With the rise of information technology and social media there is now an assortment of worthy projects that volunteers or “citizen scientists” can join in with. One of the best in our estimation is www.bowerbird.org.au which is a wonderful tool for uploading any photos of flora or fauna that you may encounter. Not only can other users of Bowerbird assist you by using their knowledge to aid you with the identification of unfamiliar sightings you upload. Once fully identified to species level the sightings are then included as permanent records on the Atlas of Living Australia (ala.org.au) and which has an online searchable database with an amazing range of features, Bowerbird now has over forty thousand species records with peoples’ images from across Australia loaded onto the site and in its own right has virtually become a free online field guide.
Bowerbird users come from all over Australia with a strong representation from people in Gippsland so it is a great way of seeing what other local people are finding including a range of fascinating insects and fungi. There is the opportunity to create your own projects on Bowerbird and henceforth we have created a project for Tarra-Bulga National Park. To date we have around 320 sightings uploaded and identified with 5 different contributors. Morwell National Park also has a project which impressively has now over 1200 diverse records. So if you are a budding naturalist or just like looking at cool images of things like fungi, plants and insects check out http://www.bowerbird.org.au/projects/5665/sightings and if you feel inclined please feel free to add your own.
While there is not much flowering activity at present at Tarra-Bulga National Park. Plenty of species are laden with fruit which must make it a time of abundance for a range of our bird species. Had a walk around yesterday and found the following fruits on offer.
It is a perfect time to visit Tarra Bulga at present because #spring flowers are currently at their peak. The photo gallery attached shows some of the species that are out in Flower at present, get up their and have a look and see what you can find. If you get any good shots please share them with us via our Facebook Page or this Blog.
After some very windy and cold weather at the end of winter including the snow of only a week and a half ago, the last day of winter was almost perfect. The first day of Spring tomorrow also promises to be just as good. Calm winds and blue skies made today a gem of a day to be at Tarra Bulga. Birds were all around, and spring flowers were starting to bloom. The Silver Wattles were bright yellow and sections of the walking tracks were covered in fallen Sassafras flowers. A Male Lyrebird landing on a tree just above my head was a breathtaking moment on such an ideal day to be in such a magnificent place.
This time of the year (Late Autumn) is the best time for seeing the interesting array of Fungi present in Tarra Bulga National Park. A diversity of fungi species (in addition to the towering trees and lush ferns and mosses and the wildlife) make a visit well worth the effort.
Most of the photos shown in the gallery below were taken in two recent strolls around the Rainforest walks at both Bulga Park and the Tarra Valley, with the latter site having the most fungi on show. Tarra Valley has had a long history of being an interesting destination for fungi observation, Back In the 1950’s, Kara Healey (Victoria’s first female ranger) collected around 160 species of fungi from the Park area, two previously un-described species she collected were even named in her honor.
Fungi Map are holding their 7th Biennial iNational Conference in Gippsland later this month and the participants are spending a full day at the Park on Monday May 21st. More information can be found via this link. https://www.fungimap.org.au/index.php/fungimap7fullproginfo Maybe you can go along and learn a few things and then be able to assist us with identifying some of the species feature in this gallery!
One of the trickiest groups of Ferns to identify locally are a group of Ground ferns in the Genus Hypolepis. There are three different species recorded in the park but I have only ever found two of them which are Hypolepis glandulifera (Downy Ground-fern) and Hypolepis rugulosa (Ruddy Ground-fern). Without looking carefully these ferns can be mistaken for Bracken because they have a similar growth habit with fronds popping up from a spreading underground rhizome.
Hypolepis rugulosa (Ruddy Ground-fern) seems to be more common locally at higher altitudes in the Park (e.g. Wet Forest areas around Balook). It seems to like disturbed areas at the sides of roads and tracks. Its main feature for identification in the field is the reddy-brown colour of the frond stems (Stipes).
Ready brown frond stem (stipe) with small hairs.
Hypolepis rugulosa – Ruddy Ground Fern
Base of frond (stipe) where it comes out of the ground, Chestnut brown with hairs.
Underside of fertile fronds showing arrangement of sori.
Frond showing red-brown coloured stem (Rachis)
Close up of underside of pinnule. Showing little flap with a few hairs next to the sori.
New frond (crozier) not stickly like Downy – Ground-fern.
Topside of pinnae which are slightly harsh.
Red-brown frond stem (Rachis)
Hypolepis rugulosa – Ruddy Ground Fern
Hypolepis glandulifera (Downy Ground-fern) I have found mostly at lower altitudes, especially along waterways (e.g. Tarra River and Macks Creek). Its frond stems (Stipes) are usually a pale green colour. It usually has lots of fine hairs along the stems and the new fronds are often sticky to the touch as a result of the small glands on the tips of many of the hairs. If you have a hand lens or use a digital camera with a macro setting you can see that there is a little triangular tooth close to the sori on the underside of fertile fronds. This fern was formerly known as Hypolepis punctata.
Sori have a small tooth shaped flap protecting them. (note this photo is magnified)
New frond, which is sticky to the touch because of the soft glandular hairs.
Underside of a fertile frond, packed with sori.
Pinnules usually have rounded tips.
Close up of frond stem (stipe) with soft hairs, some of them with glandular tips.
Showing the base of the fronds. Mostly a light green colour.
Hypolepis muelleri (Harsh Ground-fern)is also listed in Park’s flora records for the but I have yet to find any. It can be identified by the presence of tiny hairs growing in the Sori on the underside of the fertile fronds.
With names like Lance, Strap and Ray this lot of Water-ferns sound like rather a threatening bunch, but in reality they are probably not so tough. All preferring to grow locally in the moist shade found in Cool Temperate Rainforest. All of these species can be found fairly easily in both the Bulga Park and Tarra Valley rainforest walks. Overall seven species of Blechnum grow in Tarra Bulga National Park.
Lance Water-fern (Blechnum chambersii) like all the local water ferns (Blechnum species) apart from one have two distinctly different frond types. The ones that carry the reproductive spores on their undersides have very narrow and droopy pinnae (leaves). The regular fronds are dark green and the leaflets (pinnae) are curved and broad at the base where they are attached to the stem.
Curved pinnae with the wide bases.
Fertile frond, narrower than than the regular fronds.
Close up of the pinnae.
Underside of the fertile fronds showing the arrangement of the sori.
Ray Water-fern (Blechnum fluviatile) The regular fronds have small green oblong to oval shaped pinnae (leaflets) with rounded tips. The stems of the fronds (Rachis) are covered in scales as well as small hairs.
Regular fronds with small rounded pinnae.
Regular (green) and fertile (brown) fronds.
Long narrow regular fronds.
Stem (Rachis) note the scales and the fine hairs.
Fertile fronds packed with spore producing sori.
Strap Water-fern (Blechnum patersonii) Has regular fronds that are either one long strap or may have a few pairs of divided pinnae which can give them a similar look to Microsorum pustulatum (Kangaroo Fern). The edges of the fronds are usually wavy (undulating). The regular fronds are also broader closer to the tip (and skinnier at the base), they are quite tough and leathery and are a very dark green colour. The spore carrying fertile fronds are much narrower and can also be a single strap or have a few narrow sub-divisions.
Dark green strap like fronds.
Typical plant with long strap like fronds.
A fertile frond covered with spore producing sori.
In this case the frond is divided and looks a bit like Kangaroo Fern.