ATTENTIVE: Forty members of the Gympie and District Field Naturalists Club learn about the flora and fauna on the Perrett property at the headwaters of Boonara Creek.
ATTENTIVE: Forty members of the Gympie and District Field Naturalists Club learn about the flora and fauna on the Perrett property at the headwaters of Boonara Creek. contributed

Nats head to Kilkivan's wilds

MEMBERS of the Gympie and District Field Naturalists Club on their regular monthly field outing were surprised to realise that just a few kilometres outside Kilkivan they had crossed into the Burnett River catchment.

The outing, attended by 40, visited Mudlo National Park and the Perrett family property further on.

Mudlo Park is an area of hoop pine dominant dry vine scrub. A walk track has been created that takes keen walkers from the base to the top, passing very large hoop and bunya pines. The climb is steep but the return trip via the road is much easier walking.

The fig species that grow at Mudlo provide food for a number of pigeons and doves and there are also regular sightings of a rifle bird. These birds have long curved beaks that are used to extract grubs from rotting pine tree trunks and branches.

The gate to the Perrett property sits near the headwaters of Boonara Creek, which much further downstream is crossed on the Burnett Hwy near Tansey. The headwaters have only seasonal flows but can become torrential and throw large rocks around. The creek provides slightly wetter habitats for plants so that some dry vine species can survive there.

A walk along the dry creek and the acute hearing of one member suggested that a fig parrot may have been present. As the name suggests figs of varied species are the main diet of these birds.

The coxen's fig parrot is one of our rarest and severely endangered birds with much of its lowland rainforest having been cleared for development. A large fig was scanned but the bird was not sighted, so it has been put down as a maybe and the area worth further investigation.

Roads through the property were not too bad, but large whoa-boys proved problematic for low- clearance vehicles.

In the botanical field two species of Erythrina provided some discussion. It has only been in recent times that one species was split into two - E vespertilio, the original bat's wing coral tree from the shape of the leaves, has deep fissured corky bark with strong thorns and usually large red leguminous flowers.

The now other species E. numerosa, grows in drier rainforests to about Gympie, or a bit further north, bark is not fissured and flowers are red or, rarely, yellow.

At first glance these two look alike, and working out which is which is one of the very interesting points in the study of botany.

Before lunch under a very large small-leaved fig tree on a high dry hill with views over most of the property, Tony Perrett told the group about the history and management of the

area.

In all possibility the figs were there when there was a vine scrub crown on the hill and other species died out. It is likely that the fig roots go down to a water table that could be 50-plus metres down.

For more club information, phone Berry Doak on 54884250 or Rahima Farnham on 5447 9372.

Gympie Times


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