We were up to D. spathulata at Barren Grounds. And growing right next to it in some places is the biggest CP you will find that is native to the Sydney Basin:
The Drosera binata at Barren Grounds is what the books call f. dichotoma. It is golden yellow, but can become tinged with red. The first leaves of the season are often the t-form, with forked leaves appearing later. I grow a form of D. binata called “Golden Giant” (different to Drosera binata ‘Giant’) that does something similar – in fact, that clone took several years to get beyond the t-form leaves when I brought it ex tissue culture. In the wild, f. dichotoma grows freely from its roots, and one plant will go on to produce several clumps. As the growth points are concealed under the layer of litter on the surface, it is spectacular seeing the plants poking their first leaves up. They look like a loose forest of deer antlers before they produce their clumped appearance.
I was stunned, but not surprised, to see Sphagnum moss here! Unlike Sphagnum cristatum bogs here in Canberra, this species does not form dense hummocks, and appears more to rammet through the litter. This species is probably Sphagnum australe.
There are nice butterflies to be seen here, but it is still very early in the season. All that were out during my visit were Australian Painted Ladies (Vanessa kershawi). This is a distinct butterfly to the Painted Lady of the Northern Hemisphere (Vanessa cardui). In a few weeks, there should be Cyril’s Browns (Argynnina cyrila) should be out in this area, and a few weeks later again the first Common Browns (Heteronympha merope) and Swordgrass Browns (Tisiphone abeona abeona). In midsummer, the Macleay’s Swallowtail (Graphium macleayanum macleayanum) will be common along the top of the escarpment. I also suspect there will be Pseudalmenus chlorinda along the escarpment, as is the case at the nearby Mount Kembla.
Eastern spinebill, Acanthorhynchus tenuirostris
Barren Grounds is heaving with a great diversity of birds. My companion on this trip was David Rees, stored product entomologist extraordinaire and consummate birder. I know nothing about birds, so it was great to have someone experienced with me. I really wanted to see a Southern Emu Wren, a seriously skulky little bird that specialises in hiding in low heath and flying as little as possible. They have a very high pitched call, which I can hear ok, but many people can not. We heard perhaps three birds, and managed to get a brief look at one from some distance away (no photos sadly). David also got good video of the threatened Eastern Bristlebird. I tried my hand at bird photography, but I don’t have a good lens for it and stuck to macro (which was very challenging given the poor light).
Rather than post my bad pictures here, I recommend anyone who is interested in birds check out David’s Vimeo page (coming soon).