While 2021 hasn’t quite matched 2016 as a ‘wet year’, nor come even close to the amazing events of 2010-11, it has nonetheless been well better than average.
As a result there are a few wetlands across the Moolort Plains holding water and that has resulted in some notable observations.
This small freshwater meadow at Baringhup West is one of my favourite spots. It lies at the base of a gentle basalt rise and the wetland itself is dotted with lots of volcanic ‘floaters’ – it has never been cultivated and has been conservatively grazed over generations.
A brilliant purple flower caught my attention on a recent visit, one that I can’t recall seeing on the wetland previously. It is Broughton Pea Swainsona procumbens, a species that is rare in the district, but more common further north where it can be found in areas of heavy clay soils that are prone to seasonal inundation. Like many of the native peas it is extremely palatable to stock – its saving grace is that it can flower and set seed before grazing animals can get access to it.
Broughton Pea has featured previously on Natural Newstead, after Dawn Angliss found a specimen in 2009 at the Castlemaine Golf Course – click here for Frances Cincotta’s article.
The return trip home was also of note, a Spotted Harrier floating over the ripening canola and a pair of Swamp Harriers just south of Picnic Point, a species that is uncommon locally.