Report of a SNAP! walk at Toorour, Strathbogie Ranges.
Two weeks ago on a beautiful clear and sunny, but somewhat crisp, Sunday morning, Ben & Olwyn Brook led a group of 17 through a section of the Hancock pine plantation at Toorour. This section of the plantation is somewhere about 30-40 years old and is about to be harvested. There was a surprising amount of indigenous plant life that has regenerated beneath the pine canopy. Ben drew our attention to the different rates of regeneration on land that was prior to pine plantings cleared farmland, as opposed to bushland that was cleared for the pine plantation. The former bushland area has a significantly higher rate of regeneration, both volume and species, than the former farmland. The plant species that were recorded on the walk numbered in excess of 50, and that didnít include the eucalypts and acacias. Olwyn led us through to some clumps of rice flower (Pimelea axiflora). These were growing on a part-exposed, well drained hill-side, a much different environment to the damp shaded gullies that they would normally inhabit.
As expected there were a number of different fungi growing under the pine canopy, including this dainty little Birds Nest Fungus (Nidula ?emodensis), growing on a bit of wood. These little cups are covered by caps until the plant reaches maturity, when the caps fall off and expose the ‘eggs’ (spore-bearing peridioles). Raindrops fall into the open cups, splashing out the ‘eggs’, thus distributing the peridioles. (Ref: A Field Companion to Australian Fungi by Bruce Fuhrer). In the photo three of the fungi still have their caps on.
The birds were not forgotten on this walk ~ 8 species were identified, among them the Gang-Gang Cockatoo. The Whip Bird and Grey Currawong were also heard calling.
Ben pointed out a section of the pine plantation with a considerable amount of indigenous re-growth, where Scarlet Robins have been noted breeding. The plantation management have decided that while they are logging the pines they will not harvest little sections (0.5 -1 ha) like this and preserve them for the Scarlet Robins. There is also a similar area which will be preserved due to the number of orchids that grow there. As we headed back to Brook’s property we were fortunate enough to come across a pair of Scarlet Robins, which really helped round out the morning’s experiences.