Midsummer Joys

January 24, 2019

The bush is looking pretty dry and desolate now- no rain and a month of extreme heat has knocked all the freshness out of the plants and trees.

 

Birds are congregating in the lower parts of the landscape- around the creeklines and in gardens where there is water and some respite from the excessive temperatures.

 

On a recent visit to Dalyenong Nature Conservation Reserve, a large area of Heathy Dry Woodland, to carry out a quarterly bird survey, I was heartened to see Bulokes festooned with the "dayglo" red flowers of Buloke Mistletoe- Amyema linophylla, an obligate on Buloke and thus a threatened species along with the Buloke- and the gorgeous firecracker flowers of the Harlequin Mistletoe- Lisiana exocarpi. 

 

Buloke Mistletoe

 

Harlequin Mistletoe flowers

 

I was not the only person interested in the flowering mistletoe; birds of every sort (well, nearly) were attracted to the plants - Honeyeaters, White-plumed, Black-chinned and Yellow-tufted; Rufous Whistlers, Hooded Robin and Dusky Woodswallows were all enthusiastically searching through the mistletoe clumps or hovering over them (maybe that should be "hoovering" as there were lots of insects there too).

 

On the sector of the survey site where there were no Bulokes, there were no birds!

 

In the Box-Ironbark areas the mistletoes are Drooping or Box Mistletoe- Amyema miquelii and Fleshy Mistletoe- A. miraculosa- miraculous because it parasitises another mistletoe rather than the tree.

These two species are also flowering at the moment but are much less spectacular than the Buloke and Harlequin varieties.

 

Mistletoe is a vital bird and insect food especially during summer, providing nectar, berries and cool roosting places during the heat of the day. 

 

The leaves contain more moisture and nutrients than the host plants and when they fall, return those extra nutrients to the soil thus benefitting the host. 

 

I was not the only person interested in the flowering mistletoe; birds of every sort (well, nearly) were attracted to the plants - Honeyeaters, White-plumed, Black-chinned and Yellow-tufted; Rufous Whistlers, Hooded Robin and Dusky Woodswallows were all enthusiastically searching through the mistletoe clumps or hovering over them (maybe that should be "hoovering" as there were lots of insects there too).

 

On the sector of the survey site where there were no Bulokes, there were no birds!In the Box-Ironbark areas the mistletoes are Drooping or Box Mistletoe- Amyema miquelii and Fleshy Mistletoe- A. miraculosa- miraculous because it parasitises another mistletoe rather than the tree.

 

These two species are also flowering at the moment but are much less spectacular than the Buloke and Harlequin varieties.Mistletoe is a vital bird and insect food especially during summer, providing nectar, berries and cool roosting places during the heat of the day.

 

The leaves contain more moisture and nutrients than the host plants and when they fall, return those extra nutrients to the soil thus benefitting the host.

 

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