January 11, 2020
For our first activity for 2020 a dozen members gathered at the scout camp to revisit the ptilotus erubescens study that we assisted with during Stan Parfitt’s time.
The exclusion plots are long gone. Due to fire damage the remaining fencing material was removed for the safety of those using the scout camp. Quinn (the current camp manager) has tried to keep the signs in place since the fencing was removed. This did enable us to find the study areas. Unfortunately most were bare of ptilotus, or any grasses for that matter. The impact of fires, and the tough conditions and grazing since have had their effects.
One area was still showing both the Ptilotus erubescens (Hairy Tails) and the larger and more common ptilotus macrocephalus, commonly known as Featherheads. Many seed heads had been grazed off. I believe our final count was 40 plants and 60 flower heads. But there was some dispute about this figure amongst those present.
It was heartening to see that even with fire, and the destruction of the exclusion fences, that nature had found a way and the erubescens were still alive and appeared to be spreading wider, even if their numbers were not increasing yet.
At Quinn’s suggestion we went for a walk to examine another exclusion plot that was set up for a different purpose. There was not much to see, it appeared to have fallen into disrepair. Quinn was also keen to learn more about what was a weed and what was native. Especially concerning the SA weed orchid, and the sallow wattles. Now that he has some knowledge he will set the Scouts to work helping to control and remove the weeds. He will also ensure the ptilotus plants are unmolested as much as possible.
We sat down as a group to eat a picnic lunch, and were joined by 2 of our Rangers for a chat and to talk about upcoming activities. It was nice to see both Hannah and Kailee at a Foggs activity. I think they enjoyed the opportunity to talk to the group and get to know us a bit better, as did we.
We then went for a walk along the Bunnah trail, and up one of the ridges to look at the granite outcrops. While walking we did use a GPS unit to log any weed species we observed, that may become a project at a later date.
I don’t know that the study is worth continuing, unless it becomes a priority for Parks. The erubescens is no longer classified as threatened, so I doubt the project will be at the top of the list now.
Cheers, Rod Thompson
Catherine adds “Bird species seen include red wattle bird, white throated tree creeper, magpie, sulphur crested cockatoo, yellow faced honeyeater, superb blue wren, Australian raven, kookaburra, brown thornbill, weebill, crimson rosella, yellow tufted honeyeater, yellow tailed black cockatoo and some type of Quail.”