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Tasmania, Australia pt1

Discussion in 'Field Trips (Natural Habitats)' started by moloch, May 6, 2010.

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    A couple of years ago, I was lucky enough to work on a project in Hobart, Tasmania. I flew down every week or two for nearly a year and had opportunities on the weekends to head up into the hills. I really enjoyed my time there and loved the unusual plants and natural features. Hobart is situated at latitude 42 degrees south so it is a cool to cold place in the winter. It did not have a great variety of either reptiles or invertebrates but much of what I saw only lives in Tasmania. I decided to put together a couple of posts of this place since I think it to be a beautiful place to visit.

    The following shots are of Hobart. Mt. Wellington is the mountain located just behind the city. Many of the old buildings of Hobart are constructed with sandstone blocks. Some areas, such as Salamance, are beautifully restored. There is a market at Salamanca every Saturday.
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    Hobart is a coastal city on one of Australia's oldest. It is situated on a protected bay and was used as a whaling port in the 1800s. It now is the port from which boats leave for the Australian antarctic research stations.
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    I sometimes drove up to the Pinnacle Track near the summit of Mt. Wellington. The track was a scenic one that skirted along huge spires. It often was cold here but if it was sunny, skinks would venture out and bask on the rocks.
    1 Organ Pipes along the Pinnacle Track.
    2-3 Tasmanian Snow Gum -- the bark of these trees was colourful.
    4 Common Pinkberry (Leptecophylla junipera), Epacridaceae.
    5 Pink-bells (Tetratheca sp.), Tremandaceae.
    6-7 Copperleaf Snowberry (Gaultheria hispida), Ericaceae.
    8 A common, pretty shrub but I could not find its name.
    9 Mountain Eyebright (Euphrasia gibbsiae), Scrophulariaceae
    10 View along the Pinnacle Track.
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    I spent much of my time in the foothills or the summit area of Mt. Wellington. This mountain is not far from the city centre of Hobart but the habitat is quite different and includes many montane species. Here are a a few photos of the mountain and its habitat.
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    I enjoyed exploring this area since there were numerous bogs with many strange plants. Damp areas were surrounded by Pineapple Grass (Astelia alpina, Liliaceae), cushion plants and many members of the Australian heath family, Epacridaceae.

