Sunday, 20 January 2008

Botanising at Cape Nelson

Last time I visited Cape Nelson, I didn't may a great deal of attention to the plants. Sure, I took photos of the soap mallee (Eucalyptus diversifolia) and admired the other green, leafy* things but I didn't know enough to do them justice.

Well, I still don't. But this time I visited with a botanist, so I can put names to them, at least.

Cape Nelson is dominated by heath (wet and dry) with soap mallee in the more sheltered areas.

The roadside vegetation is a patchwork of greens and greys. At this time of year, flowers are giving way to fruit. Either way, the birds are happy. When we were there, the trees and bushes were filled with New Holland and singing honeyeaters, little wattlebirds, blue-winged parrots and young crimson rosellas, superb wrens and brush bronzewings. Well, not the bronzewings. They were on the ground, looking surprised every time they noticed us. And did I get a photo of any of these birds?

Coast ballart (Exocarpos syrticola)

Coastal beard heath (Leucopogon parviflorus)

Sea box (Alyxia buxifolia)

The cliff top walk (a section of the magnificent Great South West Way) winds between exposed headlands and protected gullies. Protected is a relative term. Nowhere on Cape Nelson really escapes the southerlies. The salt-soaked wind prunes the plants into curious shapes. Anything that pokes a stem above the parapet gets battered by the gales. Despite the odds, there's a wonderful diversity of shrubs and ground-covers.

White correa (Correa alba)

Daisy (Brachyscome)

Coastal pea (Swainsona lessertifolia)

Native pelargonium (Pelargonium australe)

Moonah (Melaleuca lanceolata)

Australian trefoil (Lotus australis)

We spent about three hours wandering along the track, looking at the plants for Theba. We left at about 8 pm, as the light started to fade. On the way back, we passed this fellow who was also interested in the vegetation but not for its scientific or aesthetic value, I suspect. Each to one's own.
* and rain-glazed