Hiking The Hills – Field Trip To Magnetic Island April 2017
View over Horseshoe Bay from near our lunch-spot. DS photo.
The day was warmer and more humid than anticipated and the monitor was steeper than I remembered however that did not stop us from having fun with a gorgeous day walking the Nelly Bay to Arcadia track through Magnetic Island’s hills. The sign at first suggest a 2.5 hour completion time however in our effectively-established tradition we managed to stretch it to Spring six!! In our defence there was much to look at – plants, birds, skinks and butterflies – not to mention the stunning views. And, as the temperature and gradient elevated, so did our want for drink stops.
This is such an attention-grabbing stroll passing by rainforest vegetation alongside the sun-dappled pools of Gustav Creek, to more open eucalypt and acacia woodland as we gained the ridge, then entering savannah grassland dotted with grass bushes (Xanthorrhea johnsonii) on the descent. Because the monitor curled around to return us to Arcadia, we discovered ourselves again among the mixed woodland trying to spot koalas while not tripping over the rocks and roots at our feet. The delectable gelati ice-creams at Arcadia reinvigorated us enough to make the stroll alongside Geoffrey Bay – the seashore nicely shaded by its fringing casuarinas – to connect with the brand new Gabul walkway and so again to our place to begin.
A young red-tailed black declines to erect his crest for the digicam! DS photo.
It was lovely to see the bush so green and vibrant. Birders had been completely satisfied to get good sightings of the Orange-footed scrub fowl at a number of points along the track, a brief glimpse of an emerald dove, and a close view of a juvenile Crimson-tailed black cockatoo plaintively calling for Mum. Currawongs gave their joyful calls from the hilltops, fantails and flycatchers darted among the bushes and, reaching the saddle, a Brahminy kite and White-bellied sea-eagle soared above Horseshoe Bay.
The plant folks had been engrossed by the variety of species especially on the long ascent from the end of Mandalay Avenue, where the track began. Beth was excited by a Cupaniopsis wadsworthii or Duckfoot tuckeroo, named for its odd-shaped leaves. Close by she also famous the shrub Cryptocarya triplinervis, or Three-veined laurel, and the Poison peach (Trema sp.). While the golden orchids (Dendrobium discolor) on the trees were not in flower, a species of Clerodendrum was displaying its pretty pink and white flowers. A very-large leafed fig, with cauliflorous fruit was nearly certainly Ficus hispida or Hairy fig – recognized from an exquisite on-line resource compiled by a local resident Donald Simpson. Check it out here – you can see it simple to use, complete (note that it also includes non-natives) and appears to be continually updated with nice photographs.
Grass bushes had been a characteristic of the savannah because the monitor descended. Photograph DS photo.
Burdekin plums (Pleiogynium timorense) were noticed where the rainforest gave way to the open woodland and alongside the upper, and drier, ridges we noted Moreton Bay Ash (Corymbia tesselaris), Poplar Gum (Eucalyptus platyphylla) and the Slender-leafed Ironbark, either E. drepanophylla or E. crebra. Nanette also observed how the Lemon-scented grass was very dominant on the higher part of the hills. The Townsville wattle, Acacia leptostachia, thrives on the island but we were uncertain concerning one specimen that appeared too tall. Presumably it was the same A. leptocarpa which does kind a taller tree however, being undecided, we dubbed it “Acacia dilemma” and left it Stone Island Shop at that. Later in the year these hillsides can be spangled with the good yellow flowers of the Native kapok (Cochlospermum gillivraei) however their distinctive fluffy seed capsules had been right here and there on the bottom.
It was a particular pleasure to welcome 2 island residents, Annie and Catherine, on our walk and hope we will see you again sometime on island or mainland. Our feeling was that we should include at the least one Magnetic Island walk in our programme each year. Big because of Denise and Joan for the bird list, Nanette for the grasses, Jane and Beth for other plant information and Denise (again) for the photographs. Click on photographs to enlarge.
On the home stretch and trying not to look as exhausted as we felt! DS photograph (Taken by Annie)
Extra plants recorded, with location where noted:
Proiphys amboinensis – Cardwell lily – track-side, halfway up from start.
Schefflera actinophylla – Umbrella tree – track-side, near lunch stop
Livistona drudei – Halifax palm
Planchonia careyi – Cocky apple – in drier area, behind Horseshoe
Trichodesma zeylanicum – Camel bush – monitor-side, near lunch stop
Maytenus disperma – Orange bark
Ipomaea stone island long sleeve top pes-caprae – Goat’s foot convolvulus – robust vine on the beach
Scleria sphacelata – no common name.
Mallotus philippensis – Crimson kamala – near the monitor junction to HB road and Arcadia
Gahnia aspera – Saw sedge – monitor to Sphinx lookout
Dianella caerulea – Blue flax lily – track-side, Nelly Bay to highest water tank
Gossia bidwillii – Refrigerator tree, Python tree – on first part of climb
Jasminum didymum ssp. racemosum – Native jasmine – Nelly Bay end of track
Passiflora aurantia var. aurantia – Red passion flower
Tacca leontopetaloides – Arrowroot – in drier part, back of Horseshoe Bay
Drynaria sparsisora – Rock fern – near the highest of the vary.
Native grasses recorded:
Rainforest (2 species)
Oplisemus aemulus – Australian Basket grass
Setaria australiensis – Scrub pigeon grass
Woodland (15 species)
Aristida calycina – Darkish wiregrass, branched wire grass
Bothriochloa bladhii – Forest bluegrass
Cymbopogon ambiguus -Lemon-scented grass
Eragrostis leptostachya – Paddock lovegrass
Heteropogon contortus – Black speargrass
Mnesithea rottboellioides – Northern canegrass
Panicum decompositum – Native millett
Panicum effusum – Furry panic
Sarga plumosum – Plume sorghum
Themeda triandra – Kangaroo grass
Triodia stenostachya – Porcupine grass
– Crested tern (from ferry)
– Silver gull (from ferry)
– Straw-necked ibis
– Brahminy kite
– White-breasted sea-eagle
– Orange-footed scrubfowl
– Bush stone-curlew
– Masked lapwing
– Emerald dove
– Peaceful dove
– Sulphur-crested cockatoo
– Purple-tailed black cockatoo
– Rainbow lorikeet
– Crimson rosella
– Pheasant coucal
– Laughing kookaburra
– Sacred kingfisher
– Forest kingfisher
– Rainbow bee-eater
– Welcome swallow
– White-bellied cuckoo-shrike
– Assorted triller
– Little shrike thrush
– Spectacled monarch
– Leaden flycatcher
– Rufous fantail
– Helmeted friarbird
– Scarlet honeyeater
– Spangled drongo
– White-breasted woodswallow
– Pied currawong
– Nice bowerbird
– Torresian crow
– House sparrow
View to Whitfield Cover from the Sphinx Lookout. DS picture.