    Cushionplants were a real feature of these moist alpine areas. These plants provide a good example of convergent evolution with members of several families including Scrophulariaceae, Lamiaceae, Donatiaceae and Epacridaceae having adopted this growth form. I could not identify the cushionplants since none were flowering at the moment. These plants all look the same superficially. Cushionplants are actually colonies of many plants that grow tightly together. This growth form is thought to be an adaptation that helps protect the plants from the snow of the Tasmanian winter. Other plants often germinate within the mound of a cushionplant so the cushion is multi-coloured and textured.
    1-3 habitat on plateau of Mt. Wellington.
    4 Pineapple Grass (Astelia alpina), Liliaceae.
    5 Rock Daisybush (Olearia ledifolia), Asteraceae.
    6 lichens like this were thick in some areas.
    7 Fruiting bodies of a moss. These were bigger than any that I have seen before.
    8 Alpine Cheeseberry (Planocarpa petiolaris), Epacridaceae.
    9 Cushionherb (Ewartia sp.)?, Asteraceae
    10 Cushionplant with Pineapple Grass and others in the background.
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    It was often windy and cold at the summit of Mt. Wellington. Snow was frequent in the winter.
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    I am not certain but think this to be a Southern Smooth Froglet (Geocrinia laevis). I found it in a rocky area on the lower slope of Mt. Wellington.
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    Blotched Blue Tongue Skink (Tiliqua nigrolutea). These big skinks lived right in the suburbs of Hobart.
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    Metallic Skink (Niveoscincus metallicus) – by far the most common skink in much of Tasmania. When seen well, their enlarged paravertebral scales were distinctive. These little skinks lived from coastal areas up to through the mountains. Metallic Skinks are also found in southeastern Australia.
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    Southern Snow Skink (Niveoscincus microlepidotus). These Tasmanian endemics were common on the summit plateau of Mt. Wellington. I found many skinks along bogs and small streams on the summit plateau of Mt. Wellington during warm weather. The skinks would swim and even dive beneath the surface when disturbed. They often basked on exposed rocks in the stream bed.
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    Ocellated Skink (Niveoscincus ocellatus) – These skinks were common in rocky areas. This species was another of the Tasmanian endemics. I found them from Mt. Knocklofty in Hobart to the upper slopes of Mt. Wellington.
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    (Pseudemoia entrecasteauxii) – I encountered a few of these skinks in the dry grasslands of Mt. Knocklofty, a small reserve near our accommodation in Hobart. I observed a few on rocks after sunset one warm evening.
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    Grass Skink (Lampropholis delicata) – I saw a few of these skinks that are widespread in eastern Australia in moist areas.
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    White-lipped Snake (Drysdalia coronoides). I only found one of these small elapids at Mt. Knocklofty. It was sombrely coloured like so many of the Aussie elapids.
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    Here are a few of the species of birds that I encountered. Tasmania has a number of endemic birds and I saw most of these during the months that I spent on the island.
    1 Scarlet Robin -- common at Mt. Knocklofty
    2 Green Rosella -- common on the slopes of Mt. Wellington. Tasmanian endemic.
    3 Musk Lorikeet -- these usually greeted me at the airport where they fed in flowering gums that lined the parking lot.
    4 Black Currawong -- common on the upper slopes and plateau of Mt. Wellington. Tasmanian endemic.
    5 Black-headed Honeyeater -- a few at Mt. Knocklofty. Tasmanian endemic.
    6 Yellow-throated Honeyeater -- common at Mt. Knocklofty and Mt. Wellington. Tasmanian endemic.
    7 Crescent Honeyeater -- common from Hobart to upper forest of Mt. Wellington.
    8 Yellow Wattlebird -- this is the largest of the honeyeaters found in Australia. Tasmanian endemic.
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    I did not see many invertebrates. I think the weather was just too cool. Here are a few that I photographed.
    1 A cryptic flightless grasshopper that lived in the alpine areas of Mt. Wellington.
    2 This “hairy” grasshopper with orange legs lived on rocks of the talus slope near the summit of Mt. Wellingtons. These could hop but they usually ran and would plunge into a crevice if frightened. Eventually, they would climb out and then have a look around like the one below.
    3 Green grasshoppers were numerous throughout the alpine areas.
    4-5 Red and Black Spiders (family Nicodamidae). These colourful spiders were usually encountered as they actively hunted on rocks along the trails.
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    Pineapple Candleheath (Richea dracophylla) – These big heaths were in full flower in the mid and upper slopes of Mt. Wellington in November. I saw many while I walked along the Pinnacle Track.
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    Here are photos of more spring flowers. November seems to be the best month for flowers near Hobart.
    1 Heath (Epacris sp.), Epacridaceae.
    2 Heath (Epacris sp.), Epacridaceae.
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    Terrestrial orchids were abundant at Mt. Knocklofty. Here are some of those that I observed.
    1 Finger Orchid (Caladenia sp.), Orchidaceae
    2 Salmon Sun Orchid (Thelymitra rubra), Orchidaceae
    3 Orchid (Thelymitra sp.), Orchidaceae
    4 Orchid, Orchidaceae
    5 Wax-lip Orchid (Glossodia major), Orchidaceae
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    Proteaceae is well represented in Tasmania. My favourite was the Tasmanian Waratah that flowered in late November on the slopes of Mt. Wellington.
    1, 2 Tasmanian Waratah (Teleopia truncata), Proteaceae. Unfortunately, these stunning flowers had not yet opened. These plants were common on the upper slope of Mt. Wellington.
    3 Mountain Rocket (Bellendena montana), Proteaceae.
    4 Mountain Needlebush (Hakea lissosperma), Proteaceae – abundant in the mountains and fragrant with a honey-like scent. The plant is well-named with stiff, sharply pointed leaves.
    5. Banksia sp., Proteaceae.
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    More flowers:
    1 Golden Bulbine-lily (Bulbine bulbosa), Liliaceae.
    2 Slender Blanketleaf (Bedfordia linearis), Asteraceae. These composites grow to the size of a small tree.
    3 Hibbertia, (Hibbertia sp.), Goodeniaceae.
    4 Trailing Native-primrose (Goodenia lanata), Goodeniaceae.
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    More flowers:
    1 White Flag-iris (Diplarrena moraea), Iridaceae.
    2 Blue Daisy (Brachyscome spathulata), Asteraceae.
    3 Stackhousia sp.?, Stackhousiaceae.
    4 Dwarf Rice Flower (Pimelia humilis), Thymeliaceae.
    5 Rigid Candleheath (Richea sprengiliodes), Epacridaceae.
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    Kangaroo Apple (Solanum lacinatum), Solanceae.
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    Regards,
    David
     
  2. Teal

    Teal Arachnoemperor Old Timer

    What a beautiful place!
     
  3. Yes, looks just pristine. I need to move to Aussie or NZ ASAP. Or at least back to China and out of this desolate place.. :barf:
     
  4. Paleofish

    Paleofish Arachnosquire

    Awesome! I really would like to have the Southern Snow Skink, It would be awesome to have a skink that goes under water.:D
     
  5. Loudog760

    Loudog760 Arachnoknight

    CA
    Awesome thread!
     
  6. Thanks, all.

    Maarten,
    "pristine" is a good word for describing many places in Tasmania. It is an easy place to escape from civilization and often, I would walk for hours without seeing anyone else at all.

    Regards,
    David
     
  7. tarcan

    tarcan Arachnoking Old Timer

    wonderful series of pictures, thank you for sharing them!

    That red spider is gorgeous!

    Martin
     
  8. syndicate

    syndicate Arachnoemperor Old Timer

    USA
    Excellent photos!Really nice selection here!!Did you encounter any Theraphosids on your trips?
    Thanks for sharing!
    -Chris
     
  9. Thanks Martin and Chris.

    Chris, I did not see any Theraphosids.

    Regards,
    David
     
  10. I hear that they want to make more roads up north, though. :( Also, though there are species of mygalomorphae (relatives of the Sydney funnel-web spider, etc.) in Tassie, there are no Theraphosids, according to some research I did.
     
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