In praise of Cherry Ballart

Frankie’s recent post on the trials and tribulations associated with propagating Cherry Ballart reminded me of some recent images taken along Mia Mia Track.

It’s a wonderful and enigmatic species.

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Cherry Ballart trunk, Mia Mia track, 6th August 2016

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Foliage in sunshine

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A stand-out amongst the Yellow Gums

Propagating Native Cherries

Native Cherry gets some new companions, Newstead Natives Nursery, 23 August 2016

Native Cherry gets some new companions, Newstead Natives Nursery, 23 August 2016

Native Cherry Exocarpos cupressiformis which is a local species semi-parasitic on the roots of other plants is proving very difficult to propagate from seed or from cuttings. In February 2004 I set cuttings from actively growing suckers found where a grader had damaged the roots of a roadside Native Cherry, and although one of the cuttings struck roots that same year the resultant plant wasn’t strong enough to plant out until November 2010! I planted it 1m away from the mature Yellow Gum tree favoured by the Tawny Frogmouth pair who are familiar to readers of this blog. Close to it I planted 4 or 5 small local species including Wattle Mat-rush and Chocolate lily for it to latch onto until it found the Yellow Gum roots.

Six years after planting it out the Native Cherry has only reached knee high, and is so spindly you can’t even see it in the centre of this photo. Today I have planted some extra companions around it: Sticky Everlasting Daisies, Running Postman, Nodding Saltbush, Small-flowered Mat-rush, Gold-dust Wattle and Wallaby Grass. The soil was very dry despite a rainy winter so perhaps it just needs more regular watering? I am interested to hear from anyone else who has successfully propagated and grown on this species. It is frustrating not being able to include it in local revegetation projects when it is obviously an important component of local ecosystems: providing shade for resting roos, food for larvae of butterflies, and yummy berries for many species including humans.

One out of the box!

This spring promises to be one ‘out of the box’. The early show of wildflowers throughout the Muckleford bush is terrific and it looks like late winter rain will linger. Enjoy it!

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Spreading Wattle Acacia genistifolia, South German Track, 14th August 2016

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Golden Wattle Acacia pycnantha, Mia Mia Road, 14th August 2016

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Scented Sundews Drosera aberrans, Mia Mia, 14th August 2016

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Nodding Greenhood Pterostylis nutans, South German Track, 14th August 2016

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Pelican sequence

Cairn Curran has sprung to life. Although still at little more than 30% of capacity, water is spreading over the flats back towards Newstead. It will be worth a visit to search for migrating shorebirds over coming weeks.

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Australian Pelican, Picnic Point, 19th August 2016

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Home making

For the past few weeks a Grey Shrike-thrush has been singing enthusiastically around the house.

It was no surprise therefore to discover a nest being constructed in a hanging basket beside the kitchen door. This site has been used before – a pair of White-browed Scrub-wrens nested here in 2013. Earlier this spring the scrub-wrens were busy removing old nesting material from the basket to make a nest nearby … now the shrike-thrush has moved in. Never a dull moment!

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Grey Shrike-thrush, Wyndham Street Newstead, 17th August 2016

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The incomparable songster at work!

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The nest site …

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… and the nest

Cuckoo arrival

I’d be interested to hear of any local observations of when migrating cuckoos arrived this season.

I’ve been unable to make other than fleeting visits to the bush over recent weeks but finally got out to Mia Mia Track last weekend. The bush was alive with the familiar calls of three cuckoo species – Fan-tailed and Horsfield’s Bronze-cuckoos were most prominent but I also heard a couple of Shining Bronze-cuckoos.

The arrival of cuckoos in the Newstead district typically heralds the onset of spring – a welcome prospect after a cold but refreshingly wet winter.

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Fan-tailed Cuckoo calling, Mia Mia Track area, 14th August 2016

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Rosellas nesting

It’s terrific to witness the surge of breeding activity as winter heads towards spring.

Rosellas, Eastern and Crimson, are busy cleaning out nesting sites in preparation for egg-laying.

In town it’s not uncommon to see mixed pairs partnering up.

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Crimson Rosella at nest hollow in Elm, Wyndham Street Newstead, 6th August 2016

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Here is the partner.

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Eastern Rosella at prospective nest site, Mia Mia Road, 13th August 2016