Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Moulting Lagoon

heath myrtle (Thryptomene micrantha)
sunset over Great Oyster Bay
Black Swans at Moulting Lagoon

Moulting Lagoon is one of ten sites in Tasmania listed under the Ramsar agreement as a wetland of international significance. It is the most important breeding and foraging habitat for Black Swans in Tasmania with numbers reaching over 14,000 in some years. Many species of waterfowl, including Australasian Shelducks and Chestnut Teal, congregate in late summer; flocks of migratory waders, including Greenshank and Sharp-tailed Sandpiper visit the lagoon and it also has several rare and threatened plant species and unusual geological formations.
Twice yearly assessments of the waterfowl and other birds are undertaken at Moulting Lagoon. The late summer count occurs just before the duck-shooting season and the winter survey is timed to evaluate the impact of the hunt. The ongoing monitoring is a requirement under the Ramsar convention to which the government is a signatory. Despite this, funding is decreasing annually and the assistance of volunteers is becoming ever more crucial.
For the past several years I have participated in the surveys. It is not only important work, it is a very beautiful place to spend a day. The survey takes place early in the morning, so volunteers usually stay overnight at Iluka. This year I had a few spare hours to explore the Hazards, the granite mountains that form a spectacular backdrop to the lagoon.
Being late winter, very few plants of the heath plants were flowering. However, I did see heath myrtle Thryptomene micrantha, a plant restricted to the Freycinet peninsula on Tasmania's east coast.

A trip to Forth Falls

Pterostylis sp.
Geoglossum sp.
Marasmius sp.
cicada exoskeleton
Galerina hypnorum

The local field naturalists group (The Central North Field Naturalists) have regular monthly outings to look at birds, plants, fungi, liverworts and just about anything else that catches our eye.
On Sunday August 3rd we went to Forth Falls near Lake Barrington where we saw several Dusky Robins and heard Flame, Scarlet and Pink Robins, Golden Whistlers and a Grey (white morph) Goshawk.
There were several orchid species, a cicada exoskeleton and, despite being fairly late in the season, quite a few fungi including a beautiful blue-capped Marasmius sp. growing on a small dead branch and Galerina hypnorum, a small fungus associated with moss.