stringybarks.

(1) RENTZ, D. (2014). A Guide to the Cockroaches of Australia. CSIRO Publishing, Melbourne