Sunday, November 13, 2016

Shades of Lilac as the Bush Parade moves on



This week's star of the bush- theoretically a Blue Flag, but all the ones I saw were a reddish lilac

I shouldn’t have said that about the Lechenaultia being stayers. This week they have almost gone and the bush is the poorer for the loss of their vibrant colours. While there are still a few new flowers, these are more subdued and with a few notable exceptions, namely the fringed lilies and the purple flag, it is the season of seed heads and grasses and a sense of nature turning inwards to get on with its real business of making fruit and fat rhizomes out of that glorious floral display.

The co -flowering Fringed Lily is also reddish lilac in this area
There is no sign now of last week’s magnificent “Blue Ladies” which, like the enamel flower which I also saw, are in fact covert orchids according to my guru in such matters, Ray from G’day from WA who says that their central petals just look “like the other petals to mimic co-blooming blue flowers.”


Speaking of co – blooming, there is seems to be real colour coordination in the bush too. The little place where I stop on the way to the shops has mainly pink tinged fringed lilies and the Dampiera there have exactly the same shade on the purple spectrum, not the blue which I saw elsewhere.  Although the specific shade may be determined by the soil, rather in the way that blue hydrangeas thrive on alkaline soils, while pink ones do better in acidic ones, I am wondering if it is to attract the same pollinator too. It must be fairly large, have poor eyesight perhaps and a preference for purple, or perhaps it’s the only colour it can see? I should wait patiently and see what happens but as usual, my time to contemplate nature is much too short.


...as is the Dampiera
Nature is rather skilled at contrasts too. The preferred complimentary shade is a pale cream colour as seen in the grand stalks of the grass trees which are also flowering now and in some of the understorey plants which previously attracted little attention when the rest of the bush was a riot of colour.

Not sure what this is, but one of several cream flowering shrubs which draw more attention now that the showier plants - such as the bright red kangaroo paws and lechenaultias, have gone
 
Detail on the flower spike of a young Grass Tree (Xanthorrhoea )which are just starting to come into their own

One of the newcomers ???
 
Another.....

...and another, but they are now few and far between

A few trigger plants remain. Some three hundred Stylidium species exist in Australia and most of these are in Western Australia with a few in Queensland, New South Wales and Tasmania. Tasmania has only one and beyond Australia there are around four species scattered around SE Asia.

Interestingly, only about half the Australian species have been properly classified and studied to date, so it makes me feel like a real explorer when I come upon one that I haven’t seen before. According to Wiki it is not yet known whether the plants consume insects to prevent predation or to extract nutrients which are unavailable in the soil. The plants aren’t saying.

Mostly the bush now looks like this. You can just see a Kangaroo Paw in its final stages to the right of the stump
Just as I was feeling a bit sad that the great flower show was almost over, I heard the most dreadful cacophony overhead. At first I couldn't see anything, but eventually I could make out a few dark parrot -like shapes, though they were larger than any I had seen previously. It was only when they began to fly away as they always seem to do when I take out my camera, that I noticed the bright red flashes on their tail feathers. This then was the endangered red tailed cockatoo, in this case most probably the subspecies C.b. Naso, or Red Tailed Forest Cockatoo. You can hear its call below.(Mine too, alas).

Noisy feathered friends
Land clearing, fire and the removal of the old trees along with the hollows it uses for nesting, have greatly reduced its range, so special programs are underway in Victoria and WA to prevent further decline. Another reason for its scarcity is that it only breeds every two or three years and then only lays one egg. The chicks then stay dependent on the adult birds for around two years. It makes me feel privileged to have seen them. In Western Australia, the volunteers of the Kaarakin Black Cockatoo Conservation Centre work to educate the public, rehabilitate injured birds and degraded lands and to protect their habitat from further destruction. See their website for a number of ways in which people can help including planting their favourite trees - the Jarra and Marri. The pictures on their website are also much better than mine.





No comments: