Last week’s ‘mid-spring’ nature walk in Castle Creek Conservation Reserve added a new orchid species to our record of native plants found there – an exciting development given the close eye our Rangers have kept on the reserve since Parklands began bush restoration works there back in 2010.
The orchid, provisionally identified as Hooded Caladenia Caladenia cucullata is a particularly beautiful orchid with a creamy white and deep pink flowers. Both walk leader Karen and veteran participant Ollie uploaded photos to iNaturalist on the day, expanding the regional records of this species, which has also been noted at Nail Can Hill, Chiltern and the Warby ranges.
Spotting this beauty was not just a thrill on the day, it showed the need to observe a place regularly to really understand what’s there. With so many native plants appearing, flowering and disappearing below ground again within a few days, it’s hard to know what species you have without checking the same spot regularly.
This find also illustrates the complex mosaic that is Australian bush, where the structure of perennial shrubs and clumping native grasses leaves space and light for the ephemeral species like orchids and lilies to come and go. What we may think is just bare ground often has some special species gathering itself to emerge and flower at it’s appointed time.
Getting – and sharing – a more comprehensive picture of our bush reserves through the passing seasons was the idea behind our seasonal slow walks program this year, so capably led by Sue Brunskill and Karen Retra. Parklands Albury Wodonga gratefully acknowledge Karen and Sue’s depth of knowledge and skill at sharing, and the support of the Victorian Government and the Ross Trust for this program.