Wildflower Walk in Bush’s Paddock hosted by Pinkerton Landcare & Environment Group

On Sunday 11th November 2012 Pinkerton Landcare & Environment Group (PLEG) hosted a wildflower walk in Bush’s Paddock. Thirteen people participated in the walk, including Frances, Irene, Pam, Nora, Bill, Glen, Simon & Daryl of PLEG, visitors Jenny & Denise from Melton, Susie & daughter Ruby from Werribee & two visitors from Gisborne. After the walk PLEG provided morning tea/lunch.

Bush’s Paddock is owned by City of Melton & maintained for environmental & educational purposes. Intensive management by contractors Envirotechniques & Western Land Services has resulted in a magnificent native grassland. This is what native grassland is meant to look like! Periodic strategic burnings have reduced the dense swathes of Kangaroo Grass to enable other herbs & wildflowers to grow. After strategic burns native wildflowers are sprouting everywhere. Showy Podolepis were planted here by the group a few years ago. The original plants are now self-propagating & flowering prolifically. A few Chocolate Lilies were still flowering while the Vanilla Lilies have already set seed.

Winter & Spring rains have resulted in masses of wildflowers, resulting in a record spring wildflower display! This has resulted in lush regrowth of green Kangaroo Grass. Native grasslands are indeed ‘green wedges’.  These summer flowering grasses will remain green throughout summer, acting as a fire retardant. These so called ‘brown wedges’, as they are constantly referred to by grassland detractors & developers, are in truth wildflower meadows; with all the colours of the rainbow scattered among the lush green grasses. The lush green Kangaroo Grasses as they billow in the wind are reminiscent of waves rolling across a vast sea of green. Properly maintained native grasslands are actually fire retardant. Unlike the brown paddocks filled with spring flowering exotic grasses that die & dry out in the summer. It is these weedy paddocks filled with exotic dry, dead annual grasses that are grass fires waiting to happen.

A rich variety of native wildflowers filled the grassland. There is the brilliant blue of the Native Bluebells (Wahlenbergia), Chocolate & Vanilla Lilies, with their perfumes of chocolate & vanilla. There is the electric blue of the Blue Grasslilies & Blue Devils. There are bright yellow Showy Podolepis, Yellow Rushlilies, Sticky Everlasting, Common Everlastings & the taller Clustered Everlastings.

Tall feathery heads of Featherheads (Ptilotis macrocephalus) wave among the tall green grasses whereas the ground hugging furry flowers of the closely related but smaller Pussytails (Ptilotis spathulatus) are hidden at ground level. . Masses of bright Pink Bindweed (Convolvulus) are scattered throughout the grassland, like thousands of pink stars in a grassy green sky.

A variety of birdlife was observed while walking through the grassland. These included:
Rufous Songlark     Pipits        Skylark     Willy Wagtail        Mudlark Magpie
House Sparrow    Little Raven     Stubble Quail    Golden-headed Cisticola

Eastern Rosellas & White-winged Trillers were heard calling from the Grey Box woodland. Tiny Golden-headed Cisticolas were fluttering in & out of the grass. The buzzing ‘tseeet’ call of the cisticolas contrasted with the loud calls of the Grassland Cicadas that were calling throughout the grass with their short ‘pssssst’ call. The tiny cisticolas looked almost like fluttering butterflies in contrast to the larger Pipits. We also saw the resident Mt Cottrell kangaroos resting in the tall grass opposite Bush’s Paddock.