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I've been a Canberran since moving here from Adelaide on the first day of 1980. I now live in suburban Duffy with my partner Louise Maher, ABC 666 radio and on-line journalist. Among my early memories is following Sleepy Lizards (Shinglebacks) around the paddocks north of Adelaide, guarded by the faithful bull terrier. I have always been passionate about the natural world, trying to understand how it works, how the nature of Australia came to be, and sharing those understandings. My especial passions are birds, orchids and mammals. For much of my life I have been a full-time naturalist, running bush tours, writing books etc, doing consultancies, presenting a regular radio slot on local ABC, chairing a government environment advisory committee and running adult education classes. Recently I have eased back somewhat, but am still writing, teaching, doing some radio work and running overseas tours - as part of my fascination with our Gondwanan origins I've been running tours to South America for the past decade. I was awarded the Australian Plants Society Award in 2001 and the Australian Natural History Medallion in 2006, both for services to education and conservation.

Monday, 29 October 2012

Seasonal Orchids

Orchid season is sliding by, and several species have already packed it in until next spring, but some new ones are still appearing. One highlight yesterday was an early Buttercup Donkey orchid in a precious roadside forest remnant on the way to Monga National Park yesterday (of which more later this week). 
Diuris aequalis north of Braidwood.
(This is a threatened species and I can't be more specific in a public forum.)
 Closer to home, I saw some new ones for the year on Black Mountain, part of Canberra Nature Park in central Canberra. A much commoner and more widespread donkey orchid is the Tiger Orchid, but no less beautiful for being familiar.
Diuris sulphurea, Black Mountain.
Actually this first one isn't really new - I've already mentioned it before in this blog - but it's one of my favourites and they're coming to an end for the season; the photo I think nicely illustrates its alternative name, Parson-in-the-Pulpit, for the column arising from the white base.
Glossodia major (Waxlip), Black Mountain.
Another one, both beautiful and uncommon, which I was happy to see, not having done so for a few years (not least because I've been away in November!) is Black-tongue Finger Orchid (also known, a little anaemically, as Pink Caps). I found just two, both already a bit past their best, but almost any pic of this beauty is worth posting.
Stegostyla congesta, Black Mountain.
Sun Orchids are always a delight, and at present only one, small-flowered, species is evident, though there will be more. This one has not been formally described yet; overall the taxonomy of sun orchids is still somewhat uncertain.
Thelymitra sp. aff. decora,  Ornate Sun Orchid; Black Mountain.
Finally, an orchid which is another special favourite; in fact the genus of bearded orchids is a sort of totem of mine, for reasons which should be fairly obvious (though sadly my own beard isn't retaining its lustrous colour to nearly the extent that the orchids seem to manage from year to year!).
Calochilus platychilus,  Purple Beard Orchid, Black Mountain.
(This one was until very recently called T. robertsonii,  but that species is now regarded as
limited to south-western Victoria and adjacent South Australia.)
As an unrepentant orchiholic, it's surprising even to me that I've not yet dedicated an entire posting to orchids; this is unlikely to be the last one though...

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